Optimizing Your PPC Campaign Landing Pages

Ask and ye shall receive. My last column, “Seven Steps to Building a New PPC Campaign,” received several comments asking for elaboration on campaign landing page optimization. So that’s what we’ll focus on today.

A PPC landing page is typically a standalone page that is created specifically as a destination for marketing activities. As they are created with specific goals in mind, campaign landing pages typically perform better than regular Web site pages at converting visitors.

Let’s look at the various considerations when building a campaign landing page and some recommended best practices to apply when doing so.

1. Desired action/conversion definition

Before you can create a desirable landing page, you must have a clear understanding of what you want your consumer to do when they get there (e.g., buy a product, register for a newsletter, download a guide, take a quiz, etc.). This is typically referred to as an “action” or “conversion.” Once you have a clear idea of what you want them to do, you can go about structuring your call-to-action in the most palatable way possible.

Recommended best practices:

  • Choose an action that is relevant to your audience. The offer should be relevant to what the consumer is searching for, not just your general product/service category. For example, if you offer home renovation services and the consumer is looking for information on “kitchen renovations,” driving them to a generic “home reno guide” may not be as effective as an interactive tool to help them plan the layout of their new kitchen. This may mean creating multiple landing pages/offers that are customized to the various search “themes” in your PPC (define) account, but the increase in response is well worth it.
  • Ensure that there is a value exchange for completing the action. If you want a consumer to provide you with their contact information (something valuable to you), make sure they get something valuable in exchange. This might take the form of a special offer, coupon, tool, or resource that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Anything you can do to “sweeten the deal” for them will usually help improve conversion rates.
  • Avoid promoting more than one call-to-action. Don’t make the mistake of putting multiple offers or call-to-actions on your landing page – this will only confuse the consumer and degrade conversion rates. There should be one clear action that you want the user to take and your entire page should be geared to making the completion of that action as easy as possible.
  • Make sure the offer/action is beneficial to your business. Getting someone to use your planning tool is great, but how can you make that actionable in terms of generating new contract business? Once they create their plan, you can ask them to register to save it or e-mail it to themselves and at the same time encourage them to opt in for more information. This will enable you to follow up with prospects later on.

2. Landing page structure and design

Once you understand what your key call-to-action will be, you need to design your page in such a way that engages the visitor and incites action. Your landing page needs to quickly help the consumer make the transition from click to conversion.

Recommended best practices:

  • Strip out any unnecessary site navigation, menus, or links. Users intuitively want to click on them, so they will only distract from the goal you want them to complete. The same goes for any irrelevant copy or imagery – only those elements that help move the visitor further toward the completion of your desired action should be included.
  • Wherever possible, don’t make the user click to get to your offer. Ideally, the action (whether it be a registration form or an interactive assessment) should be embedded directly on the landing page itself, rather than a link to the offer (e.g., “click here”). The less work the consumer has to do to convert, the better.
  • Include relevant headlines and body copy. Although the offer should ideally be on the landing page, it shouldn’t necessarily be the first thing the consumer sees. They need to be eased into the offer by providing them with some contextual information that relates to their specific search query. So, going back to our kitchen reno example, your headline might say “Planning on renovating your kitchen?” Include a couple lines of copy on the topic, and then present the offer to try out the kitchen planning tool.
  • Include a relevant graphic or “hero shot.” Many people are extremely visual and will respond more to visual cues versus text. Providing a graphic representation of your offer/product/service is important because the user can quickly understand what the page is all about. It also helps improve the aesthetic of the page and makes it more dynamic.
  • Try to locate your offer “above the fold.” Make sure your offer is visible on the page without the user having to scroll down to get to it. This is called “above the fold.”

3. Conversion experience

Your conversion experience should be as painless as possible for the consumer in order to increase chances of them completing the action. Because most conversions include some type of registration (e.g., Web form), I’ll focus on that aspect.

Recommended best practices:

  • Only ask for information that is absolutely necessary. The rule of thumb is to only ask for information that you really need. If you’re sending an e-mail, do you really need a mailing address? If you’re planning on segmenting users into one of three categories, do you really need to ask them 10 questions? If you aren’t going to use the data for segmentation or some sort of follow-up, don’t ask for it.
  • Keep registration forms short and simple. Related to the point above, you should keep your Web forms as short as possible to enhance user experience and limit abandonment. There is no hard and fast rule for the number of fields on your form, but up to six seems acceptable, and more than 10, prohibitive.
  • Use standard form fields, buttons, and boxes. Try to adhere to easy-to-use standard Web form elements like check boxes and drop-down menus, versus making the user enter information into an open-text field. There is room for error and it makes the registration process more onerous for the user.

Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive – there are books written on how to create campaign landing pages – but hopefully it provides you with a starting point for your efforts.

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