How to Test Ad Copy

All marketing media needs to be tested to optimize it for ultimate success – whether you are writing for a landing page, crafting a sales letter or even just whipping up a quick ad for use on one of the pay per click networks. Trying out different layouts and words can lead to increased response and sometimes as a marketer it’s your job to do it.

In this article we look at how to test ad copy for optimum response.

So pull up a seat and take a look at what’s required in looking for the best results from your copy.

What Is Testing?

Testing your marketing material should be a critical part of your advertising strategy. Chopping and changing components to discover the best setup and content for optimum response is well worth the effort. It might be that your target market prefers a particular call to action over another one and you won’t find that out unless you test your ad copy with a few different arrangements.

In addition, if you are paying for an ad to be published either online or offline, you don’t want to commit large finance to something that just does not work for your audience. Discovering the most effective arrangement and content that converts to sales is crucial.

How Should You Test Ad Copy?

Several variations of the same ad should be tested. If you are using pay per click style advertising like Google Adwords, then you should also test whether CPM is going to work better for you than CPC (CPM is the term used for payment that is based on 1000 impressions of an ad and CPC is pay per click).

As an aside, some people say that CPC is the best way to pay for Facebook ads and CPM is better on Google Adwords. If brand awareness is the objective of your ad then you might want to go for CPM style even when you’re using Facebook.

Along with the different components of each ad, there are different themes to test too. Let’s take a look at some of the options when it comes to the testing of ad copy.

Ad Copy Themes

Buyers are motivated by different needs, some will be looking for more bang for their buck, and others for good customer service or fast delivery. Try these different angles for your ads:

  • Testimonials
  • Discounts
  • Prices
  • Statistics
  • Providing the answer to one of your prospect’s questions


Start out by creating several ads so that you test which approach is going to be most attractive to your audience. Quite often looking at the ads of your competition will inspire you and will also allow you to understand more about what they are getting the best response from.

How To Track A Competitor’s Ads

Print off their ads each day or week (depending on which channel the ads are being exposed on. Add the date that you printed it off and then follow up on the next ad time cycle.

You need to look for the changes that are being made to their ads. Nobody pays for an ad time and time again unless it’s working for them – so it will give you some kind of indication about what actually is working for them.

Control Ad Split Test Ad

A/B or split testing is the name of the method of testing when just one small change is made between two ads to compare which ad will have the best results. Take a look at this example.


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Create Several Versions

Once you have ascertained which theme is working best with your target market, then it’s time to perfect it. Take each element of it and then write out 2 or 3 versions. Mix up what you’ve got and then cycle through the different possibilities as you test ad copy.

Here Are Some Examples Of Proven Approaches To Try Out On Your Ad:

  • Calls to action – use positive verbs such as ‘try us now for best prices’, ‘call us now for quick delivery’, ‘visit our website for FREE offer’
    You could opt to use a price or a discount as a temptation for consumers. Keep in mind that using a discount in an ad can save you from having to keep changing the price. Depending on where you are advertising and who for, getting approval on ads can take some time and keep making minor changes can cut into the time that your ad is being exposed
  • Testimonials – use the comments of a satisfied customer to convince others that you deliver high quality products and/or service
  • Customer benefits – make it clear what’s in it for the customer to buy from you and what your unique selling point is.
  • Free shipping/fast delivery – tell them about it. It can often be what sets you apart from the rest.

Here Are A Few More Points To Keep In Mind As You Decide Which Approaches You Are Going To Try Next:

If you are using an internet based ad and are linking through to a landing page, then keep in mind that your landing page will need to be in alignment with your ad. It’s going to need the same words used on it to confirm to the visitor that they’ve arrived on the right page.

Search engine researchers have discovered that people are more likely to click on an ad that uses the same words as they used when they were searching. It’s almost like they get tunnel vision for what they are looking for, so your ad will do best if its headlines uses the same words as the search term used. Keep in mind that you need to stay as specific as the search.

If The User Is Searching On The Term:

“back yard blowing tools” and you use the headline “Back Yard Tools” on your ad, you could even put them off and they will click on an ad that will be more in line with what they were searching for. They are more likely to select an ad that states ‘Back Yard Blowers” as it’s more specific and niched.

Your landing page should also carry through the same offer that you used in a headline. Your visitor has come along with a particular mind-set that you have set for them and you don’t want to suddenly change it or they will feel put off and are most likely to leave the page.

How To Measure Your Testing

When it comes to measuring your testing you need to do this in an almost scientific way in order to be able to depend upon the results. For each version, make a note of its content and keep these points in mind:

  • In order to fairly compare the results, you’ll need to have given each ad an equal number of impressions or time of exposure
  • If you’re using Adwords or something similar then ensure that each of your tests are run at the same time of day
  • Remember that weekdays and weekends are very different when it comes to web behaviours and it depends what you are selling and to whom whether one of the other will be in your favor.
  • According to some web marketing professionals, you cannot determine how well an ad is performing until you have reached 300 clicks. A faster way to find out is to give it just 30. You can see quite fast whether ads are working or not, in particular if you are using Facebook. If they aren’t then they can be tweaked easily to expose them to a slightly different audience or the words/images can be changed.
  • All variables such as geographic location, demographics, time of day etc will play a part in the performance of the ad and should be noted.
  • If you link through to a landing page, then you will need to go through the same process of testing each component of it. You might opt to change
  • Logo
  • Color
  • Calls to action
  • Positioning of calls to action
  • Images
  • Fonts
  • Removal of navigation menu (it’s recommended that you do remove it as it keeps visitors more focused on your marketing message)
  • Images
  • Sales copy

Study the web page analytics to understand what the behaviour was of visitors to the page. If you’re using Google Analytics then you can put some ‘goals’ into place to understand how people are reaching any page such as your ‘thank you for buying’ page.

Keep in mind that if the search engines crawl every version of your landing pages they could well flag them up for duplicate content and could even penalise you. Keep the spiders out until you have chosen which page you want them to find.

Here Are Some Steps That You Should Take In Order To Test Ad Copy Effectively:

  • Create two ads with a different theme – i.e. one based on price and the other on the USP of the business.
  • Place the ads up with the same circumstances, i.e. the same time of day, for the same amount of time.
  • Tweak the headline of the better performing ad and measure the results
  • Cycle through a variety of changes until you have the ad that is giving the best performance.


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