Human beings are creatures of habit. When the warmth and fuzziness of familiarity are yanked from beneath our feet, some degree of fight or flight is usually our first impulse. Granted, not all sources of familiarity are created equally so when our preferred caffeinated concoction to start the morning is suddenly discontinued, it’s not exactly an earth-shattering event.
Still, when you are suddenly cut off from your quadruple latte with caramel swirls and a happy face on the cup, it’s definitely enough to throw you off your game. No one is more familiar with this particular wrinkle in humanity than advertisers that are constantly trying to toe the line between innovative thinking and the familiarity that breeds brand loyalty.
The landing page experience revolves around conversions
An effective marketing campaign is one that successfully toes that line, integrating ads and landing pages, metrics and tone, in a smooth and coordinated fashion. It engages a consumer with an ad that appeals to that individual and prompts them to envision a better or more convenient life due to a particular brand’s products or services.
While the ad might be the point in the funnel that catches an audience’s gaze, it’s the landing page that completes the conversions. A coordinated balance between the two develops a well-organized, focused, and emphatic message that flourishes in the nuances of the message and design. Our ebook, How to Optimize the Landing Page Experience, was specifically developed to help advertisers leverage those nuances to improve campaign performance.
AdWords is a piece to a much larger puzzle
From that initial ad forward, it is incumbent upon an advertiser to maintain tone, impact, and that sense of familiarity at all stages of the sales funnel.
Building on the importance of organic search in digital campaigns to increase site traffic, AdWords continues to play a pivotal role in every digital advertiser’s toolbox. Whether an AdWords campaign relies on simple search, immersive video, or the most coercive banner ads imaginable, however, each is ultimately rendered futile if they don’t produce sales.
In the long and storied history of advertising, there are many examples of imaginative campaigns that have failed to impact a brand’s bottom line positively. The modern digital marketplace makes campaigns susceptible to this notion by providing an already distracted audience with seemingly infinite channels to frequent.
A landing page extends and enhances the customer experience
A well-designed, message matching landing page is the yin to AdWords’ yang. When properly constructed, it seamlessly extends the customer journey from the originating ad to the CTA that is ultimately responsible for triggering sales.
Given the tremendous resources, some brands devote to their AdWords campaigns, failing to integrate these simple guidelines for optimizing the landing page experience is paramount to success.
Your AdWords campaign and you: a cautionary tale
In an advertising campaign, the all-important first step is your ad.
No matter how deliberate you were in creating your ad, it is ultimately still a single component — albeit an important one — of the journey.
Investing time and effort into your AdWords advertisements without paying equal attention to your landing page is an inefficient use of your ad spend. The success of your campaign is gauged almost exclusively on ROI and conversion rates. Without the accompanying landing page to maximize the impact of your advertising, you’re not making the most of your ad spend budget.
Post-click experience: what really matters
The post-click experience establishes a customer’s perspective of your brand and product after they click your AdWords ad.
Google itself has labeled this part of a campaign as the “Landing Page Experience” and integrates such data points as load time and bounce rate into their algorithms to determine your Quality Score and Ad Rank. Although the specifics behind such metrics are often shrouded in mystery, there remain a few tangible issues you can identify and improve upon to raise your Quality Score.
Keep your Quality Score in a healthy perspective
While improving your expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and bounce rate can boost your Quality Score, placing too much emphasis on these highly quantitative metrics can ultimately degrade the landing page experience if not viewed from a healthy and balanced perspective:
For instance, not all bounce rates are created equally. Although a more exhaustive explanation is provided in our ebook, Google’s definition of bounce rate isn’t always a good indicator of quality impressions.
Campaign metrics need to be viewed through the proper prism to best gauge their true applicability. The goal of any campaign is to increase ROI and conversions to sales, not necessarily the underlying metrics. It’s not a reach to assume that most companies would be willing to sacrifice a bit of their Quality Score if it meant a positive impact on their bottom line. A well-designed, message matching landing page could very well create this exact scenario.
A tantalizing look behind the landing page curtain
Although a more thorough explanation of impactful landing page design is located in our new ebook, a cursory look should be enough to convince you how the smaller details can lead to significant results for your campaign.
This display banner and Rackspace landing page are a good example of a cohesive message that blends between the two points. The landing page has an efficient layout, distinct CTA, and provides the user the ability to receive additional information about the product.
Page load times are critical
An unfortunate combination of busy lifestyles and waning attention spans makes your page load times a critical component of the landing page experience. All of your page elements must take this into account to prevent distracted users from leaving the page before even absorbing your message.
To monitor page load speeds, marketers have tools available to help gauge any negative impact on impressions and conversions. For instance, Google’s PageSpeed Insight’s tool analyzes page loading speeds and makes suggestions on how to improve it.
Of course, simple analysis and perfunctory advice on improvements might help a bit but having a thorough understanding of the impact load speeds have on performance is the true source of insight. With 53% of visitors leaving pages if they fail to load within 3 seconds and the average mobile landing page loading in 22 seconds, something has to give. Unfortunately, that something will almost always be your conversion rates.
Load speeds also have a direct effect on bounce rates. When a page’s load time increases from 1 second to 10 seconds, bounce rates increase a staggering 123%. Obviously, tailoring the elements within your landing page to not only appeal and engage but also load quickly and efficiently are both vital components to maximizing the ROI of your efforts.
Make it easy on the eye
A handful of recent studies make it clear that readers best absorb digital content when it adheres to distinct design patterns. When the landing page contents resemble either an “F” or a “Z” pattern, you can direct the visitor’s eyes where you want them to go (like to a CTA, for example). Heat maps that track eye movement on a landing page are especially useful in gauging content absorption and engagement levels for a reader.
Be concise and clear
Your landing page should not be an exercise in avant-garde creativity or abstract design. Just as any good newspaper reporter knows, you don’t bury the lede. Make sure users can easily find your contact information if they might have further questions and, most importantly, have an emphatic CTA that leaves no doubt how the viewer can convert on your offer.
Upwork provides another good example of an AdWords ad and message matching combination. The tone and design elements remain consistent, the sign-up landing page isn’t cluttered, and features a distinctive CTA:
Familiar doesn’t mean boring
In returning to our original premise, consumer engagement deepens with emotional bonds between the audience and brand. Familiarity is a key component to these bonds and provides a consistency of tone and content throughout the campaign. This consistency prevents your customer base from feeling ambushed by a sudden or misplaced change in message.
In this AdWords ad and Progressive landing page, they integrate their popular character, Flo. This is a great example of a campaign that maintains both familiarity and a sense of humor to enhance engagement with the audience.
Your landing pages should have a matched message with the originating ad. A seamless transition between the ad and landing page is important to maintain the consistency between the two. Effective transitions allow the user to feel comfortable and familiar enough to continue their path along the sales funnel.
Take a cohesive approach to boost the metrics that matter
Instapage’s ebook, How to Optimize the Landing Page Experience, will provide valuable insight in improving the post-click experience by maximizing the impact of your landing pages. A few straightforward tips, along with the guidance of the market’s most sophisticated landing page design platform, can drastically improve your campaign performance.
What advertiser wouldn’t want to stretch ad spend, lower customer acquisition costs, and increase the ROI of their AdWords campaigns? None that we know of.