Why I Love My PPC-Only Landing Page (In addition to the 2,000% increase in conversion rate)

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In part two of our series highlighting the importance of CROLP (Conversion Rate Optimization/Landing Pages), we’ll be diving into a case study of just how drastically a new landing page can improve performance and conversion rate.  If Kayla’s post yesterday didn’t give you the tools to get your client or web development team on board, a look behind the scenes of one account should do the trick.

This stuff isn’t rocket science.  But it’s important.

As a standard baseline for why we do this stuff, I humbly present to you PPC’s guiding formula (given to me by Jeff Allen):

Spend/CPC x Conv. Rate = Leads

Oftentimes we spend so much time obsessing about the things that affect cost (bids, CTR, competition, extreme couponing, etc.) that we can lose sight of something that will make the biggest difference of all in an account: conversion rate.  Moving this metric by a tenth of a percentage point can make an ok month into a great month.

I inherited an account that had all of its ads pointing to the home page, which is sort of like buying a house that has asbestos-filled termites.  It was something that screamed out to be fixed, but the client wasn’t convinced out of the gate.  Spending time on development of a PPC-specific page wasn’t something that they wanted to divert resources to immediately.

A month’s worth of performance with a conversion rate of 0.22% finally convinced them to rethink that decision (and a quick note – conversion rate is relative depending on what your conversions are.   Some accounts may be hugely profitable with that percentage – this one was not that type of account).  After bringing up the possibility of a new landing page week after week, they got the point.  I sent over some best practices and a mock up what a PPC landing page should look like.  They created it and the number of leads took off.

First, here are the month-by-month results:

Month 1 – 0.22% conversion rate, $598.81 CPL

Month 2 – 0.83% conversion rate, $164.16 CPL

Month 3 – 2.46% conversion rate, $81.59 CPL

Month 4 – 4.86% conversion rate, $44.48 CPL

Once we activated the new landing pages in Month 2 we were basically bidding blind.  When you’re directing your traffic to a page that only converts 0.22% of the time, you really have no idea what type of clicks you want to go after.  But as more time goes on and you get actual conversions from your new and wonderful page, you can streamline both your targeting and your bidding to get the right types of clicks for your account.  Just as the beautiful formula up top says, these all work together.

This entire increase in performance can be traced back to a simple e-mail exchange I had with the client.  All that it contained was the best practices for landing pages.  The client read them, implemented them, and the rest is history (immortalized forever in a blog post, to boot).  I don’t want to encroach on Sam’s territory (who has a forthcoming post on CRO tips and best practices), but the stuff I called out to my client was very straightforward.

First, having a dedicated page (or dedicated pages) for PPC is very important.  Not only does it allow you to test different colors, buttons and all of that jazz, it can also let you keep that traffic distinct from other sources.  You can check Analytics around those pages or more easily track conversions as PPC-derived. It just simplifies everything if you know exactly what your PPC traffic is doing (and I know there are places in Analytics to look this stuff up, but it’s just so much neater if those pages are only deployed in paid search – plus, this page is my baby.  I don’t want those weirdorganicsearchers on there).

Second, decide if you want the conversion form right on the landing page.  You’re generally going to have a higher conversion rate if the form is directly on the page, but I’ve had clients where that strangely wasn’t the case.  Some types of users want more info from the site before ponying up their own.

Third, really consider what your mandatory fields are.  This can be a delicate balancing act, as the less information you have generally means the less valuable the lead will be to you or your sales team.  There’s a Gerald B. Watson Memorial Sweet Spot even when it comes to how much information you need from a possible lead.  Ask for enough to satiate your needs, but don’t scare them off.

For this particular client, we went with all of the above: PPC-only page, conversion form on the page and far fewer mandatory fields.  It’s a beautiful page and I’m so proud to call it my own.  This stuff can make a huge difference, and the more time you spend on CRO the better.  How fitting it is, then, that we’re spending the rest of the week on this topic.  Stay tuned for updates from Amanda, Dave and Sam on the glorious world of CROLP.

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  • http://twitter.com/RobinBuxton Robin Buxton

    Hi Sean. As you say, it’s not rocket science. Do you have any results on tests that you have done with different landing page layouts? Robin

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Hi Robin,

      There are a number of different layouts I’ve tried. Most recently, a client began experimenting with putting their conversion at the bottom of the page (below the fold). The bummer was that the experiment hasn’t been successful to date. While the normal page is about 5%, the form at the bottom is just about half of that.

      I say that the results are a bummer because they just re-establish best practices. It would be so much more interesting if the results somehow differed from common practices, but I guess the practices are common for a reason.

      Have you seen any results on different layouts? Best practices generally win out in my testing.

  • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

    That’s a great point. Thanks for the suggestion. I think one of us will definitely take you up and write that article in the future.

  • Kimmie

    Hi Sean, I only have one page in my site with the form in the left side and phone number.. The conversion rate for keywords that converted are 100% but lots of keywords have no conversions. 70% of my spending cost are not converted. do you have any suggestions?

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Hi Kimmie,

      Based off of the performance numbers that you have, the first thing that I’d question is sample size. 100% conversion rate is amazing, but I would guess that it wouldn’t hold up with more clicks. If you give it more time to perform you should get a clearer sense of the conversion rate that you can expect for the long run.

      The same line of thinking can be applied to your non-converting keywords. If they’ve only gotten a handful of clicks, give it some more time until you’re certain that they won’t convert. Once you have plenty of clicks and the conversion rate remains 0% on some of them, I think that’s when you can stop targeting those keywords all together. No matter what you do to your landing page, there’s a point where you can see that certain keywords aren’t going to work.

      Growing your account requires a certain degree of testing, so it’s natural that some keywords won’t convert for you. We like to use the Lin-Rodnitzky Ratio to ensure that we’re not being too aggressive with them. Check that out here: http://www.ppchero.com/audit-webinar-qa-includes-free-audit-checklist-for-first-fifty-readers/l-r-ratio/.