I Before E, Except After the Data Proves Otherwise
Published: October 12, 2011
Author: 3Q Digital
About a week after I was hired to be PPC Associates’ marketing manager, a sort of informal poll circulated around our account managers. The general question: is it better to create ad text that follows spelling and grammar conventions, or is it better to stand out by defying those conventions? (Read: making errors. On purpose.)
(Full disclosure: I came to PPC Associates with a considerable background in copy editing and, thanks to a handful of years spent merchandising for e-commerce sites, only an ambient knowledge of SEM. You can guess which side of the argument I favored…especially since ad text is generally so rife with errors – this author, for instance, could have saved a precious character by taking out that silly apostrophe – that you could argue that proper grammar and spelling DO help you stand out.)
The debate had a decent back-and-forth going; some of our folks muss up their copy like a trust-fund hipster styles his hair, while some argue that being wrong might get you noticed, all right – for being less credible than your competitors.
The final verdict, of course, came down to data: A/B test the CTR, stupid. We were hired to raise some combination of traffic/revenue/profit, not to be wordsmiths (disclaimer: any client is of course free to demand squeaky-clean ad text, in the name of branding or the Queen’s English or what have you).
I’m still learning the ins and outs of SEM – I guess we all are, at that, given the dynamic landscape. But if I’ve gotten one thing straight so far, it’s that you and your preferences can speak as loudly or softly as you want, but the right metric will always carry the biggest stick.
– Hillary Read, Marketing Manager, PPC Associates
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