Does your company need a cost-effective means for quickly generating new business leads? Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is one of the most cost-effective methods for demand based lead generation. The numbers don’t lie:
-Even though only 6% of Google and Bing users click on a paid search result, PPC ads account for 64.6% of clicks for keyword searches that imply high commercial intent.
-The click-thru-rate for PPC ads nearly tripled between 2011 and 2012, rising from 4.8% to 11.1%.
PPC ad copy is listed as advertisements at the top of search engine results; this compensates for a business’s page not making it to the top of search results. Search engines also give priority to sponsored listings: PPC ads occupy 85.2% of the above-the-fold space; organic search results receive just 14.8% of this space. It’s no surprise that the top three listings generate 41.1% of all clicks and that all three of these listings are generally PPC ads.
PPC advertising can give your business a flexible, cost effective tactic for expanding and tweaking inbound lead generation campaigns as your company ventures into new marketplaces or targets new clients. However, while PPC offers many cost-effective benefits, it is not simply a “set and forget” marketing tactic. Poorly chosen keywords, ineffective call-to-action, and a lack of alignment between ad copy and landing page can sink your PPC quality score, driving up campaign costs, reducing ad exposure and ultimately blowing your online marketing budget.
Why PPC Ad Alignment Matters
Your PPC quality score is important not only as a key indicator of past PPC campaign performance, but also as a predictor of future performance. Google uses your quality score to measure the quality and effectiveness of your PPC campaigns. The higher your score, the more “relevant” your ad content. Ultimately, higher scoring ads translate to lower advertising costs, increased ad exposure, and better ad positioning.
Alignment matters – and we don’t just mean the wheels on your car. In the world of PPC advertising, the alignment of keywords, call to action and landing page design is key to driving clicks and conversions. Could your PPC quality score use a tune-up?
Follow these 10 PPC continuity best practice tips:
1. Think beyond keyword match. Yes, keywords are important and should be consistent across all aspects of your PPC campaign. But in the push to find and optimize the best performing keywords, it’s all too easy to sound like a computer and not a human. What if you were speaking to your customer on the phone or in person? What would be the tone and mood of your conversation? Match the landing page copy, graphics, pictures, video, etc. to the tone and mood that would be conveyed in a day-to-day conversation.
2. Segment your ads. From geo-targeting to demographics, Google AdWords offers many advanced segmentation options for better connecting with your target customer. Utilize these advanced segmentation tools to create ads for specific customer groups. For example, if your business sells gourmet pizza, you will want to create one AdWords campaign targeting office workers searching for a quick lunch and a second campaign targeting college students who are craving a late-night study break. You can do this by controlling the time of day different ads will be displayed and even geo-targeting the zip code associated with your local college campus versus the zip code associated with your city’s downtown business district.
3. Enhance landing page relevancy. To improve landing page relevancy, start by thinking like a business planner, not a channel manager. Potential customers won’t convert if their pay-per-click experience is not relevant. What can you do to make their experience more relevant? Match the look and feel of your landing page to the ad content. If your ad is targeting a specific problem, don’t redirect your leads to a general landing page. Instead, re-state your user’s problem or pain point and clearly emphasize your solution. For example, if you are an online bath and body store and you run a PPC ad campaign for your down comforters, don’t send your leads to the main home page or even the general page for bedding. Send them directly to a page showcasing your premium down comforters.
4. Improve landing page copy. While your landing page copy should always be persuasive, different language will be effective with different customers depending on where they are in your buyer cycle. When writing your call-to-action copy, consider the visitor type that will be arriving on each specific landing page. Summarize your unique selling proposition in five lines or less; use bullets whenever possible to keep copy concise and easy to understanding. While you should be expanding upon the messaging used in your PPC ads, it is also a good idea to repeat long-tail keyword phrases that helped to bring your target lead to the landing in the first place.
5. Get visual. The average landing page visitor decides in just seven seconds or less whether they will stay on the landing page or click their browser’s back button. If your landing pages are under-performing, it means the content does not align with your user’s expected experience. While landing page copy is important, so too is your page’s overall design. Eliminate visual “junk” that crowds your landing page call to action. Instead, choose a single graphic or short video that epitomizes your business’s unique selling proposition.
6. Simplify sign-up forms. Yes, opt-in forms for email marketing, product samples or white paper downloads are a key landing page component. However, lengthy sign-up forms will ultimately discourage leads from submitting their information and disrupt PPC ad/landing page continuity. Chances are good that the loss of prospective customers will far outstrip any potential benefits that you might gain from obtaining extraneous information like company size, industry or yearly sales numbers. In general, keep the information you need to a bare minimum; the fewer required forms, the better. If you do need to capture a significant amount of information from your leads, consider splitting the opt-in form over multiple screens and indicating to your lead where they are in the process as they move through each screen. This will streamline the opt-in process and reduce landing page bounce rate.
