PPC Ad Writing Contest: Win a $397 Benchmark Report while building your optimization peer group

A test is a great way to settle arguments. The highest-paid person in the room thinks he has a better headline? No problem. Just test it.

But, to truly optimize, sometimes it helps to start a few arguments as well. Get some key people in the room, question your landing pages, question your value proposition, and let everyone (Sales, Customer Service, Product Development, Consulting Services) come up with test ideas to really push the envelope on your marketing.

The way we do that at MECLABS is with a series of meetings called Peer Review Sessions. It gives everybody – from the most senior to the most junior members of the team – a chance to jump in, question the status quo, and come up with test ideas.

Because, as marketers, optimizing by ourselves is hard work … even for the experienced optimizers at MECLABS. No one can truly optimize in a vacuum. We need other minds to broaden the horizons of our creativity and give us ideas for what to test and how to test.

Find your peer group

Sometimes it also helps to find optimization peers who work at other (preferably non-competitor) companies to break away from the groupthink in your organization (“Our product is the bestest ever!”) and throw some tests against the wall for a little brainstorming.

This is why we at MarketingExperiments are trying to build a community of marketers around the field of optimization. Because the more people there are sharing ideas, the better we can all get at optimization. And, the better we can get at optimizing, the better we all become at performing our jobs.

You can find that peer group in a few places:

Win a $397 MarketingSherpa Benchmark Report

That’s right, I said the comments section of this blog post.

You see, as I said earlier about the MECLABS way of optimizing, we seek to get as many ideas as possible for the tests we run with our Research Partners. For an upcoming test we’d like you to suggest the best PPC ad copy in the comments section of this blog post.

So scroll down. Take a look in the comments. Find some PPC ad copy you like. And reach out to that marketer to see if you can form a peer relationship, helping each other produce better tests.

To make it worth your while, once we have several submissions, we will choose one lucky marketer’s ad treatment to run in our experiment. And, to sweeten the pot, we’ll also give that marketer a free PDF copy of MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – PPC Edition (a $397 value).

So let’s get to the challenge (if you choose to accept it)…

The challenge

As I said, to make us all become better optimizers, we need your ideas for a real PPC experiment we are going to run for one of our Research Partners: North American Spine. We’re going to have you, dear marketer, write PPC ads to help us discover some things about North American Spine’s ideal customer.

At the end of this post, you can submit your ad treatment in the comments.

So, now that you know what you’re in for, sit back, and get your thinking caps on while you read the background of the experiment.

Please read it carefully as there are some very specific things we are looking for to make this test successful. The closer you read and understand, the more likely you are to win.

Related:  Best Practices Are Often Just Pooled Ignorance

Experiment Background:

North American Spine (NAS) is the inventor and sole provider of a fascinating (in my opinion) minimally invasive spine surgery called the Accurascope procedure. They essentially provide people who are suffering from serious, chronic back pain with an alternative to open back surgery.

Right now, with ROI Revolution managing their paid search advertising campaigns – NAS is doing an impressive job of getting people who are already shopping for back surgery solutions to buy the Accurascope procedure.

However, as probably all of us know, there are likely potential NAS customers out there who aren’t shopping for back surgery. Instead they are shopping for more information so they can make an informed decision about whether they need surgery or not.

We know this because there are several medium-to-high-traffic keyword terms centered around certain back conditions:

  • Lumbar Bulging Disc
  • Sciatic Nerve
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Etc.

It also happens that NAS is looking to implement a content strategy to help position them as an authority in the back pain treatment space.

Experiment Goal:

The trouble with a content strategy is that it is very difficult to create content, and very difficult to predict what content will resonate with your customers.

You could spend a lot of time creating high-quality content only to find out later that another approach would have been more profitable.

To help provide clarity to NAS’s content strategy, we are going to run some PPC ads to “take the temperature,” in a sense, of the people who are searching for the following conditions:

  • Lumbar bulging disc
  • Sciatic nerve
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated disc
  • Pinched nerve in lower back
  • Lumbar back pain

So the goal of this experiment is to learn which types of content resonate with the largest audience of condition-based searchers. This way, NAS can tailor a content strategy around those motivations and start building content they know will be effective.

