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Get Better Landing Pages for AdWords with 3 Techniques to Try Today

If you’re a PPC strategist, your client’s campaigns live and die by the strength of the landing pages. If you drop the perfect paid audience on a page with no offer (or an unclear one), you’ll get a 0% conversion rate no matter how your ads perform.

The problem is that as AdWords account managers, we can be pretty limited in our ability to change landing pages. In this role, we typically lack the budget, resources, and expertise needed to affect what’s often the root cause of failing campaigns.

So how do you rescue your AdWords campaigns from bad landing pages without also becoming a landing page designer or a conversion rate optimization expert?

Below are three techniques you can use to reveal some insight, change performance yourself, or influence more relevant, better converting landing pages for AdWords.

1. Cut spend & uncover priority content with the ugly duckling search term method

Many AdWords accounts have rules that look something like this:

If the keyword spends more than $100 and doesn’t result in a sale, remove keyword.

Whether it’s automated or a manual check, the process is the same: “optimize” by getting rid of what doesn’t convert.

But this assumes that the landing page your ad points to is perfectly optimized and relevant to every keyword that might be important to your audience — a pretty tall order. But what if your target audience is searching for your offer with your seemingly “dud” keyword, and you’re driving them to an incorrect or incomplete landing page that doesn’t reflect the keyword or the search intent behind it?

The “Ugly Duckling” is a check you can do when your keyword isn’t hitting the performance metrics you want. It will help you figure out if your keyword is a swan, or a wet rat you need to purge from your aquatic friends.
Ugly duckling adwords landing page trick

As an example, let’s say your client is a fruit vendor, with an AdWords campaign driving coupon downloads. Here’s the ad group for concord grapes:

Concord Grape Ad Group

The Ad Group for Concord Grapes

The keyword phrase ‘organic concord grapes’ has a lot of search volume, but it’s performing horribly at $695 per coupon download!

An AdWord’s “rule” pausing or deleting what doesn’t work would wipe out this keyword in no time. But, before assuming a wet rat, this is where you’d take look at the (hypothetical) landing page:

the corresponding landing page

The hypothetical landing page for the fruit vendor’s Ad campaign.

The landing page never mentions your grapes are organic! No wonder your visitors aren’t converting. This is poor message match from your ad.

In this case, simply adding the high-volume, highly relevant term “organic” to your landing page is much smarter than negative matching the term your audience is using to find your product. There could be several keywords you’re bidding on that could use this swan/wet rat treatment.

Applying swan or wet rat to your AdWords landing pages

Instant wet rat: If your poor performing keyword doesn’t reflect your offer at all (ie: your grapes aren’t organic), then the keyword is a wet rat. Don’t bid on it, and consider negative matching to avoid further traffic.

Further investigation needed: Assuming your grapes are organic (or more broadly, the keyword is indeed relevant to your offer), there are several things you can try, such as:

  • Altering your ad headline: If it’s not already in there, test adding your keyword to your ad’s headline. This should drive a better quality score and cost per click, and you can see whether it affects CTR for the keyword. Because making changes to your landing page could require more rigorous review than changing ad copy, this can be a good first step.
  • Ad group break-out: If your keyword phrase is particularly long or is unrelated to the other keywords in your ad group, break it into a new ad group before including it in your headline.
  • Data-based landing page recommendation: If your keyword performance improves with the ad-specific steps above, you should now have the data you need to get your client or designer/team to feature the keyword prominently on the landing page. In the case of our example, “organic” can be easily added to the headline on the landing page.
    • In other cases, building out a separate, more specific landing page to address individual keywords could be more appropriate.
    • Depending on relevancy and search volume, you can incorporate the theme of the keyword throughout the landing page and offer.
  • Search term deep dive: Go a step further and examine the search terms, not just the keywords, following the same process. Looking at the actual search terms that do drive spend and traffic can reveal potential exclusions, match type tightening, and keywords to add.

Hypothetically, here’s what performance could look like for our keyword once we’ve optimized the ad and resulting landing page to better reflect the product:

hypothetical before and after

This keyword we were about to pause is now driving 1400+ downloads with a cost per download of the coupon. That’s below our target. Swan after all!

2. Learn about your audience with “mini-quiz” ad copy

A strong AdWords landing page isn’t just about following best practices or using slick templates. It should encompass user research, sales data, persuasive messaging, and a compelling offer, but you’ve got a trick up your sleeve: your ad copy.

Think of your ad copy as a quiz where you get to ask your audience what unique selling point is most important to them. With each ad click, you’re collecting votes for the best messaging, which can fuel key messages on your landing page.

