Having a successful search engine advertising campaign is a blend of art and science. The science part is discussed in another one of my articles titled AdWords optimized website design, where I talk about conforming to Google’s best practices in order to maximize keyword and landing page quality scores. Implementing these practices will help increase the chances of your ad being displayed for any given search query and then achieving a higher ad ranking or a lower CPC.
The purpose of this article is to explain the art of landing page optimization and the importance of understanding the unique characteristics of visitors from search engines, whether from organic or paid search. AdWords is about what happens before the click and landing page optimization is about what happens after the click! Both are critically important elements of a successful online direct-response advertising campaign.
Most advertisers I come in contact with struggle knowingly or unknowingly with one important principle of online marketing, understanding the unique characteristics of prospects from search engines. Visitors from search engines are different from other visitors and your website, especially your landing page, must take this into account if you are going to have a successful PPC campaign.
When we meet someone in person, we can size up the situation by assessing their appearance, body language and listening to what they say and how they say it. But with online marketing, we have to rely on technology, images and text. I like to think of the process as a chain, and this chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If any link breaks, we lose the prospect and the resources we invested getting them to that point. See my article titled A chain of success.
Unlike someone who comes to your website after speaking with you on the phone, being referred by a friend or having read a brochure, search visitors know nothing about you, your product or your company until the moment they click on your ad and hit your landing page.
Visitors from search engines have certain characteristics you must take into consideration if you hope to maximize your chances of getting them to take action. Here are a few things to consider:
- 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.
- They are cynical, skeptical and have very high expectations. The quality of your site directly reflects on you and your company. If the graphics are not of the highest quality, if the text isn’t clear and compelling, if the navigation isn’t intuitive, their interest will wane and they will leave!
- Visitors from search engines don’t read web pages, they scan them. If they don’t immediately see what they were looking for, they need a way to easily, efficiently and intuitively navigate your website to find it.
- Internet search prospects are inherently price shoppers. If you are not prepared to compete on price, you need to have a very compelling value proposition.
The actual design of a landing page will be unique for every company and ideally for every product, but there are some basic, time-tested principals that pre-date the internet, yet still apply to landing page optimization. The principals I use are discussed in my post titled The A.I.D.A. formula for landing page design.
The amount of time and effort you invest in this process will be unique to your situation and should be evaluated based on the potential return. However, serious online, direct-response marketers spend enormous amounts of time on this, and for good reason. Even a small percentage improvement in conversions can mean a significant increase in leads, sales and profit.
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