As you may have heard, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a competitive game.
PPC is a method of digital advertising in which you aim to get your ads to rank as the highest result displayed for user searches, and you, as the advertiser, pay a fee each time it’s clicked. This means that when a user types in words related to your business, your customized ad will be the first result they see—sometimes.
Thousands of businesses are willing to spend unbelievable amounts of money to rank at the top of search engine results pages (SERP) and in the most relevant places for their users around the web.
In 2019, small businesses spent between $9,000 and $10,000 per month on PPC, with Google making an average of $116.5 billion in revenue from Google Ads alone the year before.
So, yeah—businesses bid high numbers to play. But that doesn’t mean you can’t play too.
The key to maximizing your return on ad spend (ROAS) is to be highly strategic in your audience targeting, keyword usage, and landing page design.
We’re here to show you how to get the best bang for your buck by cleaning up your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) strategy.
(Pssssst … Do you have a specific PPC-related question? Hop straight to it here 🙂
- How Do Paid Ads Work, Anyway?
- The Role of PPC in Marketing Strategies
- Why Your PPC Ad Needs a Dedicated Landing Page
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Optimizing Your Post-Click Strategy
1. How Do Paid Ads Work, Anyway?
Think of your paid ad as an internet detective. Each platform varies in how you can create your ad sets, but one thing remains the same:
Your ad (internet detective) finds the most relevant spots to be seen by your ideal customers and fights for optimal placements.
There are two ad formats to choose from once you and your team set your campaign goals: display and search.
Display ads rely on graphic formats to catch user attention, build brand awareness, and guide users to your site. They’re shown based on specific audience targeting criteria such as demographics, interests, or retargeting events and show up in images and video.
You typically see them displayed on the newsfeed of your social media platforms. Although, your display ad isn’t just confined to social media. It can also appear on websites that have similar content and keywords to your business. That way, even when your prospects are considering alternatives—you can still be top of mind.
Across social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube, standard placements for display ads are:
- Video feeds
- Right column
- (Facebook) Marketplace
- (Instagram) Explore section
- Messenger inbox and sponsored messages
Search ads are a wordsmith’s dream. These ad formats rely on short, impactful copy that sends the right message and captures user intent. This is where knowing your audience well will pay off—literally. These ads appear at the top of the SERP.
Aside from the above or below search results on Google search, through the Google Search Network, your ads can appear beside, above, or below search results on Google Play, the Shopping tab, Google Images, Google Maps, and the Maps app.
If your budget doesn’t allow for a high bid (or you don’t feel it’s the best use of your budget), then you’ll need to be extra clear on the keywords you use.
Coupling keywords with your offer determines what your winning combination will be. You need to secure space in your market with a relevant keyword while also finding a way to stand out. It might take a couple of tweaks to get the formula right, so make sure you keep track of your ad performance. This way, you can jump into your campaign to move things around while making the necessary changes to your post-click landing page.
Tip: Take a look at your competitors’ performance by typing in a keyword you might share. Take note of where their ads and other pages land on the first search results page and use that insight to determine how you can differentiate your copy/offering.
FYI: Search ads can increase brand awareness by as much as 80%.
Give it time, and you’re sure to strike gold as you refine your ad set.
You can use retargeting ads in both display and search formats on the same platforms you launch your PPC campaigns from (i.e, Google, Facebook, Youtube, Bing, LinkedIn). Retargeting leverages past engagements with your brand to show consumers ads to re-engage them.
For example, when you’re shopping online and leave a website before purchasing the items in your cart, the brand receives an “abandoned cart” notice. If they have retargeting ads in place, you’ll notice reminders to revisit their website through:
Social media display ads
Website banners (even if the website you’re browsing has nothing to do with that brand specifically)
Retargeting ads allow you to finish the job and turn prospects into leads.
You have lots of flexibility when it comes to paid advertising. However, knowing what role you want it to play in your marketing strategy can be the difference between dollars gained and dollars wasted.
2. The Role of PPC in Marketing Strategies
PPC advertising is an efficient way to find ideal customers that would otherwise be difficult to find. After all, you can’t be in all places at once.
