Search Engine Marketing: Finding appeal for your PPC Ads


After being involved in our recent Web clinic on PPC ads, I feel it’s important to talk about one of the most misunderstood elements involved in effectively writing a PPC ad. This is the element of appeal. Let me take a step back for a moment. MarketingExperiments has done extensive research (here’s one example) about the elements of an effective value proposition in the hopes of creating a repeatable process that marketers can use to optimize their own value props. In an effort to help simplify this process, we have created a breakdown of what makes a value proposition truly forceful:

  • Appeal – How much is this offer desired?
  • Exclusivity – Is this offer available elsewhere?
  • Credibility – How believable are your claims?


Most of the time, finding the exclusivity of your product or company is a fairly straightforward process. But, it largely hinges on knowing your competition: What is it that you can offer your customers that your competitors cannot?


Credibility is not so bad either. Do you keep a good track record of your successes? Any smart business would. So tell the world about them, like you would in a report you’re preparing for business leaders (numbers, testimonials, etc). They (your potential customers, hopefully not your business leaders) might not believe a word you say, but if it’s backed up by data, or if it came directly from a customer, then it starts to mean something, right? (funny how that works)


Appeal is an entirely different animal to me, though. There are a lot of business owners out there who think appeal is simply about finding the very best incentive or value to talk about. They think, ”let’s throw in a drawing for a free iPad, that’s good appeal!’

And, it might be for those wanting a free iPad. But how can you be sure that those people are really interested in what you normally offer day in and day out?

In the context of PPC ads, marketers often mistake appeal for the best sounding ”thing” that they can pack into all the other ”things” they want to say. Free Assessment! Free Trial! Free this, free that. Ask yourself, though:

  • Are these potential customers really interested in an “assessment,” or would they rather have a “consultation?”
  • Do these potential customers really want to take all that time to do your free trial, or would they rather just have a quick, clear product tour?
  • Does your PPC ad connect at all with what the visitor searched for?

These are the type of things I am testing all the time. Why? Because I’ve discovered this important principle regarding appeal:

Determining appeal is less about offering attractive things and more about figuring out exactly what someone is looking for.

So what does this mean for your PPC ads? It means answering questions like this when you’re writing it:

  • When a visitor searches for this [keyword], what exactly are they looking for?
  • What keyword phrases would a customer type in if they were looking for a product/offering just like mine?
  • According to my analytics and AdWords, what keywords are visitors clicking on the most?
  • What are my best-converting keywords for the site? Where did customers go and what did they read/see that helped them connect?
  • What are my site’s top inbound keywords?

What all of these questions have in common is that they force you to focus on the mindset of the visitor. Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, the Managing Director (CEO) of MECLABS, has said it over and over again. Say this to yourself, and then say it again with your own Dr. McGlaughlin academic accent: “We’re not optimizing web pages, we are optimizing people’s thought sequences.”

What makes appeal harder than any of the other elements is that the answer is rarely clear and easily accessible. This means that you’re going to have to discover it through testing and focus groups.

For your PPC ads, you should try writing ads that purely differentiate on appeal (and match on other elements) and seeing which ones get the most clicks in every keyword.

What if I have a ton of keywords? No problem – test strategically formed ad groups that center on specific appeals. I’ll discuss more about testing ad groups, as well as provide optimization suggestions for an audience-submitted PPC ad to give you a real-world example of discovering appeal, on Monday on the MarketingExperiments blog.

Related Resources

How to Test Your Value Proposition Using a PPC Ad

PPC Ad Optimization: Testing, unique landing pages, and honesty

Powerful Value Propositions: How to Optimize this Critical Marketing Element – and Lift Your Results

This Just Tested: How PPC specificity drove 21% more clicks and cut costs 66

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  1. says

    Wow, amazing blog structure! How long have you been running a blog for?
    you make blogging glance easy. The whole glance of your site is great, let alone the content material!

  2. Joni says

    Hi there! This article couldn’t be written much better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I’ll
    send this post to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Dania Revira says

    What kind of research do you do to come to these conclusions? Thanks for sharing!

  4. Erin Hogg says

    @Dania Revira
    Hey Dania!

    Thanks so much for commenting. For more on this particular, you can check out the Web clinic that featured this very experiment:

    ALso, you can read more about our MECLABS patented methodology here:

    Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions, thanks!

    -Erin Hogg
    Copy Editor

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