Clicks are for Show, but Conversions are for Dough

So let’s say your AdWords have done their job and brought you website visitors who are interested in your offer.

Now it’s time to convert them to Customers on your Landing Pages.

My previous post explained what conversion tracking is and how to set it all up correctly; now we’ve got to look at what your website has to do: get customers.

As good as your AdWords campaigns are, if your website does not effectively sell your stuff, you’re wasting your time and money until you fix it.

And Google will not even allow your ads to run for very long if you are in violation of any of their Terms of Service or Editorial Policies.

First Things First: Stay in Favor with the Google Compliance Police

Violation of Policies can get your site suspended or your entire AdWords account shut down – permanently.


Issues tend to arise more with lead generation sites than ecommerce, but there are still good working practices to follow for web pages that your site should always carry, particularly if you are running or intend to run Remarketing Campaigns:

– Privacy Policy
– Terms of Service
– About Us
– Contact Us

Also strongly recommended:

– Search box
– Site map
– Interactive chat

If you have an opt-in form of any kind on your landing page from an ad click, always ensure it carries a very visible link to your Privacy Policy; including it in navigation is not enough. Many advertisers use a checkbox to confirm visitor agreement.

(Note: Make sure you keep up to date with the Policy Center, which is going to be updated in September.)


No Sale

It’s pretty pointless buying clicks if your visitors don’t convert to sales.

Sometimes, even the most highly qualified visitor won’t buy your offer – and the quicker you find out, the better. Let’s run through a real client scenario and then dive into all the reasons conversions aren’t flowing as expected.

Let’s start with the client: a gentleman who had created his own multivitamin product especially for children who don’t like the taste of fish oil (who does?)

He had an endearing website pitched strongly at parents who wanted their kids to eat their vitamins, and the domain name even included his main keywords.

We bought clicks on AdWords in exact and phrase keyword match only, and were laser-targeted at his perfect buyers. As expected, volume was not huge but was highly qualified.

We also included the price in the ad headline to deter price-sensitive prospects. If anyone would buy, these visitors would.

The result?

Hardly anyone bought.

Even for precisely matched keywords to his product. And a statement of the price upfront. So…what could be going wrong?

Good Product – Wrong Offer

His traffic was a perfect match, his ad message described the product and price, his website was great – yet he hardly sold anything.

What went wrong?

He had the wrong offer.

His price was considerably higher than similar sellers in his field.

Now, those other products were quite different and of much inferior quality to his.

But clearly his target marketplace would not pay his price in sufficient quantity to make his business viable as it was.

He needed to repackage his product into a cheaper offer, just to make certain people were trying it and getting hooked (and yes, there’s an analogy with drug dealers J ).

Being a consumable (on a daily basis) meant that even if he broke even or lost money on the first sale, his repeat transactions (Customer Lifetime Value) would bring him the profit he needed over time.  

The AdWords Landing Page Experience

A good (or bad) landing page can do more than affect sales; it can affect overall campaign performance, including how much you’re paying for clicks.

Hover your mouse pointer over the Keyword status bubble to see how Google ranks your landing page experience for that Keyword/Ad Copy combination:


“Below Average” Landing page experience can affect your Quality Score, Ad Rank, what you pay for clicks (CPC), your conversion cost (CPA), your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), and overall profitability.

image007 image009

Note that page load time is also a factor both for AdWords campaigns and visitor satisfaction and responsiveness (Google Chrome has an extension to help with this.)

Google provides guidance to understand and improve your landing page experience. You’d do well to model your LPs based on their criteria.

Remember, Your Ads Are Ambassadors for Your Landing Pages

This means that you create your landing pages first, and then all your ads are written based on the landing page content.

I call that “reverse-engineering” the landing page, and it ensures you are making a promise in your ad copy which is reinforced by the page your visitors see, maximising the possibility of converting an ad click to a Customer.

As Google themselves advise, “create your ads first, then choose keywords”.


I have turned management clients down if their landing pages don’t give me sufficient material for enticing ad copy.

And there are usually many more ads you can write than you would initially imagine, since your goods and services will have many features and benefits that should all be spelled out on the landing page.

How – and Why – I Got 272 Ads from a Single Landing Page


As an exercise, I broke their home page content down into 16 unique lines of text, each no longer than 35 characters, using Notepad and Excel. All told, it took about a morning.

Then, I combined them with each other with a single headline and display url, creating 272 absolutely unique text ads (although you can only run 50 active ads at a time per Ad Group). With 4 different headlines, I would have over 1,000 different ad possibilities…

What’s the point?

This approach lets you test which features and benefits are most appealing, and then create carefully themed landing pages to reinforce what your visitor self-selected as the most important, as indicated by their CTR. This is the ad copy laboratory …

Surprisingly, Basecamp themselves don’t describe the industries and projects they have enjoyed success with – that would give them many other landing page opportunities.


