Everyone needs PPC help, and this series is part of our blog post series to help you improve your paid search campaign in 10 days.
If you’re in the majority of those managing a PPC campaign, you need to spend more time with your landing page.
Of course, there’s reasons why many of us avoid looking at their landing pages when a campaign is marked a failure. For years, services and experts alike have trained us that the easiest approach to quick successes at PPC is through controlling keywords, ads, bids and campaign settings. Entire UI’s have been built around making control of these levers easier, more approachable and more standardized. This was the natural progression as landing pages, unlike ad groups and campaigns, are non-standard by nature. Take two campaigns managed by two different companies and you’d quickly see the similarities in structure (ad groups, campaigns, ads) and base management tools (Adwords, AdCenter, etc). Look at two landing pages managed by the same two companies and you’d be likely find severe differences in structure and management tools.
No matter how deft your keywords, how clever your ads or how aggressive your bids, your landing page serves as the 24/7 representative of your business and gatekeeper of your online funnel. The more time you spend on training your representative to not bite customers as they enter your door, the more customers tend to make it to your cash register. It’s simple math.
Yet, with landing page’s being so crucial to your online marketing, where do you start? Luckily, based on my opinion alone, I’ve put together the following short list of areas I tend to focus my efforts when creating a landing page for my very own PPC campaigns.
To start, let’s say the below is your current landing page. For the sake of this example, let’s also make believe you are a Copywriter that specializes in Latin, selling your services:
With the above example, it’s likely that the landing page you currently have is the one you’ve had for some time. When talking with clients, the vast majority when investigating how to best improve their landing pages express that they’re not even sure where to start. Due to this, there’s an inherent apprehension in “changing what works” and risking the current level of success you’re seeing from the landing page in question. While there’s hundreds of articles similar to mine on how to improve your landing page, most assume you’ve already figured out how to alleviate this apprehension.
Create a Testing Plan
The first thing you need to accept is that there are no magic bullets. Analysis and Data are the King and Queen of optimization of any sort and without them, no matter how clever the recommendations, you’re shooting in the dark. Knowing this, the first step in improving your landing pages should be figuring out how you’re going to monitor and measure the success of your landing page optimization efforts.
- Start simple. Find a campaign with a reasonable amount of volume / historical data (so you can measure improvements) that you feel comfortable testing. If you’re looking to prove that landing page optimization was the worst idea you’ve ever presented to your department, optimize all of your campaign’s landing pages at the same time. If not, resist the urge (yours or your Supervisors) to fix (or break) everything.
- Be realistic. Optimization inherently involves risk and learning from what doesn’t work is a key part of learning what does work. Expecting your test to only succeed is setting yourself up for disappointment.
- Building confidence. Know what success looks like. Testing (split, A/B, multivariate) means you need to know when you can be confident in what the data is telling you. Simply put, know when you feel confident that you have enough data to know that your new landing page is outperforming your old page.
- Preferred tools. One of the more difficult hurdles to landing page testing is delays to design/deployment/data. However, compared to even five years ago, there’s plenty of options to help you with landing page optimization. Tools such as Unbounce, Google Website Optimizer, Optimizely, and offer options to efficiently deploy and test landing page changes in a quicker manner than traditional means.
- Trust data, not assumptions. Resist the urge to simply replace an existing landing page without measurement. Sure, there’s cases where this is unavoidable (new product/service, etc) but even then, you should never put all your eggs in one basket.
One Landing Page Per Action
Once you’ve planned out how you’ll be measuring the results of your landing page changes, you want to focus on some of the key concepts. Often times, landing pages stumble because of a fear of commitment / risk on relying on a singular call to action. Instead of focusing on one sole goal for the landing page to center your content, design and call-to-action (CTA) around, additional goals are appended out of anxiety or over-collaboration on whether the main goal may leave a particular customer-segment out.
- Laser focus on your goal. Don’t let your own internal distractions distract your users. Your customer didn’t pay for the click that sent them to your landing page, you did. It costs a customer nothing to hit the back button and click on your competitors ad if you call to action is hidden in between marketing fluff.
- Research your customers & competitors. What has historically driven them to convert on your website? What are others saying about you that you need to counter? Why should they choose you over Business #2? Avoid believing that having a clear call to action means that a customer doesn’t need to be sold on why they should act on in it.
- Divide and conquer. Remember, if you have more than one offering to promote to your customers (Free Trial, Registration, Lead Form, Purchase), you’re likely not using the same ad to advertise to all of them. Decide on how many landing pages you need to cover your offerings and don’t settle on merging them together. You’re designing a landing
- A/B test versus merge. Again, if you’re worried customers will react differently to a trial versus a sale price, test. Customers searching “Free trials” usually aren’t in the same mode to commit as customers searching “Deals on ProductX”. Remember: A campaign’s success should never rely on a singular landing page. Landing pages aren’t homepages.
- Trust through copy. Credibility is hard to win and easy to lose. A landing page littered with poor grammar, spelling errors and careless copy-writing can damage trust.
- Brevity through necessity. Your copy should be as long as it needs to be to convey a strong message. Don’t live and die by character limits or recommendations on word count that exist in a vacuum.
- Mirror your message. Match your messages from ad to landing page to confirmation page. While this seems obvious, make sure your landing page doesn’t contradict the ad that your customer clicked on to get there.
- Immediate risk. If your ad promises something for “Free” and your landing page asks for the customer to give you a social security number in exchange, your asking the customer to pay a price for it. Time and privacy are often as costly (if not more) to a customer as money. Make sure what you ask of your customer is relevant to what they’re receiving in exchange.
- Design. In the same way that location matters with brick and mortar, your design implies a lot about the location of your online business. Is your landing page in the middle of a crumbling late 1990’s neighborhood of nested tables and flashing java applets, an early 2000 era strip mall of aggressive popup windows and distractions or in a comfortable and clean modern neighborhood?
Spell It Out
- Explain yourself. Avoid using generic terms such as “submit” or “Go” in your buttons/actions. Be literal in what the action will do and customers will be more likely to act. Ex: “Download Your Free Trial” or “Receive Our Newsletter”
- Always be closing. The Call To Action should be more than just an action, it should be also a reinforcement of the benefit or value in the user completing that action.
- Expectation setting. If your conversion process is more than one step, let your customer know. Often, it’s not your landing page scaring off potential customers, it’s the page after. If you have a multiple step process for a conversion, monitor your falloff reports and see where you have leaks. Your customer may be in a rush and making your initial call to action seem effortless only to be followed by a 20-minute application process may mean they leave and never come back.
Test, Test, Test.
So, maybe you’ve made changes to your old landing page and found a design and direction that performs better.
Congratulations. In the same way your new smart phone is already outdated, your new landing page is already not performing as well as it could be. Never settle. No landing page strategy will ever be perfect. No recommendation article (even this one) will never have all your answers. In the same way that a singular ad or keyword will never be the magic bullet for your PPC campaigns, the same goes for your landing pages. Treat them the same way you treat your ads and always explore ways to improve them.
What ways do you improve your landing pages? Have any favorite tools or methods you like to use? Success stories? Horror stories? Let us know in the comments.