But the ultimate goal is to have prospects come in for a needed Accurascope procedure, as shown in the chart below:

 

 

Experiment Hypothesis:

It wouldn’t be an experiment without a hypothesis. Here’s what we think these condition-based searchers are really after:

  • May be experiencing back pain symptoms and are simply searching online or asking around
  • Have come across this condition and now want more information on it
  • May have already seen a doctor and been diagnosed with this condition and now want more information on it and possible treatments
  • May be a friend or loved one searching on behalf of someone

Therefore ads that cater to these motivations will likely receive a higher clickthrough rate.

The Research Question:

It’s hard to ask a research question without also having your treatments in mind, but I’ll go ahead and pitch one here, assuming your treatments will be flooding in soon after:

Which condition-based ad template will receive a higher clickthrough rate?

The Treatments: What we need from YOU

If you didn’t notice above in the research question, the treatments we are looking for will be templates. Each PPC ad will be a different approach for more information that we can simply drop a back condition keyword into. So, to give you an example, I’ll show you my submission:

Have [Condition]?
Learn 3 treatments with the highest
success rates in this free report
NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

 

However, you might take an angle like this:

[Condition] Info
5 things you need to know to give
your loved one the care they need.
NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

 

Whatever you decide, be sure to keep the goal of this experiment in mind: to learn which types of content resonate with the largest audience of condition-based searchers.

Related:  The Two Customer Conclusions Every Product Launch Should Foster

Also, keep in mind that PPC ads have character limits, if you don’t know them, you can use this tool to help you stay within those limits and not be disqualified from the contest.

Because you’re writing ad templates and not ads, it’s going to be difficult to fit each of the conditions above in a single template. But we know you’re very smart, and if there is a way that you can think of to get around that problem we’re open to suggestions. Just leave them in the comment below your submission.

 

The Call-to-Action:

So with that, I’ll let you get writing. When you’ve written an ad, all you need to do is post it below in the comments. Once we have enough submissions, we’ll sort through them and choose one ad that we think will best help us answer the research question.

The writer of that ad will get:

Go ahead and post your ad in the comments and we’ll announce the winner during our next Web clinic: Online Advertising Forensics: We investigate how and why a text-based PPC ad produced 47% more conversions (Educational funding provided by ROI Revolution)

Happy writing!

 

UPDATE: Winner(s) Announced…

The results are in. Unfortunately our team was torn between two submissions from our generous commenters below. We were SO torn, in fact, that we decided to give away TWO 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Reports – PPC Edition to two lucky commenters. Unfortunately, due to validity constraints we are only able to use one ad template in the actual experiment.

So congratulations to both Amy Harold and Carrie Hernandez for their insightful submissions. Both of you should be receiving a Benchmark Report in the next few days. With that said, if you saw yesterday’s Web clinic [Subscribe to be notified when the replay is live], you know that only Amy Harold’s submission will be in the actual test. That is because we needed a template that we could use to test different approaches and hers was the most flexible.

With that said, we found Carrie’s submission incredibly insightful for two reasons:

  1. It was short. It wasn’t even close to using all of the characters the ad was limited to. Common sense tells us this is a bad thing. Be we love challenging common sense with experimentation. So we would love to eventually test shorter than required ad copy.
  2. The idea of offering a comparative clinical study was a particularly interesting content angle

Again, thank you to all of our commenters. If you need help writing a PPC ad, simply take a look at the comments below for some ideas. And try to get in touch with anyone whose ad you particularly liked to brainstorm. Remember, we can’t optimize in a vacuum.

 

Related Resources:

Blandvertising: How you can overcome writing headlines and copy that don’t say anything

Banner Blindness: Why your marketing messages are hiding in plain sight

The Ultimate Click: How to get what you pay for with pay-per-click advertising

PPC Ads: What is search engine marketing best used for?

