Guide to PPC Ad Testing

Explore PPC testing to boost your advertising efforts. Through systematic trials on ad variations, gain insights for better budget management, marketing strategies, and improved conversion rates.

Alannah Picking

Alannah Picking — 13 minute read.

When it comes to digital marketing methods, a lot of marketing professionals suggest using pay-per-click advertising, and with good reason.

It provides fast and effective results, is easy to implement and has few financial restrictions. Those are the primary reasons why many online marketing campaigns today utilise PPC.

Guide Ppc Testing

However, the increasing competition in PPC advertising has saturated the market, raising concerns about the quality of PPC ads and the statistical significance of their results.

That is why PPC testing is recommended since it can help maximise the ad quality to get the best value for your money. But now you might wonder — what does PPC testing entail? Well, that’s what this guide is all about, so dive in!

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What Is PPC Testing?

In simple terms, PPC testing, often monitored using tools like Google Analytics, is a process that identifies the best-performing ad for a paid advertising campaign. Of course, this is just the basic principle of this testing process. The actual test is more complicated since it requires the tester to evaluate multiple ads rigorously.

In a standard paid search PPC testing procedure, several iterations of an ad are created, with numerous trials conducted on each version. This helps the tester identify the ad’s best version that can resonate with the audience.

If you are familiar with different types of business methodologies, you’ll notice that the testing procedure is very similar to the split testing or A/B testing process. It is a testing procedure that is commonly implemented in business research. Because of this reason, PPC testing is also known as “A/B testing for PPC”.

Ppc Practices Strategy

How To Do PPC Testing?

As discussed above, a PPC testing process involves running trials on different versions of an ad to determine the best iteration. Here, we have discussed this procedure in more detail so that you may get a clearer idea.

First, suitable ad groups for testing must be established; this is done at the ad group level. Then, a minimum of two versions of your PPC ad copy are created and published simultaneously within the same ad group. In other words, you will show two versions of your ad (version A and version B) to the same audience.

Once that step is complete, the ad performance of each ad within the group, part of the paid advertising campaign, needs to be monitored. If you want, you can introduce changes progressively in the ads and record the response generated by each version.

There are different types of variables that you can change in each version. You can change the ad configuration or the text of the ad copy. Or you could change the visual elements in each version as well.

The results of the testing can become statistically significant and mainly become apparent within a short time. But in some cases, you might need to conduct the test extensively for a while to get the desired outcomes. And once you have determined the winning formula, you can implement it for your paid ad campaign.

Step Ppc Advertising Cycle

PPC Testing Methods

There are three major PPC testing strategies that you can use, and we have discussed them in detail below.

1. Before/After Tests

The before/after method is best used for components that are usually difficult to change on short notice, such as product names, descriptions, prices, etc. To set it up, you need to select a product and gradually change any of the above components to elicit a response from your audience. Then, you must assess the difference in user traffic before and after the changes.

2. Drafts And Experiments

This is the most common testing method since it offers the most variations. In this strategy, you can first create a draft of our ad and progressively alter the different aspects. You can experiment with different variables in the draft to check which one generates the best response from your target audience.

3. Scheduled A/B Tests

Scheduled A/B test is primarily used for testing target keywords, but you can experiment with other testing metrics, too, if you wish. You can use scheduled A/B tests to evaluate your ads sequentially instead of simultaneously. This will prevent your ad campaigns from overlapping, which can be particularly useful when more of the previously mentioned strategies are needed.

Main Differences Ppc Seo

What Are The Different Types Of PPC Tests That You Can Perform?

Based on the requirements of your ad campaign, you can perform different types of PPC tests, as we have discussed below.

1. Testing Ad Copy

Here, you are required to test the ad copy prepared for your marketing campaign. The most important metric you must check here is the click-through rate or CTR. It is a key performance indicator for this ad test that shows how many people are actually clicking on your ads after seeing them.

The primary aspects you need to check here are the delivery of the ads, the call to action and the sense of urgency. Delivery refers to the method that you have used to convey the ad’s message to consumers. For instance, you can test which version of the ad copy generates more clicks - 20% off or $20 off.

Similarly, the call to action (CTA) must be optimised to generate consumer interest. In this case, you can test between different CTAs, such as “buy now” and “get yours today,” and see which one gets a higher CTR.

As for the sense of urgency, you can check how effectively your ad copy motivates people to take action quickly. For example, you can test PPC ads using phrases like “limited supply” and “limited time offer” to see which can generate a higher CTR.

2. Testing Landing Pages

Landing page optimisation is an important part of your PPC campaign since this is the place where your visitor would end up after clicking on the ad. If the landing page is appealing enough, you can convert the user into a paying customer.

This means that the conversion rate is an important metric to consider here. Therefore, when conducting A/B tests on the landing pages, you must check which iteration has the highest conversion rates.

As such, you will need to experiment with the layout of the landing pages. This includes features like clickable links, scrolling functionality and overall page clarity. You can also use the redirect feature to take the users to a different page altogether, as long as it efficiently gives the visitor the information they seek.

Whatever the case, you need to observe which strategy has a higher chance of converting the users and implement that strategy for your final and future campaigns.

Semrush Infographic Ppc Checklist

3. Testing Extensions

Ad extensions, often used in ad tests, provide additional information when utilised with PPC ads. They can include information like site links, contact details, addresses, ratings and others. Remember, you can use different ad extensions while testing to see which appeals to users the most and generates a higher CTR.

For example, you can test two ad variants, one with a rating extension and the other with a location extension. The option that generates a higher CTR can be implemented in your final ad.

4. Testing Device Types

It is no secret that most people use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets today. Thus, you must prepare PPC ads for both conventional computing and mobile devices. Then you will need to do split testing for both device types simultaneously to see which one has a higher CTR and conversion rate.

