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3 Crazy PPC CRO Hacks To Boost Conversion Rates Right Now


My dear marketer, I don’t want to be the one to tell you this (actually, I do), but you’ve been led astray. The cold, hard truth about conversion rate optimization (CRO) in PPC just isn’t what you think.


Here it is — are you ready for it?

The truth about PPC ads and conversion is that, on average, most PPC ad copy optimizations have absolutely NO impact on conversion rates.

Blasphemy! I know, this isn’t what you’re conditioned to think. The Ad Text Optimization Fairy Tale goes something like this:

Once upon a time, the diligent little PPC marketer wanted to improve her conversion rates, so she tested various combinations of punctuation, capitalization, etc. She saw a 5% improvement in her conversion rates and lived happily ever after!

It just doesn’t happen that way. You still need to make these tiny changes, and occasionally you may hit the jackpot, but they’ll have little impact for the most part.

Another misconception is that there’s this massive difference in conversion between high click-through rate (CTR) ads and low CTR ads. What’s the actual impact of CTRs on conversion? Check this out:

search click-through rate vs average conversion rate

Average Search Conversion Rate vs. Search Click Through Rate. Source: Dozens of WordStream PPC Clients over Q1 2015.

See how the low CTR ads (<1% CTR) have low conversion? Those ads are terrible and should be shot. Google generally doesn’t even bother running ads with such low CTR, so let’s not focus our attention there.

Now, look at the higher CTR ads (between CTR 2-8%). Notice how the higher CTR ads tend to convert higher than the lower CTR ads, though it’s not a huge difference.

What does this mean?

It means that, while you definitely want ads with high relevance and high CTRs, this isn’t going to double or triple your conversion rates.

Here’s another way you’re being led astray: this magical loophole for bidding yourself into the position you want to boost conversion. You have to bid higher to get a higher position, because they convert better, right?


conversion rate vs ad position

Average Search Conversion Rate vs. Average Search Position. Source: Dozens of WordStream PPC Clients over Q1 2015.

In truth, ads in different positions convert at about the same rate. A higher ad position may bring you more clicks and even more conversions overall, sure. But a higher ad position won’t inherently improve your actual rate of conversion — and those clicks in the higher position are going to be more expensive.

When we’re talking about improving conversion rates, the small optimizations only bring small results.

So, what should you be focusing on?

Crazy PPC CRO Hack #1: Be Different

One of the easiest ways to see big changes is to differentiate your ads from your competitors’ ads. Sounds simple, yet most advertisers suck at this!

Think about what you see for most queries. It’s a total snoozefest. Everyone’s using the same keywords, the same offers. The ads all look the same, so they’re really just fighting for position and hoping to soak up the most (more expensive) clicks.

You know what these are?

AdWords Jackpots! But, unlike in Las Vegas, this kind of jackpot doesn’t win you any money — though avoiding one might. When everyone else is doing the same thing, there’s a real opportunity for you to stand out in a big way by being different.

How do you do it?

Create click-bait ads with emotional triggers that showcase your unique selling proposition. Perry Marshall is an expert at this and uses what he calls the Swiss Army Knife method of copywriting to find just the right trigger that converts like crazy. Here’s an example of an ad that converts at three times the average conversion rate for “divorce lawyers.”


See how that works?

Crazy PPC CRO Hack #2: Leverage Ad Formats That Convert Like Crazy

The best way to improve your PPC conversion rate is to leverage new ad innovations that actually bias people towards converting prior to clicking on your ads. How do you do it? Here are four things you can do today to create higher converting PPC ads:

  1. Use Shopping Ads. If you’re doing anything related to e-commerce, use these! Shopping Ads steal conversions from all other organic and paid results; the images steal two thirds of the clicks. Price and image information are infused in the searcher’s mind before they even click on the ad, so you’re less likely to get “curious” clicks — and the commercial intent of the clicks you do pay for is way greater.
  2. Use Ad Customizers. It’s not good enough to just tell people they need to buy from you — you need to explain why they need to buy from you now. Ad Customizers help you tap into marketing psychology by infusing a sense of urgency and triggering the “fear of missing out” in your searchers with countdowns on sales, limited product availability, etc. You can do perpetual sales, which basically means a sale that never actually ends but always creates that sense of urgency.
  3. Keyword Selection. The nature and intent of the keywords you’re targeting is critical. Keywords are generally classified as navigational, informational, or transactional. You have your branded keywords (like “J Crew” or “Home Depot”) that are navigational, meaning searchers are looking for a particular website. Then you have your informational keywords, which indicate that the searcher is trying to learn something. Transactional keywords have high commercial intent, meaning they are used by people who are ready to buy. The top PPC accounts heavily weight their keyword selection to these super high commercial keywords.
  4. Get Rid of Keyword Clutter. Keyword clutter is the natural result of testing continuously but never getting rid of the keywords that just aren’t working. You no longer need to keep every plural, misspelling, alternate spelling, etc. Get rid of the keyword clutter and simplify your AdWords account so you can focus on the keywords that really convert and spot the opportunities. Disclaimer: This won’t directly impact your conversion rates — it’s just a pet peeve of mine! 

Crazy PPC CRO Hack #3: Use Remarketing As A Conversion Rate Optimization Tool

A lot of PPC marketers don’t consider remarketing to be a CRO tool, which is pretty crazy considering it can help you reconnect with and convert the site visitors who leave without converting (which is a vast majority of them).

Even people engaged and committed enough to put items in a cart can bounce — in fact, approximately 70% of shoppers will abandon their cart. Remarketing is an opportunity to turn those abandoners back into leads and make a second (or third, or tenth, or twentieth) impression.


You can do remarketing on Facebook and Twitter now, too, even using your own customer lists. Of course, the Google Display Network is prime remarketing ground as well, as it reaches 92% of all internet users in the US.

How can you make your remarketing campaigns more effective? Don’t be afraid to be super aggressive. Conversion rates actually increase over time with remarketing ads, as shown here:

Relative Conversion Rate vs. The Number of Times someone has seen your remarketing desplay ads. Key Takeaway: The more often people see your ads, the less likely they are to click (due to ad fatigue) but those who do click on your ads, convert at a higher rate. Source: The Google AdWords Reach and Frequency Report applied to dozens of WordStream customers over Q4 of 2014.

Relative Conversion Rate vs. The Number of Times someone has seen your remarketing display ads. Key Takeaway: The more often people see your ads, the less likely they are to click (due to ad fatigue) but those who do click on your ads, convert at a higher rate. Source: The Google AdWords Reach and Frequency Report applied to dozens of WordStream customers over Q4 of 2014.

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) are another easy hack to double your conversion rates. On average, they have higher click-through rates and lower cost-per-click (CPC) than regular search ads. Just be careful to set up your RLSA campaigns in such a way that it’s not merely “stealing” conversions from your existing campaigns.

3 Steps To High Converting PPC Marketing Campaigns

Want to learn more? I know you do. Check out this information-packed webinar I hosted with the inimitable Oli Gardner from Unbounce, where we show marketers how to:

  • Choose the right keywords for your business.
  • Create ads that compel searchers to click.
  • Send traffic to landing pages that actually convert.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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