To do this right, you have to have distinct messages and value propositions in your copy. For example, it makes no sense to run a test of these ad descriptions:

  • (Version A) Say goodbye to breakouts. #1 solution for clear skin. Try for free today!
  • (Version B) Say Goodbye to Breakouts. #1 Solution for Clear Skin. Try for Free Today!
  • (Version C) #1 solution for clear skin. Say goodbye to breakouts. Try for free today!

One of these ads will get a better click through rate than the others, but you’ve learned nothing.

A good ad copy quiz has distinct choices and results.
You’ll want to challenge assumptions about your audience. Consider this other, better version of the quiz from the text ad example above:

  • (Version A) Say goodbye to breakouts. #1 solution for clear skin. Try for free today!
  • (Version B) Get clear skin in just 3 days. Get your 1st shipment free. Order now!

Whether the winner is “#1 solution” or “Results in 3 days,” we’ve learned something about the priorities of our audience, and the learnings can be applied to improve the landing page’s headline and copy throughout. Rinse & repeat.

Turning your ads into mini-quizzes

See what your audience truly values by letting them vote with their click. Here are some ideas for value propositions to get you started with your ad copy quiz:

Note: I normally don’t suggest including messaging in your ad that isn’t reflected on the landing page (i.e. if your landing page doesn’t mention price, neither should your ad). However, if you don’t control the landing page as the paid media manager, the CTR of an ad copy test can point you in the right direction for what to add to your page, so it’s fair game in this instance.

3. “Tip the scales” with exactly enough information

There’s a widely-spread idea that landing pages for AdWords should be stripped of any features, links, or functionality other than a form. This is just not true, and blindly following this advice could be killing your conversion rates.

Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner, frequently talks about the importance of landing page Attention Ratio:

Basically, your page should have one purpose, and you should avoid distractions.

This is great advice, especially for people who are tempted to drive AdWords traffic to a home page with no real CTA. But I find it has been misinterpreted and misapplied all over the internet by people who’ve twisted it into an incorrect “formula”, i.e.:

  • He who has the fewest links and options on the landing page wins.

That’s not how it works. People need links, content, choice, and context to make a decision. Not all links are bad; I’ve doubled conversion rates just by diverting PPC traffic from dedicated LPs to the website itself.

The question is, how much information does a visitor need in order to take action?

Ultimately you want to “tip the scales” of the decision-making process for your visitor – getting rid of unnecessary distractions, but keeping those essential ingredients that will help them go from “no” to “yes” or even “absolutely.”

Here are 2 very common mistakes that are killing conversion rates on landing pages across the internet:

Mistake #1: Single-option landing pages

You’ve heard all about the paradox of choice and analysis paralysis. You know that when people have too many options, they’re more likely to choose none at all. But what happens when you have too few?

If you don’t see what you want, you’re also going to say “no.”

As an example (that you probably won’t see in the wild but it’s nice and easy to illustrate), someone’s Googled a pizza delivery service. But the landing page allows someone to order pepperoni and pepperoni only, and our vegetarian searcher leaves to order elsewhere.

At first glance, this might look like our “organic grapes” problem from earlier, but something different is at play.

Many AdWords ads today are driving to single-option landing pages, where the only choice is to take the offer exactly as-is. This can be fine when only one variation exists, or your visitors have a chance to narrow their choices later in the process.

But if your visitors’ search is more broad, don’t take away their options in an effort to simplify the page. You’ll miss out on potential sales, which is kind of the whole point of running a campaign.

Instead, driving to a category page, or one that gives your visitors (gasp) – choice! – will keep them engaged. You may also consider creating several different types of landing pages for each specific option you offer to get specific after someone’s narrowed down their options via a broader landing page.

Mistake #2: The not-enough-info landing page

Another case of “When good landing page principles go bad” is the stripped-down, bare-bones dedicated landing page that has no useful information.

A disturbing and growing trend is for AdWords landing pages to feature no navigation, links, details, or information. There’s not even a way to visit the company domain from the landing page. This is a problem, because as the saying goes: A confused mind says no.

What’s going through your site visitors’ minds when they get to a landing page and can’t find what they need?

A landing page without enough information can be just as bad (or worse) than a landing page with too much.

Whether your traffic is warm or cold, coming from an email campaign or paid ads, arriving at your home page or a dedicated landing page, your visitors need to trust that you can solve their problems before they’ll convert on your offer.

