Running a successful online advertising program is more than targeting the right key phrases and writing compelling ad copy. Landing pages play a large role in the potential success of your online advertising performance. If you have a selection of targeted key phrases, well written ad copy, and have implemented the best practices for your program and are still not seeing results, it’s time to take a look at your landing pages. You can optimize your life away, but if your landing pages are not relevant and do not provide the information that searchers are looking for, you are not going to see results and you are going to continue to waste money.
Google and Bing place a heavy weight on the quality of landing pages when calculating Quality Score, which is an important element of both Google AdWords and Bing Ads programs. In a nutshell, Quality Score affects how much you pay per click based on how relevant your keywords, ad copy, and landing pages are. A good Quality Score can positively impact your Ad Rank, which helps lower your average cost per click. According to a study completed by AdAlysis, landing page experience accounts for 39% of advertisers’ Quality Scores.
When calculating landing page experience, Google and Bing look at:
- Relevancy, originality, and value
- Ease of navigation, including how your site acts on mobile devices
- How fast your site loads
- Transparency and trustworthiness
Let’s take a look at some of the ways your landing pages might be hindering your online advertising program’s performance. As we go over these situations, we’ll be taking a look at how one of our clients, ExploreLearning, transformed their landing pages to better serve their web site visitors coming to their landing pages via a targeted Google AdWords or Bing Ads program. An example of one of these new landing pages can be seen below. For this specific ad group, the landing page began as the home page for the ExploreLearning Gizmos website. After consulting with ExploreLearning about improving the landing page experience for their users, their team built landing pages specific to each ad group in order to provide searchers the most relevant information and guide them to sign up for a free trial of their product. The example below has improved average session duration by 67% and pages visited per session by 64%. Bounce rates have also improved since the new landing pages were implemented.
- Your Landing Pages are Not Simple
Have you ever visited a website looking for a specific item or information, and then you get distracted by something else only to forget what you were originally doing? It happens to me all the time! You don’t want this happening to your visitors. If your goal is to drive contact form completions for a consultation or to purchase a product, you want the landing page for your ad to be simple and to the point so that there are no distractions guiding users away from your goal.
For ExploreLearning, using the home page as a landing page in this ad group provided users too many ways to get distracted, leading to the loss of a trial sign up. The new landing pages only provide information regarding the product and how it helps educators teach scientific method in the classroom. There is no way for users to get distracted from our goal.
- The Navigation is Distracting
One way to cut distractions to is to eliminate the navigation menu. This will keep users from veering off to another page of your website, potentially losing a sale or contact. Your landing page should focus on your goal of generating that lead or sale. Provide the information the user is looking for and give them option fill out that contact form or make the purchase. If you have properly targeted your key phrases and ad copy, they should not need to visit other pages on your website. After the action is completed, your thank you page can include navigation, social sharing links, and more to encourage browsing your website for more information or shopping.
ExploreLearning Gizmos cut the navigation in its new landing pages, proving users with only one option: to learn more about their product in relation to their query about teaching scientific method in the classroom.
- Users Do Not Know the Action You Want Them to Take
When a user clicks on your ad to visit your website, they are seeking something. They are either looking for information on a specific topic or to purchase a product or service. Make sure that your landing page has only one call-to-action. If your messaging and key phrases align with a user looking for a quote to finance a new car purchase, you shouldn’t have a call-to-action for home loan quotes or opening a savings account. They are not related and distract the user.
While the original landing page included a “free trial” button, it was somewhat lost on the page. The new landing page uses a contrasting color and tells the user exactly what to do. “Try Gizmos Today!” is a command and makes it clear what you want them to do.
- Your Messaging Isn’t Aligned with Your Ad Copy
This part is important. When a user gets to your website via an ad, you will want to make sure they’re landing on a page that matches what the ad said they would be going to. If your ad promotes free shipping on orders over $50, and your landing page promotes $5.99 shipping rates, your visitor will be confused and might even leave your site.
Additionally, if you are advertising for a service like dry cleaning, you will not want to send users to a landing page about commercial or residential laundry. You also typically won’t want to send users to your home page. A website’s home page is not relevant or targeted enough for specific searches about your products or services. If you find that you don’t have a landing page for certain areas, build them!
Our ad copy for ExploreLearning focuses on using Gizmos simulations to teach scientific method. In order to trigger this ad, users had to have searched with phrases related to teaching this topic. Once they land on the new landing page, they are seeing the same message points. This creates a seamless experience for every user, and each new landing page that was built does this. The landing page being used previously was too general and did not relate specifically to teaching scientific method to students in the classroom.
Now that we have covered some of the major ways your landing pages are negatively affecting your online advertising program, it’s time to start making changes. As you’re deciding what to change and update, make sure to keep in mind A/B testing opportunities. What does A/B testing really stand for? Always be testing! Right? If you are stuck between two call-to-actions, headlines, or even an image, test it! Continuously running tests and measuring the effectiveness of one variable versus another will guide you in the direction of your most effective landing page, and once you think you finally have it nailed down, your audience will shift behaviors again, and you will just keep on testing.
A little overwhelmed by all the information and possibilities? Contact our online advertising experts to talk about how to improve your landing pages!