4 PPC campaigns that violate the 3 core rules of success

Posted by Karon Thackston on 5 Sep, 2013
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Karon Thackston discusses the 4 PPC campaigns that violate the 3 core rules of success.

When was the last time you clicked on a pay-per-click (PPC) ad on Facebook, Google or another site and were disappointed at what you found? Maybe you were confused after going to the landing page of a banner ad or frustrated when a Facebook ad led to information that had nothing obvious to do with what was being advertised.

PPC Copywriters and Landing Page Specialists understand that - while there are many elements that can increase and decrease conversions in a PPC campaign - there are three core rules that shouldn't be violated. Those three revolve around:

  • Relevance
  • Clarity
  • Distraction

PPC Ads Never Work Alone

These tiny bits of copy are simply not meant to make the sale/conversion on their own power. Instead, they are (or should be) designed to pique curiosity, instill intrigue or otherwise entice the reader to click for more information.

Because you have two pieces to a puzzle (the ad and the landing page), you have to be oh-so-careful to guarantee that the ads are:

1 - Relevant: What is stated in the ad copy is relevant to what is on the page. You wouldn't want to mention something in your PPC ad copy that can't be found on the landing page or is hidden on the landing page.Web surfers don't have time to search your landing page. If you mention an offer or a specific product (for example) … make very sure that same information is abundantly obvious on the associated landing page.

2 - Clear: When using discounts or other incentives in your PPC copywriting, you want to have the information within plain view of site visitors once they click to the landing page. One sure way to increase your bounce rate and decrease conversions is to make an offer that isn't backed up on the landing page.

3 - Free from Distraction: PPC ad copy works best when it is ultra-specific. Landing pages do, too. If you're using a generic page from your site that includes navigation links to other pages, you run the risk of visitors getting distracted from your message. In their truest sense, landing pages offer two choices: take the action on the page or leave. When there are links to your services page, other products, your blog and more, the attention span of your visitors will be fragmented and they are likely to wander off, never to return and complete the task.

Examples from Cyberspace

These four examples of PPC ads and their associated landing pages break the three most important rules of landing-page success. That isn't to say they aren't getting some response, but they certainly aren't performing at their best.

Violated Rules: Relevance & Distraction


This is a screenshot from a Facebook ad I found in my News Feed. The headline works well with copy about getting results. It specifically mentions banner ads and indicates that you'll discover how to get big traffic and ROI. (Benefits most business people would want.)

However, when I clicked to the landing page, there were no mentions of banner ads. All the landing-page copy is about spying on other advertisers. The PPC ad isn't relevant to the landing page.

In addition, the landing page in this campaign seems to be just their home page. All the navigational structure is in place along with a pitch for people to subscribe to their newsletter, the latest news and more. It's all a recipe for poor conversion rates.


Violated Rules: Relevance & Clarity


I am a steadfast Gamecock fan! When I saw this Facebook ad for college football gear, I was excited to see what Walmart would have for the upcoming SEC season.

While the PPC ad copy mentions college football and gear (which is what caught my attention), it doesn't link to a category page on their site. What you get is a link to their Facebook fan page that mentions nothing about football at all. Huh? The ad copy says you can "Like" Walmart, but that's more of an afterthought.

The lack of clarity and relevance caused me to leave Walmart's fan page frustrated and not finding what the ad promised. (And not liking the page, either.)


Next, I ventured over to Google to find some AdWords ads. It didn't take me long to come across these two examples.

Violated Rule: Clarity


The headline for this PPC ad reads, "90% Off Hiking Boots." This is a great headline especially for bargain hunters. Since my search was for "ladies hiking boots," I assumed I would be taken to a landing page showing me the selection of women's boots at 90% off. Wrong!

I ended up on a page that includes all hiking footwear and accessories: socks, shoes, boots, men's, women's, etc. And there was no mention of 90% discounts to be found. This was a definite cause of confusion. I wasn't clear about where I was or what went wrong between the PPC ad copy and the landing page, so I just left.


Violated Rules: Distraction & Clarity


The folks at Dell should know better than to create a PPC campaign like this, in my opinion. After a search for "antivirus software," I saw this AdWords ad. The ad copy got my attention by listing benefits such as "Better PC Performance" and "Help You Need."

I got a big surprise once I landed at their site. It was a page full of every type of support they offered: not just antivirus software.

While the ad was relevant to the landing page, there was only one tiny little link down at the bottom of the "Troubleshooting & repair" section that read, "Virus & spyware removal." Hmmm… not exactly what I'd call antivirus software.

Because this page was not dedicated to antivirus (as the ad indicated), there was all sorts of distraction, including navigation links, PC checkups, self-help services and more. I was looking for antivirus software and found everything but. Not a good user experience.


When you're writing PPC ads and developing landing pages for your campaigns, double-check your relevance, clarity and distraction levels. Ask people outside your organization to review the ads and landing pages to make sure they are communicating the way they should. Taking these simple steps will help your entire campaign perform better.

Karon wrote an ebook for Wordtracker that can guide you in your efforts to write exceptional PPC ads for AdWords or Facebook. Pick up a copy today.

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