In the fast-moving, modern-day world of SEM, digital marketers would be forgiven for dedicating their time to enhancing PPC elements rather than optimizing post-click landing pages. Keyword research, ad design, audience targeting, and campaign creation alone are the subject of great industry debate and analysis. Whatever it is that your business offers, though, it is your PPC landing pages that will do the heavy lifting in terms of converting your traffic into leads and paying customers.
So just how do you get the most out of your online traffic and ensure no conversions are being left behind — and with them, wasted marketing dollars? Conveying product value, design pieces, relevant messaging, call-to-action rules – they all need to be finely tuned and equally balanced in order for your paid search ads to provide their true value and become a vital pillar in your overarching marketing strategy. Here, we take a look at some simple yet effective best practices that can empower you to drive conversion rates to new levels.
Get Your Message Across Instantly
You have probably lost count of the number of times you’ve clicked on a site, only to be immediately presented with information that’s irrelevant to your search. Regardless of whether it’s an ad or an organic result, the experience is frustrating and can leave a bad impression that can be difficult to forget. People who construct these types of webpages often do so under the premise that “you just have to keep reading to find what you’re looking for,” but that is a counterproductive and potentially detrimental approach. What good is that to the user? Why would you want to frustrate your potential buyers? The reality is that by creating more obstacles for users, you risk losing them for good.
The first job of good PPC landing pages, then, should be to provide instant and easily digestible value from the moment they load on the user’s browser. The entire point of marketing is to communicate value to prospects — while you’ll be sprinkling that throughout their time on your site, it’s critical to do so from the very beginning. Your PPC landing pages have to immediately establish why the user should follow through with their click rather than simply navigating away. This means affirming your credibility, showcasing your unique selling point, and leading them toward your call-to-action (CTA). Keep in mind that you don’t have to bombard them with everything upfront, but the value they get from their initial click has to be recognizable right out the gate.
It is also worth noting here the fundamentality of creating dedicated PPC landing pages for every campaign that you launch. Ideally, you will have different ad campaigns set up that target audiences across various stages of the buying process, each with clear and concise messaging that encourages them to convert based on their needs and timing. These focused ads need to come in tandem with equally targeted landing pages that deliver on the promise you make to them.
Are Your PPC Landing Pages Visually Striking?
Put simply, even uninspiring business products and services need a landing page that packs a visual punch, and this begins with the hero section. Full-screen images have been the modern digital practitioner’s design option of choice over the last few years and for good reason – they are streamlined, easy on the eye, and provide a dominant element that works well in conjunction with main headlines, helping to communicate primary messages quickly and efficiently (alluding to the above). Just make sure that they’re responsive on all devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile) and optimized for speed.
For those of you going the extra mile and placing a video at the top of your page, be sure that loading times are minimal (borderline non-existent) and that the footage isn’t so striking that it detracts attention away from your key message. When used in this context, videos should set the appropriate tone while avoiding any distracting audio, voiceover or soundtracks. In addition, be sure to keep it simple, no longer than 30 seconds maximum, and set it on an automatic loop. Whatever design approach you do eventually take, be sure to make the most of the hero section and create enough value so that your visitor converts there and then, or at the very least, continues scrolling to learn more.
Within the design piece, there’s also the lead capture form to consider. A great many studies have been conducted around landing page forms and the general consensus is that the more information you require, the lower the conversion rate. Thus, you need to strike the right balance between the information you need and how many fields you require the user to fill. In general, it’s best to ditch the peripheral information and cut straight to the chase. Asking for “First” and “Last” name? Condense that to “Full Name.” Asking for a home telephone number? Forget it – not important. Asking for a website URL and company name? Surely you can find one from the other. In short, less is more.
Adapt and Refine the Relevance
Webpages may live forever with a hosted domain, but that doesn’t mean that the information they contain should remain static. Numerous sections of your landing pages should continually be updated for any number of reasons — information becomes obsolete; new, fresher, statistics are released; links break; and images fail to load. If you are directing users to PPC landing pages with any of these issues, you are putting up a serious red flag for professionalism that could (and probably will) affect your ROI.
If you’re utilizing a landing page for a long-term marketing campaign, then checking in on the coding and the content at regular intervals is crucial for maintaining its effectiveness. Test links, ensure images load and are formatted properly, and continually verify the accuracy of any your claims. Ultimately, it’s the only way to guarantee that every lead who finds your page receives an optimal experience when they click on your ad.
PPC landing pages created for shorter-term campaigns also need to be monitored carefully. Once the campaign has ended, you need to diligently remove any links from AdWords as well as your internal site navigation. Few things will mar the customer journey more quickly than clicking on a broken link, or being redirected to a landing page containing an offer that is no longer valid. After all, let’s face it, when you see a 404, it’s likely that your trust in the brand takes a hit.
Forget the Single CTA Rule
It’s easy to understand why marketers become obsessed with CTAs; at their best, they’re simple but persuasive, direct but not outrageous. When crafting a CTA that reliably converts for your landing page, it’s best to consider that the other parts of the page already did the majority of the work to convey your unique selling proposition (USP). The CTA is just there to guide your buyer to the finish line.
It is true that you should direct your user’s attention to one main CTA that jumps out at them when they’re ready to convert. Giving them multiple options can create confusion, which is the exact opposite of what you want when they’ve already made the decision to purchase. Remember, they’ve already chosen to follow the path — your PPC landing pages are simply lighting the way for them.
However, no matter how well-executed your campaigns, you’re never going to convert everyone first time around. This is precisely why remarketing exists, and why displaying an alternative CTA for users not yet ready to convert can make all the difference. Including a secondary CTA can help salvage lost conversions and jumpstart your personalized email marketing strategy. Just make sure it’s crafted with a specific goal in mind, whether it is to collect email subscriptions, promote a different product, or anything else, and doesn’t compete with the primary action you’re attempting to execute. While a secondary CTA may exist as a last resort, remember it still needs to be focused and direct in order to be effective.
If your landing page is performing poorly, or more specifically, is performing below your expectations, following these simple tips would be a good place to start in rectifying the problem. While the actual practice and nuances of PPC garner more attention in the industry, your landing pages act as your home base for lead generation and search visibility, and as such, they should never be overlooked. To that end, you should be in a constant internal process of testing every single element to isolate the effect. Is your headline focused? Does your image choice speak to your offering? Are you conveying value from the get-go? Is your call-to-action conveniently placed? Is the messaging relevant?
Test, test, and test again to ensure you are getting the biggest bang for your PPC marketing buck. Each and every ad campaign and content marketing asset serves as a great opportunity for you to be found on search engine results pages. Don’t fall into the trap of doing all the hard work and then neglecting the page that brings you all the conversions. Your landing page is the gateway users will cross to become leads or actual customers, and thus, could be the deciding factor in whether they make that final step, or ultimately move on.
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