Welcome to the first in a series of special guest articles that we’ll be publishing. This first article was writtne by Scott Brinker.

Scott Brinker is a co-founder, president, and chief technology officer of ion interactive, a company that specializes in post-click marketing software and services for marketers and agencies. He blogs regularly at their Post-Click Marketing Blog.

Post-Click Marketing for PPC Heroes

What is post-click marketing?

As the name suggests, it’s marketing that you do after you win a click. Keyword choices, ad creatives, bidding strategy, ad network choices, geo-targeting and day-parting of ads, all of that is pre-click marketing. Post-click marketing is what happens next.

But post-click marketing isn’t everything that happens after the click—because over your lifetime relationship with a respondent, that’s a pretty big universe: site optimization, lead nurturing, re-marketing, customer relationship management, retention programs, etc.

The scope of post-click marketing is actually quite narrow. It’s focused on the first few pages a respondent experiences immediately after clicking on your ad.

Post-click marketing may be as simple as a landing page, or as advanced as a dedicated microsite. Or it may be a more innovative experience such as a “conversion path” that guides a respondent through two or three steps to match them with the best content or offer.

Why not just call this type of marketing “landing pages” or “landing page optimization”? Partly because landing pages have been pigeonholed into a rather boring, unoriginal format: headline, image, body copy, form, button, period. Partly because landing page optimization, too, is mostly thought of as just A/B testing or multivariate testing (MVT).

Post-click marketing includes landing pages and landing page optimization, but it’s more than that. It emphasizes three big principles:

  • more creative layouts, flows, and content than plain old landing pages;
  • greater “message match” between ads and the pages they send people to;
  • segmenting respondents based on transparent behavioral choices;

Creative landing experiences

Given that a search ad is only a 130-characters of plain text, it’s fair to say that your landing page is where you will make your real first impression on a respondent. Make that first impression pop—with good design and sharp content that communicates your passion, talent, and energy. Make your brand shine.

One of the first artificial constraints you should free yourself from is the belief that a landing page needs to be just one page. You can create landing experiences that have two, three, four, or five pages—maybe even more—that engage the respondent in a more conversational interaction. More pages can outperform fewer pages when they make the overall experience easier for a respondent to reach the most relevant content. Multi-page paths must be simple to navigate and respectful of the respondent’s time and intellect—but when they do that, they can really differentiate you from the crowd.

Rich media, interactive widgets, video, and social media features can all be employed judiciously to engage respondents. Put the old rules aside and experiment with fresh ideas. Think of these as Landing Pages 2.0.

Greater “message match”

How many different keywords do you advertise for? How many different creatives do you run on those keywords? Now, how many different landing pages do you drive those respondents to? Odds are, you have way more keywords and ad creatives than landing pages, and therein lies the risk of message mismatch.

When someone searches on a particular keyword, and they see an ad creative that is specific to that keyword, they naturally expect the landing page to fulfill the implied promise of speaking directly to the message of that keyword/creative combination. When it does, you earn trust and increase conversions. When it doesn’t… it’s not so good. It’s very hard to do this with a one-size-fits-all landing page for the entire campaign.

You don’t necessarily need a one-to-one ratio of keywords/ads to landing pages, but you should have separate landing pages for each primary message or audience you’re trying to reach that can speak specifically and genuinely to the promise of your ads. One rule of thumb: at least one landing page per ad group.

Audience segmentation

A core theme of post-click marketing is that clicks are not a commodity. Respondents come to your pages with different wants, needs, priorities, characteristics. The better job you can do framing your offer specifically to each of these “segments”, the higher your conversion rate will be.

To do this, you must determine which segment a respondent belongs to. In some cases, you can infer this from the search term they used. It’s reasonable to deduce that someone who searches for “data backup for healthcare” is in the healthcare industry—or at least expecting data backup solutions presented with that environment in mind.

However, this isn’t always possible—e.g., someone searches for just “data backup”. In these cases, consider using a conversion path. Your landing page presents respondents with 2 to 5 one-click choices that let them self-select their segment—in exchange, you then deliver more relevant content to them on page two. This both increases conversion rate and provides insightful segmentation data… even on the people who don’t convert.

I hope these ideas help make you a post-click marketing hero too.