The goal of any online, direct-marketing campaign is to get a qualified prospect to your website and then have them take the action or actions you want. How you get only the best qualified visitors to see and click on your ad is what your AdWords campaign does. What convinces the visitor to take the action you want, is the job of your website, but mostly your landing page.
AdWords is about what happens before the click and landing page design is about what happens after the click. Both are equally important if you are to have a successful campaign. Traffic and conversions are 2/3 of the tactical triangle I talk about in my post titled PPC essentials.
Have you ever heard the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink”? Well, even a “perfect” AdWords campaign cannot convince the visitor to take action! Yet most advertisers I work with judge the success of their AdWords campaign based on visitors taking action!
How you design your landing page to improve Google’s quality score, is the topic of my article titled AdWords optimized website design. The importance of and reasons for having landing pages specifically designed for visitors from search engines, is the topic of my article titled Landing page optimization. The purpose of this article is to help you design custom landing pages so they encourage visitors from search to stay on your website longer and take the actions you want.
Most advertisers I work with, from very small start-ups to large corporations, simply take for granted that their website and landing pages:
- are not a major factor in determining the success of their AdWords campaign,
- do not need to be customized for visitors from search,
- do not need to be customized based on what the visitor was searching for.
This is because they don’t understand how AdWords works and the mindset of visitors from search engines.
When it comes to visitors from search engines, you need to assume they know nothing about you, your product or your business, and therefore, it’s important to realize, they are essentially “surfing the web”, perhaps not knowing exactly what they are looking for and maybe not totally focused on what they are doing.
Visitors from search do not read web pages, they scan them. So we need a way to quickly capture their attention and then pull them through a process that causes them to take the actions you want. How we do that, is captured in the formula known as A.I.D.A., which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
Visitors from search engines have very little patience. From the time they click on your ad and hit your landing page, you have 3-5 seconds to make a connection. If you don’t, they will bounce. Meaning they will leave your website and probably won’t be back! But you will have still paid the price of a click for that visit, which only lasted a few seconds. Therefore, let’s first focus on how to get their Attention.
When users are surfing the web, they are in “scanning mode” so in order to get their attention, we first need to convince them they have come to the right place. We need to convey as much relevant information in as little time as possible. And the way to do that is to have a bold headline, preferably your “h1 tag”, that is the same as:
- What they searched for,
- the keyword in your AdWords ad group and
- in the headline of your ad copy.
This mostly satisfies the Google bot that’s responsible for determining landing page quality score, that in turn determines what you end up paying per click. But it also sends a powerful message to the visitor that they are probably on the right track.
Next you need to reaffirm this as quickly and efficiently as possible using graphic images. Let’s use my own website and landing page as an example. The most popular and relevant search term for my business is Google AdWords consultant. This is my custom landing page that is tailored to that visitor.
I am of the opinion that one of my biggest competitive differentiators is that it’s just me and I’m a real person, so within a split second of hitting my landing page, you see a headline that says “Google AdWords consulting”, a photo of me and the Google AdWords Partner badge. This fulfills the Attention part of A.I.D.A.
Now I need to generate Interest by conveying more information, but realizing the visitor is still in “scan mode”. So I use short statements, with a lot of open space, that make a bold, relevant statement. The feature I particularly like is called a slider. This is actually a WordPress plug-in. The way it works is I have a short, compelling statement or question in bold type, that is easy to read. If you click on the + symbol or anywhere on the text, it expands with more information. This allows me to have less text on the page, with easy access to more information if the visitor is interested.
Once they click on one of the bullet points (slider), they have gone from being a “visitor” to becoming a prospect. Now it’s time to rely on the small type to create Desire. But it shouldn’t be all hype. It needs to further qualify the prospect and inform them as to what they can expect if they continue further into the website or decide to use my services.
Now it’s time for Action! The action or actions you present are unique to your business and your product or service. In my case, the ultimate action I want is for the prospect to pick up the phone and call me or send me a message using the form on my Contact page. But in most cases, that’s too big of a leap for a visitor from search to take within 30 days. They aren’t ready. I need to build more rapport or establish more credibility. That’s why I present a wealth of information in the form of blog posts like this one, which pull them further into my website and establishes further credibility.
Also notice that when they are at the point of taking action, I remind them of my AdWords certification and build trust by displaying my Better Business Bureau seal and PayPal verification. In addition, I have a footer containing links to other pages and blog posts that appeal to a wide range of interests and backgrounds.
So there you have it. A real live example of one of the most respected formulas for converting visitors into prospects and convincing them to take Action!
Will the A.I.D.A. formula work on your website? Perhaps, but please don’t expect that it will be a simple task you can delegate or outsource. It’s a process that takes considerable time and testing. The example I used for my own website took me years to design, develop, implement, test and fine-tune before arriving at what I have now. Also, remember, if you decide to ask for my help, I’m not a web developer or a graphics designer. Although I often work with client’s web developers to implement custom landing pages that employ the A.I.D.A. formula.
When would you like to begin?