The next time you budget $1,000 for a paid search campaign, you might as well take $760 of that and just light it on fire.
That might sound a little dramatic, but it’s true. After running 2,000 AdWords campaigns, Disruptive Advertising CEO Jacob Baadsgaard discovered that his average client wastes 76% of their PPC budget.
Can you guess what on?
Nope, not testing. Not creative. Not optimization.
How is that possible? As long as your landing page is optimized, you should be able to drive countless visitors to it, and watch them hit your CTA button one, after the other, after the other, right?
Wrong. You’re unwittingly walking into a trap that too many marketers still do. You need more than just an optimized landing page, and here’s why…
3 examples that prove an optimized landing page isn’t enough
At one point or another, we’ve all ended up on a suspicious looking website. You know what we’re talking about — something that looks like this:
Land on one of these pages and you’re sure to be bombarded with sneaky pop-ups that lead you to someplace on the internet you don’t want to be.
It turns out, the websites pictured above were part of a PPC network and the “someplace you don’t want to be” ended up being a landing page belonging to Michael Keating of Octatools.
After spending $25 on a pay-per-click campaign that resulted in 114,299 impressions, 539 clicks, and absolutely 0 conversions, Michael decided to do a little investigating:
“I decide to analyze the top 25 websites that referred traffic to my website. These sites roughly accounted for 50% of all the registered visitors within Google Analytics. Of these 25 websites, 6 websites had the same content and website template. The only difference was the logo.”
These spammy pages were part of a scheme that tricked people into visiting Michael’s landing page. He was a victim of poor quality traffic.
Let’s have a look at another, less nefarious example. Take this blog post from Disruptive Advertising:
Intriguing title — makes you want to read more, doesn’t it?
Well, you’re not the only one. Apparently this post drove a ridiculous amount of blog traffic, according to Baadsgaard:
“All of a sudden, organic traffic to our website skyrocketed! In fact, we got more hits to that blog post than we did to our homepage, and it stayed that way for the next year.”
From the outside, it looked like Disruptive had struck viral content marketing gold. Chalk this one up in the win column, right?
Not so fast.
While the post itself was attracting visitors in droves, Baadsgaard and his team found themselves in the same predicament that Michael Keating had — lots of traffic, but no conversions. So they dug a little deeper.
It turns out, the post was showing up on page one of Google — which would explain the massive amount of traffic. Unfortunately, it was ranking for the wrong term: “Freddy Krueger”.
When Nightmare on Elm Street fans clicked through, they were disappointed to find the post had less to do with their favorite clawed villain and more to do with PPC branding tactics. As a result, they didn’t hang around long.
Something similar happened when team at Disruptive tried to get a little (maybe too) creative with a Facebook ad for a “tongue-in-cheek look at a clever way to use IP address exclusions in AdWords”:
Again the ad produced loads of traffic, but little conversions. So what was the issue this time?
Baadsgaard dug through some Facebook reports to find out:
“Baffled, I started looking into my audience data and discovered that yes, I was getting more clicks than usual, but my extra clicks were all coming from one particular demographic: 55+-year-old women.
Apparently, the ‘Spice Up Your Love Life’ angle was really striking a chord with a certain segment of women.”
These baby boomer females weren’t typical Disruptive readers, so when Baadsgaard saw that they were the source of most his clicks, he knew that was generating the wrong type of traffic.
So, how do you avoid getting yourself into a situation like the ones above?
How to ensure you generate high-quality landing page traffic
When it comes to landing page traffic, as is the case with many things, quality trumps quantity.
It’s easy to become obsessed with driving more, and more, and even MORE traffic to your landing page. But, the only thing that matters is whether or not the people who end up there are interested in what you have to offer.
If they’re not, everything you’ve done is pointless.
Here are a few tips to make sure you generate the right landing page traffic:
1. Know your audience
Before you can persuade anyone to press your CTA button, you need to know them intimately. Settling for demographics like age and gender won’t do. You need to really know them.
- What are their problems?
- What are their motivators?
- Why can’t they live without your product or service?
It’s only after getting the answers to these questions that you’ll be able to effectively convince them to take action.
Take, for example, the following audience profiles:
- A single, 26-year-old man living in Texas worth $3 million
- A middle-class family living in Massachusetts, with a household income of $130,000
- A retired couple with an empty nest, living off their retirement savings
- A couple with no children, barely making ends meet below the poverty line
While these little details give you basic understanding of your audience, they’re still only a microscopic view of who your target customer really is.
For example, that single 26-year-old man worth $3 million could be a hedge fund manager working 100 hours a week, or he could just as easily be a trust fund baby living off his family’s fortune.
