5 Lessons from A/B Tests: Improving AdWords CTR with Smarter Copy

Elisa Gabbert
Last Updated: December 4, 2022 | Paid Search Marketing
HomeBlog5 Lessons from A/B Tests: Improving AdWords CTR with Smarter Copy

We’ve been running guest posts by Ryan Healy, a copywriter for BoostCTR, for quite a while now. Each post focuses on a single A/B test and analyzes the strengths of the winning ad (that is, the ad with the higher click-through rate). There’s so much good ad writing insight in these posts, I thought it was time to dig back through them and pull out some takeaways.

Here are five ad writing lessons gleaned from Ryan’s A/B tests that you can use to improve your AdWords CTR and Quality Score.

Lesson #1: Leave Out the Lingo

Don’t use insider jargon that your audience might not know or understand in the context of your ad. For example, look at the below ads:


PPC Ad #1MMA - Ad #1 PPC Ad #2MMA - Ad #2


The second version increased CTR by 70%. The first version uses some confusing terminology: “No XP reqd.” That means “No experience required,” but it’s not obvious – when I see “XP” I think “Windows,” and probably the average person does too.

To make your ads more readable and clickable, use simple, straightforward language. If you’re not sure if your ad is readable or not, run some tests!

Lesson #2: Target Your Real Target

This is related to lesson #1. Just as you should keep your target customer’s vocabulary in mind, you should make sure you’re speaking to their goals and needs. Take a look at the two ads below (“ADA” stands for “Americans with Disabilities Act”):


PPC Ad #1Ad #1 - ADA Signs PPC Ad #2Ad #2 - ADA Signs


The first ad focuses on benefits for people who might read the signs (“Bold & Clear”) – but the ad should be targeting people who might buy the signs. The second ad wins (increasing CTR by a whopping 164%!) in part because it focuses on benefits for the buyer – that is, businesses who need ADA signage for compliance reasons (“Avoid Hefty Fines”).

Lesson #3: Use Verbs

Maybe it sounds obvious, but since you want people to do something when they see your ad, it’s important to use strong verbs that entice them to action. Take a look at this A/B test:


PPC Ad #1CRM Software - Ad #1 PPC Ad #2CRM Software - Ad #2


Ad #2 uses no verbs. (Tracking is a gerund here. Fun grammar facts!)  The first ad, which achieved 89% higher CTR, uses a verb to tell people why they should click the ad – “Watch Online CRM Demo Instantly!” People like being told what to do; it allows them to think less. Make sure your ads have a call to action centered around a commanding, descriptive verb.

Lesson #4: Match Your Ad to the Product

Use the exact brand name of the product or service you are selling in the ad. An exact match improves relevance in the eyes of Google (helping your ad rank) as well as the searcher (encouraging them to click). Notice the difference in spelling between these two ads:


PPC Ad #1Vibram - Ad #1 PPC Ad #2Vibram - Ad #2


Ad #1, which increased CTR by 65%, spells out “Five” instead of using the number “5.” This more closely  matches the actual name brand of the shoe. (They probably could have increased CTR even further by using the exact brand name, which is “Fivefinger,” one word.)

Lesson #5: Use an Exclamation Point

Did you notice that all of the winning ads above use exclamation points? This visual sign of enthusiasm often improves your CTR. Scan your AdWords ads and see if you could be getting more leverage just by adding this single punctuation mark.

Meet The Author

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is WordStream’s Director of Content and SEO. Likes include wine, karaoke, poker, ping-pong, perfume, and poetry.

See other posts by Elisa Gabbert

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