So, Which Landing Page?

Since not every visitor is the same (or has come from the same keyword, ad or ad extension), you have to treat them differently – so don’t just bring them to your home page.

The only exception to this rule would be for branded or general keywords where you’re not yet sure what appeals to them most from your range of features and benefits – see the basecamp example above.

For specific products, or types of lead generation, you’ll already have keywords and ad copy grouped together by theme, supported by a landing page specifically about that theme (say, vintage car transportation as opposed to your normal family car) and with supporting proof.

In the basecamp example above, you may have ad groups with keywords, ads and a landing page themed around, say, IT project management, which would have its own landing page with supporting design elements.

For ecommerce, you would use a product-specific or category-specific page, e.g. Ford F350 truck accessories or parts.

All your landing pages should have as much clarity as possible, with all distractions eliminated.

Back to the Offer: “What’ve Ya Got, Kid?”

AdWords is a game – of identity and numbers.

Your Offer should make your Customer recognise themselves and think:

-That’s Me
-That’s For Me
-I Want That
-What do I do Next?

I’m going to break this down into “9 P’s” and describe each in more detail:





As much as you want to attract the ideal Customer, you want to disqualify those who you are not the right choice for. That could be a price-related issue among others.

Every business and website owner is busy regaling everyone with how they’ve got the perfect thing for them, no matter who they are and what they might actually need.

But, to truly get the attention of the right Customer, you should state their PROBLEM.

By doing so, you demonstrate that you know what their problem is and how well you relate to it, and you imply that you could solve it (or even already have).

For example:

-“Why Doesn’t AdWords Work?”
-“Hate Your AdWords Bill?”
-“Confused by AdWords?”
-“Left Behind by AdWords?”
-“Spend More on AdWords”
-“Spend Less on AdWords”
-“Wasting Money on AdWords?”




Who is your perfect Customer?
As Stephen King puts it in his memoir “On Writing” – who is your one Ideal Reader?
For example, someone who has:

-An ecommerce business
-A lead generation business
-Tried AdWords and given up
-Managed their own campaigns
-Managed other people’s campaigns
-Used a management agency and had a BAD result
-Never tried AdWords but heard BAD things about it
-Never tried AdWords but heard GOOD things about it
-Used a management agency and had a GOOD result
-Tried AdWords, then tried an agency, and still given up
-Runs campaigns but has no idea if they are value for money
-Runs campaigns successfully and wants to expand them safely
-Runs campaigns with their own in-house manager, but still can’t keep track of it and needs support

  Because every business is unique, the solution for one customer (e.g. Cost per Acquisition at $10.00, or a ROAS of 6.0) could drive another one bankrupt. Or several of your services, not just one (or vice-versa).




What pain are they feeling? How does that actually exist for them?

For example:

-Not getting any or enough phone calls
-Not getting any or enough store visitors
-Spending money with no demonstrable benefit
-Annoyed by people who claim it works for them
-Know they need help but don’t know where to get it
-Feeling blackmailed by Google into paying bills they can’t justify
-Frustration at seeing their competitors ads but unable to run their own
-Advertising great products or services but not getting any or enough sales -Losing their management clients because they can’t prove their value to them




What would be the prize they would achieve when their pain is gone? What does it look and feel like?

For example: Many AdWords managers focus on a range of metrics they think are important, like:

-A low daily Budget
-High Quality Scores
-High Click Through rates
-Large volumes of Impressions
-Quantities of visitors via Clicks
-Quantities of leads or subscribers
-and others …

I’m a bit more down to earth.

I only obsess about Value for Money to the Advertiser.I recommend you do too!

How to earn more than you spend.

In other words, profitability.

That’s completely subjective and two businesses selling identical products and bidding on the same keywords can have completely different results. One profits, the other goes bust.

Which is why the only good AdWords manager or Agency is motivated by the advertiser profitability, rather than what they get paid in fixed fees every month, whether the advertiser profits or not.

Since profit is subjective, part of my work is about defining and agreeing what that actually is for the individual client.

For your customers, maybe it’s features and benefits like:

-In stock now
-Free shipping
-The best price
-Secure ordering
-Lifetime support
-Customer service
-The best specification
-Ongoing maintenance
-A trusted brand, make or model
-A certain percentage or dollar value of discount and/or saving




How can you and (more importantly) other Customers demonstrate that you have solved their problem, taken away their pain, and achieved their prize?

You can use data, numbers, percentages, facts and figures, images, screen shots, graphs, tours, videos, case studies, and so on. The more the better …

And of course becoming more important all the time is “social proof” like testimonials, success stories, shares, likes, ratings, reviews, and so on.

Even better if your existing customers can quantify the value of your product or service to them in terms of time and/or money they saved or made.

