If you’re going to pour thousands of dollars into a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign, you want to know that you’re getting as much return on investment (ROI) as you possibly can.
And while there are plenty of ways to optimize the ads themselves, much of the success (or failure) ultimately comes down to the landing page.
A pay-per-click (PPC) ad is incredibly powerful, but it’s also limited in the sense that it can’t “create” a conversion – it can only serve as a catalyst. In other words, the ad itself is responsible for driving targeted traffic to a destination. It’s then the landing page’s responsibility to convert that paid search traffic into an opt-in, sale, or another type of conversion.
Whether you’re building your first landing page or you’re looking for ways to improve the landing pages you’ve already developed, there are some strategic steps you can take to enhance results and generate better ROI. Read on to discover more!
For starters, let’s get clear on what exactly a landing page conversion rate is and why it matters. And the best way to do this is by thinking about it through the lens of your SEM campaign.
When creating a PPC ad campaign, one of the very first requirements is to determine a high-level strategic goal. Usually, your goal will fall into one of three buckets:
The goal will determine the offer. And the offer will be presented on the landing page as a way of hooking your target audience after they’ve clicked on your PPC ad.
While there are dozens of tips and strategies we could discuss for optimizing PPC ads to ensure they’re driving qualified traffic to your page, that’s a topic for another post. In this article, we’re assuming that you’re driving the right people to the landing page. Thus the primary challenge is figuring out how to create a landing page that presents the right offer to these people and moves them to take action on your high-level strategic goal.
In the simplest terms, your landing page conversion rate is the percentage of traffic that follows through on your desired action for them – whether that’s filling out an opt-in for a lead magnet, purchasing a product, or registering for a webinar.
To use clean and simple math, let’s say you drive 100 people from a PPC ad to your landing page, where your goal is to have people give you their email address in exchange for a white paper that you’ve created. If 17 of these visitors fill out the opt-in form, your conversion rate is 17 percent.
That’s obviously an oversimplified illustration, but it gives you an idea of how this number is calculated. Now the question is, what sort of conversion rate should you be aiming for?
This is a challenging question to answer with a simple number or percentage. And that’s because every business, target audience, SEM campaign, and industry is unique. When you layer them all together, you get infinite possibilities. What’s good for one company in one industry might be a waste of resources for another business in a separate industry. There’s just no way to provide an honest benchmark without (a) giving some companies a false sense of security, and (b) discouraging other companies who are doing fine.
To underscore this point, consider two illustrations:
The reality is that both of these campaigns are successful, despite the fact that Amy has a 7 percent conversion rate and Susan has a 1 percent conversion rate. In fact, despite having a much lower rate, Susan’s ROI is significantly higher than Amy’s.
While both of these individuals would be happy to generate these results, it just goes to show that the idea of a “good” conversion rate is situational. Every business, product, and industry will have its own thresholds. It’s up to you to determine whether your conversion rate is translating into an ROI that justifies the expense and effort of the SEM campaign.
With all of that being said, we do want to give you some idea of conversion rates across industries. Here are some median values taken from an Unbounce analysis of thousands of landing pages:
It’s important to note that these are median rates – meaning they don’t account for the large volume of low-converting pages or the handful of high-converting ones. It’s also worth noting that the goal for all of these pages is targeted, even local lead generation, not direct sales. Still, the data gives you a small snapshot to show how you stack up.
Whether your landing page has a low conversion rate or you’re already doing well, there are always improvements that can be made. So let’s dive in together and explore a few of the top tips and techniques you may be able to leverage in an effort to generate better ROI from your SEM campaign:
Want to know the truth? On average, just 20 percent of people will continue to read past the headline on your landing page. That means four out of five people never engage with the rest of your page.
If you want to generate a better landing page conversion rate, it starts with getting more people to read past the headline. And you do this by writing better headlines that speak directly to visitors and motivate them to learn more.
Here are some helpful tips for better headlines:
There are world-class copywriters who have spent decades studying headline writing and still haven’t mastered it yet. So don’t assume that you’re going to craft killer headlines overnight. However, the more you learn, the better you’ll get. Start with these tips and test what works.
The average human attention span is about on part with a goldfish. If you want to engage landing page visitors and turn them into customers, you have to grab them right away. This can be done by focusing the majority of your efforts on above-the-fold content and design.
Above-the-fold content, which is anything a visitor sees on their screen without having to scroll, is prime real estate. Avoid overcrowding, but be sure to include a clear value proposition and call-to-action (CTA).
