No matter how well you target your PPC campaigns, poorly designed ads and landing pages can make or break their success. The steps below will help you craft a high-converting PPC campaign, from first click to conversion.
Step 1: Writing a PPC ad
Before you start crafting your PPC landing page, you need to make sure the ad copy itself is compelling enough to convince searchers to click. The ad-creation process should focus primarily on three aspects: Keywords, length, and relevant information.
I) Incorporate keywords strategically into your PPC ad
This one is a no brainer — you’re paying for keywords, so of course you need to include them! That said, it’s important to incorporate the keyword into your ad copy in a way that feels natural and clear.
II) Mind the Google AdWords character limit
You’re working within a relatively small character limit for PPC ads, so prioritize the information the searcher will find most useful.
III) Include information that’s relevant to searchers
This is perhaps the most important part of writing your PPC ad — while a searcher may find your ad because they searched a certain keyword, chances are they care about more than just that keyword.
For example, let’s say you’re looking for an online shoe store. Not only do you want shoes, you also likely want a wide selection (or specific brand or style), reasonable prices, free shipping, free returns, and so on. When I searched “online shoe store” in Google, my results looked like this:
I received two ads, one from Finish Line and one from Zappos. Based on these ads, I know that Finish Line offers:
- The latest styles of shoes and sneakers
- Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Reebok, Brooks, Converse, and more
- Free in-store pickup
- Returns for 45+ days
Zappos, on the other hand, offers me:
- Wide selection
- Born, Converse, Frye, Nike, Birkenstock, and New Balance
- Sneakers, sandals, heels, loafers, and boots
- Free 1-2 day shipping
- Free returns for 365 days
Both ads utilize the seller ratings extension to establish trust and credibility. However, Finish Line hasn’t convinced me that they offer the best ecommerce customer experience compared to Zappos. Since I have no interest in shopping in store, their free in-store pick up perk is not of much value to me, whereas Zappos’s free 1-2 day shipping definitely caught my attention. Zappos effectively satisfied my search for not just an online shoe store, but also my desire for a large selection and a generous shipping and return policy.
How much should you be spending on PPC? Use our PPC budget calculator to find out.
Step 2: Writing the landing page copy
Now that you have a compelling ad, you can get to writing a landing page that commands the searcher’s attention and provides them with the information they need.
I) Know the business objective for your PPC campaign
Before you write anything, pinpoint the business objective for the landing page. Convincing someone to download an ebook is different than convincing them to sign up for a free demo or join an email list, so your copy must be tailored accordingly. Pick one goal and stick to it to keep things focused.
II) Focus on the ad headline
Beautiful design may convince a visitor to look at your landing page, but a compelling headline is what convinces them to stay on it and convert. Reach out to current customers for interviews or testimonials — you’ll often find common language and keywords that will resonate with potential customers as well.
A word to the wise: Creative headlines are not always best (sorry, creative advertisers!). According to conversion optimization guru Michael Aagaard, creative headlines are actually less effective most of the time because they are too clever or cerebral for your average person to digest at a glance. They can also muddle your value proposition and fail to convince the user that you can solve their problem. That said, it’s more important to test your copy to find what works best (but more on that later).
III) Write clear, concise ad copy
Once you have your headline ready, next up is the body copy. Avoid writing paragraphs of texts and instead opt for bullet pointed lists that have a sentence or so per bullet point. For every piece of text you add, cross reference it with your landing page business goal. If it doesn’t directly contribute, scrap it.
IV) Keep SEO in mind for all PPC campaigns
Even if your landing page is for a short-term campaign, avoid deleting it from your website. Tweak the message as necessary to increase its longevity, since the longer the landing page stays on your site, the better its chances of gaining organic search traffic. You should also optimize your landing page copy for long-tail keywords, since you won’t have the benefit of internal linking. And lastly, avoid putting headlines and other important copy into images. It may require more elbow grease to format a headline nicely as an H1, but your SEO will thank you.
Step 3: Designing the landing page
Visual cues like color, font hierarchies, and white space make all the difference in our ability to process information, whether we realize it or not. With some basic design principles, you can create landing pages that help visitors get the most from your landing pages.
