Paul Cheney

Test Your Marketing Intuition: Which PPC ad produced more conversions?

February 1st, 2012

If you’ve been running PPC campaigns for longer than a month or so, there have probably been at least a few times when you’ve hit a wall.

You know what I mean … those points when it seems that no matter how much effort you put into testing and optimizing your ads with the right keywords or copy, the incremental returns are minimal and you just cannot seem to beat your star performers.

It may be you are hitting one of those walls right now … and unlike Jim Morrison would have you believe, you can’t just break on through to the other side.

So what do you do in that situation?

At MECLABS, we experiment with a lot of PPC campaigns, and we’ve seen our share of walls when it comes to optimizing them. In a recent experiment, with the help of PPC managers at ROI Revolution, we were able to help a MECLABS Research Partner, a minimally invasive spine treatment center, break through a “wall” to achieve 47% more leads from a PPC campaign.

We’re going to share the details of that experiment with you on our Web clinic today at 4:00 p.m. EST – Online Advertising Forensics: We investigate how and why a text-based PPC ad produced 47% more conversions.

But, before we give you the full scoop, we want you to get some practice in so you can start preparing to break through your own walls.

We’re going to let you test your marketing intuition and tell us in the comments of this blog post which PPC ad you think produced the 47% lift … and why.

If you choose the correct PPC ad and give us a good enough reason for why you think it won, you will be featured on our blog as a marketing expert and win the respect of your peers and superiors.

So without further ado, here are the treatments:


Treatment 1:

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Treatment 2:

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Treatment 3:

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And here’s the landing page for all three just for reference’s sake:

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All right, now that you’ve seen the ads, tell us which of them won the test and why in the comments …

And again, be sure to tune into today’s Web clinic at 4:00 p.m. EST to find out the actual results and hear actionable advice about how the discoveries from this experiment can help you improve your own PPC campaigns.



Congratulations to commenter Gary Kline, for correctly predicting the outcome of the experiment and giving a darn good reason why treatment #3 received the highest conversion rate.


Related Resources:

Web clinic replay — Online Advertising Forensics: We investigate how and why a text-based PPC ad produced 47% more conversions

Online Advertising: How your peers optimize PPC ads

PPC Ads: What is search engine marketing best used for?

How to Test Your Value Proposition Using a PPC Ad

Paul Cheney

About Paul Cheney

Paul Cheney, Senior Partnership Content Manager, MECLABS Institute Paul helps turn raw research into easy-to-understand content for MarketingExperiments readers. He earned his B.A. in English literature from Covenant College. Before joining the MarketingExperiments team, Paul wrote grant proposals and fundraising letters for a mid-size nonprofit in New Jersey. He has also worked as a freelance Internet marketing consultant and copywriter for small businesses. In his spare time, Paul enjoys reading, writing poems and dating his wife, Callie.

Categories: Paid Search Marketing (PPC) Tags: , , ,

  1. Cheryl Ayres
    February 1st, 2012 at 08:54 | #1

    When people feel long term chronic pain the first question is when will I feel relief

  2. February 1st, 2012 at 09:13 | #2

    No doubt: treatment #2. The headline’s structure is point first and gives me, as Cheryl says, a really helpfull information. Then, again, in the message belove I get what I want: a clear and compelling information.

    P.S.: After taking part to MacLab web seminar and LPO course and after reading this blog, I’ve totally renewed my website look. And I owe it all to you. So, thank you guys.

  3. February 1st, 2012 at 10:07 | #3

    Oh wow, these are super interesting subtle changes. I’m fascinated to know which one performed so significantly better.

    Number three is interesting because it alleviates the possible fear I may have of surgery. However, I’m going with number two. The words rattling round inside my head are – “I want rid of my back pain. Now!” This treatment is clear and offers me specific hope in the form of a time scale in which to expect relief from my pain.

    The word “innovative” sets the named (important) product well against its competition, and “single 30-min” suggests a one time (very important), cost effective solution to my problem.

  4. February 1st, 2012 at 10:29 | #4

    I would also add that the two most popular search terms are likely to be ‘back pain treatment’ and ‘back pain relief’. Treatment number two does a good job of incorporating both.

  5. Brandon T.
    February 1st, 2012 at 14:01 | #5

    Treatment #2 is best suited for this landing page for a few reasons:

    – High relevancy throughout the ad for for head terms like “back pain”, “back pain treatment” and “back pain relief”. Also addresses users looking specifically for the “AccuraScope” procedure.
    – Headline also provides user with the feeling of a fast fix to their problem (Same-day Back Pain Relief) along with first-letter capitalization of words, which could increase CTR.
    – Strong call-to-action without making the user uneasy (try our procedure vs. reclaim your life or 1 micro incision).
    – highlights the benefits and ease of the procedure (only one procedure needed and it only takes 30 minutes!)

    Although I think Treatment #3 could target users lower in the funnel with higher intent, I do not think it would increase lead volume by 47%. More users search for back pain relief than options for minimally invasive surgeries, so the conversion rates might increase but I would think the CTRs decrease (as less people are looking to avoid surgery than need back pain relief).

  6. February 1st, 2012 at 14:03 | #6

    Thanks for the comments everyone! Let’s keep going… Any other guesses?

  7. February 1st, 2012 at 14:12 | #7

    I expect treatment three got the most conversions. AccuraScope sounds like an out-patient alternative to invasive back surgery. I expect of their customers are facing back surgery and are looking for such an alternative. “Avoid open back surgery” would assuredly strike a chord with that group.

