Larry Kim and Steve Rayson’s Ridiculous Hacks to 5x Click-Through Rates

By Melissa Duko, March 30, 2016

A webinar with Larry Kim is always a special treat. Each one is like a unicorn, full of magic and wonder (and top notch memes). But when Steve Rayson from Buzzsumo jumps in for a co-presented webinar, well, you’re looking at a unicorn with a double rainbow.

The Founder and CEO of MobileMonkey (formerly WordStream CEO) and Buzzsumo’s Director teamed up to bring us “10 Ridiculous Hacks to 5x Click-Through Rates.” There was plenty of meaty information, but we managed to parse it down to bring you our top key takeaways.

CTR Hack #1: Turn Top Content Headlines into Ads (click to tweet)

“Great ads should be like clickbait headlines” - Larry Kim. Here, Larry hits the nail on the head. There’s no better way to get people to click than with an enticing headline. So, why not take that same concept and apply it to your ads?

When crafting your ad, play up the same emotions used in your content. Use empathy, surprise, anger, and joy to resonate with your consumers.



CTR Hack #2: Go After Specific Audiences Using Remarketing, RLSA, and Custom Audiences (click to tweet)

When keyword search and audiences are combined, you get a powerful click-through hack. Focus on audiences that are qualified to buy your stuff and use keyword targeting to hone in on the things they’re looking for. In turn, you’ll yield higher conversion rates at lower costs.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) is great for targeting search ads only to people who recently visited your site. Another great tool is Customer Match, which lets you target search, YouTube, and Gmail ads to specific email addresses. Simply upload the email addresses into Google AdWords, then target your ads to them. (And Gmail ads will get you to the top of the inbox.) 


Customer Match targeting produces 59% higher ROI than generic targeted campaigns, and 41% higher than RLSA.

CTR Hack #3: Eliminate Your Crappy Keywords and Ads (click to tweet)

Sometimes the truth can be hard to hear, but it needs to be said. To increase your quality scores (and your account’s secret quality score, too) you need to delete your junk ads and double down on your best stuff. This requires deleting the bottom third of your worst account, and adding branded terms with insanely high CTR to raise average quality scores.

If you’re not sure what needs to go, follow Larry’s rule of thumb as seen below. 



CTR Hack #4: Write Unicorn Ads (click to tweet)

Ads fall into two categories: below average (donkey), and above average (unicorn). Donkey ads typically have an average CTR that falls within the bottom 50% whereas unicorn ads are in the top 1%. 


To be a glorious unicorn, don’t use or rely on:

  • Dynamic Keyword Insertion. DKI produces average ads. Since unicorn ads are anything but average, they don’t rely on DKI.
  • Ad Extensions. While ad extensions help a little (8 to 10%), they won’t give you a +5x. Essentially they won’t turn non-unicorn ads into unicorns.

Related Post: 15 Keyword Research Tools to Save Time with Media Buying

Instead write unicorn ads by focusing on keywords with high commercial intent and using emotional triggers in your ad copy. Depending on your needs, select one of four personas:

  1. The Bearer of Bad News.
  2. The Hero/Villain.
  3. The Comedian.
  4. The Feel Good Friend.

Here, this ad covers the second persona (hero/villain) and plays up the emotion of anger/revenge. By using emotional triggers, this ad gets 6x above average CTR.



Focusing on the emotional trigger of fear will also score you a unicorn ad like this example. Adding a negative twist resulted in a 125% increase in appointments booked, and 170% increase in call volumes



CTR Hack #5: Use Viral Headlines (click to tweet)

Every unicorn ad has a viral headline. It’s a key component to enticing viewers to click. And viral headlines that get the most shares will have five common elements:

  • Emotional Element. Amusing, surprising, heart warming, inspiring, warning, shocking.
  • Content Element. Images, facts, charts, quotes, video, interaction.
  • Topic Element. Trending topic, health, pets, babies, love.
  • Format Element. List post, quiz, research, ebook.
  • Promise Element. How to, complete guide, practical tips.

For instance, the headline “10 Amazing Facts About Donald Trump” includes a format element (list), an emotional hook (amazing), content type (facts), and topic element (Donald Trump is trending in politics). 


When crafting your headline keep in mind the network it will appear on. How a phrase will resonate with the audience will depend on the social network (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook). If you aren’t sure, log into Buzzsumo and do a most shared search for your topic. Look for the type of superlatives, content, or words that works in your area, and adjust your headline accordingly.

Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko is the Senior Editor and Digital Specialist for Anura. She brings to her role more than a decade of journalism and editing experience. A graduate of the University of Delaware, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, concentration business and technical writing, minor Art History. She also has a Master of Science in professional writing for the public and private sector from Towson University. She isn’t afraid to admit that her love for Starbucks is at gold member status. (Since 2011!) More Articles by Melissa Duko