4.9K members online now
4.9K members online now
AdWords, ad groups, and campaigns. The heart of AdWords campaign management.
Guide Me

Ask an Expert - Improving CTRs

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 1
Top Contributor
Hi there, I'm Julia Muller, a Google Partners Top Contributor and Paid Search Director at thinkcube - a Full Service Marketing agency in Pittsburgh PA. One of the great aspects of this community is the support and advice we are all able to offer one another. One of my areas of expertise is "Improving CTRs" and I'm happy to share some of my learnings with you today. Please feel free to ask me anything related to "Improving CTRs" in the comments of this post from 12pm EST to 5pm EST today and I'll do my best to get back to you quickly with some helpful advice. Looking forward to some good questions!

Lift Low CTR Discussion by Julia Muller .jpgWhen Click Through Rate is Low


ISSUE #1: Low CTR - your ad copy does not encourage more clicks than your competition’s ad copy. You’ve tried this and that, but they just don’t seem to want to click. There may be few reasons for that. They are:

POSSIBLE REASON #1: weak USP, or lack thereof. 

Check if you remembered to put your unique selling proposition (USP) into the ad copy. Your USP is usually based on quality or on price. In majority of cases your selling proposition at the highest level is either the best product/service or the cheapest. Or maybe your selling proposition is a promise to always deliver the middle-of-the-road reliably average results? Whatever your USP is, present what is unique about your business in your ad. How do you stand apart from competition? If in your sector everyone is either positioning themselves as highest quality or focused on offering the lowest price, then it is unique to be in the middle, so put that in the 1st line of your ad copy. 

I know it isn’t easy, but hey, you can do it! That’s right, 25 characters with spaces. How is that for a challenge?! Space is limited, so it’s not going to be an epic tale of your business’ 3rd generation proprietary patented invention, but it needs to be crispy clear. I am sure you can do a better job than my imaginary examples, but for instance: 

Best Blue Widgets Only - (best quality)
Top Blue Widget Brands - (best quality)
Affordable Widget Repair - (affordability)
Blue Widget Experts - (specialized expertise, we don’t repair red widgets, only the blue ones)
Widget Floor Sample Sale - (could be a high quality product, but on sale)
10-minute Widget Delivery (or Money Back – next line) – (usp is in immediate delivery of a commodity product/service)
Patented Blue Widgets – ([quality] product exclusivity)

If the USP is just too long, spill the USP (or move it entirely) into the second line – 35 characters with spaces. (35 characters is 40% more space than 25). Best you can get in AdWords copy is 35 characters, so if you cannot do it there, pack up and go home, AdWords is not for you Smiley Wink. Here are some examples in a 35-character format:

Top Blue Widget Retail & Service
Blue Widget Floor Sample Sale
Affordable Blue Widget Repair
Best Blue Widget Brands Only
Blue Widget Satisfaction Guarantee
Exclusive Blue Widget Dealer 


Or the two-line USP format examples:
10-minute Widget Delivery (1st line) - Or Money Back Guaranteed (2nd line) – This could work really well for lifting your pizza joint’s CTR on campus, and help you bottom line too (because you can charge premium for fast delivery). 
“Car unlocked within 45min” (1st line) – “Or Your Money Back” (2nd line) – another example.
“Blue Widgets Pros” (1st line) – “4-month Dig-to-Closing Guarantee” – an example of a USP that requires more than 25 characters to explain, construction business with a unique USP.

Notice that while attempting to show a clear value proposition in broad strokes as part of the USP, I am also working hard to keep the main product/service KWD blue widget/blue widget repair in the copy. Keeping your KWD in ad copy helps your quality score! More about the QS in the next Ask an Expert.


POSSIBLE REASON #2 – weak offer or lack thereof. 

Whether it is a trial price of $X or Free delivery, or 50% off, or a bonus with purchase, you want to OFFER SOMETHING IN YOUR AD. As long as we are optimizing a low CTR, and your task is to have them click more. Here are some examples (with exclamation marks, fit for the 3rd line):

$489 for 3 Blue Widgets + Bonus!
$500 Off for 1st Time Customers!
10-min. Widget Delivery or Free!
6-month dig-to-move-in Guarantee!

