If you want a Google AdWords campaign that's both high-converting and low-cost, you need to do a lot of things right.
You need to have a well-structured campaign that targets the right number of keywords to make it relevant for the searcher. You need to create magnetic ads to increase your CTRs. You need to bid the right amount to maximize your spending. Plus a lot more.
With such a long list of tasks to do, the question then becomes, where do I start?
From all the different directions you can take, I like starting in one of the key pieces of any AdWords campaign: your landing pages.
The relevancy and quality of your landing pages affect your Quality Score, which directly affects your cost per click (CPC). Because of that, optimizing your landing pages can help you save money while improving your conversion rates.
In this article, I will show you six ways you can lower your CPCs by optimizing your landing pages.
1. Make the landing page relevant to the search query
If you know anything about Google AdWords, you know that your Quality Score is one of the most important factors – if not the most important one – for which you want to optimize your campaigns.
Accounts with quality scores of 6 or higher are granted a 16-50% decrease in CPC, whereas accounts with a 4 or lower Quality Score see a 25-400% increase in CPC.
Part of the measurement of a high Quality Score is made up of the landing pages. According to AdWords expert Brad Geddes, "Rarely will you see a quality score higher than 3 if your landing page is not relevant."
But how do you make a landing page "relevant"? You do so by connecting your landing pages with the purchase intent of your ad groups and their respective keywords.
Here's the thing: not every keyword has the same intent. The theory says that keywords are separated into three buckets according to their intent:
- Informational keywords: searches performed to answer questions or learn something
- Commercial investigation keywords: searches performed to research about a product or service
- Transactional keywords: searches performed to buy something
When doing keyword research it's common practice to segment them based on these three intent levels. By doing so, you can create ads and landing pages that are adapted to these intents, and increase your Quality Score (and conversion rate) given the higher relevancy.
For example, if a visitor searches for "best DSLR cameras 2016", the query intent would fall into the commercial investigation. With this query, you can create a landing page that features an ebook about the best DSLR cameras of 2016. This landing page should focus on teaching people, not selling. Since this landing page would match the searcher's intent, the relevancy and Quality Score will be higher, helping you lower your CPC.
2. Make the copy all about your visitors
You can make a landing page relevant to a search query, but if the copy isn't interesting nor appealing, people will bounce from your site.
By optimizing your landing page copy, you will be doing your visitors a favor. They will understand the reason why they should sign up for whatever you have to offer, they will remember you, and most importantly, you won't lose money on unprofitable traffic.
In order to optimize your copy, you need to remember this: focus on your visitor. Use the words they use. Talk about the things they care about. Give them something interesting and useful. The truth is, they don’t care about what you have to sell, they care about their own problems. So focus on that.
One great way to do so is by making them feel something. Persuasion is an emotional process. In order to make people to do something for you, you need to appeal to their emotions.
Shanelle Mullin explains in an amazing article titled "The Advanced Guide to Emotional Persuasion" that emotional persuasion has four pillars:
- Sadness: An emotional pain associated with, or characterized by feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, helplessness, disappointment and sorrow.
- Anxiety: An emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events, such as the feeling of imminent death.
- Awe: An emotion comparable to wonder but less joyous.
- Anger: An intense emotional response. It is a normal emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation. Often it indicates when one’s basic boundaries are violated.
Playing with these emotions can help you make your marketing message more persuasive.
A perfect example of a powerful emotional ad.
My favorite way to do so is by talking about a problem for which they are suffering. This problem should be related to one of the previous emotional persuasion pillars. If you can do this, you will catch their attention. However, getting their attention isn't the only thing you need to do. That's only half the battle.
After you catch their attention, you need to make them interested in what you have to say, and most importantly, do what you want them to do. That's the other half of the battle, and it's where many people start their work. Make sure you don't, because there's no point in trying to make people interested in something if you don't have their attention.
How is it then that you make them interested in what you have to say and make them want to take an action (like sign up to get an ebook)?
I personally like using a classic copywriting formula called the PAS formula. PAS is an acronym that stands for Problem, Agitate, and Solution. This formula goes like this:
- First, you highlight a problem of your visitors, something that makes them sad, angry or anxious. Awe can work too, but not as effectively as a problem. This, as I explained before, will catch their attention.
- Then, you agitate that problem, which makes them even more interested in what you have to say. How is it that the problem makes them sad, angry or anxious? Paint a picture about this problem or tell them a story and they will be interested in what you have to say.
- Finally, you show a solution to that problem, which they can get after they convert. This is the final goal of your landing page, and which can be achieved once you have finished with the previous two steps. This last part should be like a no-brainer to them: if they have a problem, and they see the solution your offer is relevant, they will convert.
This article by Dan Shewan explains some other important principles, which are meant to be used for PPC copywriting, but still apply for landing pages.
3. Focus on one thing
If you expect a visitor to guess what she has to do on your landing page, then think again. People have a hard time understanding what a page is about if you are not clear enough. You can’t expect to make a sale and also get them to follow you on social media on the same visit.
If you see some of the best landing pages, you will notice all of them focus on one thing. They all have one problem, one solution, one unique value proposition, and one goal for each landing page. You should do the same.
Start by focusing on one of their problems. If you followed the recommendations I explained in the previous section, you probably know what I'm talking about.
Then, focus on the benefits of the thing you are giving away. How can you help them solve their problems? What is it for them?
Also, focus on your unique value proposition. What is it unique about your offer? Why should they listen to you?
