Using Proper Call-to-Action in PPC Ads

By /

April 3, 2013

Call-to-Action Success
You’re a paid search manager.  You’ve optimized your campaigns’ settings for efficient use of the budget.  You’ve spent countless hours conducting keyword research.  You’ve built tightly themed campaigns and ad groups.  You’re already on the fast track to success but do NOT stop there!

Writing effective ad copy is next on your checklist, but how do you write a pay-per-click ad that really stands out among the competition?  Using a strong call-to-action is a huge piece of the puzzle.  This is a much overlooked part of the PPC process and can make or break your efforts.

Think about your campaign goals and what you hope to achieve through paid search.  Ensure that you convey that message within your ad copy using a strong call-to-action – or CTA.  Ad copy is your sole chance to tell your audience exactly what action you want them to take once they reach your website.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to make your intentions perfectly clear to your prospective customers.  Remember: you may only have one chance to make a lasting impression.

Let’s take a look a few common examples of call-to-action being put to use in Google Adwords ads:

Goal: Direct Response

I’ve conducted a search for the phrase fishing tackle.  These ads clearly define what action the advertisers want me to take, and I know what to expect once I reach their respective websites:

ctas 9
PPC Ad Using Direct Sales Calls-to-Action
We see two different retailers in these examples.  In each case the advertisers expressly mention the action that they want me to take once I reach their website using a call-to-action within the ad copy.  They share a common goal: to entice me to make a purchase.  So they use CTAs such as Shop and Buy.

*More Direct Response Calls-to-Action:  Call, Register, Purchase, Checkout, Download, Donate, etc.

Goal: Lead Generation

The following two ads were among the search results for the query video production and, like the previous examples, these ads clearly define a desired course of action:

ctas 4
ctas 6
Because the sales cycle is likely longer in these scenarios and requires far more commitment from the potential customer, we see that the advertiser are focused more on data collection early on as opposed to a direct sale.  They have incorporated calls-to-action into their ad copy like Contact and Request to stress these lead generation goals.

*More Lead Generation Calls-to-Action: Start, Verify, Access, Receive, Fill, Enroll, etc.

Goal: User Engagement

These next ads are results for the search query dinner recipes. Again, the same principle is applied, the call-to-action represents the goal of the campaign:
ctas 8
ctas 7
We see that the goal in these last two examples isn’t a direct sale or a request for information, but simply engagement with the respective website.  So we see calls-to-action being used like, Check outVisit, and Learn that tell the user to remain on the page and digest its content.  This is commonly seen as a branding technique.

*More User Engagement Calls-to-Action: Watch, See, View, Read, Discover, Uncover, etc.

So, when it comes to writing effective ad copy, speak in such a way resonates with your target audience.  Remember, write your ads while keeping your goals in mind.  Announce those goals and let users know what to expect once they arrive on your website.  This level of transparency is key because it will ultimately help you avoid wasteful spending due to clicks from unqualified visitors.

Questions or comments?  Leave a response in the section below.

Stephen Kapusta is a Senior Search Project Manager and trainer specializing in search and display advertising. He is best at finding creative opportunities to reach the audience throughout the conversion funnel by matching content to intent and focusing on providing the right user experiences at the right time. His education experience in media and rhetoric helped mold this marketing approach.

  • rosylee

    nice responce,lead generation and user engagement these three factors are more importent.thanks

  • Tammy Johnson

    Great article Stephen. I don’t use PPC ads that often, but I will definitely make sure to use the tips outlined here. Are there any calls to action to avoid using?

  • Stephen Kapusta

    Thanks Tammy. It really depends on the industry. You should always test different variations to see which calls-to-action work best. Try to repeat the CTA on the landing page to solidify your message.

  • Adam Lundquist

    This is a great article. I find CTA’s to be difficult to keep fresh, and this article inspired me for some new ideas. I think it would be awesome to have a mega-list of CTA’s somewhere. Do you know of any?

  • Stephen Kapusta

    Hi Adam. First, thank you for using the LunaMetrics blog as inspiration for your work. Our goal is to provide you with the best resources available, and we’re happy that you’ve found the help you need.

    Secondly, check the blog again very soon because I’ve already begun compiling a mega-list like you’ve described. I’ll be happy to give you a heads-up when it’s posted.

  • Yiannis

    Hi Stephen,

    You think that with the introduction of Google adwords enhancement campaigns CTA will be focus more into lead generation?

    great post :-)

  • Ishan

    Greetings Stephen,
    With Reference to your article , got a couple of words for my campaign that i missed on. A BIG thanks for that.
    As for lead generation CTA,have been running out of CTA’s. Will be Glad to have a compiled list with categories.Will be glad to add-in some :)

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