7. Remove navigation options. Don’t give your leads a reason to click off your page! A full-scale web experience, complete with menu bars, provides too many opportunities for leads to leave your page. Each navigation option on your landing page dilutes your lead’s attention and increases the page’s bounce rate. Eliminating a menu bar, a home button and other navigation options will streamline the click-to-buy process and keep leads focused.
8. Be strategic with content placement. Place your primary messaging and call to action above the fold. The “fold” is the bottom of the screen for the average browser resolution of your target market. And yes, keeping content above the fold really does matter. For Western visitors with a left to right reading style, landing page eye tracking studies routinely show that the top left corner is where the eye is first drawn. As we read left to right, the mid-right part of the page is a natural resting point for the eyes, making it an ideal location for a persuasive call-to-action. Finally, consider the visual image you are using on your page. Our gaze is drawn to faces, and we typically follow the gaze of this face. For example, if the person is looking to the right, our eyes will naturally follow this gaze– and ideally land on persuasive call-to-action copy!
9. Build trust. Thanks to the proliferation of spam, link baiting and other online marketing scams, establishing trust is essential to PPC continuity. Avoid gimmicky sales tactics such as, “BUY NOW!” or “LIMITED TIME OFFER!”. Not only is the use of all caps offensive (that’s the equivalent of screaming in a prospective customer’s face), but that type of messaging will also send your customers straight to clicking their back browser buttons. Instead, build trust and establish authenticity by showcasing endorsements, testimonials or industry affiliations; a small industry logo is ideal for keeping the landing page design clean. In the age of online comparison shopping, cite verifiable facts. If you feature contact information on your landing page, consider including a direct line to your sales department. A phone number tells people that you are legitimate business with real people on the other end who can answer their questions. For continuity, if you included a number in your PPC ad, be sure that this number matches the sales line on your landing page.
10. Create a clear path to the sale. From mimicking PPC text in your landing page copy to delivering leads straight to a specific product, creating a clear path to the sale will drive your conversion rates. Consider the following PPC ad for a Nine West shoe sale:
The headline copy “Nine West Closeout Deals – Save up to 75% on Nine West Shoes” is spot-on. The website link also includes “Nine West”, which is key for click-thrus. The 4.5 star rating and “44,763 reviews” establishes the site’s trustworthiness from the very beginning. When we click through, we are taken directly to the sale page for Nine West shoes:
Overall, however, the continuity between the PPC campaign and the target landing page is very strong. One way this experience could have been improved, however, is if a banner or headline at the top of the page repeated the “Nine West Shoe Sale Up to 75% Off” message rather than advertising Sperry Topsiders, which could be confusing.
Here’s another great example of PPC ad and landing page continuity:
HubSpot’s PPC ad for a free trial offer clearly states the offer in the headline and by including the number of Google+ followers in the ad copy (nearly 30,000), this inclusion reinforces HubSpot’s legitimacy and trustworthiness.
HubSpot’s landing page is spot-on as well. The headline reinforces the 30-day trial offer, the page layout and design is clean, and the sign-up form on the right hand side prompts visitors to “Start Your Free Trial Offer Now”. Given that HubSpot’s business is lead generation, it’s no surprise to find such great continuity between their PPC ad and landing page.
Build PPC Continuity Around Experience, Not Clicks.
Yes, this may sound counter-intuitive, but hear us out: be smart about how you optimize your PPC campaigns and build continuity across ads and landing pages. While clicks are important, at the end of the day, 10,000 clicks are worthless if not a single one of these clicks converts. As competition increases and the cost of clicks rises, smart continuity programs not only increase the value of each customer, but also ensure that the customer clicking through to your landing page is a highly qualified lead.
From smart bidding strategies that focus on long-tail keywords to streamlining landing page design, spend your time focused on maximizing the user experience. The best-aligned PPC campaigns focus on the long-tail keyword phrases that are more likely to connect with a target audience and also have a lower CPC. While there may be fewer overall clicks, these clicks are also higher quality, which ultimately results in higher conversion rates.
Successful PPC campaigns utilize the VCCC approach: Visibility, Creative, Continuity and Conversion. PPC campaigns deliver the highest number of leads and the best ROI when they are carefully managed to control keyword bidding costs and drive conversions through better alignment. Finally, once you’ve generated your leads, don’t let them languish. If you sell only one item to a customer who arrived on your landing page via a PPC ad and never hear from them again, that’s a pretty expensive way to do business. Great continuity builds your brand and hooks your customer from day one – and a great lead nurturing campaign will ensure repeat business.
Chris is an online marketing and content strategist here at iSpionage building awareness and engagement within our target markets. Connect with Chris on Google+ or on Twitter.