If you have dedicated landing pages for your PPC traffic, you’re among the more sophisticated tier of marketers. According to Bryan Eisenberg, companies spend $92 driving traffic to their sites and only $1 converting it.

Ouch.

But not you, right?

You understand the one-two punch of getting the right people to click on an ad, then convincing them to take action on the landing page. You work tirelessly to make sure the ad matches the search query, and that the landing page delivers on the promise made in the ad. Your landing pages follow all the best practices, and you A/B test new ideas.

But sometimes that’s just not good enough. What do you do then?

 

Let’s see why that doesn’t always work.

Imagine you want to start a college savings plan for your child. You click on this ad:

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And come to this landing page:

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A quick check against best practices reveals that the page isn’t bad:

-Relevant to the search query? Yes

-Matches the ad? Yes

-One clear call to action? Yes (and it’s free – even better!)

-Free of clutter and distractions? Yes

Unique value proposition? Yes

-Social proof? Yes: “Join the millions of families…”

But what if you want a little more information about Upromise and this program before signing up?

You’re not going to find it on this landing page.

Sometimes this poses a problem, depending on what you’re buying and which buying mode you’re currently in:

The Four Buyer Types

Depending on personality and the product or service we’re shopping for, we make decisions either fast or slow, and based on either logic or emotion.

We fall into one of these quadrants as we browse online:

4 buyer types

Let’s re-examine the landing page for each of these buying types:

-Competitive: there’s a nice, brief overview of what the program is about. Good

-Spontaneous: there’s a concise explanation of why you should join. Good

-Methodical: uh oh, there aren’t many details explaining how the process works. Bad

-Humanistic: hmm, other than “millions of families,” there aren’t examples of real people who have benefited from this program. And we can see that the program is offered through Sallie Mae, so we know that, unfortunately, the page won’t feature any employees. But this is something that humanistic buyers like to see: they want to know who the people are behind the business, as well as other people (like them) who have been helped. Bad

Does this mean you should add elements to the page that appeal to the Methodical and Humanistic buyer types?

Sometimes yes, but not always.

 

What about adding navigation?

This allows people to click to your main website and find the supporting information they want. That should solve it, right?

Let’s look at another example to gauge the effectiveness of that strategy. Here’s another ad you see when you search for “college savings plans”:

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It takes you to this page (gasp!):

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Admittedly, there’s a lot wrong with this page. But for just a minute, let’s look past:

-The clutter

-Lack of unique value proposition

-AdSense ads

-Competing calls to action

-Obvious stock photography

-Overall failure to follow landing page best practices

Let’s just focus on their top-level navigation for now.

Remember, you searched for college savings plans, clicked on a relevant ad, and landed on a page that, once you sifted through the clutter, provided information about college savings plans.

But before you complete this call to action:

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…let’s say you want to find out more about this company to see if they’re legit and whether they can help you.

So you look at the top-level navigation to decide where to go next.

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You’re no longer in the world of college savings plans; you’re now given choices about mortgages, bank rates, credit cards, insurance, auto, and more. This company offers a lot of other services, but they’re not relevant to your needs right now. And you might start to wonder whether they’re really any good at college savings plans, or if that’s just another service they tacked on.

Letting visitors click through to the main website can overwhelm them, reduce relevancy, and cause them to doubt credibility. All of which lowers conversion rates.

 

What do you do when a single landing page doesn’t provide enough information, and your main website has too much?

Here are two more landing pages from ads about college savings plans:

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This isn’t exactly a microsite, but it does a lot of things right:

-It provides more information than a single landing page, which is important for a complex service like this

-The quick-decision makers, the competitive and spontaneous buyers, can skim the information above the fold then go straight to the call to action on the right

-The slow-decision makers, the methodical and humanistic buyers, can scroll down and click around to find the information they need

-Notice how the links in the very top level navigation open in a new window. That’s nice. When the humanistic buyer, for example, clicks on “About Voya,” she won’t get lost on their main website because she’ll always have the college savings window open

To be a true microsite, however, every page on the site would only cover information on college savings. Their “homepage” would be about college savings. They wouldn’t link to other products and services.

Here’s another example of a site that comes close:

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Granted, the call to action, “For more information, call…” is too small and subtle (did you even notice it below the picture and above the tabs?), but the overall feeling is that this company specializes in college savings plans. In reality, they provide a variety of financial services, but you wouldn’t know it from clicking around here.

This is good.

If you’re looking for a company that helps with college savings plans, you want them to really know college savings plans. You want them to specialize in that. What you don’t want, is to wonder whether that’s just one more service they tacked on to their long list of services, none of which they’re actually any good at, because they’re spread so thin. Or worse, that they outsource it.

 

When You Need a Microsite

Microsites aren’t the right solution for every industry. There’s never a single solution that is, which is why we test. But if you find that a single landing page doesn’t give your users enough information, and your main website provides too much, try sending them to a microsite focused around a single service or theme.

This can be the perfect way to give your users enough information to make a decision, while remaining highly relevant to their specific needs and appearing as if you specialize in exactly what they’re looking for.

This can give you a real edge over your competitors if you do it right. Notice how my two examples still didn’t nail it. And remember that most of your competitors are still spending $92 acquiring traffic and only $1 converting it. So if you not only allocate more budget to conversion, but also go beyond single landing pages and give your users awesome landing experiences, you’ll be light years ahead of your competitors.

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Theresa Baiocco is the Founder of Conversion Max, which helps mid-sized businesses increase their online revenues with Conversion Optimization. She has a Master's Degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado in Denver, a Master Certification in Conversion Optimization from Market Motive, and she's a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. She's also a dog-lover and a travel junkie.