Five years ago, Avinash Kaushik famously described the sequence of the typical unsatisfied website visitor: “I came, I puked, I left.” There is a little less puking these days, but after clicking on an ad, far too many visitors are still squinting, yawning, shrugging their shoulders, or having trouble connecting their needs and wants with the information and offers they’re seeing on landing pages.

Below, I provide seven examples of how to tighten that connection. In today’s fickle world, average online experiences just aren’t good enough.

Before getting started, pages should be in peak form. In general, you want pages to be clear and easily absorb-able so testing and changes are not done in vain. Consider the following about your pages:

Employ basic testing

Do some user testing to ensure pages are intuitive and visitors can navigate them easily. You’re specifically looking for areas where people get confused about the next action they’re expected to take on a page.

Testing here does not need to be elaborate. Ask your mom, your best friend, hairdresser, etc., to surf the page and note where they get hung up, have questions or don’t move to the action you want them to take easily. Make appropriate changes to ensure smoother flowing pages.

Look at current click patterns

Look at your analytics for additional insight on page stumbling blocks. Tools like Clicktail and Google Analytics can provide such information.

For example, in Google Analytics, the in-page analytics report provides information on how visitors click on a page. Using this report, you can move compelling information to more prominent places on the page and/or move the information you want to highlight elsewhere on the page in an attempt to make it more compelling and/or engaging.

Tweak page layout and copy

Reduce the number of words on a page. People scan pages and, more often than not, there’s too much information on pages for people to easily absorb. I really like bullet points on pages. My preferred cocktail is 5 to 7 words in each bullet point and 3 to 5 bullet points on the page.

It’s important to consider holistically the whole package of how the user consumes information and moves onto the next stage of the purchase process. It can be a fun game to try to incorporate more than one element and hit on the optimal combination of style and compelling substance. Don’t just make your pages “pop,” make them work!

Tip #1: Reiterate Your Main Drivers

There’s nothing worse than clicking on a specific offer (20% off for Cyber Monday, for example), and seeing only the generic website with no mention of the special offer that drew you there. Pages should reiterate the original reason people were drawn to your page. Pages should also reiterate the keyword that drove people to your page.

For example, if a PPC ad drove visitors to the page, specific keyword term(s) from the ad should appear in the headline to provide good keyword scent (from ad to landing page) and boost conversions. In general, continuity is #1 in terms of lift.

Tip #2: Make A Quantifiable Claim To Downplay Risk

Someone is considering joining your “club” and spending money with you. It can help to know that others have had measurable results from doing just the same. Combining quantifiable results with the bandwagon effect can be just the reassurance that skittish prospects need.

For example:

50% of all people find jobs

2/3 of our members find everlasting love

Tip #3: Incorporate Benefits Clearly & Proudly

Benefits speak specifically to a consumer’s need and can remind the visitor of why they were interested enough to follow your ad in the first place.

Compare how Sears and Dyson Canada present information about Dyson vacuum cleaners. The Sears site downplays the product description, while the (prouder) Dyson site makes it easier to see rich product descriptions that make it crystal-clear why the vacuums are considered an elite product.

Above the add to basket button, the Dyson site states unequivocally that there’s free shipping, while the Sears site places limitations on free shipping (located in “details”) to “products under 65 lbs.” and forces users to do the math. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t mouse over “All Departments” by accident on the Sears Canada site, or the resulting navigation bar that pops up will cover up the Dyson product description you’re currently viewing!

By contrast, the Dyson site is totally in control. The user can see the product do a sophisticated little 3-D dance, in keeping with its engineering focus, high-tech image, and the company’s TV ads. Sears just looks like… Sears. It’s clear Dyson is more motivated to sell Dyson vacuums than Sears is.

Tip #4: Long Or Short Headline? Find The Best Headline

Is the length of the headline really the issue?

Below are some variations from tests we ran (I changed company name to protect the innocent). Read each over and guess which performed best. Answers are below. No cheating!

  • Headline #1: Rita’s Hanging Basket Wholesale Offers 30-60% Off Always and Free Shipping On Any Order Over $50
  • Headline #2: 30-60% Off A Wide Selection of Hanging Baskets
  • Headline #3: Trusted Online Hanging Basket Wholesaler Since 1998

Which one do you think converted best?

