Since it’s that time of year, let me tell you a Christmas story.
Last year I walked walked into a Macy’s to find the final gift on shopping list. I wasn’t sure that Macy’s carried the scarf that I was trying to gift, but with all that stuff, if figured they might. I walked into a department store that was four stories of hectic energy. After all, it’s was three days before Christmas.
What’s more, I sought help and there were no sales assistant to be found. So I was reduced to wandering the store aimlessly in search of this darn scarf. It took forever. By floor two, I was ready to leave the store out of frustration.
The scarf was on the fourth floor. I’d have accepted a helping hoof from Rudolph himself if I thought it would deliver me from that mayhem.
While I’m sorry for bringing you into an anxious memory, this scenario perfectly illustrates why landing pages are essential for paid advertising. Like me in the store, when customers click on paid ads they’re searching of something specific. They want what they want – and they want it now.
The best way to deliver these visitors to your product or service is with a laser-focused landing page customized to their viewer segment. This way, the visitor gets what they came for and leaves your site happy.
If you don’t use landing pages effectively, visitors are directed to your homepage from paid ads. What happens then? Confusion sets in. Visitors are left to meander your website while hoping that everything works out. And if you don’t use landing pages at all, you’re throwing your money away on PPC ads.
So this year, try to be a good sales assistant. Implement landing pages to guide visitors towards an ideal purchase. This post will walk you through why landing pages and paid advertising go together like Santa Claus and stocking stuffers. We’ll also touch upon the 11 best practices for optimizing your landing pages so they drive the most conversions.
It’s a win-win. And everyone has a Merry Christmas.
Why Use a Landing Page?
A landing page is a page (besides your homepage) that serves as an entry point to a particular point of your website. Landing pages are meant to support a focused initiative and their ultimate goal is to drive conversions for that certain goal.
If your website is a book full of information about your product or service, a landing page is a earmarked page that you have certain customers open to at certain points in their customer lifecycle. This page displays for them exactly what you want them to see at that point, and no more. The landing page is about one thing: a product, a service, a download, or perhaps a free trial.
This streamlined approach to online sales is very effective because it’s direct, actionable and wields pinpoint sales copy without distractions.
Why Use PPC Advertising?
Pay Per Click is an online marketing model where advertisers pay a specific fee every time a user clicks on their ad. Rather than relying on organic search traffic to bring visitors to your website, you buy traffic by paying a publish, such as Google. When users search for keywords surrounding your product or service, your ad shows up with the results.
If you’re looking for the best ROI on your PPC ads, your ad should always lead the visitor to an optimized landing page – not the cluttered homepage.
The entire purpose of your PPC ad is to get the visitor to your landing page so they can take action. So they can click on the CTA button and become a customer.
Is PPC effective? Yes, it is:
- 45.5% of visitors cannot identify the difference between a paid ad and organic search results. — MarketingProfs
- 50% of users who arrive from paid ads are more likely to buy. — Unbounce
- Over 60% of users looking to purchase a product click on PPC ads, even amongst organic search results. — Zero Gravity Marketing
However, these stats only carry if you’re using landing pages. Unlike organic traffic, PPC viewers wants to make a purchase soon and should therefore be treated differently than organic visitors. They’re in a different phases of the buying cycle and will be deterred by having to wade through extraneous messaging on your website.
You’ll need to align your landing page with your PPC ads to achieve the most conversions. Let’s look at how to do that now.
How to Optimize Your Landing Pages for PPC Ads
Here’s an ideal landing page from Smartsheet. And though it’s not selling anything, it will perfectly depict all the key elements of optimized landing page.
#1 Consistent Branding
Using any available brand recognition is wise. You want to welcome visitors to your landing page with a seamless transition from the research phase to a purchasing decision by maintaining continuity between the website and the landing page.
#2 Strong Headline with Supportive Tagline
“PPC is all about relevancy – both in terms of ad copy, landing page content and audience targeting. If you get any of the three wrong, you’re going to lose money. It’s exactly the same with all other forms of advertising or marketing, but you just don’t see it as quickly.”