But when your PPC ad finds the right audience, you need to make sure that you’ve created it to address the right intent.
As the name implies, purchase intent is when a consumer shows signs of being ready to buy a product or service.
A general ad about your business is unlikely to get the conversions you’re hoping for. PPC provides an opportunity to create a sense of urgency by addressing the specific problem your ideal customer is seeking to solve.
To create an effective PPC campaign, you need to decide what your ultimate goal is.
Is it brand awareness?
If you’ve just launched a business, a new product, or you’re trying to attract new customers, your goal should likely be brand awareness.
Brand awareness can be like a social currency for startups.
Sales will always be a top priority. However, before you can start to grow your revenue, you need to build credibility in your industry, build trust with your ideal customers, and slice out a part of the market.
Think about what messaging resonates with your audience most. Your goal here is to have your ad illustrate your style and expertise in a compact package.
Is it increasing sales?
If you need to prove product-market fit, generate more sales, or justify upgrades for a product, this is the goal you want to focus on.
You’ll need to customize your copy and targeting strategy to ensure you’re communicating the transformation your offer provides while also never losing sight of your customer.
In a brand awareness campaign, you may not have been using retargeting ads. But when you’re focused on maximizing each site visit to its fullest potential (i.e., a purchase)—you’ll wanna make sure that potential customers don’t slip through the cracks.
Base your targeting on your buyer personas. Confirm what you know and don’t know about their purchase habits. Then, use those insights to craft a customer journey map that enables you to send them the ads relevant to their journey at the right time.
3. Why Your PPC Ad Needs a Dedicated Landing Page
Look, you can create the most quintessential display ad, craft the most impeccable search ad, and kick your feet up expecting the traffic to roll in like a runaway train—but you’ll only see tumbleweeds if you don’t optimize the post-click.
Post-click marketing is the practice of engaging with potential customers after they click on your business’s PPC ad. Think of it as your typical marketing funnel. The first click achieves awareness and proves user interest. The next stage is where decisions get made.
Users can either leave your site entirely or travel further down the funnel, depending on how your post-click marketing impacts their consideration of your product. This is your opportunity to personalize the redirect path as much as possible.
Imagine seeing an ad like this:
And being sent here:
It’s a beautiful homepage, but as a user—you’re lost.
You clicked that ad for one thing only: home extensions. But that homepage requires you to navigate the site to find what you’re looking for. While it wouldn’t be that hard to find, it’s more clicks and content for your brain to consider while browsing.
When optimizing your post-click strategy, your goal is to limit distractions and bring the user to the exact destination implied by your ad. This is called message matching and, for PPC marketers, conversions are made and lost on the accuracy of this strategy.
That’s why Facet’s ad brings users to the page below instead of their home page.
Well done, Facet.
On average, 52% of B2B PPC ads point to their homepage instead of a landing page. Using our landing page analyzer, Unbounce found that dedicated landing pages converted 65% higher than website pages.
Personalized, targeted, and relevant landing pages play a huge part in determining whether your PPC ads convert as intended.
With each campaign you create, you should also consider how to customize the landing page it leads to. Your PPC ad and landing page need to work together like Batman and Robin to achieve your goals.
But there are a host of variables you need to consider to make that happen.
4. A Step-By-Step Guide to Optimizing Your Post-Click Strategy
Instead of starting from a blank slate when creating copy for a new ad, why not remix the content from your landing page?
It’s a tall order to jam all the relevant information from your landing page into a headline and a 90-character description that’ll get users past the first click.
But when you prioritize message match and focus on being clear rather than clever, you’ll find that your headline almost writes itself!
If it doesn’t, here are a few headline formulas you can rely on to help you frame your offer:
The how-to headline: Highlight your expertise by linking it to a common goal your target audience is trying to achieve. You’ll need to make it specific and show some social proof to back up your claim for this one to work.
The agitator: The goal here is to highlight a pain point for your target audience and provide an alternative solution that they’re unlikely to have considered (i.e., your differentiator). You’ll want to use this strategy as a play on your key search term.
