Your landing page is where you deliver on the promise of your ad and where you've got to earn the conversion.
You've done exhaustive keyword research. You've carefully constructed your account. You've written compelling, benefit-focused ad copy. You're testing at least 2 ads in each ad group. Your bids are competitive. You may have even used the Display URL to add a relevant keyword. You turn on the campaign and you're set. Right?
Where Did You Send The Click?
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) practitioners recognize that while you have to do the work pre-click, the real heavy lifting occurs post-click. Here are a few things to consider:
- Continuity - Each click you receive started with a search query; a question that needed answering or a problem that needed solving. Your ad copy made an offer and enticed that user to click. The first thing your landing page needs to do is keep the promise your ad made. For example, let's say I searched "running shoes for 5K" and saw this ad:
As you can see, Zappos is promising me free shipping, free returns and a huge selection of Asics running shoes. How does the landing page deliver on that promise? We have this messaging in the header:
And a truly huge selection:
Your landing pages need continuity from search query to ad messaging to landing page copy, establishing a chain of relevancy.
- Simplicity - When you paid for the click you want to maximize the value you'll get from that click. Ideally you want that click to sign up for your newsletter, download your whitepaper and make a purchase. However, you're probably not going to get all of that right away. But that doesn't stop some companies from trying:
The original search term was "SSL certificate" and I clicked their ad because it mentioned a very attractive $12.99 price point. While the landing page does a good job of featuring the offer by highlighting it in yellow (continuity) you'll notice several other offers. However, I would recommend you ask yourself "Is the potential benefit of multiple offers greater than the potential loss of conversion on my primary goal?"
- Clarity - Dr. Flint McGlaughlin of MarketingExperiments.com is famous for saying "Clarity trumps persuasion." The ultimate judgement of clarity is the user's thought process. Do they immediately know what you're offering and how your offering is superior to all other offers in the space? If not, then even continuity and simplicity aren't going to save you.
Before we finish, I want to address one particular question that I feel comes up over and over again: sending PPC clicks to the homepage.
Can I Send Clicks To My Homepage?
The short answer: Yes, you can. But the better question is "Do you have somewhere better to send them?" For better or worse the homepage has to be everything to everybody. It handles SEO traffic from a variety of search terms. It acts as the launch pad for returning customers. It's the URL on your business cards, mailers and other printed materials. This might tempt you into thinking that it would make the perfect landing page because it has something for everyone.
Don't fall into this trap.
You pay for PPC clicks because you have a pretty good idea about their intent. You know they're looking for something and you have a potential answer/solution. Based on that knowledge put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you ran a search, clicked your ad and landed on your homepage. With that intent, what page would you go to next? Okay, now why not send the click straight to that page?
Getting the click requires time & effort, but to reach your ultimate goal you'll need to go the extra mile and send those clicks to landing pages that demonstrate continuity, simplicity and clarity.
Robert Brady is the head PPC wizard at Righteous Marketing, a Google AdWords Certified Partner and Microsoft adExcellence Member. He manages PPC accounts for both small and large businesses and offers a PPC training program for the DIYer.