When marketers say statements like, “More than ever, it is critical to maximize your ROI,” or “The digital landscape has evolved more than ever,” you could dismiss it as hyperbole.
But this year is really unlike any other.
According to Forbes, holiday shopping online is expected to grow over 35 percent from last year. When you take into account that 66 percent of consumers expect to spend less than they did last year, it is critical that digital marketers ensure they are doing everything they can to maximize performance from their campaigns.
There are many places on the customer’s journey that marketers can focus on to improve conversion rates. We will take a look at three stops:
- During the prospect’s initial search
- Once the end user lands on your site
- After the end user has left your site
Though we are talking about the 2020 holiday season, these are best practices that will never go out of style throughout the year.
Getting the right people to the site
Experts believe that marketers’ paid search campaigns waste an average of 76 percent of their total budget on ineffective searches.
For paid search, the mantra is generally, “Target the right audience, at the right time, with the right message.” To accomplish this, marketers can use a mix of traditional best practices, as well as taking advantage of the new targeting tools available through major search engines.
Monitor Click-Through Rate (CTR)
This is something that seems evident but is often overlooked. If you view your paid search campaigns in the traditional sales funnel model, the click-through rate (CTR) represents the very top of the funnel. It is a simple numbers game: the more qualified visitors you have visit your site, the more potential conversions you could see.
When considering what a “good” CTR is, it varies by industry. The average CTR across all verticals in Google is 1.91 percent. However, the average CTR for search is 3.17 percent for life sciences and 4.16 percent for travel and hospitality. These numbers can be used as benchmarks when determining performance.
Keywords will always be an important part of any marketer’s campaign. However, over the past several years, Google has developed more ways to target audiences aside from simply using keyword targeting. These include audience targeting (e.g., in-market, affinity, lookalike, custom intent, and life event audiences), demographic targeting, and contextual targeting.
A best practice is to layer different targeting options within the various campaigns to improve effectiveness. Be careful not to add to many layers, as it can be difficult to effectively optimize. Try using different options in separate campaigns and running them concurrently. You will soon be able to gain enough data to determine which targeting is most effective.
Test Ad Copy
Test, test, and test again! Experimenting with multiple ad variations within ad groups will ensure your messaging appeals to your target audience.
A best practice is to have three to four different ads running evenly in each ad group. Try changing calls to action (CTAs), varying capitalization styles, using emotional appeals, or highlighting different product benefits.
Another tool that can be used is implementation of a dynamic search ad within the ad groups. This ad type will allow Google to generate headlines and descriptions based on the content of your website, aligning much closer to your end user's search intent. To get the most from this tool, your website must be in great shape with compelling content throughout.
Utilize An Ever-Growing Negative List
This falls under PPC 101 but is something that is taken for granted frequently.
When creating your business AdWords account, a great deal of time is usually spent building out initial negative search terms lists based on extensive research. However, over time, this can lead to wasted ad spend due to ineffective negative keyword lists.
Just like with any digital effort, there is no such thing as “set it and forget it.” It is important to utilize tools like the search query report and keyword planner on a regular basis to ensure that your negative keyword list is as relevant as possible.
Once the end-user is on your site
There is a great deal of effort and money spent on driving the right audience to your website. You’ve successfully gotten them there. So, now what?
The mantra for Google has always been to provide the best end-user experience possible. You should always have a good pulse on what your end user wants and provide the experience that they expect. This is pretty straightforward, but there are several things that you need to keep in mind:
Align Your Messaging
This is pretty straightforward, but it’s another area that gets overlooked by marketers.
An end user has already been enticed by something within your ad copy. Therefore, it is critical that they find the same thing on the page they land on. For example, if your ad mentions a discount on the service, the landing page needs to have the same offer predominantly shown.
If the end user doesn’t find what they are looking for right away, whether it is an offer, product, or service, they will likely go onto the next website without giving you an opportunity to further compete for their business.
Optimize Your Landing Page
Ensuring that your landing page is continuously optimized not only potentially improves your overall conversion rate, it can also lower your cost per click.
In the spirit of providing the best end-user experience possible, it is important to actually know what your end user is doing on the landing page once they get there.
Heat mapping services like Crazy Egg, Lucky Orange, and VWO allow you to get a visual representation of where users are spending the most time on the website. Through this type of visual, you can prioritize areas that need improvement and replicate areas that are performing well.
Another option is to add a relevant video to the landing page. Recent studies have shown that landing pages with video have 79 percent higher conversion rates than pages that do not. It is important the quality and content of the video aligns with the rest of the page, as well as matching your end user’s intent.
Again, testing is critical. You should be experimenting with things like color, CTA language, placement, and video usage. Using a service like VWO will allow you to effectively serve each variation of the page to a large enough audience in order to make a sound decision.
Just like with any test, make sure you don’t have too many variables so you can effectively identify what is working.
Test Page Load Speed
Page load speed has become more and more important as end users continue to shift from searching on a desktop to mobile.
As of 2020, you should aim for your page to fully load in three seconds or less. Any longer than that and the number of users that leave your site begins to grow exponentially.
Utilize tools like Google’s Page Insights, Pingdom, or GT Metrix to test page load speed regularly.
They left without converting? It’s not over!
On the surface, all your hard work looks like it’s wasted if website visitors don’t convert. However, this is perfectly normal, so don’t worry.
According to Inc., roughly 92 percent of website visitors leave a site on their first visit without converting. This is where an effective remarketing strategy comes into play.
Remarketing ads have come under a great deal of fire recently because of privacy concerns for end users. However, if marketers are doing it right, remarketing ads aren’t intrusive. They simply continue to engage an already engaged audience with various value statements.
Continue to test messaging, budgets, imagery, and placements to this valuable audience. Effective remarketing practices can dramatically improve both ad lift and conversions.
These practices are the first steps in making sure that your campaigns are in place to succeed this holiday season.
The challenge for you, as a marketer, is to continue to push the limits of your past successes and ensure you are utilizing the best options available.
To continue the conversation on improving your conversion rates, contact our digital team today.