A/B Testing in PPC

PPC Help: A/B Testing
Everyone needs PPC help, and this series is part of our blog post series to help you improve your paid search campaign in 10 days.

Guest post by Marianne Pratt

You need to test your PPC ads regularly to ensure you are getting the best value for your PPC dollar.

PPC A/B testing is the best way to test the effectiveness on your PPC advertising efforts. Testing provides many benefits that outweigh the extra time it requires.

When you test your PPC advertising, it becomes more effective because you will identify the best elements of your campaigns and then leverage those elements.

PPC A/B testing is easier than testing other kinds of marketing materials because there are fewer things to test.

A/B Testing Variables

PPC A/B testing will involve testing four variables:

  1. Headline
  2. Body text
  3. Link
  4. Keywords for which the ad appears

The headline is the blue link in search results and usually expresses what is being offered. Your headline should be four to five words and include the keyword.

The body text is where you can elaborate on your offer and it appears in search the same way as a page’s description appears in organic search rankings.

The link included in your PPC ad should point to a page dedicated to your offer, a landing page. Another option is to create a mini-site that is dedicated to your campaign.

Having your ad appear for every keyword that is relevant to your offer can be expensive and ineffective. Your PPC A/B testing will discover that certain keywords will convert better than others when visitors land on your site. You should track what keywords convert better than others and use those as the focus of your future marketing efforts. This will decrease your overall cost and improve your return on investment.

How many tests do you need to run depends on how many variables you want to test. For example, if you have two different headlines and two different ad bodies you would have to run four tests — AA, AB, AA, BB. The more variables you alter, the more tests you will need to run.

What to test?

When PPC A/B testing, you also need to know what you are going to test. What you will measure depends on the goal of your campaign.

If you have a short sales cycle, you should test the overall conversion rate — the percentage of people that buy your product.

If you have a longer sales cycle, you should test some other action that places a prospect into your sales funnel, for example, subscribing to an e-mail newsletter.

If you are running an awareness campaign, you can test the click through rate (CTR) or the number of times people share your content.

Analyzing your results

You will need to run tests over a period of a few days, not just one day, to gather accurate information. Accurate PPC A/B testing requires that you also run all tests simultaneously because you will not be able to compare them if you do not collect all of your data over the same period of time.

PPC A/B testing can yield inconclusive information after a few days, keep trying. Ultimately, if you have more visitors participating in your test you will have more accurate results.

Five PPC A/B testing best practices

PPC A/B testing will yield better results if you follow five best practices:

  1. Test your different options at the same time.
  2. Only test change one variable in each option to ensure you can accurately identify the variable that causes change and has the most impact.
  3. Test early on in your campaign and test as frequently as possbile.
  4. Even though it is tempting to rely on emotion or your instincts, you should use the hard, empirical data that you collect to make your decisions.
  5. Gather, at least, a few thousand impressions to collect accurate data. You may need more, but that is a bare minimum.

2 responses to “A/B Testing in PPC”

  1. 45 Awesome Posts on A/B, Multivariate, and Usability Testing | Unbounce

    [...] A/B Testing in PPC – A quick look at A/B testing your PPC campaign, how to get started and five A/B testing best practices. [...]

  2. 45 Awesome Posts on A/B, Multivariate, and Usability Testing

    [...] A/B Testing in PPC – A quick look at A/B testing your PPC campaign, how to get started and five A/B testing best practices. [...]

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