As humans, we have a certain “herd mentality” about us. When we see other people who we deem to be like us performing certain actions, we have a natural tendency to do the same. Following the actions of the masses is a way of lowering risk and reducing decision fatigue. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we think, “If they’re doing it, it must be right/good/smart for me to do it, too.”
We’re not going to get into a philosophical discussion of whether basing your decisions on the actions of the masses is a good or bad thing. Instead, we’re just telling you that’s how the world works. And if you want to boost your landing page conversion rates, you can use it to your advantage.
The best way to tap into this herd mentality is to utilize social proof, which is basically anything that signals to a prospective customer that other people are gaining value from your products or services.
Examples of social proof include testimonials and reviews, ratings, data and statistics, endorsements, case studies, etc. By adding these elements to your landing page, you establish proof and trust.
Social proof could also mean managing your company’s reputation online–even using pay per click directly.
For best results, pepper social proof throughout your landing page. Another best practice is to include social proof right before or alongside a CTA.
Nothing kills landing page conversions quite like friction. More specifically, you’re doing yourself a disservice if your opt-in forms or checkout processes contain multiple steps.
Simplifying the steps it takes to follow through on a conversion, like getting a lead magnet or buying a product, creates significant lift.
If it’s an email opt-in, only ask for the bare minimum. Name, email, and phone are the absolute maximum – though phone numbers will hurt your opt-ins rather significantly. (Only include if necessary.) If you get away with just their first name and email – or only the email address – it’s better.
When it comes to an actual transaction, one-step or two-step checkout is important. Anything requiring three or more steps to completion will lead to a massive spike in shopping cart abandonment.
The CTA is where the rubber meets the road. Every landing page should have exactly one CTA. It can be inserted multiple times throughout the page – and even worded slightly different – but there’s never more than one CTA.
Looking for a few ideas for high-converting CTA copy? Here are some options that work really well:
The key to CTA copy (and really any element of your landing page) is to split test and find out what works best. Over time, optimizing for CTA copy can take a good page and turn it into a great page.
Distractions have to go. Any element that doesn’t directly add value to the user and push them closer to the point of conversion is unnecessary and must be eliminated.
A landing page is not a work of art. It’s not designed to be a piece that you place in a web design portfolio and wow people with. A landing page’s sole focus is driving conversions. Run everything through this filter.
Stock photos serve a purpose. They’re free, accessible, and can serve as compelling visual assets in certain areas of a marketing campaign (like blogging). However, stay far away from generic stock images on landing pages.
Consider this case study, in which a truck driving company was selling lessons online. The goal of the landing page was to get more website opt-ins. By simply changing the cover photo from a stock image of a truck driver to a photo image of a real student, they were able to increase conversions by 161 percent. Real pictures also work well in your PPC retargeting campaigns.
There’s something about seeing a real face and a genuine image that builds trust and makes a page more relatable. When possible, look for opportunities to humanize with actual images!
Anything you can do to draw a visitor’s eye to the CTA is a good thing. And sometimes you have to be overt about it.
Directional cues, like arrows, are excellent for showing people where to look. However, you can also use more subtle cues, like a picture of a person looking to the right (when the opt-in is to the right). The human brain picks up on little details such as this.
The first version of your landing page won’t be the last. Expect it to go through multiple iterations before you hit your stride. Reach the “best” iteration faster by using different tracking tools to see what’s working on your page.
There are plenty of neat tools available as add-ons to a landing page. Heat maps, for example, show you where people are looking and spending most of their time on a page. Scroll maps let you know how far people are scrolling down a page. Confetti reports can even show you where individual clicks are occurring.
The fear of missing out, or FOMO, is one of the driving factors behind why people make purchase decisions. Thus any time you can leverage scarcity in your copywriting and CTAs, you should do it.
Phrases like limited time, limited quantities, today-only, and ending soon are all effective. Countdown timers also work well, particularly for webinars, events, and sales.
As annoying as they may be, there’s one simple reason why so many marketers continue to use exit-intent popups: They work!
Exit-intent popups, which are the screen overlays that emerge when a user’s pointer leaves the screen and appears to be ready to close out the page, are great for capturing leads that would otherwise be lost. Test them out on your landing page and see what you think.
A perfectly optimized landing page can’t do anything on its own. In order to generate a positive ROI, you need traffic. More specifically, you need to drive targeted, cost-effective traffic to the page. And at PPC.co, we can help.
Through a combination of time-tested techniques and the latest industry best practices, our team of experienced PPC experts provides tailored strategies designed to help businesses across a variety of niches generate massive value from their SEM campaigns.