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Best practices for broker PPC ads

Written by Bart Burggraaf

Most brokers use Google Adwords in one way or another, it’s a great tool to generate leads and catch traders in the later stages of the conversion funnel. A great deal of importance is often placed on keywords and bidding strategy while the optimization of ad text is not a priority for many brokers.

The performance of ad text has a huge impact on the results of a campaign. To give an example, an improvement in click through rate (the main metric which should be looked at when judging ad text performance in isolation) from 1.2% to 1.6 percent is not unthinkable. In percentage improvement numbers though, that is a whopping 33% improvement. All other things being equal that would be enough of a motivation to work on text ads and generate a big increase in the number of leads generated in the end. However, there are a few very important other advantages to having a higher CTR.

For instance, having a higher CTR means Google will find your ad more relevant, will increase your quality score and as such charge you less per click. It will also give you a higher position on the page so more people will see your more relevant ad. All of this contributes to a positive reinforcement cycle as a higher position once again means higher numbers of clicks and so on.

Convinced about the importance? What we do improve ad text:

  • Make sure only very closely related keywords are in one ad group so that each ad text is closely related to exactly that keyword.
  • Always test 2 ads per ad group and run them 50/50 until a winner is clear (when there have been enough clicks and the difference in CTR is clear). Then pause the ad that was the least good and add a new one, taking advantage of any learnings this test has allowed you.
  • Once the ad texts stop showing a large difference in performance (and you have gotten very good at writing ads apparently!) it is time for more granular changes. Take the best performing ad and just add a capital, remove a period, switch around one word. This will allow you to fine tune.
  • Then start all over and start testing very different ads.

Writing ad text is part art and part science. Remember the positive feedback cycle we discussed? Well, it applies to your competitors’ ads too and as such it would make sense that the top 3 ads in the search results are the ones that are performing best in terms of click through rate. So, we take them and analyse why they are performing as good as they are. Example for the term ‘CFD Trading’ in the UK:

Besides being a great brand in the UK, IG is taking the number one spot of the search results for this term not just by paying a lot for each click but also by being very relevant. As you can see, the newsletter box itself might not be the most relevant in terms of people signing up but it sure does grab attention. So do the site links and extended title. All in all, they take a disproportionate share of the screen real-estate. The title asks a question that is relevant to the searcher although they do not have the exact keyword in the ad title which might hurt CTR.

At place number two is City Index, another good brand in the UK. This company has decided to go another route and take a more relevant approach by showing reviews and their overall rating. The stars and the number 248 reviews add a good amount of social proof to their listing and I wouldn’t be surprised if we used these two ads (IG and City) with the brands removed their performance would be very close.

At place number 3 in this example (and remember this is only a snapshot, placements frequently move and of course companies could be testing various ads) is Barclays. A great name in retail banking, they have a natural leg up in the trust department. They make very good use of the (TM) sign in their ad, their ad is the only with the exact keyword we searched for in the ad and the sitelinks used are relevant as well (one even also uses the exact keyword we searched for, this is surely not a coincidence).

So taking these three results into account, we would produce an ad like this (excuse the bad paint mockup):

Taking the best from all three brokers we use the keyword in the title, use a TM sign, use social proof of an award win and add the review stars. We also add the keyword in the display URL and site links. Now, when searching for the keyword CFD Trading we have a word in bold in the far left of the ad, in the middle and on the far right, making optimal use of the space.

Of course it is important to differentiate yourself and make the ads work for the brand, so this is just an example of the type of ad a broker could try. It might not work, but with continuous testing we can find out and make our campaigns work better.

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Bart Burggraaf

Partner (NL)

Bart is a Partner at MediaGroup. In the agency, he primarily works on SEO, client strategy, new business and staffing. Before working at MediaGroup, he managed global marketing at Citibank’s Margin FX business and worked on online marketing for Saxo Bank in Copenhagen. Bart has lived in 7 countries over the years but is originally Dutch.

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