How to Effectively A/B Test Your Text Ads on Google AdWords

By November 23, 2016Digital Media Buying

One of my favorite things to do as a search engine marketer is A/B testing my text ads on Google AdWords because it allows me to better understand my audience and perhaps even my client’s business. Testing can provide insights on what kind of messaging works, what product/service features are (actually) the most important, and how the brand (actually) benefits customers from their point of view. Being well-informed is key to creating relevant and relatable ads, which could get you higher quality scores and lower cost-per-clicks, paving the way to greater returns. For newer companies, this is a great way to help you figure out your brand voice and messaging and/or which aspect of your business is most appealing to users.

So how do you A/B test a text ad on Google AdWords? Let’s break it down into the key elements:

Headline

Depending on your campaign type, your first headline is usually your brand name or a brief (non-branded) description of the type of product/service you’re selling. Your second headline is where you can be more creative – it could be your company slogan/tagline/value proposition, a call-to-action or, my favorite, a question, which the user should answer “yes” to so that they’re more likely to click on your ad! Questions spark thought and curiosity and could be a way to phrase your value proposition more interestingly. In terms of style, witty (or “punny”) headlines are great attention grabbers, seasonal headlines are highly relevant, and straightforward headlines are easy to understand, all of which could help increase click-through rates.

  • Test examples
    • Version A of value proposition vs. Version B of same value proposition
      – e.g. different tone, style or sentence structure
    • Value proposition A vs. Value proposition B
    • Statement headline vs. Question headline
    • Tagline vs. Call-to-action

Description

You can test the above ideas here as well, but the difference is you can include more copy in this field. However, avoid repeating the same information in the headline and description in order to make the most out of your ad’s overall character space. For instance, if your headline includes your value proposition, then no need to mention it in the description.

  • Test examples
    • General value proposition vs. Specific example of how you’ve helped customers
    • Product feature A vs. Product feature B

Landing Page

Ideally, your landing page supports your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) efforts, meaning it includes keywords and text that match with your ads so that you can provide a seamless experience from search term to search ad to landing page. Not only do landing page tests let you know which page provides better engagement, but it also helps you optimize your site’s overall user experience.

  • Test examples
    • Homepage vs. Specific page
    • Version A of product page vs. Version B of product page
      – Should be for the same product
      – Test different types, amount, and format of copy and visuals
    • Page from website vs. Page separate from website
      – Applies to businesses that focus on lead generation
      – The separate page is usually a dedicated landing page created for a specific ad or campaign, using a template through platforms like Unbounce or LeadPages

To get clean data, don’t test multiple ad elements at once and remember to set your Google AdWords campaign ad rotation settings to “Rotate Evenly” so that your ads have equal chances of being shown. Leave this setting on for at least two weeks, but if you have lower than average site traffic, keep the setting on for longer.

Happy testing!

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