5 Messaging Tips to Multiply Your Advertising ROI

A simple advertising campaign can cost thousands of dollars. Done right, it can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in increased sales and enhanced brand equity. Done wrong it can lead to the loss of revenue and even jobs. One of the simplest—and often most neglected—strategies for making more from an ad campaign is message testing.

Message testing is the systematic comparison of different ad messages in pursuit of the wording that will bring the best results. A poorly crafted message might bring a .07% clickthrough rate on an online display ad. A well-crafted message could bring a .77% clickthrough rate—a 10X difference. If the ad campaign itself costs $10,000, that could make the difference between hiring another employee and laying one off. It pays to test your ad messages. Neglect it to your own peril!

Every online advertiser wants a higher click rate from the right site visitors. The critical question: how to get a higher response rate from the right audience? Here are five messaging tips to help you capture more return on your advertisinginvestment:

Tip 1) Craft Your Messages Carefully

One of the myths about message testing is that it will improve your message. It won’t. Testing only helps an advertiser identify the best message from among options. The best message among five weak messages is still a weak message and being the best weak message doesn’t make it strong. Consider these two “messages”:

Message Click Rate
Chew Our Gum .02%
Our Gum is Tasty .03%

Testing one message against another here doesn’t produce a good message; it simply reveals a bad message and another that’s even worse. Demonstrating that one is better than the other still leaves us with two poor messages.

You must start with more carefully crafted messages. For instance, consider these example messages:

Message Click Rate
Flash a bright smile. Chew Pearly White Gum. .09%
Get the Girl! Chew Pearly White Gum. .13%
Got bad breath? Chew Pearly White Gum. .18%

The following is not an advertising message but it’s a great example of carefully crafted marketing copy. It was on the list of ingredients in an airline snack distributed by a flight attendant:

“Contains organic evaporated cane juice.”

A normal person would have simply written:

“Contains sugar.”

And they would also sell a lot less product as many discriminating shoppers look at sugar as just another form of poison.

From a marketing standpoint, what’s better than sugar? Cane sugar.
What’s better than cane sugar? Cane juice.
What’s better than cane juice? Evaporated cane juice.
What’s better than evaporated cane juice? Organic evaporated cane juice.

(What is organic evaporated cane juice? Sugar!)

The copywriter who produced this description of sugar certainly knew how to craft a message. Each word, each punctuation mark, each grammatical nuance of your copy should be carefully crafted to accomplish exactly what you want to do with your message—secure a sale or get some sort of a response.

Tip 2) Test, Test, Test

Running an ad campaign with a single, untested message is like betting your fortune on a single roll of the dice. Such an approach is worse than gambling. In gambling, the odds are largely out of your control. In advertising, there are many practical steps you can take to increase your odds of success. Message testing is one of those simple, practical steps advertisers can take to increase or even multiply a campaign’s results.

Given these click rates, consider the results of a 300,000-impression campaign without testing:

Impressions
Click Rate
Visits
Message A
100,000
.07%
70
Message B
100,000

.13%

130
Message C
100,000
.22%
220
Total:
300,000
.1333%
420

Here’s what the results can look like with testing and a midcourse reallocation of impressions:

Impressions
Click Rate
Visits
Message A
30,000
.07%
21
Message B
30,000

.13%

39
Message C
240,000
.22%
528
Total:
300,000
.1333%
588

After testing, reallocation of more impressions to Message C (and its accompanying advertisement) produces a 40% increase in results. Whether spending $2,000 or $20,000 on a campaign, a 40% increase is very worthwhile.

Generating strong messages at the outset is critical. Finding the best message among three to five strong messages yields a far greater result. Testing is the path to such advertising success.

Note: The objective in testing is to produce numerous effective messages and then select the best performer to proceed with. Some prefer to only test a maximum of two messages at a time. This A/B testing can then lead to a “winner” message that can then be adjusted and turned into a third message, which can then be compared to the previous winner.

Tip 3) Begin with the Copy, not with Designed and Finished Ads

For those advertisers that actually test their messaging, a common (and expensive!) mistake is to have several ads designed and then tested against each other. It’s best to first test the copy by itself, identify the highest performing message, then integrate the most effective one or two messages into finished designs.

7-Step Ad Development Process:

  1. In text format only, test 3—5 (or more) message options with the same audience you wish to reach. (Don’t make the mistake of testing your message with an audience other than the audience you are actually targeting.)
  2. Identify the one or two highest-performing messages.
  3. Eliminate the low-performing messages.
  4. Integrate the high performers into fully designed ads.
  5. Run the fully designed ads.
  6. If both ads perform comparably, retain both as variety broadens the number of people reached.
  7. If one ad significantly out-performs the other, eliminate the poor performer and complete the campaign with the high performer.

Tip 4) Remember the Objective: Stimulate a Response

Another mistake advertisers make is to overemphasize the aesthetic beauty of their words and images and to neglect the primary objective, i.e., to stimulate a prospective customer to action. In this case, poetic words can be far less productive than provocative words. In fact, mesmerizing words may elicit the opposite of what you want, leading to a passive viewer. In the same way, beautiful images can be far less productive than subtle, unobstructed images or even no images at all, except perhaps a logo.

Here is an example of a highly effective ad that elicited a solid .24% click rate:

unembarrassed-300x600-ebook

Notice the components of the messaging:

  • Touches a felt need
  • Presents a solution
  • Makes a promise
  • Offers a free and instantly obtainable gift
  • Includes an action zone button with a call to action

Tip 5) Swallow Your Pride—Get Outside Input

Tiger Woods is among the most talented golfers to ever play the game. How did he get there? By enlisting the expert advice of a swing coach. The same is true for Michael Phelps, the greatest swimmer of all time—he’s had the same coach for the last 16 years. Advertisers also stand to benefit by enlisting the skill of outside experts.

Ron Forseth is a church marketing expert with 15 years of experience in digital advertising. He served six years as the General Editor of SermonCentral.com and as founding Executive Editor of ChurchLeaders.com. He has consulted with hundreds of advertisers in developing successful online and print marketing campaigns. Ron is the Vice President of Business Development for Outreach, Inc., the Advertising Director for Outreach magazine and General Manager of Outreach Media Group.

Would you like to test an advertising message with church leaders? Outreach Media Group offers a free message testing service that includes 200,000 text-based impressions to help you compare copy, identify the most effective message, and capture a greater return for your advertising investment.

Contact us today.

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