 

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41 Comments

  1. Kevin Moreland says

    Suffering [Condition]?
    Innovative Treatment Cancels Need
    For Open Back Surgery. Get Info Now.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  2. Kevin Moreland says

    [Condition] Surgery?
    Innovative Treatment Cancels Need
    For Open Back Surgery. Get Info Now.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  3. Kevin Moreland says

    Suffering [Condition]?
    Diagnosis & Treatment In Just
    One Procedure. Get Info Today.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  4. Benjamin Perry says

    Suffering From [condition]
    Get everything you need to Know To
    Eliminate Pain from [condition]
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

    Hi
    I would start with an ad like this. For some of the longer conditions that won’t fit I would abbreviate them as the person searching will associate the letters with their search query. For example Lumbar Back Pain would be LBP.
    With the purpose of the ad being to get the click through, people not understanding the abbrevations would likly click to see if the abbreviation was linked to a condition they were suffering from, especially with the associated keyword spine in the website name.

    Benjamin Perry

  5. Williams Y says

    Need [Condition]Solution?
    Amazing Discovery Just In
    Past Sufferers Happy With Results.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  6. Amy Harold says

    [Condition] Sufferer?
    Learn about the causes & solutions
    from the experts in spine health.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

  7. Grant Baker says

    [Condition] Answers
    You may not need Open Back Surgery
    Get back to what you love!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

  8. Charlie B says

    [Condition]
    Key information for patients,
    Learn how to get your life back.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

    I also like Kevin Moreland’s first one – mentioning eliminating open back surgery sounds like a good benefit to call out.

  9. Donna Krizik says

    Top 3 ways to alleviate [Condition]
    You don’t have to suffer.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

  10. Norma Rickman says

    [Condition] Agony?
    Free Report-Breakthrough New Option
    Eliminates Risky Open Back Surgery
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

  11. Lori Edmonds says

    Back braking pain? [condition]
    Learn and research options
    to get your health ‘back’.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

  12. John Ostman says

    [Condition] Pain Relief
    Get Free Information From Experts
    Safe Alternatives to Open Surgery
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  13. Luke Thorpe says

    Hurt Spine Feeling Fine
    NAS’s innovative procedure healed
    my [condition]!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

  14. Chris Lagergren says

    [Condition] Treatment
    Revolutionary Procedure Developed
    To Have You Feeling Better Fast!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/Learn_More

  15. Stephen Hall says

    [Condition] Treatments
    Alternatives to Open-Back Surgery.
    Learn More About NAS Today.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  16. blake moore says

    [Condition] Pain?
    Suffer no more,
    Eliminate risky spinal surgery…
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

    Simple and directly to the point. Use standard abbreviations that anyone seeking information will recognize and associate with their search query. Those become keyword phrases for the purpose of enhanced seo. If you do not understand the abbreviations, you are likely not a viable candidate for the noted procedure, thus eliminating irrelevant and “wasted $$” via click thrus…

  17. Mirio de Rosa says

    TITLE —————————-
    Wellness
    (or Sciatica, or Scoliosis, or Fatigue, or whatever single highly searched, related word)

    BODY 1 —————————-
    Stop back pain
    In 30-40 minutes

    BODY 2 —————————-
    Stop back pain – Forever
    In 30-40 minutes – For sure

    BODY 3 —————————-
    Stop back pain – Forever
    In 30-40 minutes – Guaranteed

    You guys are smart 🙂

  18. Hayley Carlton says

    Treat [Condition] Now
    Say Good-Bye To Your Aching Back.
    Eliminate Risky Open Back Surgery.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  19. Michael Lykke Aagaard says

    Relieve [condition]
    Natural 30 min procedure. Rapid
    recovery & potential instant relief
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/learn-more

  20. Chuck says

    Is your back F’d up?
    We fix [condition].
    New treatments are restoring lives.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/NewTreatment

  21. Patrick Kelly says

    [condition]?
    Safe Outpatient Treatment
    No cutting.No bleeding.No scarring
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/Accurascope

    Agree with above on use of standard abbreviations where needed that anyone seeking information will recognize.

