Optimize your PPC campaigns, eye paths and page copy


Our follow-up live optimization clinic on PPC campaigns drew another great response and several questions from our participants. Thanks again to all those who joined us and submitted their campaigns for review.

8-13-08-clinic-screenshot.pngYou can now access the clinic here: Optimizing PPC Ads, Part II.

Two of the questions that we touched on in the clinic, but are worth expanding on at greater length, concerned effective eye paths for landing pages, and using the word “free” in your copy.

What are the five elements that control the eye path?

Size, color, motion, shape, and position. For optimal results, ensure that your pages are designed with the most important decision elements in the most important places along the primary eye path. Use these five elements to guide visitors to the call to action, keeping in mind the typical “F-pattern” that most people use to scan web pages.

Previous research briefs that covered this topic include:

Landing Page Confusion

Optimizing Site Design

When, if ever, is “FREE” a bad word?

There’s no doubt that FREE is still a powerful word. Despite the awful reputation it’s gotten from SPAM, bait-and-switch offers, heavy overuse, and the growing skepticism of post-modern consumers, the word “free” works and will continue to work for generations.

Yes, we all know there’s a catch and “there’s no free lunch.” But when we’re shopping online, we gravitate to free shipping or delivery. With ecommerce, commodity sales, and small-ticket items, we practically expect something for free. And the word often gives a nice boost to PPC campaigns.

B2B and large-ticket items are a little different, but free offers are ubiquitous there as well. How often have you seen free price quotes, e-books, research, consultations?

That said, “free” by itself does not guarantee an improvement. You don’t just plug it into a headline, or ad and page copy, and expect results to skyrocket. The usage has to be appropriate to the context: the offer, the channel, the audience. If that’s not the case, a “free” or two, or several more, especially in all caps and/or bold, can turn people off.

Instead of making a hard and fast edict, or pointing to tests where “free” did and didn’t work, here are some questions to consider when you’re drafting your copy:

  • Would the offer and copy still be compelling without “free” — or is the “free” a crutch?
  • Will your target audience perceive the value of the product/service and offer with the freebie, or might that tarnish the perception?
  • Is the word prominent but not overbearing (bold, caps, exclamation points, every other line) in the copy and call to action?

That actually brings us to the topic of our next, ahem, free web clinic: Optimizing Your Headlines: How changing a few words can help (or hurt) conversion on August 27. Learn more and reserve your spot here.

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