Increase PPC Conversions by Playing Matchmaker with Your Ads & Landing Pages

Make Your Landing Pages Match Your PPC Ads

PPC marketing is like online dating: it’s all about making a match, baby! Online dating sites boast of their unique matching algorithms that pair lonely hearts with their perfect partner. Likewise, search engine algorithms assess how well your PPC marketing answers users’ needs. Your job as a savvy marketer is to maintain consistent relevancy at every step of the way to make the search engines happy, make your site’s visitors happy, and ultimately maximize your ROI. So Learn how to play matchmaker with Your PPC Ads and landing Pages.

What to Match

Match your ad to the search query, landing page to ad, and the entire funnel to the landing page

In order to push your site’s visitors all the way through your conversion funnel, you have to maintain relevancy throughout their entire experience:

  1. This starts with the query they type into the search engine. Your ad must match their query or they won’t click on it
  2. Next, the offer and value proposition on your landing page has to coincide with the intent of their search query and the promise you made in the ad. If not, they’ll bounce
  3. Finally, the rest of the pages in your conversion funnel have to reinforce the same message at every step along the way. If not, they’ll abandon the funnel

You can’t optimize what you can’t measure, so the first step is knowing which metrics to track. Then your goal is to constantly improve those numbers. Here’s how to measure and increase relevancy for each match:

Match 1: Search Query + Ad

Match ad to search query

What to Measure: CTR

You’ll know whether your ads match your users’ search queries by looking at your ads’ click through rates (CTR). This metric simply tells you how many people clicked on your ad after seeing it. Obviously, the higher the CTR, the more relevant your ad is to people’s queries.

Don’t worry about what’s a good or bad CTR; just aim to improve it. However, if you’re dying for some type of benchmark (you competitive old dog, you!), go to the Opportunities tab in your AdWords account, click on “Analyze Competition”, and sort by CTR in the drop down.

GA - Analyze Competition Report

One way to increase relevancy from query to ad is with Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). But use it with caution because it can also get you into trouble: notice this ad explaining how much you can save on used toilet paper:

ad for used toilet paper

This took me to a landing page that sold clean, unused toilet paper (thankfully) and toilet paper stands. There’s no reason they should have shown an ad for used toilet paper.

That’s just wrong on so many levels!

How to Increase Relevance: Logical Organization of Ad groups + Negative Keywords

Since CTR is the number of clicks divided by the number of ad impressions, you want to increase the numerator (number of clicks) and decrease the denominator (number of impressions).

You can increase the numerator by separating your AdWords campaigns into logical ad groups around tightly-knit themes. Use phrase match and exact match keywords to target people looking for what you’re offering.

You can decrease the denominator by using negative keywords to ensure that your ad does NOT show for the people who you know will never buy from you.

Note: CTR is NOT the most important metric for measuring overall PPC success; it’s simply the measurement of how relevant your ad is to people’s search queries.  Ultimately, you need to measure profit by impression and profit by click. Read this excellent post by Brad Geddes for more on that.

Match 2: Ad + Landing Page

Match your ad and landing page

What to Measure: Conversion Rate

So you got the click and now you need to determine how well your landing page matches your ad. The metric to refer to here is your conversion rate. Admit it, some of you thought I was going to say bounce rate, right? Here’s the problem with bounce rate: depending on the type of landing page you have, visitors could come to your page, find all the information they need on that one page and leave, which would count as a bounce. In that case, a high bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing.

Instead, measure the percentage of visitors who complete whatever action you want them to take on your landing page. It could be to add a product to their shopping cart, fill out a form, click through to another page, call you, chat, spend a certain amount of time on the page, or a myriad of other actions.

While Google AdWords reports on basic conversion data, Analytics gives you more insight because of the powerful segmentation capabilities. By default, Google Analytics does not report on your pages’ conversion rate, however; you have to let it know what your goals are first.

How to Increase Relevance: Crazy Egg + Unbounce

Use a two punch tool to increase conversions on your landing pages:

  1. Start with Crazy Egg or Lucky Orange to see how people interact with your page and to identify where problems exist. For example, notice how the heatmap of users’ mouse movements shows that people spent a lot of time hovering over the menu.heatmap of users' mouse movements
    But the heatmap of users’ clicks shows that after spending all that time hovering over the menu, they ended up clicking on the familiar links of “About us” and “Chat”.heatmap of users' clicks
    This shows that they couldn’t find what they were looking for, so the opportunity here is to reduce confusion in the menu.
  2. Crazy Egg and Lucky Orange will show you a lot of areas for improvement on your landing pages, but resist the temptation to simply change your pages based on your findings. Instead, run A/B tests in Unbounce to see whether the assumptions you made were right. Luckily, Crazy Egg integrates very nicely with Unbounce so you can collect user data on each variation.

Match 3: Landing Page + the Rest of the Conversion Funnel

Match the rest of your funnel

How to Measure: Use Funnel Visualization

Sometimes you can get a macro conversion directly from your landing page, but often your site’s visitors will have to progress through multiple pages. For example, on ecommerce sites, the visitor might click the “add to cart” button on the landing page, but then have 3 more pages to visit in order to get through the shopping cart.

When you have a multi-page conversion funnel, you have to measure how well your site’s visitors progress through each page in the funnel. The handy report for this is the Funnel Visualization in Google Analytics, which pinpoints which pages to focus your efforts on.

In the example below, we can see that everyone who makes it to the webinars page signs up. So our opportunity is to improve the education page and get more people to the webinars page.

funnel visualization

How to Increase Relevance: Collect User Feedback then Run A/B

Google Analytics Funnel Visualization report gives you awesome insight into which pages cause people to abandon your funnel, but it doesn’t tell you WHY they abandoned.

Here are some of my favorite tools for digging into the minds of a site’s visitors, which won’t break the bank:

  1. Crazy Egg or Lucky Orange, as described above
  2. Five Second Test: this tool has random, anonymous people look at a screenshot of your problem page (which you identified with the Funnel Visualization report), for 5 seconds, then it disappears and they are asked a couple of questions about the page.  You decide what to ask, but common questions are:
    1. What does this company sell?
    2. What do you remember the most about this page?
    3. What do you think you’re supposed to do on this page?
    4. Even better than asking random, anonymous people their opinions, however, is polling your site’s visitors. Avinash Kaushik worked with iperceptions to create a tasteful, non-obtrusive little survey box to help website owners ask their site’s visitors these task-based questions:
      1. What is the purpose of your visit to our website today?
      2. Were you able to complete your task today?
      3. If you were not able to complete your task today, why not?

User feedback will help you identify a slew of problems your site’s visitors have, which you never knew existed. Once again, resist the temptation to simply make changes to your site’s pages based on this data. 

Instead, use it to create your hypotheses of what you think will solve those problems, then run A/B or multivariate tests to see whether that’s right. Two fair-priced and user-friendly tools that are great for testing the funnel after your initial landing page are Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer.

All three matches are equally important, so sharpen your matchmaking skills and allocate your resources to measure and optimize each one for PPC bliss. But just as any relationship takes work, optimization is not a one-time event. Make the commitment to do keyword refinement, collect user feedback, and run A/B tests on an ongoing basis to maximize your ROI on PPC till death do you part.

— Theresa Baiocco

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About Theresa Baiocco
Theresa Baiocco is the co-founder and CMO of Conversion Max, an agency in Bend, Oregon that specializes in PPC Management, Landing Page Optimization, and Conversion Optimization for companies spending $20,000 - $100,000/month on AdWords. She has a Master's degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado in Denver and is a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. She also has a Market Motive Master Certification in Conversion Optimization.
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