In the example below, Noom leverages the high-yielding keyword “diet” to capture the attention of its target audience and present a bold alternative. In this case, their differentiator is using behavioral science to help people take control of their health.
The listings lab: Show your target audience you know exactly who they are by both highlighting a pain point and naming their demographic. Example: “Stuck at Six Figures in Your Real Estate Business?” The headline speaks directly to the ideal customer. In this case: real estate professionals looking to grow their business.
Remember that, whichever headline you choose, you want to make sure that it mirrors what the user will find on the landing page that comes post-click.
Marketers need to master a suite of different skills to be effective, but they all boil down to understanding how to manage user expectations.
It doesn’t mean that your PPC ad needs to be a carbon copy of the copy on your landing page (though, when in doubt, that wouldn’t be the worst option). You can diversify your copy while still keeping it clear, creative, and connected.
You can use a hierarchy system to leverage the use of your keywords. For example, if you’re advertising a “contactless payment system,” you can leverage keywords associated with that same theme, such as:
- Accept online payments
- Online payments
- Payment processing
- Remote payments
- Pre-built payment options
- Take card payments
- Secure payment solutions
By adding terms like “best” or “buy,” your keywords are now directly tied to active buyers in comparing and contrasting solutions in the purchase stage of their search. Just a tip here: 65% of traffic to this type of keyword comes from paid clicks compared to 35% of organic results.
If you don’t feel 100% confident with your first draft of ad copy, don’t hesitate to experiment with different combinations—as long as your copy mirrors what’s on your post-click landing page.
Finding the right keywords to string together will require a bit of tweaking before you discover the right fit for your audience.
You’ll know you’ve found the right fit for your PPC ad when the copy includes three components vital to your campaign’s success:
A compelling tagline: We already touched on headlines, which hold the highest importance for your ad, but your headline and tagline shouldn’t always be the same. Your tagline is a short, memorable phrase that demonstrates the vision behind your offer.
With your headline, it’s better to be clear instead of cute. With your tagline, it’s better to be distinctive than it is to be dry.
Crafting a compelling tagline leverages memory recall, which can be to your advantage since you want to stay top of mind when it’s time for your ideal customer to make a purchase.
Here are a few common taglines that the world has adopted over time:
Nike: Just Do It
Apple: Think Different.
Subway: Eat Fresh.
A clear and strong CTA: Your main goal with your landing page is to get your users to take a specific action. Sometimes, marketers fall into the trap of “selling mode” and neglect the need for a refined call to action focused on the product or service’s value to the end user.
Think of the CTAs you commonly see across different websites and platforms:
“Sign up now.”
Yes, technically, they’re telling the user to take a specific action. But that’s just it—they’re telling as opposed to guiding.
Those CTAs don’t communicate value from a user perspective. By changing your language, your CTAs can become more targeted and personalized, converting 42% more visitors into leads than non-targeted CTAs like the ones above.
Here’s how you give those CTAs a personal touch. Notice the word “your” in each line:
“Take charge of your finances.”
“Grow your following.”
“Launch your site.”
Urgency: Listen, there are billions of search entries per day, which means that you need to compete for your audience’s attention.
After you’ve crafted your headline and tagline, it’s time to bring it home with a sense of urgency that signals the value of your commodity.
Set a deadline, offer a bonus incentive, use phrases like “last chance,” “before it’s gone,” and “one time only.”
In part due to advertisers using this strategy, online shopping for Black Friday hit a record $9 billion in 2020. The products are similar to what you’d typically see year-round. But, who wants to miss out on a good deal?
Tip: Writing conversion-focused copy can take more time than you think. You need to research your customers and their past purchase behaviors, test different copy combinations, and create high-quality content quickly to remain competitive.
That’s why we’ve acquired Snazzy AI, an AI content generator that takes the pain out of copywriting to help you create those optimized marketing campaigns way faster. AI-powered copywriting gives you better results with less work. See how you can start optimizing your landing page copy with Snazzy—for free.