    The first two ads sound like they are promoting some kind of chiropractic solution. Also, the “30-minute solution” sounds too good to be true, and may be perceived as just “hype” and not a sincere offer.

    Treatment three zeroes in on the client’s prospective customer base, and “sells the click”, while discouraging people with no interest or need for back surgery of any kind.

  8. Susan Savkov
    February 1st, 2012 at 15:52 | #8

    As a person that has suffered from back pain, treatment #1 which had the text “Relief from back pain” and Reclaim your life” jumped out at me. Relief and reclaim are powerful words in getting me to click to learn more. I would be skeptical about “Same-day back pain relief” as someone who has tried many options, feels like that wording is gimmicky. Back pain especially doesn’t get solved in a day though it would be great if it did.

  9. February 1st, 2012 at 17:13 | #9

    Er, woops.

    I’d just like to say a big thanks to you guys for a phenomenally informative, inspiring and entertaining webinar. This was my first, definitely wont be my last.

  10. February 1st, 2012 at 17:27 | #10

    I agree – this is an interesting test!

    I was pulled to ad #2. It is more specific, as others have said. It also creates a sense of urgency with “same day” relief. In addition, using the name “AccuraScope” provides some credibility as well as curiosity. This just isn’t another pill – it sounds like it might be something new and different. (Whereas with ad #1, I’ve heard that before).

    My second choice is ad #3 – but I am not facing back surgery. I think this ad would really attract anyone who is.

  11. February 1st, 2012 at 17:44 | #11

    Treatment 3

    Sorry I couldn’t watch the webinar today. I found this quite challenging, but decided on #3 because I am a back pain sufferer, and the greatest fear many of us have is open back surgery. I wasn’t crazy about the golf image, although back pain is a terrible handicap (sorry, couldn’t resist) for many golfers, but the rest of the landing page drives home the difference in the surgical procedure. I reason that those who would actually inquire (the conversion group) are those in the most intense “buy now” mode–i.e. those with serious chronic pain willing to consider a lesser incision.

  12. February 1st, 2012 at 19:53 | #12

    As a non native English speaking reader I would have chosen #1, it’s plain language and #2 and #3 use the technical term “AccuraScope” and unless I know what that is, it’s of no use to me.

  13. February 2nd, 2012 at 04:45 | #13


    This is a difficult one.
    The three ads provide no information about the effectiveness of treatment or the patient satisfaction.
    So, I chose treatment#3 because it targets a specific audience: people who fear surgery. What is implied in the ad, our treatment is as effective as surgery but without doing so.
    It best suits with the landing page and the logo baseline “The leader in Minimally Invasive Spine Care”.
    The other two ads fail to differentiate with other ads. All ads may promise the same thing: relief of the back pain. I do not think the ease of procedure and innovation are sufficient competitive advantages.

    So, treatment#3 !

  14. Dimo Serfimov
    February 2nd, 2012 at 06:01 | #14

    Interesting comparison. I am gonna go with treatment #3.
    The reason is that, the 3rd one is more related to the Landing page text and it contains most keywords for the specific customer need.

  15. February 2nd, 2012 at 06:58 | #15

    Doesn’t saying the landing page is shown “for reference sake” put up a red flag? The goal here is conversion (a sale/lead) so the messaging in each Treatment should be carried through to not only the landing page, but throughout the entire site experience so the visitor is reminded of what got him there in the first place. We have tons of examples of companies doing ‘PPC echo’ campaigns that lift conversion and maximize their investment in paid search.

  16. February 2nd, 2012 at 08:52 | #16

    Congratulations @Gary Kline! You’re the only commenter who correctly predicted the results BEFORE the web clinic where we gave it away. Thanks to everyone who commented! We always appreciate it.

  17. February 2nd, 2012 at 09:51 | #17

    @Niall Mackenzie Thanks for the encouragement Niall. Always good to hear!

  18. Alex
    February 2nd, 2012 at 10:04 | #18

    Unfortunately I missed this webinar. Any chance you’ll be putting up a re-play of it soon?

  19. February 2nd, 2012 at 10:06 | #19

    Yes, we will be posting the replay Thursday of next week.

  20. Nadine
    February 3rd, 2012 at 04:33 | #20


    Who does not want any form of relief, back pain or not, leading a promise ;)?

  21. February 7th, 2012 at 10:59 | #21

    Unfortunately, I missed the webinar, but I’m looking forward to watching. One thing this experiment left out was an ad that had a punctuation mark after the first line of ad copy. Google adds the first line of ad copy to the title when the ad shows up in the top three results (only if there is a punctuation mark at the end of the first line of ad copy). This definitely impacts CTR and would definitely impact this test, as certain parts of the copy would stand out.

  22. Steve Bowick
    March 2nd, 2012 at 12:05 | #22

    I think ad 3 won. It addresses the subjects worst fear. They may be saying “I’ll try anything to avoid surgery. ” It shows them this company deals with people who have serious pain. At least as much as theirs. It promises relief without stating an immediate time frame and leaves the time frame to the subject. A micro-incision sounds like a shot and sounds painless compared to their current pain. It sounds new. It is a simple call to action. It implies that one can save money. It is a non gimmicky,straight forward, offer of help and relief. Ad’s one and two imply 30 minute healing time which seems unrealistic and doesnt offer specifics on the method. With ad three at least you believe you know what a micro-incision involves;speed, limited pain,limited time etc.

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