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Inspiration is literally everywhere, and I found it in a quite bizarre situation.

A text dating site (and I have a girlfriend)….gulp.

Friendly young woman, always sliming
Creative Commons License photo credit: engineroomblog

The other night after a few pints in a private booth, the modern day equivalent of a Ceefax dating site managed to find itself the subject of interest and discussion amongst the Attacat team.  The ads were not too dissimilar to PPC in that they consisted of a heading, a body of text and general call to action – all constrained by character limit.

What did I learn?

  • We had to decode a lot of ads based on targeted abbreviations.  I had no clue what WLTM meant (I’m happily clued up now though).
  • Headlines that we liked were attention grabbing but also informative – they relied on supplying the most important info first to quality our attention – age & personality.
  • The body worked on supporting the headline themes (age & personality) with the most valuable bits of information to ensure the best match was achieved.
  • The call to actions where quite varied – again, this depended on personality of the ad creator

The dating ads had to be targeted; there was no landing page with supporting information to convince you to contact the individual. It was purely down to the power of good old fashioned character constrained copy, which has to work otherwise people wouldn’t use it!

So, what can we take from this?

How often do we use abbreviations? I actually don’t use them enough; I’ve always been discouraged from using them based on personal feelings about alienating audiences. But what if this wasn’t such a bad issue?  What if we created specific ad copy that relied on abbreviations as a secondary pre-qualifier after the trusted negative keyword?

When we write headlines, are we selling the most important aspects of the product/service first? Or are we simply keyword stuffing? I think most people are guilty of keyword stuffing in the hope that the landing page will explain the main benefits – but how do you expect to qualify a visitor if all ads simply state the keyword?

Does the body of my ad support my headline? How often do we just use generic ad copy that doesn’t bring any specificity to the product/service we’re selling? Do we expect people just to accept headlines without any additional information? Sure, it makes split testing difficult but if we just start with high revenue generating ad groups first then our time is well spent (supposing you get conclusive results).

How often do we avoid a call to action? What is essentially one of the most fundamental aspects of our ad is missed out because we over think it.  ‘People know to click this ad’ we think.. but do they? Are they actually thinking about what your ad is?  Or are they simply looking for the best match to their search query and looking for any additional information that may help them find what they need. Something worth thinking about.

If you provide a telephone number in your ad, how comfortable are you with your PPC message? Would you be able to pick up the phone and have a conversation based on your 130 characters? If the answer is no, then you already know what you need to do.

In summary, there’s a lot that we can learn (good and bad) from dating ads out there.  I’m not suggesting that they’re a great source of inspiration for everyone, but I do hope that my example highlights the importance of seeking inspiration from unusual places and thinking about how we can apply lessons outside of PPC to PPC.

For the record, I will not be held liable for anyone caught ‘researching’ dating ads!

 

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