Your post-click landing page is the user’s first impression of your brand—so you have to be looking your best.
There are endless theories out there regarding what colors and images you should use on your landing page to bring you closer to converting visitors. Before relying on those “best practices” to provide the results you’re looking for, you should always, always, always let your copy inform your use of imagery.
One way to get started is to make sure the header on your post-click landing page matches the keywords and/or CTAs used in your PPC ad.
Let’s use the Deel payroll search ad as an example.
Take a look at their post-click landing page:
The landing page doesn’t imply Deel will do the payroll for you (as they state in their headline). However, the keywords “world,” “work,” and “international” all work in tandem with the image of the young employee dressed in casual clothing, wearing a backpack, and smiling.
Even without reading the descriptive text, you can tell that you’ve landed in alignment with where you expected the ad to take you.
(Excitement and interest sustained .)
As a B2B company, Deel is less likely to be targeting the persona shown in this image. However, research has shown that visitors respond best to landing pages with realistic, human imagery instead of stock images.
Instead of using the header of this post-click landing page to feature a picture of a hiring manager, Deel creatively uses the image of a satisfied employee (the woman looks ecstatic) able to work remotely from anywhere in the world.
So, here are some questions to consider when choosing imagery based on the keywords used in your PPC copy:
- What does your headline say?
- What is it communicating (ease, quality, simplicity, speed)?
- Who’s your target persona for this ad?
- How can they be reflected in your header image?
- What emotions from your ad copy will you mirror in the imagery you choose?
Also, keep in mind that social proof and testimonials can be your best friend.
Word of mouth recommendations from industry friends carries a lot of weight in the B2B world. About 97% of B2B customers stated that testimonials and peer recommendations are the type of content they rely on most.
Business is changing these days, and people are much more skilled at judging the authenticity of a brand from their landing page imagery, clientele, and presence online.
You can also optimize your landing page to feature images of the product your customers enjoyed the most or had questions about.
Creating personalized experiences for different segments of your audience is no easy feat.
More companies started using an account-based marketing (ABM) approach for this very reason—but even ABM marketers admit that personalizing their strategy is their biggest challenge due to the complexity of scaling campaigns without losing that effect.
Demographic data alone won’t cut it.
You’ll need to know more about your audience segments than just their age, where they live, and how much money they make.
Your PPC ad will perform better when you use segmentation to target different keyword variations, locations, personas, and events.
Making audience research a continuous process will help inform the details you’ll need for your PPC ads.
- Conducting customer interviews or distributing micro surveys.
- Monitoring social media platforms.
- Comparing competitive data.
- Monitoring site performance.
Then you have all the data you need to personalize your PPC ads.
On top of targeting demographic data like age, location, and gender, it also helps to consider the psychographic data of each of your audience segments. Understanding the habits of your ideal customers allows you to take advantage of time targeting.
Let’s not beat around the bush: PPC campaigns can get expensive quickly.
By monitoring the conversion and performance data day by day and comparing it to previous weeks, you’ll be able to spot times of peak engagement that occur on specific days within a defined time frame. It’s a technique called dayparting.
You can use the technique to optimize your PPC campaigns and control your ad spend by serving ads at those specific peak times.
Psychographic data can help you with your ad scheduling and assist you in creating variant post-click landing pages that convert visitors.
You want to be that overeager friend in the group that asks all the questions:
→ What are their working hours?
→ When do they like to shop online?
→ What devices do they use to shop online?
→ What payment options do they prefer for online purchases?
→ What are their hobbies?
This way, you can segment your PPC targeting by topics, interests, and life events.
With Google’s broad match keyword targeting, the keywords in your PPC campaign can show up beside related topics that don’t contain your keyword.
For example, if your keyword were “low-carb diet plan,” it would show up as a result in the associated searches below:
Broad match keyword targeting can help you find audiences you may not have considered and give you insight into how you can optimize your search terms if you’d like to make them more refined.
But that ad spend will pile up quickly if you have a broad target with no way of narrowing down your audience.