I) Maintain brand consistency on PPC landing pages
Your landing page shouldn’t be a full website experience — your visitors are looking for specific information so stay focused on giving it to them. That said, your landing pages should still stay in line with your general brand guidelines. Stick to similar fonts, illustration styles, colors, and photography used on your main site for a cohesive user experience.
II) Know which screen sizes are most popular
Poke around in your Google Analytics data to find out which devices your site visitors typically use. If most of them find you on smartphones, create a landing page that is optimized for mobile. If you’re split evenly between desktop and mobile, opt for something that is reliably responsive to whatever device a visitor may use.
III) Keep important information above the fold
Keep all your important information above the bottom of the screen. If the user has to scroll down too far to find what they’re looking for, there’s a higher chance that will end up abandoning the page altogether.
IV) Play with the psychology of color and images
While a lot of stock photos are easy to find for free, they aren’t all created equal. Outdated stock photos can signal a lack of credibility, while a lack of photos entirely may not feel human enough. Similarly, certain colors may command attention, but their cultural connotations can be confusing. Red is an attention-grabbing color, but it may signal “stop” and confuse page visitors. It’s worth experimenting with different colors and images that are in line with your brand guidelines.
V) Establish font hierarchies to guide landing page navigation
Font hierarchy simply refers to using different typefaces and font sizes to group information together in an accessible way. When it comes to landing pages, font hierarchy can help direct the user through your value proposition. Your headline (top of the hierarchy) establishes your uniqueness. You then move down to your subheader (middle of hierarchy) that establishes credibility. And lastly, you move down to your body text (bottom of hierarchy) where you expand on how you solve the problem in question.
There’s many more angles to approach landing page design. For more helpful design tips, check out these design tutorials from Unbounce.
Step 4: Developing a CTA
What good is a landing page if there’s no way for users to convert? Take the time to thoughtfully plan out a CTA that makes your cost per click worth the money.
I) Keep your landing page CTA simple
The cardinal rule of landing page CTAs? Don’t over do it. Pick one CTA and stick with it, and make sure there are clear directions for how the user should proceed. The CTA should, of course, line up with both your business goal and the user’s original search query.
II) Offer a fair exchange for a click
If you just met a stranger, you’d be reluctant to offer your full name, email, phone number, company name, and job title until you got to know them better. People online aren’t much different, so collect as little data as possible to avoid scaring potential customers away. If you’ve established credibility, trustworthiness, and genuine helpfulness, page visitors will feel more inclined to self identify.
III) Include your phone number
Before you hit publish, make sure you’ve included a visible phone number somewhere on the page. Phone numbers not only help establish legitimacy, but also enable you to track phone calls via call tracking platforms like CallRail. By tracking calls generated from the landing page, you can prove the campaign’s success beyond vanity metrics like clicks or pageviews.
Step 5: A/B testing
Once you have steps 1-4 down pat, you can get to experimenting. A/B testing can yield surprising insights that boost your campaign efficacy, so don’t leave it on the back burner.
I) Test boundary-pushing landing page copy with less risk
I mentioned earlier in this post that creative headlines don’t perform as well. Although this is usually true, there’s no way to know for certain unless you regularly A/B test your copy. A/B testing allows you to confirm what messages resonate best with your audience, but it also allows you test copy that pushes the envelope without having to take a leap of faith on it.
II) Experiment with different design and images
Similarly to copy A/B testing, design and image A/B testing is an effective way to see which layouts and images are most effective. For example, you could test a photograph against an illustration and see if it makes a difference.
III) Optimize your landing page CTA UX
A/B testing your landing page CTAs is an important way to optimize conversions. Let’s say you have a landing page for an ebook that does amazing on desktop, but struggles on mobile. Chances are it’s because your “download now” button isn’t helpful on smartphones where downloading a PDF is difficult. By A/B testing your CTA UX, you could see if adding an “email me the PDF” option increases mobile conversions.
And there you have it! By following this crash course guide to creating PPC ads and landing pages, you can start optimizing your PPC campaigns and getting more value out of every click.