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.