Is Your PPC Campaign Passive or Active?

Active PPC CampaignWhen most people set out to write PPC ads, they simply lay fingers to keyboard and begin to rattle off whatever they want to tell customers.  If it fits into the allotted space, the ad copy is uploaded and run without too much thought.

I’ve always been astonished that PPC copywriting takes place with such a nonchalant attitude, considering how vitally important it is.  After all, if you can’t get people to click your ads, nothing else you do will matter. Your campaign will come to a grinding halt.

One of the most overlooked elements in writing PPC ads is the audience.  While you hear the marketing command to “Know Your Target Customer” repeated often, what you might not consider is how those customers actually behave while interacting with your ads online.  For instance, is yours a passive or active audience?

Passive Behavior

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a bit.  Take an imaginary trip over to Facebook.  What are you doing there?  If you’re like most people, you check your timeline and/or your business page.  You respond to the updates you see, make a few posts while you’re there, perhaps play a game, etc.  Basically, you interact with people.

What you most likely don’t do on Facebook is actively look for products and services to purchase.  Sure, there are ads in your timeline and page sidebars, and even in the timeline itself, but they are afterthoughts.  Your interaction with these ads is passive.

Perhaps while you’re looking at your timeline, you might catch a glimpse of an ad in the sidebar that interests you.  Or, while scrolling through your newsfeed, you see a promoted post that you decide to “like.”  But that’s not why you went to Facebook to begin with, so your interaction with the ads is not your primary behavior.

Active Behavior

On the other hand, when surfers go to search engines (Google, Bing, etc.), they are actively looking for something.  They intend to find the solution to a problem, discover a great price on a new pair of shoes, score a new source for a product they couldn’t find at their local store, get information, etc.

Because these people are diligently trying to find something, they embrace PPC ads as part of their discovery process.  These ads contain the possible solutions your target customers are seeking.

Needless to say, when you write PPC ads, you must consider whether the core of your audience will be passive or active to get the best results.

Writing to Active Customers

If you’re writing AdWords ads (or ads that will appear on another search engine), I’d suggest including verbs that relate to accomplishing the surfers’ goals: find, get, discover, shop, search, learn, etc.  While all your ads certainly don’t have to have these words, you’ll probably find a good bit of success when you include them in your headline or copy.

Writing to Passive Customers

For ads targeted to passive onlookers (Facebook, ads that run the AdSense network, etc.), I’d recommend skipping the search-type verbs (search, find, etc.) since ad viewers won’t necessarily be in search mode. If you plan to exclusively run ads for these types of people, then test using special offers, discounts, exclusive deals or announcements in your copy.  This could help entice those who might not really be looking to purchase (or take other actions), but could be persuaded to look further if your ad copy is good enough.

Once you understand whether you’re competing with other activities for the attention of your audience, you’ll be able to create ads that more effectively accomplish your goals.

For extra help with the PPC copywriting process along with plenty of real-life examples get my Wordtracker ebook Profit-Pulling PPC Ads: How to Write Facebook & AdWords Ads that Get Clicked today.

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About Karon Thackston

For over 25 years, web & SEO copywriter Karon Thackston has created optimized copy and content that has increased conversions & search rankings. Find out more about Karon on Google+.

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