6 Essential PPC Landing Page Optimizations
Posted by salario
This post was originally in YOUmoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.
Your landing pages aren’t converting. Sadly, this is not your customer’s fault. It’s your job to tell your customers why your product is awesome and you have fewer than five seconds to tell that story.
Regardless of whether you’re a rookie or veteran marketer, we’ve assembled the following checklist to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls we see all too often with pay-per-click landing pages. The hope being that you can take some of the recommendations into consideration before you go live with AdWords campaigns of your own.
1) Pre-Populate Cursor – Does your landing page have a form field you want customers to fill out? If it does, a great way to reduce friction, and increase conversion rate, is to pre-populate the cursor into the first field. This might sound like a nit, but in all the tests I’ve seen run, this seemingly slight difference has had a significant impact on conversion rates. A great example of this in the wild is what eHouseOffers does with their sign up page.
2) Eye Contact – You’re driving northbound on I-5 (or whatever interstate you drive in your hometown) and there’s an accident in the southbound HOV lane. What do you do? You probably turn your head and look at what everyone else is looking at. This seemingly obvious piece of human behavior is something you shouldn’t forget to talk to your designer about on your landing pages.
What do I mean? Well, the concept is simple. Think of it as the "Look at what other people are looking at" principle, but essentially what it means is that people will tend to look where the subjects in your hero graphic look, not necessarily at your ad creative.
As the above heatmap shows, landing pages are no different from highway accidents: you look where other people are looking. So, if you have a landing page creative with people in them, why not take a page out of what PayPal does with their landing pages and have your subjects look in the directions of your call to action?
3) Testimonials – Another tactic that is incredibly effective is including customer testimonials on your landing page. There’s really no better way to build trust with prospective customers than to have existing customers sing your praises. And though you don’t necessarily have to do what Sono Bello Body Contouring does and include the testimonial in the header of your site, you should include testimonials somewhere on your landing page – possibly in the sidebar.
4) Point of Action Assurances – It’d be impossible to create a landing page checklist without referencing Bryan Eisenberg, who was truly one of the first real conversion rate gurus. One of the best tips Eisenberg gives in his book Always be Testing is around the importance of putting trust icons, or "point of action assurances" as he calls them, next to your call-to-action buttons. Put another way, if you put trust icons next to your submit buttons more people will click on them. One of many examples of this principle in action is what Provent Therapy does on their sleep apnea treatment landing pages.
And bizarre as it sounds, it is important that these trust icons, which can vary from McAfee Secure logos, to Visa logos, to industry awards, are as close to your call-to-action buttons as possible. Why? Well, because customers will notice these symbols and feel at ease. Strange as it sounds these logos will in fact reinforce trust and increase conversion rates.
5) Match Headline with Intent – Not to be forgotten when considering landing page optimization is Google AdWords quality score. Having a high quality score will not only decrease your cost-per-click, it will also help reduce overall acquisition costs
And though quality score is comprised of many parts – including keyword relevance and ad copy – you should always make sure you’re getting the most from the headline of your landing page. Specifically, once visitors get to your landing pages, you should make sure you remind them that the site they’ve landing on is in fact exactly what they a) searched for and b) clicked on in your ad.
One startup out of San Francisco who really gets this, and who has seen some early wins from creating targeted landing pages is Red Beacon, which is a site who recently won the TechCrunch 50 that’s dedicated to connecting consumers with service professionals.
6) Drive a Single Call-to-Action – One of the most common mistakes we see is people trying to do too much with their landing pages. If you ask visitors to do 55 things, odds are they’ll bounce instantaneously. However, if you focus on driving a single action, you’re likely to get people to take the action you want.
And even though from hosted exchange to great SEO books there’s no shortage of sites who implement great simple landing pages, the concept is not to be forgotten. Pick something simple and drive people to take that single action. With landing pages the old adage is incredibly true: less really is more.
Ultimately, there is no one size fits all landing page. There are many approaches you can take and some useful gallery sites to get design ideas from, but there’s no substitute for understanding the principles of conversion rate optimization and working with a talented designer to give you exactly what you’re looking for.
And though this is not an exhaustive landing page checklist, hopefully the above examples provide a useful overview of some of the key principles you can apply to your landing pages before you throw too much ad spend at sub-optimal, poorly converting creatives.