There were many sessions at SES San Jose 2008 on getting more value from SEM traffic and improving the usability of SEM landing pages. Although not so well attended (being the last day of the conference), this session did contain many useful tips and tricks for landing page optimization.
Anna Maria Virzi, Executive Editor, ClickZ
Carrie Hill, Search Engine Watch Expert & Certified Search Engine Marketing & Promotion Account Manager, Blizzard Internet Marketing
Laura Wilson, Senior Manager of Audience Development, New England Journal of Medicine
Scott Brinker, President & Chief Technology Officer, ion interactive
Tom Leung, Senior Business Product Manager, Google
In the eCommerce space, buyers will place emphasis on words that relate to their query. These should be considered trigger words throughout the landing page experience.
Beyond the keyword, make sure the Ad Text is backed up in the copy eg. if you mention ‘free shipping’ in the ad, this should definitely be highlighted on the first page the visitor sees. The ultimate goal is to let the user design their own experience (could we call this Landing Page 2.0 development?)
You can often use the landing page as a medium to upsell. You can offer something free upfront, but on the landing page provide an additional link to premium resources.
Make sure you test everything, including any registration process. What you consider intuitive often doesn’t work out, or may not be the ideal path.
A key to getting better conversions is creating more landing pages. The more focussed these become, the better will be the results.
Remember that you are attracting lots of different kinds of people. Use meaningful segmentation to find out more about the audience. Scott shows examples where the landing page is purely navigational – with only 2-3 big links that segment the audience towards relevant content. He outlines a number of reasons why 2 clicks are better than 1:
- Easy engagement – 5 secs on ad and 5 secs on first page
- Self-identification – easy for people to categorize themselves
- More focussed content when they drill down (signalling helps create a rich experience)
- Market research – find out which segments are most popular
Following on with the theme of let your users decide what is the optimum content, Tom recommends turning your website into a living lab (what he calls the democratization of web design). He goes so far as to say “the only opinions that matter are the opinions of people who visit your site”.
Another common theme is to concentrate on microconversions – ie. specifying and testing goals at every stage along a process (eg. shopping cart). Whenever you implement a new feature, make sure you don’t hurt your site (eg. the length of a registration form could negatively impact conversion rates).
There are a few basics you should consider upfront. Think whether you are building trust – does the site look legitimate? Also, is it intelligible in a few seconds? Is it simple to go through the conversion process?
Scott: when it comes to implementation, work in a sandbox first – run a small A/B test and then show the reports. Roll out across the organization in this manner.
Tom: don’t run a test shorter than 2 weeks (to eliminate weekly traffic trends) and ideally wait for at least 100 conversions through each channel (if you are segmenting the audience).