Insurance Marketing HQ

Know Your Audience: Common PPC Ad Copy Mistakes

Posted on Apr 10, 2012

Have you ever done a Google search, looked at the paid search advertisements on the top and right side of the search results, and thought … “What does that advertisement have anything to do with my search?”

Recently, I executed a search for the keyword “insurance”.  Amongst all of the competition for top billing in these search results, I saw an ad for “Assurance Wireless” promoting a free cell phone:

Obviously, this is a poorly placed PPC advertisement.  The advertiser didn’t want to appear in results for the highly competitive and highly searched term “insurance”.  The obvious mistake is that the advertiser (either intentionally or not) targeted the misspelling of their brand name “Assurance”.  The advertiser will not be happy when it realizes that a large percentage of their paid search budget is eaten up by clicks that come from a keyword that isn’t relevant to their business at all. Inevitably, search engine users will see this ad, click through (perhaps by mistake) to the advertiser’s site, and quickly exit, obviously with a poor user experience.  The advertiser has potentially just paid $25-$30 for each click on this mistakenly placed advertisement.  That is an expensive mistake.

This is an extreme example of poor ad copy construction, but it got me thinking about three common PPC ad copy mistakes that advertisers often make.

Mistake #1: Using your brand name in the ad’s headline

The “headline” in a PPC advertisement is the blue bolded line at the top of every text ad.  It is the attention-grabber, the first thing that your audience sees when your ad comes up in search results.  One hint: don’t waste that space on introducing your company’s name.  Chances are (and I’m sorry to break the news), your small company doesn’t carry enough brand recognition to become an asset in text-based advertisements.  If someone searches on the term “auto insurance quote”, they’re not necessarily looking for a specific company (like yours), they’re just looking to get a quote.  So, instead of mentioning your company in the headline, why not focus on what is going to be most effective in drawing in the audience?  The first thing that searchers should see is the benefits of your “product” — such as “Free Auto Insurance Quote”.  Don’t waste valuable space on your company’s brand, unless you’re a company with strong brand recognition (like Geico).  Besides, if someone is actually looking for your company by name, you’ll show up in search results regardless (because you ARE advertising for your company’s name … aren’t you??).

Mistake #2: Don’t be too broad in your ad copy

Make sure that your ad is as close to the search query (the term that search users choose in Google) as possible. Be as specific as possible.  In keeping with the insurance example from above, imagine that you are an agency looking to attract new customers for home insurance, auto insurance, and flood insurance. Make sure that your ads for each category are specific to that search as possible.  When someone searches for “flood insurance”, make sure that the ad they are served doesn’t reference a broad and generalized “insurance company”.  Instead, make sure that you include language specific to “flood insurance”, otherwise your competition will have a leg up on you.

So, tailor your ad copy to each type of keyword search that you are targeting – don’t run a homogenized “insurance”-based ad copy for each type of insurance, make sure you speak to the search engine user’s intent with specific language in your ad.

Mistake #3: Target the audience that is at the end of the buying cycle

In other words, we want to attract search engine users who are ready to perform a specific action – such as “get an insurance quote” or “buy auto insurance”.   These people are the most qualified audience out there, those who have signaled their intent to purchase with their keyword search.  Not only do we want to show up on keywords like those I just mentioned, but we want to emphasize those behaviors in our ad copy.

Too many advertisers use broad language in their ads, with the hope of attracting as many users as possible.  I’ve actually seen some ads with the headline “Curious about insurance?” – an attempt at generating visits to the advertiser’s web site, no matter what the user is looking for.  Instead, make sure that you don’t waste your PPC budget on people at the top of the sales funnel (those who are just browsing, or are curious) by offering ad copy that speaks specifically to those who are close to purchasing.  Use language like “Buying auto insurance?”, “Need a home insurance quote?” , or “Get a fast and free business insurance quote now”.  Not only will you appeal to those who are near the end of their search, but you’ll actually dissuade those who are just browsing (and thus saving your PPC budget for more serious shoppers!).

The lesson, when constructing paid search advertisements, is to speak to your audience as specifically as possible.  It will benefit your campaign by providing just the traffic that you are searching for.




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