    I liked the NAS tag line. It is ownable by them as a company and could also resonate with the emotions felt by people looking for information (it fits well with all hypothetical scenarios given above) so I included it in the ad copy.

    I also included the name of the procedure in URL. It gives a preview of what you can learn/gain by clicking the ad.

  22. Sean Weigold Ferguson says

    Relief from [Condition]
    5 Proven Ways to Feel Better Now.
    Request a Free Report to Learn How.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  23. Frank Hood says

    Back Pain? Relieve Your Suffering.
    Innovative New Procedure. Minimally Invasive.
    Has worked “miracles” for many

  24. David Pavlicko says

    Eliminate Your Back Pain
    Enjoy Life Again. No More Pills.
    Proven Results. Free Information.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

  25. Danielle Vowells says

    Need Back Surgery?
    Transform Your Life with our
    Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

    * * *

    Have Agonizing Back Pain?
    Find Relief Quickly with our
    Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  26. Danielle Vowells says

    [Condition] Pain?
    Accurascope Procedure Eliminates
    Need for Painful Open Back Surgery.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

    * * *

    [Condition] Surgery?
    Our Technology Eliminates Need
    for Painful Open Back Surgery.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  27. Danielle Vowells says

    [Condition] Surgery?
    Progressive New Surgery Cuts Down
    on Healing Time- A New You Faster!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

    * * *

    Have Sciatic Pain?
    You have options. Check out our
    Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  28. Carrie Hernandez says

    Diagnosed with [Condition]
    Comparative clinical study of treatment results
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

    Diagnosed with [Condition]
    Top 3 medical treatments explained
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

    Diagnosed with [Condition]
    Important questions for your doctor
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

    Planning [procedure]
    Outcomes research results
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

    Back Pain?
    What to expect from the most common treatment options
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/backpain

  29. P.K. Bibi says

    Lots of ads for you to choose from. I guess the more the merrier.
    I have included guidelines on how ads can be used; depending on the number of characters in each keyword. I included examples to further illustrate.I have also separated the Ads by themes.
    Keywords can be sorted easily in Excel by number of characters.

    ********
    [Condition] Back Pain ==> “Condition” less than 13 characters (with spaces)
    Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis &
    Remedies Explained. Get Free Report
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Example:
    Sciatic Nerve Back Pain
    Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis &
    Remedies Explained. Get Free Report
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain
    ===

    [Condition]? ==> “Condition” greater than 13 xters but less than or equal to 24 xters
    Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis &
    Remedies Explained. Get Free Report
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Example:
    Lumbar Bulging Disc?
    Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis &
    Remedies Explained. Get Free Report
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain
    ===

    Back Pain Free Report ==> “Condition” greater than 25 characters (with spaces)
    [Condition]? All
    Your Questions Answered Get it Now!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Example:
    Back Pain Free Report
    Pinched nerve in lower back? All
    Your Questions Answered Get it Now!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    ********

    [Condition] Free Report ==> “Condition” less than 13 characters (with spaces)
    XX-Page Report tells all – Causes,
    Symptoms, Diagnosis & Remedies
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Example:
    Sciatic Nerve Free Report
    12-Page Report tells all – Causes,
    Symptoms, Diagnosis & Remedies
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain
    ===

    [Condition]? ==> “Condition” greater than 13 characters but less than or equal to 24
    XX-Page Report tells all – Causes,
    Symptoms, Diagnosis & Remedies
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Example:
    Lumbar Bulging Disc?
    12-Page Report tells all – Causes,
    Symptoms, Diagnosis & Remedies
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain
    ===

    Free XX-Page Report ==> “Condition” greater than 25 characters (with spaces)
    About [Condition]
    Reveals All; Including Remedies
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Example
    Free 12-Page Report ==> “Condition” greater than 25 characters (with spaces)
    About Pinched nerve in lower back
    Reveals All; Including Remedies
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain


