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Results of a Google AdWords test

Google AdWords recently offered me a $100 coupon to test their service. I decided to run a few ads promoting the Breaking Copy blog, to see which drove the most traffic. Here are some interesting results from the test.

The format for the ads is simple. They all look like this:

Google AdWords ads show up in search engine results (Search) and in banners like the ones I run here on Breaking Copy (Display). Search ads (sometimes called SEM) are designed to match keywords people search for or are otherwise interested in. I told Google to match my ads to the keywords Copywriting, Copywriter, Marketing News and Copywriting Blog. Of those four terms, “Copywriters” generated the most clicks.

I ran the test in two phases. For the first phase of the test, I ran three different headlines: “Great Copywriters Read It,” “Be Interesting,” and “Breaking Copy.” “Great Copywriters Read It” won handily, while “Be Interesting” flopped. After a few days*, I reconfigured the test to cycle out most of the “Breaking Copy” variations, and rotate in new versions, including a new headline to test, “Be A Better Copywriter.” I also varied the description text to include a few different sentences, to see if that made any difference. Here were the results, in descending order of how well they performed (measured by click-through rate).

1. (Both phases)
Great Copywriters Read It
Visit the Breaking Copy blog. Learn about words that work.

2. (Phase 2 only)
Be a Better Copywriter
Visit the Breaking Copy blog. Learn about words that work.

3. (Phase 2 only)
Great Copywriters Read It
Visit the Breaking Copy blog. A better blog about copywriting.

4. (Phase 1 only)
Breaking Copy
A better blog about copywriting. Learn which words help sell.

5. (Both phases)
Breaking Copy
A better blog about copywriting. Learn what’s fresh and effective.

6. (Phase 1 only)
Breaking Copy
A better blog about copywriting. Stay hip to the latest lingo.

7. (Phase 1 only)
Be Interesting
Read the Breaking Copy blog. Stay hip to the latest lingo.

8. (Phase 2 only)
Great Copywriters Read It
Visit the Breaking Copy blog. Learn what’s fresh and effective.

9. (Phase 2 only)
Great Copywriters Read It
Visit the Breaking Copy blog. Stay hip to the latest lingo.

If you really want to look at the data up close, here’s a graphic showing how it all worked out numbers-wise. (Click for a larger version.)

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My conclusion? “Learn about words that work” was the most effective piece of language in the whole campaign. It was the only sentence unique to the top two ads, and it appeared in no other ads. It mattered more than the headline. It also seems like longer headlines work better than shorter ones, but I’d need another test to be sure.

All told, my $100 Google AdWords coupon generated 81 clicks, with an average CPC of $1.30. As a frame of reference, Breaking Copy received 2,843 visitors the days the campaign ran, so the lift this campaign generated was not significant.

If I were selling something online or running a business like a restaurant, Google AdWords would be a sensible buy. Google AdWords are can be set up relatively cheaply and can be precisely targeted, which is why they work well for businesses. This platform is also how Google makes most of its money. However, for the Breaking Copy blog, a hobby/self-promo site where visitors don’t directly generate revenue for me, Google AdWords is not a good investment.

* Important: This campaign didn’t run long enough to achieve statistical significance, so it’s only valid as a point of conversation. Numbers people might kill me for this, but I though it was fun to share anyway.

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Related post: Result of a Facebook Ad test.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Technology

One comment

  1. Diane says:

    Hey, thanks for the clear test methodology and results info. I’m doubly happy because I’ve been tagging my site “words that work” and talking about what words can do for you for years. A little validation always feels good.

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