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:
- Among the 4,610 optimizers on the MarketingExperiments Optimization group on LinkedIn
- Local marketing events
- Optimization Summit 2012 in Denver
- The comments section of this blog post
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)…
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.
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
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.
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:
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:
Learn 3 treatments with the highest
success rates in this free report
However, you might take an angle like this:
5 things you need to know to give
your loved one the care they need.
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.
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.
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:
- A free PDF copy of MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – PPC Edition (a $397 value)
- The opportunity to brag about how they were included in a real MECLABS experiment
- A shot at having their treatment actually win the experiment (more bragging rights)
- A mention (and link) on this blog as a marketing expert (yes, even more bragging rights)
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)
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:
- 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.
- 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.