This proof could make you look unique in the eyes of your potential customer, and that’s the ideal place to be. Wherever possible, compare your own features and benefits to those of others to try and find your uniqueness.

It can also completely destroy any objections people may have, maybe even upsell them from their original budget.




Every Customer’s business is unique – what promise can you make to them that your solution is going to work for them?

Your offer should come with some form of risk reversal:

-A Guarantee
-A Free Trial
-Free returns
-Money back

A good model to follow where possible is:

-If …
-Then …

For example:

-If you qualify for our free trial
-Then I guarantee your campaigns will be profitable
-Else you will pay me absolutely nothing


-If you buy our product and need help installing it or using it
-We will give you full technical support for as long as it takes to make it work
-Else you can return it in its original packaging for a full refund within 30 days



Now we get serious – how much does this cost, is it worth it, will your customer get back more in value than what they spend?

Price is completely elastic; what’s expensive to some customers is a bargain to others.

And what looks cheap to some customers may put them off buying; they actually want to spend more and get higher quality or a premium product.

You can include bonuses with a real value as part of your offer.

Be completely transparent about pricing, and state everything that’s included or excluded right at the beginning, or you’ll lose some buyers as they start to go through your funnel.

With services, try to offer a range of plans with different features, prices, and upgrades so customers can self select what’s of most value to them. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and always try to increase your prices over time.

If you’re in a commodity marketplace where price is the main decision factor, try to avoid discounts; give extra value in other areas like buyers guides, feature comparisons, customer service, loyalty programs, etc.




How does your offer actually work? What will you do? What will your Customer have to do? What are the expectations and actions involved?

If your offer is acceptable, we’re now getting into your supply chain (or sales process, sales funnel, etc.)

Between each step of the sales process is another conversion, so we want to keep it as short as possible to avoid the risk of abandonment.

Complete transparency is best by summarising all the steps between accepting the offer and receiving the PRIZE you have promised. A visual representation of how many steps there are, and what you’ve completed, is becoming common.

If your sales process is too long and complicated for customers to go through, you need to know so you can experiment with it and try to shorten it.

A good exercise is to go through your own sales process yourself, and there are a range of user testing services these days.

Google Analytics is a good way to visually follow customers through your funnel, see where they go, and where they leave.

For ecommerce, it’s pretty straightforward:

-Visitor arrives
-Likes offer

-Adds to basket
-Checks out
-Money changes hands

They may also:

-Call you for help
-Do a site search
-View another offer
-Interact via a chat box
-Order over the phone (you can use offline conversion import to recover the sales data, and there are a range of third party call tracking services as well as the free AdWords Call Extensions)

Your sales process may be much more complicated and time-consuming for lead generation, unless you are just selling the leads for 3rd-party fulfillment (the biggest challenge here is always quality control).

You only have a maximum of 90 days with AdWords conversion tracking.

So it’s critical to be able to measure the conversion rate (and commensurate loss of the final sale) between each step of the process (the following is for illustration only and is not intended to be comprehensive):

-The email opt-in or form completion
-The follow-up sequence e.g.

 -Entry into CRM
-Information or trial download
-Education process e.g. webinar, video
-Follow-up call
-Site or store visit, possibly by appointment
-Consultation, free or paid
-Seminar or training, solo or group, free or paid
-Thank you pages

-Where money changes hands

 -Subscription or membership
-Contracts exchanged
-Thank you pages

image015 provides awesome thank-you pages as part of a lead gen process

Phone calls, site searches and chat boxes are all a treasure trove of customer feedback.

Make sure you are compiling a knowledge base out of all that useful info and publishing it to a self-service area of your business, like an FAQ page (or on the offer page itself) or an interactive voice menu on your phone system.

Most businesses I consult with don’t do this.

I have set up and run a corporate technical support centre looking after hundreds of staff, and my objective was to reduce the number of calls, not simply throw more resources at it.

You don’t want to waste manpower, time, and money answering the same old questions over and over – it’s ridiculous, right? Make it self-service!




What is your Call to Action? What does your Customer have to do next? What should they expect after that?


Make sure that there’s absolutely no cause for doubt in what your customer has to do next (thanks

If your offer has legitimate scarcity (like membership or subscription size, support requirements, etc.) then make sure that’s clearly shown. But don’t try and fake it; that would be obvious and untrustworthy …

Use any and all of the following as appropriate:


Forms are often advocated to be as short as possible, even down to just email address alone.

But the correct answer is always to test, and longer forms can be better, again to disqualify all but your best possible customer.



-“Don’t Make Me Think” – Steve Krug
-“Web design for ROI” – Lance Loveday



image019“Profit-Driven AdWords Marketing – Why There’s No More Excuses”

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UK-based David Rothwell has worked as an independent AdWords consultant since 2003. He’s a renowned expert on the AdWords Conversion Optimizer and, in 2012, introduced free AdWords management, working with clients on a commission-only basis.