Great Design that does not Hurt Your PPC Efforts

ppc design usabilityEffort optimization and cost optimization have become the two buzzwords for any PPC marketers today. To them, every dollar spent on a client’s project counts and every wasted click-through (CTR) could bepotential but a missed business opportunity.

Managing Pay per Click (PPC)ad campaignsis also time-consuming. It requires continuous and dedicated effort from design, development,and marketing team. A typical PPC ad campaign involves a series of iterations in page design and HTML components, creation and filtration of multiple ad texts, ad copies, ad groups which are labor-intensive. Of course, the bidding strategy involved in high budget ad campaigns cannot be ignored as well.

To sum it up, it is a risk-return trade-offfor PPC managers. And,all these come with a huge accountability and cost for them. At the end of the day, PPC marketers are answerable to clients in achieving their PPC targets, that too with a pre-defined budget.

Could you then afford to gamble with the conversion rates for any of your PPC campaigns?

Certainly, it is not.

According to a Conversion Rate Optimization report of 2012, for every $90 spent on acquiring customers, only $1 is used in conversion optimization, which cuts a really sorry figure.

Just imagine that by doubling the conversion rate you can actually reduce your CPA (Cost per Acquisition) by 50%. You may use this extra budget in raising bids to improve ‘Avg. Ad Position’ and ‘CTR’, or use it for some other online or offline marketing activities.

What it entails is that higher conversion rate is and should be the primary goal of any PPC campaign, not just higher CTA or higher impressions.

Playing with your bid amounts, changing ad groups, ad copies, and keyword sets work in improving conversion rates, but to a certain limit. It is the Landing Page Optimization that brings sustainable results.

Most of us know and agree that landing page design has a big impact on how Google gives you the Quality Score which translates into a lower Cost-per-Click (CPC) rate for your ads.

The Bottom line is – Higher Conversion Rate = Optimized Landing Page

However, the question is -Optimized Landing Page =? + ? + ?+ ? + …….

In this post,I will take you through some of the lessons learned from industry experts and my own experience with it.

  1. Decide on your PPC goals:

The very first step in conceptualizing a quality landing page is to establish your marketing objectives. Do you want email registrations, sales inquiry, sign ups or just resource sharingopportunity for general market studies? Your landing page template should be unique for each of these purposes. Demographic, location, and user interest also play a decisive role here.

If you want to understand how each landing page would look different and serve different purposes, I suggest you to follow your competitors’ landing pages first and then experiment with a few landing page templates.

NB: In a typical scenario, marketers start with campaign setup, ad groups, and ad copy creation, keyword research work and then focus on landing page optimization. This is a reverse practice and a wrong strategy. Landing page finalization should be the first step in any given situation. Your entire ad setup should follow the message you want to convey through a landing page.

  1. Use Landing page builder

Landing page creator tools may come handy to youif you often experiment with design templates. With a landing page builder, you get hundreds of professional landing page templates with matching ‘Thank You’ pages. The best parts of it are the WYSIWYG editor and drag-and-drop designer which allow you to configure any part of your landing page in simple mouse clicks.Moreover, these tools come with built-in web forms and mobile responsive landing pages, so you do not need to worry about HTML coding.

  1. Embrace simplicity:

Your landing page should look simple and read well. A clean page is easy to read and navigate. Avoid using too much of information in a page as your visitors may not feel reading them at all. Keep the message short and specific to user based queries. Remember, your set of keywords and ad copies must comply with the message you put in your landing page – nothing less, nothing more.

  1. Create a content framework:

Maintain a hierarchy of message the way it makes sense to your readers while scanning througha page. Start with an interesting headline in bold font followed by sub-headers and paragraph texts. Use header tags (H1, H2, H3….) for closely matched phrases or keywords that you are about to use in your PPC ad copies.

  1. Focus on a single topic:

Each landing page is unique and should tell a particular story to visitors, for which they have come in.Therefore, your ad texts, ad groups, phrases, and subject matter should be around a single line of thought. You prefer not confuse readers with too many messages at a time, but give them a proper direction of what to do and how while on the page.

  1. Match your message:

Most of the users typically spend 5 seconds on a page and then decide whether to stick around it or not. If there is no clear headline or an indication of what a reader will achieve on your page that compliments the ad message, the conversion rate may suffer.

  1. Have a strong call-to-action button:

A call-to-action (CTA) button is what triggers a user to confirm his or her participation with a page. Avoid using vague words like ‘click here’ and ‘submit’. Instead, give visitors a valid reason to click on the CTA button. For example, if you are offering a free PDF resource, the CTA button may read something like ‘Click to Download this Whitepaper’. For promotional pages,the CTA button may be ‘Get One Month Subscription Free’ or ‘Apply to Win a Free Gift’ or ‘Request a Free Consultation’.

  1. Donot dilute interaction points:

A landing page containing more than 20 interaction points, as it mostly happens with a typical homepage, may result in focus dilution. A correctlydesigned landing page should have one highlighted interaction pointwith good visibility. However, there could be a few supportive links to internal pages for more information.

  1. Use Forms judiciously

Ask your visitors to fill out some basic information such as Name, Email, Phone number, etc.Forms with fewer fields work better. Make sure that visitors find the form fill out process easy and not exhaustive.

  1. Don’t overdo SEO

Avoid using keyword stuffed content to feed search engines. It is of no use in a PPC landing page. Rather aim at producing quality human readable content that answers to user queries.

  1. Use minimalistic design:

A page with too many texts, images, links, and buttons looks cluttered. It may distract users and the core message may go unnoticed. A clean page containing powerful words; rich media content like video and photography, and compelling product/service overview can persuade users to click on the CTA button.

  1. Test landing pages:

Try different designs for your landing page. If design X is not working, try design Y, or Z. Indulge in optimizing landing pages through A/B Testing. More and more companies around the world haveconsidered A/B testing asa superior landing page optimization strategy. The more you test and optimize the better conversion rate you can expect. It also helps you improve the Quality Score of your ads meaning reduced CPC rate and significant savings.

  1. Say ‘NO’ to these:

Avoid using odd links that opens 404 error pages; too many menu items that may distract visitor interest; lengthy paragraphs that are hard to read; and untidy, shabby designs that make a dull impression to readers.

  1. Experiment and experiment:

There is no specific standard or best practice methodology that you can follow to ensure higher conversion rate in a PPC campaign. It all comes by practice and observations – one after another. You need to keep on testing to see what works and what does not. May be a page with a featured video works better than a page with couple of testimonials or, your visitors like blue color header banner more than a black or green one?Placement of CTA button, image, form and paragraph texts in a page also matter a lot.Here is an interesting article on how psychology of color determines conversions. You may test as many variations as you want in order to reach the ultimate goal.

Conclusion:

All these factors play a pivotal role in deciding whether you are following the basics of designing PPC landing pages or not.However, the next big question is how to fasten the process of landing page creation and customization, so that you can spend more time in page analysisthan modifying HTML and CSS codes. Using landing page creator tools can help you create and modify as many page templates with as many design variations you want to apply during A/B testing.

If you know some unique design ideas that you have used to optimize PPC landing pages, please share them here in the comment section below. Our readers will benefit from it and appreciate your contribution as well.

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