And most importantly, focus on what you want them to do.
If you want them to buy from you, add one CTA and one CTA only: an “Add to Cart” button. If you want them to call you, put your phone number and a “click-to-call" button. You probably get the idea.
Wistia makes their account sign up landing page focused on one thing: creating an account.
4. Make your landing page trustworthy
Words are a dime in a dozen. Trust, on the other hand, is not. Trust takes time to develop. It takes a consistent effort for a certain period of time to gain, and it's a basic element that nurtures any kind of transaction, whether it's financial or not.
Trust, in contrast with content, can't just "be written". It's not something you can do, either. You have to be trustworthy in order for people to trust you.
In order to make your landing pages trustworthy, there are a number of things you can do.
First, start by sharing more about your company. Tell them who you are, who’s behind your company (and your website), what you do, where you do it from, etc. Of course, you don’t have to explain the story of your life in it. Time is money, and attention is sparse, so make it clear and quick. Just one or two paragraphs are enough.
HelpScout shows in a very simple way how many people make the tool and from where (which is even more interesting since they are a remote company).
Lumosity shows who's behind their company right into their homepage.
Then, add social proof. There are many ways you can leverage this psychological trigger. Awards received, testimonials from happy customers, ratings and reviews, security badges, press mentions, or even records you have broken can be used to add social proof to your landing page.
Testimonials and "As Seen On" work great to show social proof.
Finally, add at least one "trust element”. This is any kind of security badge, guarantee, or seal that lets them know the information they are about to share with you is safe.
An example of three common security badges.
5. Design it like it’s 2017
Unless you are a professional web designer, you probably can’t design a landing page on your own and expect to get good results. You have to design a landing page like a modern designer would.
Obviously, if you use a landing page builder, they will give you templates that will have all the right elements in place. Still, it’s worth mentioning a few tips to help you understand what design elements make a landing page more relevant and enjoyable for your visitors.
First, structure your page design so your visitors don’t have to hunt around for information. As you already know, a landing page is created with one goal in mind. This means once a visitor gets to it, she has to be able to find everything she's looking for easily and fast. That's good for her, and good for you too (otherwise, people won't convert).
Outbrain shows a lot of information on this landing page. You can see their features without having to leave the landing page.
As a continuation of the previous point, make it easy for them to do whatever you want them to do. This means once the visitor finds whatever she's looking for, she has to be able to act on whatever you are asking her to do. For instance, if you want them to download an ebook, a clear CTA above the fold will do the trick.
James Francis goes straight to the point. This landing page is short mainly because it's about a free "conversion kit".
If possible, don’t use pop-ups that interfere with their navigation of your site. They can be effective, as many experts have shown, but they can distract visitors from converting. The same can be said about navigational bars, sliders, banners, and other similar elements. You should always test these elements, just in case. But you have been warned.
This almost goes without saying, but it's still worth mentioning: Make your landing page mobile friendly. According to Adobe, "Companies with mobile-optimized sites triple their chances of increasing mobile conversion rate to 5% or above."
If you need help figuring out whether your landing page is mobile-optimized or not, this tool by Google will help you.
Finally, make sure to ask a designer about your landing page. If she cringes when she sees it, it’s because it’s bad.
And if you don't have one, get some help. Ask a community, like the startups subreddit, or post your landing page in relevant Facebook groups.
5. Make your landing page fast
How many times have you ever been on a website that has something you want but takes forever to load? If you are like me, it happens more often than you would wish.
In fact, according to KISSmetrics, "73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load." This means that even if you do everything right, if they can’t actually see the website because it doesn’t load, it’s game over.
According to a Google AdWords best practices page, "If it takes too long for your website to load when someone clicks on your ad, they’re more likely to give up and leave your website. This unwelcome behavior can signal to Google that your landing page experience is poor, which could negatively impact your Ad Rank. That’s why you want to make sure your landing page load time is up to speed.”
According to the same study mentioned before, "a 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions." Another study made by Search Engine Land came to similar conclusions.
To start improving your landing page’s speed performance, first and foremost, you need to put your landing page on a speed tool like Pingdom or Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Any of those tools will tell you how fast your page is, how much it weights, and what problems it has. Google will also tell you how to solve them, while Pingdom will be a bit more technical on its analysis.
The great majority of landing pages have to implement the same solutions to their performance problems, namely:
- Optimize images. That means compressing all images with a tool like TinyPNG. These tools are free and can help you reduce the image file size without decreasing the quality of the image (in some cases by more than 80%).
- Leverage browser caching. This means letting your visitors "cache" (i.e. save) your landing page's static elements in their browsers, so the next time they land on it, their browser will use the elements in their memory. That can save them a lot of loading time. This article explains the process of leveraging your browser caching very well, which you should use not only to optimize your landing pages but your whole site.
To Sum Up…
Increasing your landing pages' Google AdWords performance isn't easy.
Improving your landing page relevancy, making your copy all about your visitors, focusing your landing pages on only one thing, making them trustworthy while looking modern and fast takes a lot of hard work.
But there's no doubt that these optimizations will help you increase your landing pages' performance while lowering your AdWords costs. And that will help you take your business to the next level.
About the author
Ivan Kreimer is a freelance content marketer that helps SaaS business increase their traffic, leads and sales. Previously, he worked as an online marketing consultant helping both small and large companies drive more traffic and revenue. He is also an e-commerce store owner and a world traveler.