7 MINUTE READ | April 24, 2014
A Query is an Inquiry. Answer It.
A website can serve two main purposes. Give information to users or get interaction from users. These interactions can range from sales and registrations to watching videos and using tools. No matter the business you’re in, these two aspects of a website remain constant. However, this means that most websites are built to catch traffic looking for either of these things, rarely giving a thought to what each unique individual wants from a page.
When users search today, they’re looking to answer questions. They want immediate answers and the best solutions. That’s where PPC becomes a beautiful thing. You can bid on ANY search query, make sure you rank for it, and lead people to the exact solution they were looking for. However, most businesses waste this opportunity by focusing on the wrong things, ultimately making them lose out on great opportunities to build loyal customers.
So how bad are most ad’s landing pages at solving a user’s problem? Let’s start with an example to see.
I’ve never skateboarded in my life, but as of this very moment, I’ve decided that I want to learn. Since I’m in the market now, I want to buy a skateboard that matches my style (which of course means green, because that’s how PMGers roll).
First, I begin with the simple query, “Green Skateboard”. Let’s see what results I get for the ads.
So far so good. I have a lot of results that look like I’ll find what I’m looking for. Let’s click them!
The first ad takes me to CCS.com which looks to be selling shorts, shirts and shoes. Only one link on this landing page would take me to skateboards. As a user looking for green skateboards, I’ve already given up at this point because the site’s main content seems irrelevant. The landing page did not effectively match what I’m searching for.
The second ad takes me to Target, a store we all know and love. However, you can see that the results are providing me with products that aren’t green skateboards, what I SPECIFICALLY was looking for. RipStik accessories are fine and dandy, but unless my query was “skating replacements”, “skateboard alternatives” or “skateboard accessories”, they probably aren’t the most relevant thing to be showing front and center. You should also immediately notice the large ad for jeans which are totally out of place while I’m defaulted to looking in the category “sports and outdoors”. Not to mention, no customer likes clicking an ad, only to see another ad. What struck me most odd though was that I could dive deeper into these results by color, but Target hadn’t done so automatically based on my search for green skateboards. I decided to see how this option would narrow my choices.
And… Things just took a turn for the worse. Now my search for skateboards is returning scooters and rollerblades. Luckily, the majority of them are green, but the lone skateboard is still a majestic red. At this point, I’m pretty sure they don’t have the green skateboards I’m looking for. NEXT!
Ah, Zappos. Finally, our results start to a look a little bit better. I can clearly see that it is searching for skateboards and for once, I’m seeing nothing but skateboards! However, I initially told Google I wanted green skateboards and Zappos isn’t providing me with that right off the bat. Let’s see what clicking that option could do.
Boom. Finally, the results page I’ve been looking for. THIS is where Zappos’ ad for my query “Green Skateboards” should have taken me. If I landed here off the bat, I would be able to say, “Hey, this website has 18 skateboards that contain some green in them. Let’s check them out!” Instead, I was left to hunt and peck for the results I initially wanted in the first place. This leaves me, or any user, with the high probability of frustration which can severely diminish your landing page’s conversions.
As you can see, results were extremely varied and none of them provided me with exactly what I had searched for initially. To me, this is scary, considering that the entire purpose of search ads are to provide a potential solution, product, or service that matches a query. At PMG, we’ve been testing a lot of new landing pages out to see what small things can be changed to provide the best solution for each search. With OpenTable, we noted that many users were searching for specific types of restaurants, like Mexican, Chinese, or Italian. For example, if the search term was “New York Italian Restaurants” and they clicked an ad, they saw this page.
While the landing page itself isn’t inherently bad, there is obviously no mention of Italian restaurants and the user’s problem wasn’t being solved. After talking with the client, we were able to create the following landing page.
With one clear image of Italian food and repetition of that theme through the text on the landing page, we saw conversions increase by 10% over the course of two months! That’s huge in the world of PPC! When we matched the landing page to show EXACTLY what the user’s search query was (in this case New York Italian Restaurants), users were more engaged with the content because it helped them find what they were looking for without a hassle.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind to have landing pages that convert to their fullest potential.
It’s Not Enough to Have More Keywords
Everyone always rants and raves about how their PPC accounts have 5+ million keywords. Whoop-dee-freaking-doo! Yes, having a large amount of keywords will make sure you show up for a wide variety of searches, but it will do nothing to help make sure that users clicking on your ads are finding the exact solution to what they were looking for. Adding more detailed keywords means you need to add more detail to the landing page. Adding keywords for “Top Rated…….”? Make the landing page sort by Average Rating! It’s the small details that matter most.
Don’t Box Yourself In
Don’t rely on the normal catch-all nature of your website to cut it for PPC ads. Often times, pages are too complex and cluttered with information for users to get a clear idea of how to find a solution to their problems. Instead, take the time to develop sets of landing pages that will enable you dive deeper into what exactly an individual is looking for when they come to your site. You can always design the pages so that they can explore other options your company provides later. However, the main focus of landing pages should be the solving the user’s inquiry, not providing a sales pitch.
Conversions are Proportional to User Experience
If you want to increase the amount of conversions your ads are getting, you need to minimize the steps it takes to effectively answer a question. Creating a great user experience is all about providing the most relevant information upfront. Did their query specify a color? Make sure that’s what they see! Is it easy to find things related to what the user initially searched for? Create a funnel on the page that drives their behavior. People landed on your page for a reason. Don’t drive them away by making them work to get the answer they wanted in the first place.
You Don’t Know Best. Testing Knows Best.
It should go without saying, but make sure you always test elements on your landing pages to see how people respond. Maybe that one button you want people to click would gain more attention if you moved it higher. Maybe you should dynamically load keywords into the landing page. Who knows, but you definitely won’t if you don’t frequently do some A/B testing.
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We challenge you and your brand to critically assess PPC in the future as a way to directly respond to people’s inquiries by bidding on their queries. Go ahead – try it and see the kind of results you can achieve!
Posted by: Blake Burch
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