— Peep Laja
Your headline is important because it announces the landing page as relevant. Don’t’ waste any time showing visitors that their time and intentions are well-placed. Deliver a good match message to assure them. We can see below how the PPC ad aligns with the landing page:
If you arrived at the Smartsheet landing page and didn’t see any mention of “Work Management,” you’d be confused and probably leave. To avoid this, indicate right away that your landing page is the right place to be.
As Neil Patel says, “Your goal shouldn’t be to create a short or long landing page; instead, it should be to create a high converting page.” Start by delivering on what you’ve promised in your PPC ad.
#3 Clear Call to Action
Your lead capture form should have a handful of key characteristics:
- It should stand out and be large enough to draw the eye
- Colors should help the CTA pop out and elicit a response
- Position the CTA where it’s easily seen
- Copy should be actionable, use active verbs, and address the visitor
Try to minimize the clicks needed to purchase. Any friction between the user and a sale can reduce conversions, so aim for a simple CTA and a straightforward buying process afterwards.
#4 Relevant Image
Landing page images should be consistent with the campaign, provide context for use, and appeal to the visitor’s emotional side whenever possible. Smartsheets image appeals to the visitor’s sense of ease and productivity by showcasing organizational tools to save time (not much emotion here).
We humans love seeing pictures of other people, so it’s always a good idea to display pictures of users with your product or service. In such cases, you want your visitor to be able to imagine themselves as the “hero” of the image. This produces the greatest emotional responses – and saleable energy.
#5 List of Benefits
To make it 1-2-3 easy for visitors to decide, provide a list of benefits that concisely showcase the value of a purchase. Bullet lists are ideal for providing the detailed information needed to support a response decision. While visitors may be near a purchase, don’t skimp on key benefits right before you close a sale. Provide a handful of key points to seal the deal.
#6 Social Proof
“When you say it, it’s marketing. When your customer says it, it’s social proof.” —Andy Crestodina
Including testimonials lets potential buyers know that others have received value from the purchase under consideration. Inserting the psychological allure of social proof into your landing page both validates and entices visitors towards a buying decision. Those who arrive to a landing page want assurance, and hearing it from another buyer in a personal voice goes a long way towards closing a sale.
#7 Trust Symbols
Showing other brands that use your product or service is a great way to build trust through social validation. For example, Smartsheet places a handful of recognizable brand logos to assist with purchasing. Other indicators you could use are certifications, awards, or a customer/ subscriber count.
4 Additional Landing Page Best Practices
Now that we’ve looked at how to dial in the perfect landing page, here’s some other key best practices to makes ure your conversions are top-notch.
#1 Mobile Responsive: These days, having a responsive website and landing page is crucial. More shopping is done on mobile devices than on desktops, and consumers are increasingly expectant that web pages be properly formatted to their mobile devices.
#2 Less is More: What’s on a landing page is almost as important as what is not on a landing page. You’ll notice that there are no supplemental offers, content, pictures, or text that describes the company. Keep your landing pages simple, straightforward, and compelling for best results.
#3 Fast Load Time: Have you heard that we humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish? It’s true. And research confirms that visitors expect a page to load within 2 seconds. If your page is loading slowly, optimize for loading time or risk losing conversions.
#4 Remarketing Tags: Google Adwords remarketing tags place a tracking code in the cookies of a computer from those visiting your site. Tagged visitors are then served ads. You can use the information of what pages a visitor has seen and other metadata to improve your campaigns targeting, such as showing specific ads to visitors who have viewed a products page or excluding visitors who viewed certain pages. Remarketing tags are key for optimizing PPC effectiveness.
That’s a Wrap
In the holiday spirit, I wrote this post as a gift to those looking to learn about landing page best practices and PPC all at once. As we’ve discussed, landing pages and paid advertising are a brilliant fit, bringing prospects into the buying phase in localized, effective fashion. But before you can run of an celebrate massive conversions, you’ll need to make a ensure your landing pages are well-crafted.
This means using the specific messaging and images against a minimized, yet impactful, layout. Visitors should find your landing page instantly relevant, easy to navigate, and very compelling in terms of copy and design elements. With these components in place, it won’t matter what time of year it is. Christmas will come early.