by John Eberhard

I was recently using some software to do research on the competitors for one of my clients, companies that are competing against my client on Google AdWords. I was amazed to find that these companies were having the visitors click through and then land on their home page.

I figured out years ago that this was not the best thing to do. But now it is considered pretty much common knowledge in pay per click advertising and in other forms of promotion such as email marketing, that you do not have the visitor land on your home page.

You create your ad on Google AdWords so that when the searcher clicks on your ad, he then lands on a customized landing page that you created just for that purpose. Or if you are doing email marketing, you put a link at the bottom of your email for people to click on, that goes not to the home page of your site but to a special landing page that you created just to go along with that email.

There are a number of reasons why it is better to make a customized landing page that your visitors will land on:

  1. The content will match. In other words, the content of your Google AdWords ad will exactly match the content of the page they land on.
  1. People don’t have to search for what they are looking for on your site. You want them to land on a landing page that is exactly about what they want. Your home page will usually not be about that, and so if you land them on the home page they will have to look over your navigation and figure out where to go. Many will get exasperated and leave.

    If your company offers more than one product or service (most do), then most likely you will have more than one campaign on Google AdWords, each one advertising one specific product or service. Then each one of those campaigns should click through to a customized landing page that is specifically about that one product or service.

So what should and should not be on a customized landing page for pay per click or email?

  1. It should look like your web site and have the same header at the top with your logo and all that.
  1. It should have sales copy on it, as well as some pictures showing the product or service.
  2. The landing page should NOT have navigation buttons on it. When I first set up pay per click campaigns for clients, this one gets the most questioning and disagreement. The whole purpose for a pay per click or email landing page is that you want the person to do something. Usually you want him to become a lead or a sale. You want him to fill out the form or call you.
    I’ve been doing email marketing for about 11 years and pay per click advertising for about 6 years. I can tell you that in that time I have seen that in about 90% of the time, it works better NOT to have navigation buttons or links anywhere on the landing page. Meaning statistically you get more leads or sales (depending on what your campaign is trying to do) if you leave the navigation off. 

    The problem with putting navigation buttons on a landing page for pay per click or email is that the visitor will be more likely to just wander around your site, then leave. It is not enough of a tightly controlled situation. You have to control the situation better than that and that means you want to give the person one option of what to do when he is done reading that page, which is to contact you via filling out that form or calling you.

  3. The page should have a form at the bottom for the person to fill out. Do not make the person click through to another page to fill out a form unless you can’t avoid it, like if you need for him to go to a shopping cart that is on a different site. Also include a phone number so he can call right now if he wants to. Some people argue against putting a form on the landing page, but I am always in favor of it. For one thing, this is important for people who are checking out your site on the weekend or late at night, when they can’t call you. I also think a form is better than an email link. I used to put email links on sites, but lately have been noticing that I get complaints on these because they won’t work for people who use Gmail or Yahoo, which is a lot of people today. So a form is best.
  1. Some people think that a really long page with lots of copy is best, stuffed with lots of testimonials and all that. I’m not so sure this is the best route anymore, as people online are more and more in a hurry these days. Many times they will just read a little bit and then scroll to the bottom, skipping five feet worth of testimonials, to see “how much is the thing?!” You can test it both ways but I am generally seeing that shorter landing pages work better these days. Make your case, then give them the form.
  1. Multimedia: I generally find that some sort of multimedia on a landing page helps conversions, i.e. the percentage of people that contact you. This can include an audio file that starts talking to them as soon as the page loads, or a video, or a Flash slide show. Statistically I find that these things help conversions, which is the name of the game.

Following these points, you will be more likely to have success with your pay per click or email campaigns.