    ********

    Free [Condition] Report ==> “Condition” less than 13 characters
    XX-page report shows you all you
    need to know. Download Free Now!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Example:
    Free Sciatic Nerve Report
    12-page report shows you all you
    need to know. Download Free Now!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain
    ===

    [Condition]? ==> “Condition” greater than 13 xtersbut less than or equal to 24xters
    XX-page report reveals all you
    need to know. Download Free Now!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Example:
    Lumbar Bulging Disc?
    12-page report reveals all you
    need to know. Download Free Now!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain
    ===

    Free XX-Page Report ==> “Condition” greater than 25 characters (with spaces)
    About [Condition]
    Reveals all you need to know!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Example:
    Free 12-Page Report
    About Pinched nerve in lower back
    Reveals all you need to know!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain


    ********
    Back Pain Gone Forever
    [Condition]? You Can
    Be Pain-Free Again. Get Free Report
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Examples:
    Back Pain Gone Forever
    Pinched Nerve Lower Back? You Can
    Be Pain Free Again. Get Free Report
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Back Pain Gone Forever
    Degenerative Disc Disease? You Can
    Be Pain-Free Again. Get Free Report
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

    Back Pain Gone Forever
    Herniated disc? You Can
    Be Pain-Free Again. Get Free Report
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/EndBackPain

  30. P. Da Silva says

    I am going to take a stab at a different view. You don’t buy medication or surgery, you buy relief from the effects of the condition.

    Back Pain Get You Down?
    [Condition] Affects 1000’s.
    New treatment in 3 Easy Steps
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

    ————————————————
    Back Pain Get You Down?
    [Condition] Affects 1000’s.
    Free MRI Review – Find Out More
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  31. Alan Waggoner says

    [Condition] Pain?
    New Medical Breakthrough Procedure
    Cures [Condition] Pain. Call Now!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/AccuraScope

    ***

    [Condition] Relief
    New Minimally Invasive Procedure –
    In & Out, Quick Relief, Call Today!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

    ***

    [Condition] Pain?
    Shocking New Outpatient Procedure
    Cures [Condition] Pain. Call Today!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/AccuraScope

    I agree with Benjamin Perry, you may have to abbreviate the condition in the description lines to make it fit. The searcher will recognize the abbreviation right away. But I would try to keep the full name in the headlines if possible, so you may have to remove words like “Pain” or “Relief” from the headline and just leave the question mark after the condition.

  32. Sam Bell says

    Stop The Pain
    There Is A Simple Solution For
    [Condition] Report Explains All!
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  33. Brett says

    [Condition] Treatment
    Sole provider of new, non-invasive
    back procedure. Get Free Info Now!

  34. Gregg says

    [Condition]
    Weigh the Options of Pain Relief
    With our Treatment Comparison Chart
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[Condition]

  35. Paul Cheney says

    See Update in the body of the blog post for official winners…

  36. Kevin Moreland says

    @Paul Cheney

    I don’t quite get it Paul…Amy’s winning suggestion was:

    [Condition] Sufferer?
    Learn about the causes & solutions
    from the experts in spine health.
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/[condition]

    Yet the winning treatment ad Flint uses in his presentation is:

    Avoid open back surgery
    Try AccuraScope back pain treatment
    One micro incision for pain relief
    NorthAmericanSpine.com/Back_Pain

    Flint talks about the winning treatment having clarity on the simplicity of the solution (and rightly so) I just don’t see how you’ve taken Amy’s suggestion template and produced the treatment…

    Any clarity you could provide as to the reasoning would be much appreciated.

    Congrats to Amy and Carrie btw. No sour grapes…honest 🙂

  37. Paul Cheney says

    @Kevin Moreland

    Hey Kevin. I probably should have been clearer about this. “Avoid Open Back Surgery” was the winning treatment in an already completed separate test.

    “[Condition] Sufferer” was the treatment we chose from the submitted comments for an upcoming test. We don’t know yet whether it will win the actual experiment. It just won the editorial and research staff’s approval for participating in the upcoming test.

    There is a slide near the end of the Web clinic that should explain it a little more. It’s around 41:50 in the video.

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