Based on the data gathered, you can set your ad spending. For instance, if you observe mobile ads as more effective than regular ads, you can invest more money in developing your mobile PPC campaign.

Best Practices For PPC Testing

If you want the best results out of your PPC campaign, you should follow some ad testing tips and best practices. For your convenience, we have listed them below.

  • Change only one element of your ad at a time
  • Test multiple variants of your ads simultaneously if possible
  • Document and record all the observations
  • Make frequent adjustments wherever necessary
  • Use the same testing method for consistency

Why Is PPC Testing Important?

In marketing, no standard formula can be applied to every business scenario. Each business has a specific set of internal and external factors, and the digital marketing campaign needs to be designed according to these factors.

When you implement a paid advertisement campaign such as PPC, it is in your best interests to ensure it is worth the money. Otherwise, you will be wasting valuable business capital that could have been used elsewhere.

Keeping that in mind, here are some primary reasons that A/B testing for PPC is crucial for your business and can largely impact your overall marketing efforts.

1. Budget Control

The most obvious reason that makes A/B testing for PPC important is budget control. Believe us - you would want to spend only some of your business capital towards ads. If you do that, you won’t have any money left to expand other business areas, which will spell doom for your business endeavour.

PPC ads exist because they give you better control over your ad spending. Here, you only need to pay for the clicks on your ad.

That sets it apart from conventional paid advertisements, where you must pay a certain amount right at the start to get your ad campaign rolling. There is no minimum budget requirement either, so you don’t have to worry about any financial barriers to entry.

Thus, if you play your cards right, you can get a great return on investment (ROI). The ROI, known as ROAS (return on ad spend) in the marketing domain, is a key indicator of a successful ad campaign. And to ensure that your ads are on track and have a good ROAS, you must perform A/B testing for PPC campaigns.

2. Marketing Optimisation

As we have mentioned once before, there is no one-size-fits-all approach in the marketing domain. You must constantly monitor and update your approach according to market trends and customer preferences. Failure to do that means your brand will lose its reputation and relevance in this hyper-competitive business landscape.

That is why it is essential to optimise your marketing strategy regularly. This is even more crucial in the case of paid ad campaigns like PPC. If you do not optimise your PPC ad, it will fail to have the expected impact, subsequently affecting your revenues.

On that note, you need to optimise the goals and targets of your PPC campaign. And the best way to do that is by performing PPC ad testing. Through these tests, you can set the goals and objectives of your ads, which help to optimise your campaign better.

You can even use PPC testing to improve your search engine optimisation (SEO), which will enhance the visibility of your ads in organic search results. This versatility is one of the biggest advantages of ad testing.

Optimise Ppc Campaigns Infographic

3. Ad Targeting

Ad testing is important if you want to improve the targeting of your brand. Through PPC ads testing, you can design your ads to appeal to specific target audiences, consequently allowing you to generate revenue from these audience groups.

The Ad testing procedure supported by most ad platforms allows you to target highly specific markets based on a range of metrics. These include age, gender, location, occupation, income and many more. For instance, let’s assume you own a clothing brand and want to sell your apparel to female youngsters. In that scenario, you can set the targeting preferences of your Google Ads accordingly via PPC testing.

4. Conversion Rates

Optimising conversion rates and identifying the winning ad for your products and services is essential to maximise revenue from your campaigns. And the importance of PPC testing in conversion rate optimisation is quite noticeable. This is because the ad tested to have a higher acceptance rate among consumers will naturally motivate them to purchase your products or services.

5. Bid Management

Conducting A/B tests on your PPC ads can also help manage your advertisement bids. The bidding process is extremely important in pay-per-click advertising, as it determines ad position, and if you make improper bids, you will only be wasting money.

But if you do the tests on the ads, you can get better value out of your bids. This is because the testing process will allow you to determine the best possible keywords to generate the most clicks. So, you can place your bids only on those keywords.

Likewise, you can place additional bids whenever you deem it necessary. Therefore, it simplifies the bid management process and is more cost-effective.

PPC Management Tools

This section briefly discusses some of the most popular PPC tools for PPC management that allow you to do PPC split testing.

1. Google Ads

Formerly known as Google AdWords, this tool is by far the most effective PPC management platform. With Google Ads, you can perform almost all types of PPC tests and experiments and see your ads’ quality scores, CTRs, conversion rates and other metrics.

2. SEMRush

SEMRush is another popular PPC management tool that marketers use. You can conduct PPC tests and perform SEO and competitor analysis with them. Furthermore, it lets you plan your budget, check ad placements and conduct keywords and market research.

3. SpyFu

With this tool, you can perform all the basic PPC tests and optimise all the standard pay-per-click capabilities. You can develop innovative marketing strategies for future campaigns and keep tabs on your competitors.

Master the Art of Ad Testing

Conducting PPC tests are absolutely necessary to ensure ad success in this competitive field of digital marketing. And if you follow the information we have provided here, you can develop a successful campaign structure for your brand.

However, we can fully understand if you need more confidence about doing this on your own. In that case, you can get in touch with us for assistance.

Here at sitecentre®, we have a team of qualified digital marketing experts who can manage your whole PPC campaign from start to finish. Just tell us the specifics of your business, and we will take care of the rest. That way, you can concentrate on other business areas without any worries.

Alannah Picking

Alannah Picking

With over eight years of industry experience across Digital Marketing, Alannah entered the sitecentre® team in February 2023 as our lead account manager. She comes highly qualified, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Industries from QUT (Queensland University of Technology) and a Postgraduate in Marketing. Alannah’s robust academic background and considerable experience make her an invaluable asset to the team.

Find them on their website: sitecentre®.

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