If you guessed that #1 converted best, you’re absolutely right. The brief headlines were trumped by important, salient information added in the most visible place on the page. It’s important not to bury compelling information on pages.

The best place for compelling information on a page is the top left hand side of the page where people start reading and where the headline is located. Don’t be afraid of headline “length” if it works, and if it helps you to reduce clutter elsewhere.

Not unrelated to this is the amount of white space that appears around the headline. In our testing, more white space worked best. The headline is less crowded by other images and words and it makes the headline pop.

Tip #5: Highlight Leads, Not Sales, For Long Cycle Items

You’re not going to get anyone to buy a fleet of jets on their company credit card right now. It’s an extreme example, but too many high-ticket products are sold using “all or none” style pages online – this only creates quick bounces.

Depending on what you’re selling, consider breaking up the sales process. Instead of asking for an online sale, provide rich information on the site, and also make it clear that for even richer information, you’ll need to provide email address. Continue the sale via email, a phone call, etc. This is particularly effective if the sale is complex or if people have a lot of questions during the buying process.

The point is, you want some kind of conversion rather than none at all. Asking them to buy on the spot often results in a considerably lower conversion rate.

Tip #6: Incorporate Urgency

Incorporate a sense of urgency into your headline to encourage people to buy now rather than later. At this time of year, Christmas specials work well. Here are some examples:

Holiday offer ends Dec. 10

Gummi bear stock is limited: order now while they last!

Tip #7: Appropriate Tone In Copy

Depending on what you’re selling, try a different tone (particularly effective in headlines) like informal, playful, etc. But be sure that the tone matches up with your vertical and target audience in general. For example, try a playful tone to sell toys to children or the parents of children. On the other hand, using a playful tone to sell an enterprise B2B solution would not be a good idea.

What are some of the tactics you’ve used to lower bounce rates on your search ad landing pages?

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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  • Amresh

    Matt you have also good knowledge, Thanks for sharing .

  • DirtyDave

    Sorta shows why Sears is doing poorly now.

  • cjvannette

    The link at the beginning of the article is broken.

  • Meagan Sutton

    Thanks for the post, Mona! Lots of great tips in here. I think it’s also important to think about how international consumers are interacting on landing pages, as it adds a whole new dimension to the process. Let’s say you’ve launched a great translated and localized PPC campaign for a new market. If you haven’t adjusted the landing page for the appropriate culture, or even translated it for the respective language, consumers will lose interest. This takes confusion about where to go next to a whole new level. Main drivers need to be reiterated by being translated, too. Since languages don’t typically translate word-for-word, copy may not just have to be tweaked, but rewritten and localized. This also goes for graphics and multimedia as they must be culturally relevant and appropriate as well.

  • Martin Wilkins

    Great information Mona. Tip # 3 in particular is an area I have been working on lately. I have found limiting my list of benefits to the top 2 or 3 for a particular audience has been very effective. This is also adding a new level of flexibility in my split testing as I can choose which benefits I decide to highlight to various demographics. This has been helpful for my landing pages overall.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mohulghosh Mohul Ghosh
  • http://www.facebook.com/mohulghosh Mohul Ghosh
  • http://twitter.com/webmona Mona Elesseily

    Good point Matt. Graphics are a great element to test. One element that has not converted well for us on landing pages are videos. They tend to distract the buyer from the main call to action on a page. We find they can work well more towards the beginning of the buy cycle to develop relationship/rapport/trust.

  • http://twitter.com/webmona Mona Elesseily

    Thank for posting the correct link Mohul!

  • http://twitter.com/webmona Mona Elesseily

    Thanks. This is one of my absolute favorite tests. You can see huge lift from changing a single benefit to one that resonates more with your target audience. For another test, try testing the same benefits in ad copy for a one two punch.

  • http://twitter.com/webmona Mona Elesseily

    Very good point Meagan! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/SeoMartin1 Seo Martin

    I had a good experience in june. I change the automatic related posts ( wordpress blog) to a personalized one ( I had to pick up 2 related posts for each article) and the bounce rate went from 58% to 36% in 2 weeks. Hope someone can use it also. Seeya

 

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