Overall, just because someone’s clicked on an AdWords ad doesn’t mean they have fewer questions or less of a need for product details than if they came in from another channel. Remember to cover all your details of your offer in a logical information hierarchy, and don’t be afraid to give your visitors options to explore important info via lightboxes, or links where appropriate.

Getting control over your landing pages for AdWords

As a PPC manager, you may not directly control the landing page, but you can remind your team to avoid conversion killers like:

  • Key questions from the top keywords that aren’t answered on the landing page
  • No clear reason to take action
  • Landing pages where choice is limited unnecessarily, leaving more questions than answers
  • Landing pages that don’t explain what will happen after a visitor takes action on the offer
  • No way for visitors to have their questions answered

Give your visitors a reason to say yes, remove their reasons to say no, and watch your conversion rates improve.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

It’s probably not news to you that 91% of B2B brands use content marketing to attract, engage, nurture, and convert their audience. However, it might be surprising to learn that only 9% of those brands rate their content marketing as “sophisticated.” Sophisticated meaning that their content marketing is successful, scales across the organization, and provides accurate measurement to the business. This puts a lot of pressure on content marketers to elevate their game and provide more worthwhile and valuable content experiences.

Patrick PinedaAs an adept Dungeon Master (DM) of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games, TopRank Marketing’s Motion Graphic Designer, Patrick Pineda, can relate.

It might sound a little odd at first, but Dungeon Masters and content marketers are more alike than you think. Responsible for creating meaningful and memorable experiences through content that takes people on a journey, you can see the similarities arise. Just like content marketers need to help guide people through the buyer journey, the Dungeon Master needs to guide players through a journey of their own.

After serving his friends as the go-to Dungeon Master, Patrick has learned a thing or two from creating lengthy campaigns—some successful, some not—that are both engaging and challenging. Discover Patrick’s lessons from the dungeon and how you can apply them to your content marketing campaigns and programs down below.

What Is a Dungeon Master?

For the unfamiliar, a Dungeon Master is the organizer for the wildly popular, 40-year-old tabletop role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons.” Not only do DMs organize the game, but they are also responsible for the game rules, details, and challenges. According to Patrick, the player experience hinges on a DM’s ability to create meaningful content that’s fun to explore.

One thing Dungeon Masters are not responsible for, however, are the players’ actions.

Like the self-directed buyers of today, D&D players are able to choose their own paths. As a result, DMs are challenged to make sure players finish the game. And just like your audience won’t read every piece of content you put in front of them, the same happens in a D&D game. Certain story elements DMs put together will never see the light of day because every player has a different play style, completes tasks in different orders, and takes different actions.

“The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick claims.

Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly resonated for me.

5 Content Marketing Lessons From the Dungeon

Having created D&D campaigns that ruled and bombed, here are Patricks top five tips for developing content that resonate with your audience.

#1 - Your audience values originality.

If Patrick creates a campaign that plays to common tropes like a damsel in distress or small town disappearances, the story becomes predictable. But worse than that, the players feel condescended to as the game starts to feel dumbed down.

“Cliches and stereotypes will make players groan. It’s important when creating a campaign that I shake it up and play against common conventions,” Patrick says.

When examining your content and the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original and play with your audience’s expectations. For example, listicles with social media tips are a dime a dozen. Your audience might be more interested if you flip the idea on its head with social media mistakes. In changing it up, you’re giving your audience something new that they haven’t read before, capturing their interest.

[bctt tweet="When examining your content & the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original & play with your audience’s expectations. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Appeal to curiosity.

When it comes to creating an adventure for players to navigate, the DM has a seemingly impossible job. They need to create a unique and compelling world that is able to hold players’ attention—something not easily done. In fact, campaigns have taken Patrick days to put together. But that doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

“I’ve spent hours upon hours creating content for a campaign. But 80% of what I create may never see any playtime. It’s ultimately the players’ choice as to what tasks they want to complete and what quests they want to go on,” Patrick points out.

While the D&D world needs to have a unique and compelling narrative, it also needs to appeal to a player’s curiosity to ensure they keep playing the game and play the parts of the game that you want them to.

How does this apply to content marketing? Well, as you know, just because you’re producing content, doesn’t mean that your audience will find it. To find the answers they’re looking for, they might scour the internet, social media, and trusted experts for more information. Having an integrated content strategy that has multiple touch points throughout the buyer journey and an omni-channel approach, helps ensure you’re reaching your target audience whenever and wherever they may be searching.

