A sure fire way of losing the PPC battle is to approach it with a me-too strategy. Simply looking at what the competition is doing and trying to replicate their tactics won’t maximize the campaign potential.
What is needed is creativity and testing, testing, and more testing. If your competitors are touting “50% off,” even if you can match it, don’t simply do the same, but test to instead promote “half price.” With proper execution and follow up, you’ll find that differentiation is what marketing is all about.
As regards best practices, for top keywords, keep at least two ad copies rotating to incrementally improve the clickthrough rate. However, beware that for every split test, the chances are that the original will perform better, thus the split-test will lower the overall performance. Take this risk into consideration when scheduling split tests, so to not risk falling short of critical targets if the run rates are already on track.
Also worth noting is that if the campaign is set to allow Google to automatically optimize the adverts (i.e., showing the best performing ad copy as deemed by CTR), this should be switched off when adding new creatives. In order to give the fresh- faced ad copy a chance to accrue clicks by being delivered by the search engine, at least temporarily switch to manual mode and work out the numbers yourself, or use a tool such as SplitTester.com.
Finally, none of the usual tools for testing take into consideration the conversion rate. Optimizing purely for CTR will surely provide an excellent quality score and lower CPC at a higher position, but what good is that if it doesn’t convert? The conversion rate needs to be added into the business rules of which adverts to keep or remove.