Are you looking for A/B testing ideas for responsive search ads? This post covers five ideas to help you optimize your responsive search ad campaigns and maximize your click-through rate (CTR).
Your pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign is crucial to the success of your account because it compels users to visit your site and complete a desired action. With A/B testing, you can compare two or more versions of your responsive search ads to see which performs better with your target demographic.
It allows you to determine the most effective advertising method for every scenario, allowing you to both duplicate past successes and improve upon them for maximum conversion rates in the future. Repeating this process while simultaneously adjusting bids and evaluating performance may yield the best results for each campaign.
Before we dive into the A/B testing ideas for responsive search ads, subscribe to our newsletter for in-depth articles, expert advice, and the latest industry trends to get the most out of your PPC and digital marketing initiatives.
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What is A/B testing for responsive search ads?
A/B testing for responsive search ads is a tactic by which you experiment with, track, and identify which ad headlines, copy, images, calls-to-action (CTAs), or mixture of these performs best with your target audience and drive conversions.
Why does A/B testing matter with responsive search ads?
Despite responsive search ads’ improvements, CTR remains the primary metric Google uses to select your ads. That’s why the default setting for ad rotation is optimization. To determine the most effective ads and landing pages, you can always do an A/B test. However, this method may differ from your CTR goals.
If you are overly concerned with conversion rates, you may miss the opportunity to improve less effective ads. Due to a low CTR, they may only generate a small number of clicks to begin with, lowering your total conversions without you noticing a change in the conversion rate.
Therefore, you should prioritize conversions per impression (CPI), which is the sum of CTR and conversion rate. Improving the efficacy of advertising efforts is possible by targeting CPI.
5 A/B testing ideas for responsive search ads
Here are five ideas for running A/B tests on your responsive search ads:
- Segmenting by message
- Dynamic keyword insertion
- Pinning vs. mix-and-match
- Pseudo-ETA with a control RSA
- Landing pages
Keep reading to learn more about each one!
1. Segmenting by message
Segmenting messages into different topics and testing them on different audiences can help you gain insight into what works for your brand. By breaking down your message into segments, you can determine which topics produce the most engagement and which messages best resonate with your audience.
How to conduct segmenting by message A/B testing:
- Create multiple ad groups with a distinct theme centered around a particular keyword.
- Ensure that each ad group uses a broad match to address different personas, pain points, or even topics.
- Monitor each group’s performance closely, paying attention to its CTR and cost per click (CPC).
Once you have identified the best-performing ad group, you can refine it further by splitting it into smaller groups, each targeting a particular persona. Doing this allows you to create tailored ads for each persona, thus giving you a better chance of a conversion.
2. Dynamic keyword insertion
Testing different keywords using dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) is one of the best A/B testing ideas for responsive search ads. By setting up other ad groups and variations of the same ad, you can test which keywords and phrases are working best with each persona and use this information to optimize the ad’s reach.
In addition, it allows you to tailor your headline to the exact search query the user has input, giving you a much better chance of getting them to click on your ad.
For example, let’s imagine you’re a sports shoe manufacturer implementing dynamic keyword insertion. When a user searches for “men’s running shoes,” your ad will read “men’s running shoes.” Whereas when another user searches for “white running shoes for men,” your ad will read “white running shoes for men.”
DKI makes your ad far more personalized and distinctive than typical text ads since Google uses consumers’ search queries to populate your ad with relevant keywords.
How to conduct a dynamic keyword insertion A/B test:
- Create two identical ad versions with different headlines, one with dynamic keyword insertion enabled and one without.
- Track and analyze the results to identify which keywords are most effective.
- Use those keywords in your actual responsive search ads for more accurate audience targeting.
This approach can be highly effective, as it allows you to capture the attention of potential customers and increases the likelihood that they will click on your ad.
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3. Pinning vs. mix-and-match
Pinning headlines allows you to select which ad headlines and descriptions display and where, even if responsive search ads automatically blend different versions for testing purposes. This feature allows you to experiment with different combinations to determine which headlines and descriptions work best for your target audience.
