Aug 3, 2016

Why Your AdWords Campaign Doesn't Work

At its most literal, a landing page is the first page that a user lands on when they hit your website.

But when we talk about a campaign landing page this is generally a self-contained page that is trying to make the visitor do something that we marketers want them to do; sign up for a newsletter, leave personal details for a return call, or buy a product.

Marketers are spending thousands of dollars a week on Google AdWords, driving people to their site with the aim of having them complete a task that meets their business goals.

Their ad spruiks an offer, but clicking on that ad takes a user to a homepage that makes no mention of the offer in question. This is a missed opportunity to fulfill the promise made in that Google ad and capture the interest to match the initial attention.

There are two main reasons why your AdWords campaign is failing:

 

 Ad and landing page mismatch

Take this plumbing ad as an example. The headline creates a strong incentive to click further. It’s time-sensitive and promises a financial discount for taking action today. The ad text creates confidence via messaging around reliability and trust (lifetime warranty, upfront pricing). 

Does this AdWords ad make you want to click through?

 

But once you click through to the website, nothing there links to the messaging in the ad. Are you sure you’re on the right site? The ad promised a discount, but there’s no mention of a discount here. You’re likely to click the back button and try to search again… probably for a different plumber this time.

This site has no mention of the offer that induced me to click on its ad

 

Every time a user clicks the back button in this way, Google sees this as a sign that your website does not correctly address that user’s search intent and your Quality Score takes a hit.

So it’s vital that you get it right. And while you may not want to change your whole homepage to match your current offer, you CAN create a landing page, that inextricably binds your ad, headline, and copy, and the special offer.

You can see whether the ad itself is working by looking in your AdWords account and measuring clicks, conversions, cost, and keyword performance. But now for the tricky part - nailing the landing page itself.

 

Your offer isn’t compelling enough

It’s vital that your special offer is inspiring enough for people to take action. Why should they sign up to your newsletter? Why should they book you for a job over a competitor? What’s special about your teapot?

Take this Basecamp’s landing page for example:

This offer differentiates Basecamp from many of its competitors as it's for two months rather than one. The 'no credit card' and clear pricing make the offer trustworthy.

This offer differentiates Basecamp from many of its competitors as it's for two months rather than one.

The 'no credit card' and clear pricing make the offer trustworthy.

Here’s another one from LeadPages:

If your offer needs explaining, then make it as punchy as possible. It might be clickbait, but it works!

 

If your offer needs explaining, then make it as punchy as possible.

But then again, as Jason Quey puts it, “Clickbait headlines are NOT the problem

So what’s the problem?

1. You over promise, but under deliver: If you make a bold promise, you better follow through on that promise

2. You play with the wrong emotions: Being in a constant state of anxiety, anticipation, disgust, [insert any emotions here] can be crippling. Headlines and copy can do that to people.

Once you know what you want the website visitor to do, you need to make it obvious, so that they’re not left in any doubt about the purpose of this page. This element is a call to action, and it’s a way of enticing the user to do something.

There are tons of posts devoted to writing the perfect call to action, but essentially, it comes down to this;

Make it short, make it clear, and make it attractive.

This landing page from Oyster for example, is both an interesting offer and a compelling CTA button. It includes that magic word… FREE

Not only is the offer interesting, but the Start for Free button includes that magic word...
 

Here’s another one from Charity Water

This very simple form balances the calls to action by not really giving the user a choice of Donate, or Don't Donate - it's Credit Card or PayPal, and the imagery, headline, and low dollar value entry point are spot on

 

This very simple form balances the calls to action by not really giving the user a choice of Donate, or Don't Donate - it's Credit Card or PayPal, and the imagery, headline, and low dollar value entry point are spot on.

A landing page is very much like a sales funnel, and as such, it needs to be as streamlined as possible.

This means getting rid of any information that isn’t relevant; links that take the user off the page (or worse, off the site); too many fields on a signup form; secondary goals that might distract someone from actually completing the primary goal (e.g. ‘Sign up for our newsletter!’ as well as a ‘Find us on Facebook’ badge); or overbearing images or fonts that make it hard to know what’s important about the page.

Here’s a BAD example:

This comScore press release is doing double duty as a landing page for a whitepaper download. It's too text heavy, and the call to action is barely visible as a light blue link

This comScore press release is doing double duty as a landing page for a whitepaper download. It's too text heavy, and the call to action is barely visible as a light blue link.

Now that you’ve got your goal, offer and call to action, have a look at the wording on your AdWords campaigns.

Aligning your headline and ad copy with what’s on your landing page will make your site visitor feel comfortable that they’ve come to the right place, and they’re more likely to trust you. And trust is vital in turning ‘browsers’ into ‘converters’.

PRO TIP: Ensure that if you’re targeting mobile devices on your AdWords campaign that your landing page is responsive. If it has a form (like a contact form), the fields need to be big and easy enough for people to type on with their phone.

Here are some of my current favourite landing page examples.

 

AirBnB

This landing page for Airbnb lets you list your house with this simple form. The real genius is in the widget that shows how much you could be making if you fill out the form

 

Why I like it:

This landing page for Airbnb lets you list your house with this simple form. The real genius is in the widget that shows how much you could be making if you fill out the form.

 

General Assembly

This shows that you can still have a lot of text around your offer, so long as the call to action stands out. The easy to read date and location details, along with the orange button, really make this page work

 

Why I like it:

This shows that you can still have a lot of text around your offer, so long as the call to action stands out. The easy to read date and location details, along with the orange button, really make this page work.

 

This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated in July 2016.

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