A few weeks ago, Josh forwarded an email to our private mailing list. The email was from Neville of the Kopywriting Kourse, and it was titled: “why shitty stuff sometimes works better”. It was exactly the kind of absurd, hilarious and “hmmm….” thinking email that I love. And it quite literally suggested that we make “shitty” ads.
(Neville got the image from this blog post)
I was intrigued. I love this kind of absurd thing, so I wanted to give it a try. And quite frankly, the results are still making shock waves in my brain.
My Well Designed Ads
I do a lot of technical writing for developers and have recently launched a few email courses at my DerickBailey.com blog. Along with these course, I’ve put together twitter ads to help spread the word. Here are a few examples of the ads I was running:
Now these ads are doing well, as most of my “lead generation” ads are, on twitter. They are well designed images. They are informative while setting up a problem, stating a solution and providing a call to action. By all accounts, these ads should do well – and they are. Here are my results for these, plus many of the other ads that I’m running.
The % in the 3rd column from the right is the engagement rate, and these are some ridiculously high engagements for twitter ads. According to the twitter ad reps that Josh and I have talked to, most people see 1 to 2 % engagement rates for ads. So I’m already doing very well with a 7.25% engagement for that top tweet!
But I wanted to see what would happen when I tried out Neville’s “shitty ad” suggestion, and see how it compared.
My Shitty Ad
After spending approximately 1 second thinking of the shittiest design I could come up with, I spent the next 5 minutes putting this ad together:
I love it. It’s absurd. It’s ridiculous. And here’s the results… after 4 days of running this ad… and I’m still in shock at how well this is playing out, mind you.
Yes, that’s right. This ad with this “shitty” design IS GETTING 18.73% ENGAGEMENT RATES ON TWITTER!!!!
This is seriously unbelievable… I’m looking at the data on the report, and I’m almost not believing this. And this isn’t just a fluke with a short run and no data. I know what those flukes look like, as I’ve seen 50% and 100% engagement rates for a single impression on an ad before. This ad has 6,182 impressions over a 4 day period, and have engaged 1,056 clicks, 5 retweets, one reply to the tweet, 6 new followers for my twitter account … and 90 lead generation clicks! The next highest # in my lead generation is the previous report posted above, with only 13 lead generation clicks (a lead gen click being the “Start Your Journey” blue button click, where they actually sign up for the email course).
Why Did This Work?
Here are the two things that I think made this work:
1) Neville correctly pointed out that making a “shitty” ad design forces you to put the message front and center, with no clutter and nothing to hide
His point is that when you set aside graphic design, polish and making something “pretty”, people can’t help but see the message that you’re trying to convey. It’s right there, in their face, ugly as can be, very clearly pushing your message in to their brains. It’s hard to ignore – especially when you’re up against other “beautiful” ads. Having something ugly will definitely stand out against the background of beautiful.
2) It takes advantage of a common meme with implied profanity and rage at a problem, while providing a sense of joy and happiness at the solution, after showing a brief image of the solution I am providing. This is exactly the kind of emotional roller coaster I want to evoke among my ad viewers.
And I am doing it all with a common meme that millions of people understand.
Will This Work Again?
I don’t know.
Maybe this was a fluke. Maybe I stumbled upon the perfect match of ugly, meme, emotion and solution in this case.
Or maybe Neville is right about design getting in the way of your message. Given the evidence, I’m going to lean toward Neville being right. At the very least, I am stupidly happy with the results of this one ad and the ridiculous design that I cam up with. It worked so well, I can’t wait to try something ugly and awful and perfect like this, again!
Update: 2 Days Later
Alright, here I am 2 days after I wrote this post… and it just gets better.
This one ad is now at 20.31% engagement rate, with 147 card interactions (signups). Only looking at the $ spent on this ad vs the signups, I have paid just under $0.32 per signup! That is incredible. I’m still not sure I believe the numbers, here… but the numbers are looking at me, right there in the report.