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Building Effective Landing Pages to Make Your Paid Search Program Convert

When investing in paid search ads, most marketers focus on getting people to click on the ad.

The click, however, is only the first step.

The experience someone has after clicking on your ad can mean the difference between a purchase and a lost opportunity. Driving that experience is your landing page. The copy and content that greets visitors when they arrive at your landing page should be just as engaging and high-quality as the ad that lured them there in the first place.

We all know that providing a great landing page can boost conversions and help turn visitors into qualified leads and buyers. But landing pages for paid search are in a slightly different category from other, more typical landing pages.

By taking the time to strategize how to build a landing page for SEM, and by understanding what to include on it, you’ll create a solid foundation for the success of your entire paid search campaign.

Life After the Click (or, Make Sure Your Landing Page Matches the Visitor’s Intent)

The single most important question to ask when building a landing page is: What do people expect to get when they click on your ad?

Think about what draws visitors to your ad, and make sure the experience on your site aligns with those expectations. Do they want to buy something right away? Are they looking for a free trial? Are they hoping for more information about your products or services?

It’s possible different types of visitors may have different goals. If that’s the case, you’ll want to create multiple ad versions and multiple landing pages to match these different intents, so that every ad-landing page combination helps every visitor achieve a specific goal.

What to Include on a Landing Page?

Every landing page should include the following building blocks:

  • A contact form. Your form should be brief and user-friendly. Form field prompts help visitors avoid guesswork, and drop-down menus can reduce how much they have to type. Whether they’re signing up for a newsletter, filling out a survey, accepting a promotional offer or going all the way to a purchase, make it effortless.
  • You want to grab and hold visitors’ attention, while showing off your product or service at the same time. Captivating images or graphics can create excitement, or they can help educate the visitor about your offer. The right images can also help focus the visitor by drawing the eye to specific elements of your page – such as a bright green arrow pointing to the call-to-action button.
  • Content. Visitors need a good reason before they’ll commit to filling out your form. Make sure your landing page is punchy and informative, and let visitors know exactly what they’ll get and how it will improve their lives.
  • Reward. For visitors who go through the trouble of clicking your ad and submitting your form, deliver something special. This can be as simple as a personalized greeting, or as valuable as a special discount code for first-time or repeat buyers. This is your opportunity to start building a relationship with your visitor, so take advantage of it!

Mistakes to Avoid When Building Landing Pages

Wherever there are dos, there are also don’ts. Steer clear of these common blunders to maximize your conversion optimization on your landing pages:

  • Keyword stuffing. While SEO and SEM are certainly important, cramming your landing page with keywords is not only an outdated practice, it’s harmful and makes your page look like spam. Instead, keep your copy simple and clear, and always choose to write for real people rather than search engines. Once you’ve written copy that’s easily readable, go back and see if there are places where you can gracefully insert keywords.
  • Poor user experience. This should go without saying, but if the layout of your landing page is confusing, the form is hard to complete, or anything at all distracts the visitor from accomplishing their goal, you’re going to lose leads and customers. Keep a hyper-focus on making sure each step of the conversion process is a breeze.
  • Directing click-throughs to your homepage or a product page. Visitors have very clear ideas about what they want when they click your ad. If your ad clicks through to your home page or a generic product page, you’ve just put the burden on your visitor to figure out how to find what they want. This is confusing, and confused visitors will click away from your site without finishing the conversion. Instead, always send ad click-throughs to a targeted landing page that is narrowly focused on delivering whatever was promised in the ad that prompted the click in the first place.

Real Life Example

A paid search ad which brought the user to the landing page below was receiving a significant increase in its click-through rate, yet the conversion rate was way down. The problem? Once the user had entered their VIN number and seen the results on the landing page, there was no clear next step for them to take in order to purchase reports or view report types.

Landing Page Before

Our team updated the landing page to include the pricing and information about purchasing reports, and the conversion rate jumped dramatically.

Landing Page After

In the high-stakes world of SEM, click-throughs are only half the story. It’s up to your landing pages to engage your visitors, meet their expectations, and encourage them to convert into leads and customers. If you take the time to make sure you’re seeing the whole story, you’ll be set to build landing pages that pull their weight and help you achieve your goals.

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