PPC Q&A: forms, landing pages, keyword insertion and copy

At our July 29 web clinic on optimizing PPC campaigns, several participants wanted to know more about using forms and keyword insertion.

We distilled the questions and put them to Corey Trent, our lead research analyst on this clinic.

Q: Which is better: product description and fill-out form on the landing page or promotion on landing page and fill-out form on next page?  Is it important to have a form directly on the landing page?

In most cases, having both the description and form on the landing page is the best approach. When you start adding steps or clicks to the process, a couple of things can happen:

  1. When a visitor has to click through to another page, the amount of friction increases. People are always mentally evaluating if the effort is going to be worth the payoff. When more pages and steps are involved, that adds more weight to it not being worth their time to continue.
  2. When a form is on a standalone page, detached from the description, people can lose sight of the key product benefits, features and the value proposition that were outlined on page one. It’s better to reinforce your offer to help prospects overcome the anxiety of providing their information.

Q: Where is the best place to put the request form?

The best place to put a request form is where you have already built the case that what the user is getting is not only worth it, but a steal compared to the information they are going to give up.

As for where that form actually resides on your specific page — that’s an element you need to test. Whether it’s in a sidebar on the left or right of the page, or in the main content column, or “above the fold” on the page, or below several long copy blocks, there is no surefire place for a form that will work for every type of landing page and offer.

What’s extremely important is that the form is in the natural eyepath of your landing page’s visitors, and that it fits into the sequence of thoughts from intent to action that the visitor experiences on the page. In other words, be wary of placements such as putting your form above or before important content, or using equally weighted columns that downplay the significance of the form.

Q: What about keyword insertion in the landing page header? If keyword insertion does not match with a custom landing page (using dynamic text to match), is there still value in keyword insertion?

If you use keyword insertion in your ad, you’ll be best served by making the connection in your page as well because it increases relevance between the two.

Recently, we’ve seen instances where the effectiveness of header messages has decreased, so testing this with your pages is worthwhile. If you do not insert keywords on the landing page to match the ad, you should still ensure that there’s a logical, relevant connection early on the page that visitors will be able to understand to maintain continuity.

Either way, make sure that your copy is strong — don’t rely on keyword insertion alone to carry the load. Weak copy gives people a good reason to leave your site.

Additional topics covered in the web clinic and questions that we’ve touched on in past research briefs included: value propositions, relevance and offer pages.

You can hear more from Corey via the full clinic presentation and follow him on Twitter: @ctrentmarketing

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3 Comments

  1. Greg Bogdan says

    Cory,

    How do you balance the advantages of keyword insertion with the disadvantage of linking to a standard landing page that does not more tightly match the search phrase. Keyword insertion might also create ad text that could be written better manually. Though more time consuming, breaking out ad groups into more common keywords and creating custom text and landing pages is better than using keyword insertion as a shortcut. I suppose that if you don’t have custom landing pages and are just pointing all searches to a standard page, keyword insertion is very valuable. Comments?

    How do you do keyword insertion in the destination URL if the the PPC Ad link is not changed? I imagine that there is a way to do this based on inbound search phrase recognized by the Web server. Would this be a best practice when doing keyword insertion?

    -Greg

  2. Corey Trent says

    Greg,

    You bring up a good point with keyword insertion in paying attention to how it reads, and the danger of shoehorning it into an ad at the expense of readability. When doing keyword insertion make sure that the ad still makes sense when it reads, and that is why structuring ad groups and the keywords they contain is so important.

    Also, on the topic of standard landing pages, depending on how granular your ad groups are set up, it is possible to just dynamically change a small aspect of a page to make it fit the purpose of many keywords. Greg, this is where you brought up a good point in that ad group creation is extremely important to having a streamlined and effective PPC process. Some of us run campaigns that are thousands of keywords deep with tens if not hundreds of ad groups long, and creating custom text and landing pages just isn’t possible, or a very good use of time. Especially, if your available man hours are slim, as the internet is full of one man bands or small shops making big splashes.

    One thing you have to balance: is the time it will take me to squeeze out .5% difference merit my hours spent on creating tons of unique pages, rather than making other processes or my offering better. I do not want to diminish the value of custom landing pages, because it is not okay to have one page template for your total or majority of your PPC campaign and just have a dynamic headline on the page. In fact, what I am suggesting is far from it. You should make custom landing pages for your tightly edited and monitored ad groups; and then adding in the dynamic aspects will take your landing pages a deeper level or perceived relevance with minimal amount of work. We have seen conversions greatly improved with dynamic keyword insertion and making the page connect better with what a user is searching for.

    Lastly, in the clinic I had a “moment” and kept referencing destination URL’s instead of display URLS (what I meant). I apologize for the confusion. In your Adwords account you can set up keywords to be inserted in the display URL. In addition, you can set up your destination URL’s to carry over variables to give you insight on the keyword the use searched on. Build a script that recognizes these variables (server-side), and then swap in the dynamic content for those parameters on your landing page.

    Does that clarify things?

    Corey Trent
    Research Analyst- MarketingExperiments
    twitter:@ctrentmarketing

  3. jay @ work at home says

    I always test my keywords on all of my campaigns. This is very important, and measures the bounce rate. I create a regular ordinary ad and a creative one, nice informed post on this matter.

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