Advertisers by nature tend to tune messaging in PPC ads to drive focused traffic from keyword searches closely related to the product being sold. However at times we all take a little liberty and weave harmless hyperbole into ads to help insure a good click through rate (CTR). It’s crucial that promises made with PPC ads are fulfilled, not only in ad copy and on landing pages, but with truths surrounding the reality of the products we’re selling.
Focused traffic that results in conversion is the objective. Misleading site visitors with ad verbiage, even in subtle shades, can hurt landing page conversion because site visitors quickly discover that the ad copy was a setup. There are classic misdirection techniques which drive traffic, not immediately predisposed to a sales pitch, in an attempt to ply visitors towards purchasing a product they might otherwise not have explored.
Lying by Omission
Say you’re selling room reservations for an independent budget-hotel (comparable to a Holiday Inn Express) 17 miles from Sonoma California wine country. It’s possible to justify wording the ad’s headline “Sonoma Wine Country Hotel” because Sonoma is nearby and we’re selling hotel rooms. The ad might drive traffic because lots of folks are shopping for hotel rooms in Sonoma. However the conversion rate may suffer because site visitors figure out pretty fast that the hotel is actually located on an inland out-of-town freeway.
HR Headhunters sometimes engage in this type of subtle PPC deception. Say an executive search consulting firm is marketing to recruit high level executives for a rural city. It may be hard to interest potential employees to move out to the sticks. A PPC ad that reads “Seeking Midwestern Sales Manager” may well drive traffic- along with the associated expense. However a low percentage of the visitors are actually interested in moving 15 miles from the Iowa Nebraska border!
The landing page conversion rate could be pretty dismal. It might be better to title the ad “Nebraska Sales Manager.” Sure a LOT fewer prospects will click on the ad but those who do are real prospects. Of course the added benefit is that the campaign will cost less because prospective customers are being screened and qualified at the ad level which is desirable. The truth pays.
Test if Landing Pages Fulfill Promises Made.
Multivariate landing page and ad testing is a phrase used to describe the process of optimizing ads and landing pages to convert clicks to sales, usually by way of paid Internet Marketing. PPC, display ads, and other online media buys are perfect candidates for a testing rotation because it’s easy to change click-through destination URLs nearly real time. Using conversion tracking in modern analytics like ClickTracks it’s easy to determine which combination of ads and landing pages yield the best results.
Purists will note that every page is a “landing page” for organic search. However, since marketers don’t have total control over which destination URL might be displayed on the SERP in response to any give organic query, conversion testing is more difficult. Most folks use the phrase “multivariate landing page testing” in reference to ad placement purchased on engines like Google, Panama, and MSN.
Test, Test, and Test Some More.
Multivariate testing involves rotating the destination URL of PPC clicks to multiple versions of landing pages, from multiple ads, and with a keen analytic eye to see which ads/landing pages combos convert traffic to sales. Ad variables include the how you spin the product and which truths you highlight or leave out.
Landing page variables include layout, design, and messaging. Even if first attempts to convert traffic to sales are successful, it’s still a responsible best practice to test other landing pages to measure if it’s possible to wring just a little higher conversion percentage out of the traffic. This is particularly important for large media-buys or for expensive products, when a half a percentage point either way matters more to the financials.
Match the Ad’s Promise to the Landing Page that Converts.
In reality it’s better to tell the truth at the ad-level even if truth limits traffic somewhat. Consider truth-telling as a money saving tactic to pre-qualify prospects. However “spin” is legal and sometimes required to drive traffic your way. For instance, if you wait around for prospects to actually search for rural executive jobs you may be waiting a long time. So, spin away.
If you indulge in spinning your product at the ad-level make sure the landing page has continuity with the message. Tool the landing page to fulfill the promise the ad makes. Multivariate testing will reveal how effective the landing page keeps the promise of the ad. After that, it comes down to whether visitors to your site care enough about what you sell to bite.
People Have to Want What you Sell.
No matter how perfectly the landing page matches the ad’s promise it simply won’t matter if site visitors don’t care about the product. In the case where a limited amount of customers are interested, our position is that it’s better to have a slower moving campaign which drives less but highly focused traffic than it is to drive a bunch of mislead and unqualified shoppers who are destined to be disappointed by the realities of a product and bail. When in doubt, use truth-telling to qualify the lead at the ad level and practice multivariate testing at both the ad and landing page levels.
Landing Page Testing & Tuning