Tuning Up Your Landing Pages In An Economic Downturn
By now you have read half a dozen articles on how to recession-proof your PPC campaigns. You’ve added negative keywords, revisited your ad text, and increased budgets to capitalize in areas others have pulled out. You’ve gone back to building out long-tail keyword lists to seize some outlying traffic and perhaps you have even pushed […]
By now you have read half a dozen articles on how to recession-proof your PPC campaigns. You’ve added negative keywords, revisited your ad text, and increased budgets to capitalize in areas others have pulled out. You’ve gone back to building out long-tail keyword lists to seize some outlying traffic and perhaps you have even pushed content in an attempt to capture cheaper traffic. You’ve done it all, and for some of you…it simply hasn’t been enough. Now what? At a time where the value of visitors is so crucial, I suggest focusing on the place where you are most likely to lose them: your campaign’s landing page(s).
Every good marketer knows the basics of a good landing page, and when it comes time to optimize, its understood that incremental, well-tested moves are the best approach. However, the economic downturn has changed many of our user behaviors. We are seeing an increase in traffic across multiple industries, as more people search for services, sites, articles, and basically-any resource that can help them survive the current economical situation more efficiently.
There has never been a better time to optimize your landing pages and tweak them for success. Not only should you re-evaluate those best practices you’ve applied in the past, but also you must be willing to throw away the old rulebook. Here are just a few examples where this could be useful.
Be bold. Often marketers are taught to make smaller, incremental changes to landing pages to offset any cannibalization that may occur to their repeat user base. Although this type of optimization may have worked in a time when user patterns were a bit more stable, it’s worth considering a larger redesign rollout. Be willing to try enlarging the call to action, shifting it to an “in-your-face” location, and ask yourself if your landing page is really as eye-catching as it needs to be for an easily distracted audience. Now is not the time to be fighting over what shade of blue a button’s shadow should be. Now is the time to revisit your landing page and ask yourself: “is there anyway we can make this pop?”
Add options. The current economy has a lot of user’s searching for a variety of needs. A general rule of thumb for marketers right now is to remember their audience is searching for more information rather then making decisive purchases or commitments. For some of you this means creating separate landing pages all together and shifting your resource content over to them, allowing you to redirect traffic accordingly, but for others this may mean moving up the secondary intention of your site to a place where more visitors can recognize it. In general, marketers need to re-work their landing pages for a more info-seeking audience.
Eye-spy on competitors. Traditionally PPC marketers are aware of their competition but know better then to focus too much energy on their actions. Mainly because we can’t be sure it’s working for them or on what level it’s converting. With that said, now is the time to be researching your vertical and its players more closely-if only to help maintain an updated pulse on your user’s demands. Keep a closer eye on what new site functions your competitors are releasing, and what shifts in content you are seeing, and ask yourself, “What user need are they answering?” Then make sure your landing pages are relevantly addressing those needs.
Now that you are all riled up to throw away the old rulebook forever… I would like you to go pick it back up again. When it comes to fine-tuning your landing pages during the recession there are some best practices that are even more important then ever before.
Test, test, test. Especially as you make bigger and bolder changes to a landing page, or invite new ones into your site dynamic altogether, it’s crucial to have the testing in place. Stick to the basics with your testing strategy. Know your pre-optimization stats, implement the change, allow enough time for statistically relevant data to collect, and then examine the results closely. Bold changes do not equate to frivolous changes, instead focus more time, then before, on testing out the optimization techniques as they roll to the live server.
Don’t panic. Good PPC marketers know this mantra well. No matter what post-test results come back, or what user changes you experience as the recession continues-keep a cool head. Spending patterns are changing, budgets are shifting, and this is only Q1. When evaluating a landing page’s performance marketers need to embrace the creative side of SEM while remaining true to the quantitative element. If you keep calm when rolling out changes and collecting data, you will be in the right mind to make the needed adjustments.
Over the next year we will continue to see many changes to online spending and marketing tactics, and the best PPC marketers will be the ones that are willing to change it up. Traditionally, marketers would rather adjust a dozen other campaign variables then go messing around with landing pages, but now is the time to devote your energies to making sure every visitor you pay for returns the favor. Landing page optimization is such a key component in any successful PPC campaign, and fine-tuning them may just be your best move in surviving the economic downturn.
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