Landing Page Success in Two Easy Steps

  |  March 30, 2010   |  Comments

Optimize your landing page by creating a fluid user experience and on-going testing.

In response to your comments to my column, "Optimizing Your PPC Campaign Landing Pages," this column will examine in depth two hot topics:

  • Creating a cohesive and compelling user experience from ad to landing page.

  • On-going optimization, testing, and iteration of campaign landing pages.
1. Creating a cohesive and compelling user experience from ad to landing page

Some readers highlighted the importance of ensuring that your ad creative aligns closely with your landing page, and that the overall user experience is fluid. Specifically, you want to ensure three things:

  • Creative treatment: The colors, imagery, font, and style you use within your ads should be reflected in your landing page. Although this principle applies more for banner advertising because with paid search you can't typically control the "look and feel" of the ads, there are opportunities with PPC (define) that afford you creative flexibility. For example, if you are employing the content network at all in your PPC campaigns, you may consider layering in some graphic, flash, or video ads in addition to your traditional text ads.

  • Messaging: Your positioning and messaging should be consistent from the ad to the landing page. Although relevancy plays an obvious role here, tone and call-to-action are just as important. If you specifically call out an action in an ad, make sure that the action you ask the consumer to complete on the landing page is the same one. You want the consumer to get to the landing page and get exactly what they were expecting - surprising or jarring experiences produce high bounce rates and low conversion rates. To steal a phrase from one of my readers, Mr. Desjardins: "Consistency equals Conversion." As he suggests, you may want to consider matching your ad headline to your landing page header in order to engender that feeling of sameness/relevancy.

  • Expediency: Your ad and your landing page should communicate the message in a manner that is clear, simple, and to the point. And above all, quick. Internet users scan ads and pages for quick hits of information, and if you take too long to get to the point, they will bail. A sense of urgency in your ad can help incite consumers to click, but be sure to instill that same urgency within your landing page. Bulleted, quick-scan copy, combined with a time-sensitive call-to-action and an easy conversion process will do wonders for your conversion rates.
2. On-going optimization, testing, and iteration of campaign landing pages

If this wasn't clear in part one of this column, I want to make it clear now: landing page optimization is not a one-time exercise. You must continually test and evaluate a variety of landing pages to find the optimal mix of elements and approaches. This will help you improve results over time by continually tweaking your page in such a way that maximizes conversions.

Everyone approaches landing page testing and optimization differently, but whatever approach you take, you want to be sure that you can isolate and test multiple variables to determine which elements are having the most impact. Here are some examples of testing you might undertake:

  • Layout A vs. layout B vs. layout C
  • Black text background on white vs. blue text on white background
  • Urgent tone/CTA vs. softer/friendlier tone
  • Heading A vs. heading B vs. heading C
  • Text-heavy page vs. graphic-heavy page
  • Web form with five fields vs. form with seven fields
  • "Submit" button vs. "register" button

This process of testing and iterating is commonly referred to as A/B or multivariate testing.

Typically, you might start with more of a traditional A/B test - two landing pages served up equally, to see which one produces the most desirable conversion rates. From this test, you might learn that landing page B is working the best. But then you have to ask yourself "why?" That's where multivariate testing comes into play - you can then break down landing page B into its various elements and attempt to isolate each of these in a testing framework. So your second test might look like this:

  • Landing page B1: Change everything but the headline
  • Landing page B2: Change everything but the graphic
  • Landing page B3: Change everything but the body copy
  • Landing page B4: Change everything but the offer
  • Landing page B5: Change everything but the Web form
  • Etc...

This can help you identify which of the elements on your landing page is having the incremental impact on conversion rates. Does the header make the bigger difference, or is it the graphic treatment?

These two approaches will go far to help make your landing page efforts a success.

A special thanks to my readers for your great insight and comments - keep them coming!

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Julie Batten

Julie is a member of the senior strategy team at Klick Health, focused on online media and digital. Julie initially established and led the media practice at Klick for several years, relinquishing leadership to expand beyond media into additional digital tactics. She brings a wealth of experience in search marketing, digital media, and all facets of digital strategy to bear, helping Klick's clients develop innovative digital solutions. As her role has evolved, so have her contributions to ClickZ, which she has been writing for since 2007.

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