Now this is UBER important! Your offer has to MAKE THEM CLICK. Competitor analysis is always an important first step in getting clicks. So figure out what you’re up against. If you are a local operator, you will need to do as much offline research as online. If you’re remote (agency), or competing nationally, use ad preview tool, but ALSO use SpyFu (I am not affiliated with them), or an equivalent. Know thy offers your ad is being compared to!

Maybe your competition offers a uniform price of entry different from yours? Try to match it! Or you have a discount this month? Try offering that in a way that allows you to be considered alongside other ads, and gets you a better Click Through Rate. What promotion does your prospect value the most? Do you know? Make it your business to know, because prospects click if they see what they want. Ask them with free site survey tools like the ones offered to Google Partners as perks, I haven’t used it, we currently use another provider, or find an equivalent of an easy to enable free survey to put on your site. It is imperative to answer what will be the best promo that works for you as an advertiser and puts you on a prospect's radar?!

If all you competitors are offering $99 for a test trial of a Blue Widget, but you know that your product/service really costs more, or even much much more, then you know that they’re baiting a prospect into a trial. Your ads will forever be at a disadvantage in comparison to ads that show the $99 price tag. Even if you manage to convert a few, they’ll comparison shop and bounce after a conversion and before the sale.

So you have a mandate to come up with a form of consumption of your product/service that will be profitable to retail at $99. Maybe only make the $99 offer to a subset of your prospects, i.e. in the ads geared towards the end of their path to purchase. Offering a year long service for thousands of dollars? Yet enough of your competitors insist on a $99 price of entry? Test an offer that will put you on a bargain seeker’s radar, you may be operating in a sector where the majority of prospects are unaware that they are looking for an expensive service/product. Offer one week for $99, or one session, or a partial trial. If enough of your competitors do it, so can you. Because their ads get clicked at a higher rate. And you're looking for a better value to offer when compared to competing ads side by side.

Evaluate what looks best, $99 vs 50% off, a word Free or even a $0 Free (it's been done with some success), etc. Experiment with what works.


If, as an agency, you do not have a say in price forming policy of a client, compile competing ad copy with offer examples that you think will work in a one-page format and send it to your client. They’ve been warned.

Julia Muller,
AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the 'Best Answer.’ Learn how here.
2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Ask an Expert - Improving CTRs

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor
Have you found certain niche markets where it's harder to get a high CTR?

Re: Ask an Expert - Improving CTRs

Top Contributor
# 3
Top Contributor
Good Question, @Shanee_Kirk! I have indeed seen CTR ceiling before. I.e. when of targeting competing brand terms, CTR will always suffer.

For instance,
If a person is looking for Kathy's Cupcakes, say they tried Kathy's Cupcakes at a party and want to order the same ones, or they were told that Kathy's Cupcakes are really the best in the area. They are unlikely to want to spend time considering Martha's cupcakes. But Martha;s USP and offer may help win the click, if a prospect is presented with the following choice:

Kathy's Cupcakes - Best SoHo Bakery.
Pastries, Wedding Cakes, Cookies.

Martha's Cupcakes - Every 5th Cupcake's Free.
Free Delivery, Soho Best Zagat 2016

Or there are sectors, where prospect is in a finicky mood when searching. They'll research more than average and click around repeatedly (including ads by the same advertiser) before converting. In both cases ironing out the USP and Offer will help tremendously in my experience.

Julia Muller,
AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the 'Best Answer.’ Learn how here.

Re: Ask an Expert - Improving CTRs

Badged Google Partner
# 4
Badged Google Partner
Good article Julia

Re: Ask an Expert - Improving CTRs

Top Contributor
# 5
Top Contributor

Thanks, Michael!

Julia Muller,
AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the 'Best Answer.’ Learn how here.