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How do you write ads that sell?

Actually, it’s simple. You just TEST.

The truth is, you’ll never know what message is going to generate the most response until you test it. And when you test two ads against each other, it’s pretty common to have one outperform the other by 50% or more.

What should you be testing in your ads to increase your response rates?

I’ll use Google AdWords as our example, since lots of our customers advertise with AdWords.

3 Things to Test

1. Headline

The headline is typically going to have the biggest effect on response because the headline is what gets your prospect’s attention (or fails to get your prospect’s attention).

When it comes to Google Adwords ads, here are 2 things I recommend you test:

  • Match the keyword in the headline of your ad
  • Ask a question in your headline

For example, if you provide computer repair services, then you could test headlines such as “Need Computer Repair?” or “Broken Laptop?”

2. Benefits

You might think you know what your prospects are really interested in, but you won’t know for sure until you test.

For example, if you’re computer repair specialist, people might like to know you can help them quickly (speed), or that you’re affordable (price), or that you have a money-back guarantee (risk-free).

And once you see what people really care about, you can emphasize that benefit and create a special offer around that benefit to differentiate yourself from your competition. For example, back to the computer repair example, if you found that people really want speed, then you could create a speed guarantee (similar to Domino’s Pizza back in the day).

But you won’t know what benefits people will respond best to until you test.

3. Call to Action

The third thing you should test is including a call to action in your ad. Having a call to action directly in your ad can boost response.

Now, you can’t say “Click here” in your Google ad — they don’t allow that. So you have to get a little creative.

For example, if you’re a computer repair technician, you could say “Get Free Quote.”

Or, if you’ve got a software product and you’re offering a free trial in your ad, you could say “Start Your Free Trial.” Or, if you’re offering a free report in your ad, you could say “Get Free Report.”

Ads Are Just The Beginning…

If you can double your ad click-through rate (CTR), that’s a great start. You’ll get more clicks and you’ll get cheaper clicks (because AdWords gives you discounts on cost-per-click when you achieve a higher CTR than your competition).

But if you really want to create ads that sell, you need to test more than your ads. You also need to be testing your landing page — the page where people “land” on your website after clicking your ad. You’ll want to test different messages and layouts to see what generates the most response.

And in order to test effectively, you’ll need to put tracking your landing page conversions (how many people are contacting you from your landing page), so you can see which landing page versions are generating more response.

Gain the Advantage

Testing is the secret to winning in any advertising market. The advertiser who is willing to run tests — and who knows how and what to test — will win over the long-term.

And yet, most advertisers don’t test. There are a variety of reasons why advertisers don’t test. But usually it’s laziness. It’s kind of like exercise.

When you’re just starting out, testing can seem intimidating. The hardest part is getting started. And the key is to start small. Set up an easy A/B split test. Run two ads at once, split your traffic, and see which ad gets clicked more often.

And once you start running tests, you’ll find that it’s fun. It’s always surprising to see what message is going to get the bigger response. You’re usually wrong about half the time. :)

And of course, the most fun part about running tests is that it’ll make your advertising much more profitable.

Want More AdWords Tips?

If you’re just getting started with Adwords, or you want tips to improve your campaigns, register for our upcoming webinar:

4 Simple Steps to Profit with Google AdWords.