That’s why it’s important you don’t stop at your audience’s most basic demographics. The more focused you get — the more details you know — the more your message will resonate with your target, and higher quality traffic your campaign will generate.
Tools like Facebook’s Audience Insights, publications like eMarketer, and services like Quantcast and Alexa allow you to gain deeper insight into who your potential customers really are. Take advantage of them to make sure you’re generating quality traffic.
2. Invest in the right channels
Just as important as who your potential customers are is where they spend their time.
Earlier this week, we talked a little about the power of LinkedIn to generate traffic and leads. It might surprise you to find that one major group of marketers say the platform is more important to their business than any other network — even Facebook.
So does that mean you should start allocating a major portion of your budget to LinkedIn advertising?
If you’re a member of that group — B2B marketers — absolutely. Otherwise, it may very well be a waste of your time.
If you’re a B2C business whose audience is primarily female, Pinterest might be a great place to market your product. If it’s a younger audience you’re after, Instagram and Snapchat would probably be the better choice.
Keep in mind this rule isn’t limited to social media.
Take search for instance. A whopping 72% of Bing users are over the age of 35, and 60% are currently married, or have been in the past.
And while older generations leverage the power of search, younger ones spend the most time in mobile apps.
Internet users between the ages of 18 and 34 spent 43 more hours in mobile apps (that’s an entire work week!) than 35-54 year-olds did in June of last year:
Determining who uses key marketing channels will help you decide which are most worth investing in.
3. Spy on your competitors
Picasso allegedly once said, “good artists copy, great artists steal.”
In marketing and advertising, maybe the clearest path to success is the one your competitor has already traveled down. So find out what’s working for them.
Are they getting most of their traffic from social? Search? Email?
For example — if you’re a viral news publisher like Buzzfeed, enter their website into SimilarWeb’s search engine to learn a bit about where they get their traffic:
As you can see, the majority comes from social. Its next biggest sources are direct, search, and referrals, respectively.
CNN, on the other hand, gets about one-fifth of the social traffic that Buzzfeed does, but more than twice the direct traffic:
If a strategy is working for a competitor, chances are it could work for you, too. At the very least it’s worth experimenting with.
4. Set clear expectations
The copywriters tasked with crafting content for Disruptive Advertising’s Facebook ad probably didn’t think the headline “How To Spice Up Your Life With AdWords” would attract so much attention from 55+-year-old women.
Even though a portion of their audience knew it was tongue-in-cheek, clearly the biggest target group didn’t. And that’s because the copy itself didn’t set clear expectations.
It’s safe to say that the women clicking through probably weren’t deeply familiar with AdWords, and may have quite literally thought they could spice up their relationship with this tool or technique they didn’t know about.
So, when they clicked to find out more, then realized “AdWords” wasn’t a blueprint for a better love life, they quickly abandoned the page.
This is a case of creativity going a little too far.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with being witty or tongue-in-cheek in your marketing collateral, sometimes (as in the case of the Freddy Krueger blog post and Disruptive’s Facebook ad), it can end up confusing your prospects more than anything else.
5. Pay attention to your analytics dashboard
You know who they are, you know where they are, but do you know how your visitors behave?
Generating quality traffic means understanding things like:
- How long your visitors spend on your web pages
- What your best converting piece of content is
- What their path to conversion looks like (What pages are they visiting right before they convert? What about before that? And before that?)
Marketing tags like the 31 listed here will help you capture more data about your users to help you drive better traffic. And maybe the most popular way to decode all that valuable information is with the free and powerful Google Analytics.
With Google’s free tool, you can learn things like:
- How many total people viewed your page (e.g. 3 visits from 1 person counts as 1 unique visit)
- How much time your visitors spent on your page
- Which page or set of pages your prospect entered your website from
- The percentage of people who leave your website after only viewing one page (bounce rate)
- The value of your landing page — which is determined by calculating the value of all the pages that drove your prospect there (more on that here).
So let’s say, hypothetically, that you offer a short ebook as a top-of-funnel lead magnet. Using Google Analytics, you see that a lot of people are claiming it, but they’re not clicking any of the CTAs inside to watch a free demo of your software.
You do notice, however, that prospects tend to sign up for a free demo after they finish watching your webinars.
Because you’re a smart marketer, from this you infer that the more appropriate CTA in your ebook would be “Sign Up For Our Webinar,” and not “Watch A Free Demo.”
Once you understand how your prospects behave, you can take steps to deliver the right content at the right time, which in turn will drive higher quality traffic.
What’s your take?
What strategy do you use to determine the best traffic source for your campaigns? Did we miss anything on this list?
Let us know in the comments, then start driving high-quality traffic to your landing pages with Instapage’s fully customizable landing page software.