In the PPC world, there are so many cogs and wheels working together to push the marketing machine forward. We optimize ads in every facet – how they appear, when they appear, to whom they appear, and so on and so forth. What seems to be forgotten is that without a website or a landing page that ad can’t send anyone anywhere.

The landing page is critical, by definition, to the entire process! So why do some folks obsess over the tiny intro step into the funnel (the ad itself) and then completely neglect the optimization opportunities on the avenue to conversion land (the landing page)?

Today, I’m going to touch on a few points that should convert those that don’t currently believe CRO is critical or important to your PPC success. I emphasize “few” because I’m highly biased, passionate about my field, and can talk about CRO all day every day. These are the cultivated points that I believe to be big sellers – the “aha” moments that will bless you with the glow of newfound knowledge.

Answer The Age Old Question “What Do You Want?!”

There are many incredibly apt tools that aim to capture user behavior from various angles. We can see where users are clicking, where they’re scrolling, even where they’re looking. We can look at user paths throughout the site. We can record a user’s every move on the site and we can also recruit users to poke about a site and answer our questions while their screen is being recorded. While this all sounds like an Internet stalker’s dream, it’s also an amazing way to learn about what your users really want.

What do you want - notebook gif

In every single one of our various PPC platforms, there is a whole universe of data that we can tap into to explore which topics pique user interest via the question of “What are the users clicking on the most?” But this question won’t tell you what they want. It only tells you what they prefer.

Tools can provide a big, red, flashing arrow that indicates which elements of the page or information on the page users actively engage with or fixate on. This enables us to infer exactly what our users want.

Ad Experience Time < Landing Page Experience Time

All of you most likely spend hours upon hours optimizing your PPC accounts for optimal performance. Any given PPC ad probably has a user’s attention for a few seconds or less. A website, on the other hand, can hold a user’s attention for a few minutes or longer. A good PPC ad will not be read and evaluated for minutes. It will be scanned for a trigger at which point it will hopefully be clicked. A good landing page or website will be evaluated for much longer than a PPC ad purely based on user mindset and volume of content.

If we want to improve our overall performance, it makes sense to focus our efforts on the avenue where the bulk of our user’s attention is going to be driven: the landing page.

Guide Users Through Their Conversion Journey (All Of It)

Since our users are spending more time on the landing page than they are on our PPC ads, why should we leave the ultimate goal, the conversion, to chance?

You carefully craft each and every ad along with its placement and a user clicks on your ad. Yay! So, if you can also ensure that the page that ad sends them to is perfectly crafted for the conversion as well, why wouldn’t you?

Consistent language and a unified, overarching goal from ad to page can create a seamless experience because they significantly lower the threat of excessive cognitive load. Our brains are wired to notice novel stimuli. Thus, switching terms, especially when benefits are concerned, introduces a new term. This activates our brains to perceive and interpret that term. Once a novel stimulus is perceived and interpreted, our brain doesn’t spend as much energy on that stimulus the next time we see it. Thus, we see a reduced cognitive load when we use similar terms.

ad congruency

The simplest way to ensure a user receives consistent language and a smooth ride through the funnel is to craft their entire journey. The entrance and on-site experience are two of the most critical parts of this journey so don’t neglect them.

You Have Users, Ask Them To Convert Instead Of Recruiting Different Users

If we want to generally improve the performance of a website how should we go about it? Most folks looking for a simple solution will most likely decide to throw more traffic at the page. If on average, 25 of every 500 visitors convert, then logically if we double our traffic we’ll also double our conversions…right?

easy button

The big issue here is that increasing your website traffic generally costs more money. We should all be intimately familiar with this concept here in PPC land.

A much more cost effective solution is to focus on turning the traffic you already have into conversions. I already have 500 visitors. So why not set out to convert more than 25 of those visitors?

That’s not too much to ask. In fact, it will force you to learn about your users which is never a bad thing. It will also force you to pay attention to both your ads and your website which can lead to increased relevancy which is also never a bad thing.

Adapt Or Be Left Behind

The constant CRO cycle of testing and compiling takeaways from that testing naturally requires adaptability. It also can, and should, involve checking out the competition.

This inevitably leads to you, the brilliant digital marketer that you are, learning more and more about your industry or your client’s industry. It also exposes you elements and trends that are common throughout your competition’s sites.

Users tend to shop more than one brand before they make a purchase decision. It’s safe to presume that when a user arrives on your site, they’ve seen another website in that same vertical before. And whether they’re doing it consciously or not, they’re comparing your site to every similar site they’ve ever seen. They’re also carrying over learned behaviors associated with those sites.

If you have a website that happens to be an anomaly in the user’s mental bucket of similar websites due to something such as a fancy new navigation or a hidden standard feature (i.e. search bar) you will miss that conversion. Breaking patterns or website stereotypes can conflict with a user’s learned behaviors and cause serious friction. We all hate friction and we all want to avoid it at all costs (or at least I do).

If the thing that makes your site the anomaly reduces actual friction for the user, not perceived or anticipated friction, then go for it! If it doesn’t reduce friction…I mean I can’t make you do anything but I highly advise that you do not make that change purely for the sake of your site being “on trend.” *steps off of soap box*

demolition cat
My general interpretation of implementing design changes to stay “on trend” and torching your conversions in the process.

Final Thoughts

CRO is a highly effective way to ensure that your site continuously speaks to your users on their level and delivers solutions in a well packaged, logical manner. If you’re running PPC campaigns and you haven’t assessed the landing page, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot.

a-ca-believe it

If you’ve made it to this point in the article and you’re still not convinced that CRO is necessary and quite important, you may never be convinced. But also know that your competitors who do focus on CRO as a priority are learning more and more about their users each and every day. They’re crafting messaging and design aspects that appeal to their specific user base and they’re reaping the benefits. So if logic cannot convince you to pursue CRO efforts maybe keeping up with the Jones’ can!