There are many ways in which PPC accounts can go astray. For example, wrong keywords, incorrect bidding, bad landing pages, etc… I think you get the picture. An often overlooked pitfall relates to basic marketing strategy/messaging. If basic marketing principles are overlooked, PPC goodness tends to fall off the rails.

In this article, I’ll cover some of the marketing-related ways that companies can go astray. In our experience, we’ve found that 90% of our clients (large and small) benefit from such information.

Boldly State Your Value Propositions And/Or Unique Selling Propositions

A big mistake is not focusing on value propositions (VPs) and/or unique selling propositions (USPs). Many companies assume their visitors know what they are all about. This is one of the biggest mistakes of all time.

It’s absolutely imperative that you explicitly state why people should buy from your company. Take a look at the Zappos example below. Even Zappos, which is very well known for their free shipping and return policy, states it a few times on their page.

Zappos screen shot

Ideally, the information you highlight should have at least one USP that resonates with your audience. Combinations like two value props and one USP are fine, but be sure to not include too many.

Look at the musicnotes.com example below. They have 250K sheet music arrangements (USP) that are available instantly. In the example below, they repeat it over and over in different places on the site/using different wording.

musicnotes

In our experience, there are two specific places on a site to include messaging, value propositions or USPs. In our testing, including the info in these places increases overall conversions. They are:

  1. Top banner. In the Zappos example above, it’s the messaging above the header
  2. Below the header — in between the Zappos logo and the cart

Take a look at the Zappos example above for more info.

A good place to start is to look for inconsistent messaging on your site. If you have inconsistent messaging, people will question how trustworthy you are as a company (especially people newly engaging with your brand).

It only takes a few seconds for them to question your company and bail, so don’t let inconsistent messaging lose your company sales.

Are You Being Specific Enough?

Inevitably, this one always comes up in every site clinic that I’ve done. Vague statements don’t say much and do very little for your company. The words take up space instead of saying something concrete (think USP and/or VP) about your product or service. Here are some examples:

  • Illuminating opportunities (site headline)
  • Get with the times (extra wording on site)
  • [XYZ Company] is a leading company in the tech space (site copy)

So the question is: can you get more specific? Spell out the “fluffy” words and speak specifically to the needs of your potential customers. Let’s take a look at an example from the lighthouselabs.com web site. The company runs intensive classes and teaches students to code in 8 weeks.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 4.29.59 PM

Look at the “learn to code in 8 weeks” on top of the hero image. It’s a pretty vague statement. So, how can lighthouselabs.com get more specific? Here are some questions they could ask in order to dig deeper:

  • What specifically will they teach?
  • What kind of code will they teach?
  • How will they teach? Labs? Theory? Project based work?

If they want to pull off a super rock star move, how can lighthouselabs.com tie what they offer to one or more of their unique selling propositions?

Here are some examples:

  • Learn to code in 8 weeks in Vancouver, BC (for prospects who are drawn to BC)
  • Learn to code in 8 weeks with top-notch teachers (teacher quality can be an issue)

Lighthouselabs.com would be able to come up with the best examples, as they would best understand why people buy from them. For additional customer insight, I like to talk to salespeople at companies. They know a lot about customers’ likes/dislikes and customer wants/desires.

Split test a few options and choose the one that converts best for your company.

Simplify Wording & Copy

Too many words often get lost on a page. People don’t think about chopping down text to make it more readable and absorbable. There are obviously many ways in which you can go about doing this. For longer copy, here are some general rules:

  • Use short sentences
  • Use bullet points
  • Never have a paragraph longer than 3-4 lines of text

Make it a habit of reducing the number of words you use in marketing copy. Not only will you make your message clearer by reducing the clutter of extra words but you’ll create additional white space that will make the text easier to read.

I love this page as it’s clean, simple and to the point:

buyfolio

On this page, I really like the use of bullet points to make points concisely. They also pop against the white on a page. Furthermore, the specific bullets focus on the company’s specific USPs.

Final Thoughts

Though there are plenty of things that can attract your attention in your PPC campaigns, be sure you’re not forgetting the marketing essentials. These three simple changes can mean big bucks in your PPC accounts.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column

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About The Author: was recently voted the 2013 Most influential SEM. She is the Vice President of Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media where she focuses on search engine marketing strategy, landing page optimization (LPO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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