Today’s post is by Dave Bird, CEO of Clickthroo.
Paid traffic is becoming expensive. Very expensive.
According to eMarketer, approximately $42 billion will be spent on digital advertising in the U.S. alone through 2013, and as this figure grows, so do the inevitable questions around return on investment (ROI).
eBay recently released a highly debatable research article proclaiming that PPC advertising on brand keywords resulted in negative levels of ROI. Somewhat inevitably, this has sparked a heated response from many PPC experts defending the merits of PPC advertising, and in turn eviscerating the quality of eBay’s PPC campaign deployment.
The upshot is that for a paid-traffic campaign to be successful, campaign managers (including those managing the eBay account) should be utilizing every method available to them to squeeze every last drop of performance out of their campaigns.
So, what are these methods? How do you ensure that every cent you spend on digital advertising produces the maximum amount of ROI? Well, many of these have already been covered throughout this blog, so I would like to focus on the single element that I believe to be often-forgotten, but also the single most effective way of increasing conversion rates (and for you PPC guys, boosting your quality score to boot). That element is landing page segmentation.
Let me repeat that to make myself very clear:
“Landing page segmentation is the single most effective way of increasing your conversion rates and increasing your PPC quality score.”
So, what is landing page segmentation, and how do you do it?
Traffic segmentation involves splitting your traffic on the basis of known visitor demographics/metrics and then serving each of these traffic ‘segments’ a different version of your landing page based on the information you have regarding who they are and what they are looking for.
Personalizing any landing page is a marriage of strategy and thoughtful design, understanding what motivates a visitor in order to present an immediate, clear message that relates with absolute precision to their needs.
It isn’t enough to go blindly hurling rocks at a crowd of potential customers, hoping to hit maybe a couple of them who might then at least be interested in what you’ve got to say – that kind of mass communication just won’t work anymore. (Oh, and nobody’s going to want to listen to you after you’ve just hit them in the face with a rock!)
Like anything intended for a specific recipient, a targeted landing page is far more effective when it engages an individual with the right message. The effect is much more welcomed, and above all else it can dramatically improve your conversion rates.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine a potential customer submits a Google search query for the keyword ‘dachshund insurance’. Dachshunds are prone to back problems, so they have very specific insurance requirements. Now imagine that the searcher is taken to the following example landing page:
You can see that, although the page vaguely matches the need of the searcher, there is a prevailing inconsistency between the search query used and the message on the landing page.
Now imagine the searcher is taken to the following landing page example:
It is clear that the landing page completely matches the search query, and fulfills the need of the searcher.
In short, if you were looking for dachshund insurance, which landing page would be more likely to engage with?
Now consider the relevancy for quality score purposes – it goes without saying that the ‘dachshund insurance’ page is far more likely to attract a higher quality score for the keyword, resulting in a potentially large saving in click costs (pet insurance keywords are very expensive).
As an aside, a Google search for ‘dachshund insurance’ at the time of writing produced 6 ads with generic pet insurance landing pages, and 4 ads with generic dog insurance landing pages without a sausage dog in sight!
Divide And Conquer
Segmenting traffic that arrives at your landing page might appear superfluous, but it can actually help cater to your many visitors. With a separate landing page based on combinations of the visitors’ traffic source, keyword, visitor location, browser, operating system, device, ad creative, or any demographic metric, you can better direct a particular group of people to a more effective version of that page pertaining to their needs – matching the right messages with the right persons – and increase your chances of conversion.
Essentially this is a broad form of personalization based on any number of factors, funneling your traffic into sub-groups, each with their own unique set of criteria.
Here are a few examples of how traffic segmentation can help in serving the most effective content.
– Browsing Device – Not everyone uses a computer to access the web. Segmenting traffic between smartphones, tablets, and computers means each visitor lands on a page that has been optimized to better suit their device. From a practical standpoint, this ensures images and bodies of text are configured to look exactly as they should, and prevents a visitor from leaving immediately should the page look disproportionate or too basic. From a strategic standpoint, you can tailor content that appeals to the visitor based on the knowledge of their preference of browsing device.
– Traffic Referral – Some folks will arrive at your site with a vague idea of what they are looking for, whilst others will know immediately what they want. This typically depends on where they have come from, whether it be an advertisement banner or an explicit keyword search…and even these break down into head terms (buy a car) and more specific terms (buy a 2010 Toyota Corolla).
From a practical standpoint, separating traffic in this manner allows you to finitely target. From a strategic standpoint, you can easily gauge a visitor’s commercial intent and pitch your product/service accordingly.
– Time of Day – If you have the data to suggest what products/services convert better at certain times of the day, you can tailor a landing page to promote different offers depending on what time the visitor arrives. From a practical standpoint, this means you’re not wasting time and precious resources on any ineffective versions of your landing page. From a strategic standpoint, your chances of conversion will be much higher.
Whilst segmenting traffic can help deliver your message to your target market, you cannot escape the fact that you can never have two identical visitors and the experience falls short of being truly ‘personalized’.
Dynamic Personalization – A More Customized Touch
Dynamic Personalization takes into account the specifics of each individual visitor – their name, location, and needs/intentions to purchase, etc. – and customizes with every pageview. Where traffic segmentation matches the right messages with the right persons, dynamic personalization renders the focus of your message down to the interest of a single individual.
In a nutshell, personalizing your landing page to this extent leads to better results. But how exactly does it work?
If you’ve ever received emails from retailers, specifying products/services or content you may be interested in based on your previous behavior – browsing history, products you’ve viewed and perhaps placed in your shopping cart – then you will be somewhat familiar with dynamic personalization.
With this kind of data at your disposal, each landing page can be configured to appear ‘tailored’ to suit the visitor’s needs in any number of ways in order to help increase your conversion rate.
– The visitor’s name, location and needs/intention to purchase may be displayed in the headline: Often the first thing a visitor sees, it will not only inform them that they are in the correct place and prevent them from leaving, but also establish a connection between their needs and your brand.
– The content may include any number of dynamic keywords pertaining to the interests of the visitor: This kind of tailored ‘sales pitch’ can better resonate with the visitor, affirming their confidence in what you have to offer and encourage them to complete conversion.
– The imagery/color may be altered depending on the visitor’s age or gender: This is crucial when putting your promotion into a context that is relevant to the visitor’s unique lifestyle.
– Recommendations: Recommending certain products/services depending on a visitor’s previous behavior can save you a lot of guesswork. It also means that content on your landing page appears ‘on-trend’ with the needs of the individual.
In summary, landing page optimization should go much further than buying traffic to a single landing page. Traffic should be segmented based on the key visitor metrics, and then landing page segments created and targeted accordingly.
This can lead to huge upturns in conversion rate and relevancy (great for quality score in the case of PPC campaigns) and can be the difference between the eventual success or failure of your online ad spend.
– Dave Bird is the CEO of Clickthroo, a landing page marketing solution that allows marketers to easily build self-optimizing landing pages and then show personalized content to each landing page visitor based on who they are and what they are looking for. The platform is primarily used by advertisers, agencies, and affiliate marketers. Follow them @clickthroo.