I’ve been a big believer in landing pages before most marketers realized their importance.
Early in my digital marketing career, I started working with a paid search advertising client who was sending most of their traffic to their main website.
After considering a variety of ways to boost their campaign performance, it occurred to me that our biggest problem was the fact that we weren’t meeting our potential customers’ expectations.
We were getting traffic because people were searching online for something specific and clicking on an ad that matched their search intent.
However, that’s where things broke down.
Instead of sending prospects to a page that matched what they were searching for, we were sending them to a website that was designed to fit every possible need — making it a mismatch for everyone!
Eight years ago, landing page tools like Instapage didn’t exist, so marketers were forced to write code directly into the site to create a consistent landing page experience for visitors.
Back then it was a good idea for us, but the problem was, we were bidding on thousands of keywords.
Now, I could have built out specific pages for each keyword, but since we were creating and managing each page directly on our site, I knew that optimizing hundreds of pages would quickly become an impossible amount of work.
But, the problem remained. How could we match the landing page to the search intent?
To solve this problem, we added some code that would pull search term data from query string parameters in the ad URL and change key elements of the copy to reflect the visitor’s search intent.
Basically, it was our version of what would later become dynamic landing page headlines.
Since this was before landing page tools like Instapage got their start, creating these dynamic landing pages was a ton of work, but it proved to be worth it.
Within one week of launch, our cost-per-lead dropped by half!
With these new landing pages in place, the client was able to get a lot more leads out of their budget, which resulted in unprecedented profit for the business.
Using that extra profit, we significantly increased our AdWords budget and soon the client was getting so many leads at such a low cost that the problem shifted from getting enough leads to getting enough sales people on the floor to field all of the leads.
As a result of this strategy, my advertising agency grew from a staff of 25 to 250 employees and earned millions in additional profit.
Needless to say, after watching an effective landing page strategy transform this client’s business, I was sold on the value of landing pages.
After using landing pages and PPC advertising to produce fantastic results for a variety of clients, I founded Disruptive Advertising to help other companies take advantage of this powerful combination.
Essentially, our strategy works like this:
Landing pages work best when you send them tightly focused traffic.
In other words, creating a consistent message from keywords you bid on, your ad copy, and the landing page you send traffic to.
To do this, you must know your buyer personas and get detailed in your PPC campaign structure. Focus on the search intent of your target audience and then align your keywords, ad copy, and landing pages to that intent.
Many paid search advertisers try to cast as wide of a keyword net as possible. After all, if your net is big enough, your target audience is bound to be in there somewhere.
The problem with this approach to targeting is that — while it does increase your odds of covering your target audience — it also means you are targeting a lot of the wrong traffic, too.
And, since the wrong traffic never converts, that means you are spending a lot of money on traffic that has no chance of converting on your landing page.
With this kind of keyword approach, it’s difficult to build landing pages that are a great match for your ads because you’re targeting too wide of an audience!
For example, let’s say you run a pet shelter and are running AdWords ads to find people interested in animal adoption.
To make sure you’ve got your audience covered, you create an ad group that includes all sorts of animals you’ve rescued (cats, dogs, birds, ferrets, hamsters, pigs, etc.).
The good news is, if someone types in “adopt a cat”, they’ll trigger your ad.
The bad news is, if someone types in “adopt a pig,” they’ll trigger the same ad.
Because there are too many keywords in your ad group, you can’t create an ad that truly matches the search intent of your audience.
Your potential client is looking to adopt a “cat” or a “pig”, so if your ad says “cat” or “pig” in it, they are much more likely to click.
Now, if you have “cat”, “dog”, “bird”, “ferret”, “hamster” and “pig” as keywords, you could use dynamic keyword insertion to change your ad to match the search intent of your audience. This is all well and good. The problem is, now your landing page won’t be a good match for your traffic.
For example, the “cat” ad above matches the searcher’s intent perfectly… until it sends them to a page like this:
Granted, dynamic keyword insertion puts “cat” in the main headline, but the pug hero shot creates immediate confusion and likely leads to page abandonment.
While there are times when thousands of keywords and dynamic ads/headlines make sense (for example, in the case of the client I mentioned earlier), building your ad groups with five (or less) related keywords enables you to send the right traffic to the right landing page.
The more granular you get with your traffic, the better you can match and optimize your landing page experience to meet your audience’s needs.
For example, if you have an ad group with only cat-related keywords ([cat], [adopt a cat], “cat adoption”, etc), a search for “adopt a cat” will produce an ad like this:
That ad could then point to a page like this:
See? Much better message match and ad-to-landing-page experience.
The potential client searched for “adopt a cat,” clicked on an ad for “adopt a rescue cat,” and ended up on a landing page with a picture of a cat, headline, and body copy that talks about adopting a cat.
Odds are, they’ll feel like they’ve found what they’re looking for.
With message matching like that, it’s not uncommon for our advertising agency to see a 50% jump in conversion rates on initial tests with new clients. (And that positive jump is before we even start A/B testing the landing pages.)
For nearly a decade, I’ve been a big believer in the power of landing pages. I’ve seen landing pages transform businesses and produce millions in added profit.
When I made my first landing pages, setting up and managing a page was a massive headache. Today, with tools like Instapage, there’s simply no excuse to not have a dedicated landing page for every digital marketing campaign.
How have you seen landing pages increase campaign performance? Are PPC advertising and landing pages an essential part of your digital marketing strategy?
About the Author
Jacob is a passionate entrepreneur on a mission to help businesses achieve online marketing success. As the Founder & CEO of Disruptive Advertising, Jacob has created an award-winning, world-class organization that has helped hundreds of businesses grow using pay-per-click advertising and conversion rate optimization.