Weaving SEO, social media, and influencer marketing into your content marketing strategy helps improve the reach and engagement of the content you’re producing. Through SEO, your organic rankings and click-through-rates will start to rise, improving your organic traffic. Social media messages that are well written and value-based help attract larger audiences from their social feeds. And, finally, tapping into industry influencers exposes your content to a wider network of like-minded individuals, as well as adding authority and credibility.

#3 - Avoid corraling your audience.

Nobody likes to be told what to do, including D&D players. While the DM writes the game and serves as a referee, they cannot influence a player’s actions. And if a DM attempts to, they could quickly lose a player’s interest.

“As a DM, it can be tempting to intervene and make sure that your players are playing the game the way you intended. But this is the one thing you cannot do.” Patrick emphasizes.

This is true in content marketing, too, as making calls to action (CTAs) with zero context can be a turn-off for your audience. If you insert a CTA before your audience can learn what’s in it for them, whether it’s downloading an eBook, listening to a podcast, or subscribing to your blog, they’re less likely to do it. In fact, QuickSprout found that placing a CTA above the fold on a page decreased their conversion rate by 17% and attributed it to their audience not fully understanding why they should complete the action.

Instead, make sure that your CTAs have plenty of context and explain what the audience will gain by filling out your form, reading another blog post, etc. This helps ensure that your content satisfies your audience’s quest for knowledge.

#4 - Customize content for your audience, not the other way around.

As we mentioned previously, the players are in charge of their actions and how they choose to play the game, making it impossible for DMs to have control over the game experience. This makes it important for DMs to know their audience ahead of time, so they can include important sought-after details into different game components.

“I’ll ask players before we start what they hope to get out of the game, whether it’s take down an enemy or just to have fun. Knowing this ahead of time, I can tailor the game to what each player wants to have happen,” Patrick says.

For content marketers, this lesson should hit close to home. You need to know your audience well in advance in order to deliver personalized content. If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people.

After taking a look at your own audience’s characteristics and interests in Google Analytics, create unique personas for each of your audience members. This allows you to create content that is tailored for each person you hope to attract and engage. For example, if one of your target personas is a Director of Business Development, creating custom content that addresses a unique pain points like identifying new business opportunities or tips from the experts on how to strengthen their existing client relationships.

[bctt tweet="If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 - Chart your course.

There is a lot going on in a D&D game. And for the DM, that number is amplified as you have to remember every detail about your players, what’s been completed, and what could come next.

“To make sure I’m on top of the game and can portray characters well, I chart the game’s relationships instead of story elements. If I focus on the story, it could quickly become useless as players might do things out of order or in a non-linear fashion. By focusing on the relationships and where they fit in the narrative, the game becomes more fluid and flexible for the players and I can keep track of their journey,” Patrick says.

Tracking the journey isn’t the only thing Patrick notes, however. He also documents player strengths, weaknesses, and stats as the game progresses.

“I keep a character sheet that details each player’s play style. For example, if a player is investing their skill points in intelligence, I can tailor future encounters in the game to focus on problem-solving instead of combat. The opposite is true for a player who invests in raw strength,” Patrick notes.

Through detailed charts, maps, and grids, Patrick is able to make sure that his players have a personalized, seamless experience for every campaign they play, regardless of how they play it.

Customer Journey & Dungeons and Dragons Journey

By taking the same approach with your content marketing, you can identify opportunities for customization and develop a strategy for weaving your content into the buyer’s journey. For example, by knowing which pieces of content attract a larger audience or drive more conversions, you can use that information to inform your content development and map your content to different stages of the funnel (see below).

Grid Assigning Content to Buyer Stages

To collect this data on your content and audience, review your Google Analytics behavior and conversion dashboards to find our which pieces of content excel at attracting, engaging, or converting your audience. Metrics like page views and entrances are good indicators for attraction, whereas time on page or number of pages per session can help you understand engagement. And, finally, the number of conversions through conversion tracking is the best way to find your top converting content. Armed with this knowledge you can create content plans that are tailored for your audience’s unique buyer journey.

Your Audience Is the Hero

A good Dungeon Master enables players to become the hero of the story through a personalized game with a compelling, original narrative. As a content marketer, it’s your responsibility to create content that transforms your audience into heroes as well, helping them solve seemingly impossible problems with your expert, best-answer advice.

Through an integrated content strategy with originality, personalization, and “best answer” content that’s mapped to the buyer journey, you can become the perfect Content Master for your audience.

For more ideas on how to become a masterful content marketer, check out these 25 content marketing tips, including how to tackle writer’s block, repurpose content, utilize storytelling, and more.

The post What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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