One of the most popular forms of inexpensive advertising for small businesses is the pay-per-click (PPC) model. Unlike traditional advertising in which you pay a flat fee or subscription for banner space, you only pay for PPC when a user actually clicks through to your site. What they are seeing and clicking on is between you and your online venue, which is very often Google. Working with a search engine, you combine SEO keyword targeting and thoughtfully constructed ads that will appear when users type your keywords into a search. Most PPC strategies have the conversion journey figured out this far, all you need is appealing ads for relevant searches. But what about the steps after roping a lead? Is your landing page going to sell them your service?
What is a conversion journey?
When forging new customer relationships and building conversions, you have to consider every step of the discovery and decision-making process. Acquiring new customers starts at a point out of your control, when their circumstances cause them to search for one of your keywords. Perhaps they got hungry and looked up local delivery services or their water heater broke and they need repairs. When this happens, your PPC ads will be there at the top or side of the search results page, ready to offer your services. If the content of your listing appeals to them and they click through, you pay a small fee to the search engine for the fresh new lead. This is only the first step in their conversion journey. The conversion is complete when they submit an order, not when they click the link, and the in-between steps matter.
Where are you sending them?
When a customer selects your PPC ad, where do you take them? Where you send customers is determined by the URL connected to the ad and is called a landing page. Many companies simply use their website homepage, and this can work well if what they're looking for is addressed there. If you offer something straightforward, like appliance repair, and your homepage proudly states your profession, then you have effectively informed the user that they are in the right place, especially if you follow up with a brief summary of work hours, services, and/or prices. In other cases, it makes more sense to use a specific product page. However, most sites don't consider the composition and conversion qualities of the landing pages they use. This misses out on the major marketing opportunity of fine-tuning the customer's first impression of your site.
Personalizing the experience
What if you could create a different introductory experience for each set of keywords you targeted? To a certain extent, you have probably already begun to do so by sending different specific product searches to sales pages. But you can go further than that. With clever website design and something called PURLs, you can strongly influence the conversion journey from the moment your page loads. PURLs, or "Personalized URLs," are a way to direct traffic to a specially designed and responsive page. This method is a popular way to A/B test layout designs and can be put to a similar use to draw in your PPC leads. Still not sure where to start? Here are three examples of how PURLS can be used to optimize your PPC conversions:
1. Targeted themes
What your leads search for should strongly influence what you offer them, but this isn't just covered by showing them the info on a desired product or service. If you offer a variety of services, try making a few attractive website backgrounds and themes that look good on all pages. Then, based on the search words used, custom tailor your ad and link to appeal to the people who would search for that.
As an example, consider a pet adoption center. Their clients primarily have dogs or cats so they make two site themes, one with a friendly dog background and one with a kitty peering out from around the page content. For their ads that catch “adopt a cat” or “kittens in St Paul,” the users are directed to the page they want to be presented in the cat theme and the same process is used for dog searches. This personalizes the welcoming effect based on the user's point of entry.
2. Custom quote
For many types of service ranging from business IT to construction, clients will be looking for a quick price comparison but will need to be quoted based on their specific circumstances. When the purpose aligns with the keywords, you can use your PURLs to send customers to a custom quote page. Here, you can use data at hand to either estimate a quote for them or offer a quick and easy form. This acts to funnel customers looking for a quote straight into personalized service.
3. Targeted chat support
If a customer has a question you haven't predicted but your service looks appealing, they are at a decision crux. If you offer them fast and friendly answers, they are more likely to stay instead of seeking a different solution. With PURLs, you can greet them with a live chat window ready to discuss their search topics or guide their purchase. This is especially helpful when keyed to questions that contain your keywords. Say you are a flooring company and your ad responds to “wood,” “floor,” “kitchen,” and “?”'. Anyone who has a question that fits these criteria can be PURL-sent to a page about your wood floors with a chatbox that asks them "Can we help you with your wood floor?"
Personal URLs are powerful tools when used correctly, and when combined with PPC, they allow you to hand-tailor each and every new client experience from the moment they click your link. When you leverage the skill of your web developer and the features of your PPC platform, you can achieve a truly personalized customer experience even with those brought in through wildly targeted and inexpensive marketing campaigns. PPC can get them onto your website, you have to take it the rest of the way.
Jeff Cole is the CEO of Path, an intelligent messaging platform that helps businesses generate more leads, close sales faster, and improve customer service.