Ultimate Landing Page Master Post

There is SO much good stuff in here it’s like, making me freak out.

Get your butt over to ConversionXL and read The Landing Page Optimization Guide You Wish You’ve Always Had

This post is a treasure trove of tools, guidelines, and further reading that we could probably mine for ideas for a long time to come. (And I’m not just saying that because it was written by former rad coworker & all around cool guy Tommy Walker.)

Each one of us involved in the internet marketing cycle has something to gain out of this. Advertising, content creation, images & design, linking. We’re all part of like, an ecosystem, man. Or maybe it’s more like a nuclear sub crew.

Reading through it I immediately came up with questions for my crew to answer based on every section of the guide:

  • Are we speaking to our target market? – do we even know who that is?
  • Do our analytics tell us the answers to questions or is it a data pile? How can we improve that?
  • Are our off site efforts (banners, copy, &c) in sync with our landing pages?
  • Are we using our “first impression” moments wisely on our landing pages?
  • Do we have a consistent emotional tone or are we leveraging stereotypes at the expense of a cohesive mood? (God there’s some existential stuff, eh?)
  • Going back to value prop – are we conveying what we have to offer clearly, quickly, and effectively?
  • Do our images work with our messaging goals or is it visual noise?
    • If we’re using images of people, does their gaze and expression work with our tone and point people in the right direction?
  • Could we benefit from video? Sure we could! But video is often put off as to hard to do. We should create a small bucket of achievable goals and set ourselves some deadlines around getting those goals met. (P.S. take a break and watch the dollar shave club ad if you haven’t yet. it’s comedy gold.)
  • Social proof is something every company does to an extent via testimonials. We can do better.
    • Are we listening to social channels for good & bad press?
    • Are we missing out on opportunities to show off support from highly respected sources?
    • Do we have testimonials that we can use to really highlight specific benefits of our services?
  • Does our copy get the job done, or really compel our visitors to act? How can we de-frump our language to get people super fired up?
  • Do our CTAs get right to the point? Do they clearly communicate that yes, this is the next step in getting the desired result?
  • And of course: Always Be Testing! Big or small, we should be testing it all. Got an idea? WE CAN TEST IT! WHOO. From copy to images to headlines to full page do-overs, if we can dream it, we can test it. Testing is good for us. It keeps the site fresh, and limber, and it keeps our game from getting stale.

I really hope people get as excited as I am about this guide. I mean, maybe I’ve just had WAY too much caffeine and not enough sleep, but broken down like this it really seems achievable, sensible, and like a no-brainer to really chase down plans for more effective pages.

Hey Plain Theory, Thanks For Rainy Mood!

Plain Theory – AdWords / PPC Management.

So, I’ve been using a combination of RainyMood.com and the Final Fantasy IX soundtrack to make my days a little more enjoyable. The rain sound, with occasional gently rolling thunder is fantastic for blocking out chatty coworkers and – as it turns out – construction noises. I personally find it mixes with the lightly chiptune-ified FF9 soundtrack really nicely. However if that isn’t your thing, you can scroll down and see suggestions for rain/music pairing from their twitter feed.

Today I decided to check out who made Rainy Mood. Lo and behold they’re a PPC firm! No wonder they found the perfect background sound for me. 🙂

Enormous Photo-Driven Ads in Organic Search? Ew.

(Featured image from @ChrisDesrochers on Twitter.)

Yeah you heard me.
http://mashable.com/2013/10/23/google-banner-ads/

Also to a lesser extent: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2013/06/new-image-extensions-enable-you-to-show.html

As an HMFWIC of pay per click within some highly competitive markets, you’d think I’d be thrilled about this. You would be mistaken.

The screen shot shared by Mashable shows an enormous ad that takes up the entire top of the page. While the search in the example is clearly a branded search for southwest airlines and therefore it only makes sense to give them top billing, there are some definite issues.

  • The user is prompted very strongly to select the paid option.
  • The advertiser is paying for the click on a branded search that they are already naturally number 1 for.

This type of advertising puts paid options on very uneven footing with organic results, and with one another.

Paid efforts from those with deeper pockets or a bigger taste for risk could quickly outweigh those with fewer resources on less clear-cut searches by dominating the top of the entire SERP.

Moreover, it psychologically devalues the organic results by shoving them out of the way. We have trained ourselves around the idea that “first is best” when it comes to search results. The evidence around the benefits for being  top billed in Google results  is one of the main reasons SEO even exists.

If the first – and only, depending on viewport size – thing we see upon performing a search is a significantly large paid effort, that suggests that either the search results themselves are unreliable due to marketing manipulation (Cynic’s Disgust), or that everything else isn’t important compared to this heavily emphasized item (a slightly more natural reaction to emphasis from a reliable source).

It creates a larger divide between paid and organic results also by erasing any subtlety currently afforded to paid results by way of their similar-to-organic structure and light background offset. If this were to become a bigger part of paid search, it could well lead to a war of escalation in terms of who can have the largest, flashiest, most “appealing” ad to attempt to drive clicks in the only meaningful place on the page.

Imagine this scenario with a less clearly branded term, or a branded term with less blunt intent to search for the brand.

Perhaps “Mercedes Benz” versus “Mercedes Benz cars”.

Query for "Mercedes Benz"
Query for “Mercedes Benz”

Either query could be purely about the brand.

Query for "mercedes benz cars"
Query for “mercedes benz cars”

Either query could center around an intent to purchase. If a massive brand ad were to dominate the top portion of the SERP, none of the 7 other business advertised or displayed as results would have a shot at first click at all. They are simply out of the running for first-glance choice; forced below the fold by the paid brand effort.

For a purchase-based query like “lease mercedes benz”, Mercedes gets the #1 organic spot as well as the #1 paid spot at the moment. If that top-of-page branded ad dominated this query it could push out all dealerships where their product COULD actually be leased. Although there is already a surprising dearth of dealership presence (ads or otherwise) for this query at the moment.

Query for "lease mercedes benz"
Query for “lease mercedes benz”

The query “purchase mercedes benz” is still heavily in line with the brand, but it has much stronger intent toward an action that probably involves people other than the brand itself. Imagine the search below… but dominated by a large branded effort from Mercedes themselves. How off-putting would that be?

Query for "purchase mercedes benz"
Query for “purchase mercedes benz”

Of course at the end of the day this was just one of many, many tests that Adwords performs, and may not ever make it past a blip on the radar.

I just hope that’s the case, because I can’t see dominating the search results as shown in that southwest airlines example from the Mashable article as a positive change for advertisers or searchers.

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