How to conduct a pinning vs. mix-and-match A/B test:
- Create two responsive search ad campaigns using the same creative — you can use up to 15 headlines and four descriptions.
- Then pin a few headlines and descriptions into one ad while leaving the other intact.
- Once both campaigns are running, you can track and compare their performance to determine which combination works best for your audience.
- Decide whether to continue using the pinning or mix-and-match strategy.
This A/B test can be highly effective, as it allows you to create targeted ads tailored to your potential customers’ preferences.
4. Pseudo-expanded text ads (ETA) with a control responsive search ad
You can create ads resembling expanded text ads (ETA) by pinning headlines. It’s helpful to understand the CTR performance of pseudo-ETAs, especially if you’re in an industry where you need to display certain information at all times.
This way, you create an ad that looks like an ETA. At the same time, you get to compare it to a control responsive search ad that tests the same target audience without any precise information.
How to conduct a pseudo-ETA with a responsive search ad A/B test:
- Create two separate ads with pinned headlines and descriptions that resemble an ETA.
- Then create a third ad in which no elements are pinned.
- Use the third ad as a control to indicate the effectiveness of pinning the other two ads.
This approach will give a more comprehensive view of how effective pinning is in your ads. It will also help you identify and address any issues with customer engagement earlier on without having to redesign your ad entirely.
5. Landing pages
When a prospect is interested enough in your ad to click it, you can next do landing page testing to see which version of your page leads to a greater conversion rate. There are two ways to test variations of your landing page.
One option is to make tweaks to your current landing page. Another option is to redirect users to a different page on your website.
Here are some of the changes you can make to the landing page you’re currently using:
- If visitors to your site must first click on a price to go to the shopping basket page, you can add a “Buy Now” button to the landing page to give them an easier way to purchase the item.
- If your site visitors are looking for a way to take the next purchase step, consider including an “add to basket” button or a sticky appointment scheduling form.
- You can also turn previously inaccessible photos into clickable links.
Alternatively, you can conduct a split test between sending sponsored visitors to particular subpages — product/service details pages, special offers pages, or the purchasing cart/booking form to maximize your advertising budget.
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Best practices for conducting A/B tests for responsive search ads
Here are some helpful tips for performing responsive search ad A/B tests:
- Use multiple attention-grabbing headlines
- Minimize the use of insertion keywords
- Verify the validity of every combination
- Emphasize features and perks
- Track performance
Read on for more info on each one.
1. Use multiple attention-grabbing headlines
We recommend you supply at least three headlines and two descriptions for your initial responsive search ad. To maximize the likelihood of your responsive search ad appearing in search results, Google Ads suggests providing at least five unique headlines.
The greater the variety of settings you make available, the better your chances are of being visible in search results and having your ad display the most pertinent information. To maximize the effectiveness of such ads, you should use as many as eight to 10 headlines.
2. Minimize the use of insertion keywords
Google Ads suggests using your target search term or keyword in two headlines but having at least three others that don’t include the keyword. The reason for this is due to redundancy concerns. If you use keyword insertion in numerous headlines, your ad will have too much repetition.
Without proper diversification of your keywords, you run the risk of diminishing their effectiveness and making your ad seem generic.
3. Verify the validity of every combination
Given that your headlines and descriptions might appear in any sequence, you should check that every conceivable combination makes sense.
You should write your first three headlines for your Google Ads campaign as though they would all appear together. This step is essential in ensuring that your ads will make sense to potential customers regardless of the order in which they appear.
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4. Emphasize features and perks
You should write your headlines and ad copy for responsive search advertising with new words and phrases to convey the same idea.
Also, try showcasing various perks and features of your product or service and analyzing which ones receive the most click-throughs. Doing this will help you prioritize your messaging and gain more insight into the type of language that resonates best with your target audience.
5. Track performance
While automation in Google Ads can assist marketers with ad creation, display, and optimization, you still need to keep tabs on your key performance indicators (KPIs).
You can view each of your responsive search ads, along with the standard analytics you receive for other ad types, on the Ads and Extensions page. Doing this will help you monitor the effectiveness of your campaigns and evaluate how well they are performing in terms of your KPIs.
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