Developing a successful digital marketing strategy involves several specialised areas such as on-site optimisation, Pay-per-Click (PPC), Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), content marketing and Social Media Marketing (SMM), to name but a few.
As soon as a company reaches a certain size, it becomes necessary to divide those tasks between several individuals. And that’s when the headaches begin! You have probably seen it countless times: despite the best intentions, each team starts working on their own strategy in isolation, unaware of what the others are doing and often duplicating work.
This is, without a doubt, a very common missed opportunity. Although each area may have a different focus, they can, and should, collaborate closely to achieve the best possible results. PPC and CRO, for example, are very similar in that they are data-driven; they both focus on conversion and they use similar techniques to accomplish their tasks such as testing language and imagery. A closer integration of the two makes perfect sense and will yield high benefits in terms of productivity – and therefore profit and results.
Testing language in ads and landing pages
The reason why language testing is important to PPC and CRO managers is the same: to determine which copy works best. Although both areas have different focuses – PPC managers will primarily concern themselves with maximising the number of clicks on the company’s ad links; CRO managers with converting visitors (from ads or organic traffic) into customers – they are still two processes that start from the same place and have the same goal.
Here is how things should, ideally, happen: the PPC team selects a list of appropriate keywords that can be bid on and writes the ad copy around them. During the PPC campaign, the language is tested to see which keywords and ad content are more successful with the target audience, and the results passed on to the CRO team to integrate into their campaign and their copywriting for A/B testing of landing pages.
But it doesn’t have to start with the PPC team, content can be driven by the CRO team as effectively: A/B testing of landing pages will reveal the more effective content and keywords too, and sharing the results with the PPC staff will considerably reduce their “trial-and-error” phase. This greater collaboration can be particularly effective during special offers, seasonal events or public holidays for example, when time is of the essence and you don’t have the luxury to spend a week or more fine-tuning your search terms.
An even more advanced use of this method is through dynamically changing the content of a landing page based upon the keyword which drove the adwords click. Talk about relevance!
How to align landing page and ad copy
Whether you are trying to improve short-term or long-term results, having both PPC and CRO teams align in terms of content and keywords will also create a better user experience as you will offer a consistent tone which can also help boost your quality score.
Anyone who has ever done any SEO will know the widespread obsession with being on the first page of Google results, and that great is the temptation to prioritise web spiders over human beings to get there. But remember that web spiders won’t be the ones buying your products or services! So whatever you do, always put human beings at the heart of your digital strategies.
What does it mean concretely? Well, let’s take the example of a company selling all kinds of lamps, and a visitor looking for a desk lamp. If a potential customer clicks on your adwords result advertising desk lamps, it should take him/her directly to a product page displaying desk lamps. Not to the homepage or the bedside tables. If they are not directed to what they expect, people are more likely to leave your site than to look at your menu and try to figure out where they may find what your ad snippet promised. And they’ll leave annoyed too, feeling you wasted their time.
Another common problem is when the potential customer arrives on the right page, but the products advertised don’t show because they are not above the fold (i.e. they are in the part of the webpage that isn’t visible on screen until you scroll down). With the multitude of screen sizes available, this can be a tricky one, but always play it safe as, again, visitors are more likely to leave your website than try and work out where the products they are looking for are.
What to be aware of when running simultaneous PPC and CRO campaigns:
- Differing Life Cycles
Pay-per-click ads are agile, and the content of an ad can be changed quickly and easily. It is, by nature, a fantastic short-term tool. CRO, through A/B testing, can take longer to give answers, so if you are running your campaigns simultaneously, you could find yourself in a situation where your PPC campaign is held back, especially if the site optimised is starting from low traffic numbers.
On the other hand, chopping and changing the content of your landing pages frequently to match changes to your PPC ads isn’t necessarily the solution either, as CRO will, by nature, show results more slowly than ads – so you may well change content that would have been successful and provide long term benefits if given the chance.
- Differing results
Don’t assume anything. What works for PPC may not work for CRO activities and vice versa. For example, pictures with people may work well for ads, whereas graphs may give you better results on landing pages.
Likewise, you have to keep in mind the different mindsets of people when they get to your website depending on whether they came through a paid-for advert or organic results achieved by a landing page. The user’s journey is important and substantiates the need for website copy and ads to collaborate.
A good online ad will attract a customer who is already in buying mode and thinking about purchasing when he/she arrives on your website, whereas traffic driven through organic results is likely to draw a more varied crowd, from people who have no intention of buying to those who are still in research mode shopping around and not yet ready to buy. So, when analysing results from PPC and preparing CRO activities as a consequence, it is important to remember that (dependent on your ad messaging and product) that traffic obtained through PPC will often be biased towards those more ready for conversion.
PPC and CRO have a lot in common and there is every reason to ensure that they collaborate and share knowledge as much as possible. However, despite the overlaps in the disciplines, it is also important to remember how they differ so that results can be interpreted accurately and don’t lead to decisions which could undo all the good done by putting those two together.
Aristotle is famous for saying that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, and that is definitely true of these two forms of digital marketing. By working closely, they can achieve much better results than individually.