The key to saving your ad spend is to use negative keywords in conjunction with your primary keyword terms and phrases. You can continue with your long-tail keyword “low-carb diet plan” while excluding the common search term “diet” so you won’t serve your ad to general audiences.
Once you find the proper targeting parameters for your various audience segments, you need to make sure that to maintain your personalized message on your post-click landing page.
You can create various post-click landing pages by simply adding a few thoughtful edits to your original creation.
Let’s continue with the low-carb diet plan idea:
- If one audience segment is women, 25-30, living in Los Angeles, searching for low-carb diet plans, tired of going to the gym, and making $70K annually, modify the imagery and CTAs on your post-click landing page to appeal to that persona.
- If another audience segment is men, 35-40, living in Manhattan, searching for low-carb diet plans, tired of eating fast food, with no time for the gym, and making $50K annually, modify the imagery and CTAs on your post-click landing page to appeal to that persona.
Creating variants may take more time, but your audience will be far more likely to respond to an offer that shows an intimate understanding of their situation.
If you need help expediting this process, check out Unbounce’s Smart Traffic tool.
Page structure, design & hierarchy
Once a user lands on your post-click landing page, the heat is on.
This is the consideration stage at which that visitor either becomes a customer or chooses to leave your site.
Tip: Keep in mind that site bounces aren’t always a bad thing. Of course, we always want visitors to convert, but that’s not realistic for most first-time visitors. Learn how to leverage remarketing here, so you never lose touch with a potential customer.
You have two main goals with your post-click landing page:
1. Ensure that PPC ad messaging is maintained
2. Reduce friction along the path to purchase
Advertisements above the fold have about 73% more viewability than CTAs below the fold. If your site visitor needs more convincing, then they’ll scroll down for supporting info. But make sure your main message is prominent on your page.
It also helps to have data on the device your target audience uses most frequently to browse online. For example, heat mapping shows how users navigate your page, including where they click and how far they scroll.
You can leverage this data to make changes to where you place information and structure your page with a user interface (UI) design delivering a great customer experience for both mobile and desktop devices.
In July 2021, a study found that 49.71 percent of total web visits come via mobile, compared to 50.29 percent from desktops. Even if the ratio favors desktop over mobile, optimizing the mobile user experience (UX) is still good practice.
There’s one way you can ensure your design transfers well between devices: visual hierarchy.
If you follow the law of visual hierarchy, you increase your chances of getting your visitor to convert. Users will spend an average of 6 seconds above the fold on your post-click landing page. You’ll want to make sure you’re as clear as possible, that you sustain the excitement from the PPC ad, and that there are no interruptions.
Speaking of interruptions, don’t do this:
Even if your newsletter has thousands of subscribers and you feel that any interested page visitor could benefit from it, now is not the time.
Remember: Reduce friction along the path to purchase.
This brings us to the length of the forms you might be hosting on your post-click landing page.
First, you’ll need to confirm what type of information is critical for this step of the signup process and whether you need new leads or higher-quality leads.
If you need new leads, short and straightforward forms make the best first impression. You just need to make sure you have enough information to contact these new leads.
Ask for their:
- First name
- Last name
If you deem it necessary, you can also ask for their job function and the company they work for. But for locking in new leads, this form shouldn’t exceed five questions.
In the B2B world, you’ll often need to sift through hundreds of forms to segment higher-quality leads. You’ll want to make sure the people filling your forms can pay for your offer and are confident in your solution.
For longer forms, it’s common to ask questions like:
- First name
- Last name
- Job function
- CRM system(or alternative tech inquiries)
Again, knowing your audience segments will help you create the right forms for the right clientele.
Tip: B2B doesn’t have to be boring. The colors, images, and graphics on your forms have a big influence on that last click. We’re not saying, “Grab a CSS expert and go wild!”
Use the styling of your landing page forms to stay aligned with the personality of your audience segments. Oh, and don’t be afraid of white space. Having a bit of white space around your forms increases its readability.
Using a tool like Hotjar across different pages you’ve published can help you understand how your audience navigates content. This practice of heat mapping shows you how visitors interact with individual website pages, where they get stuck, and what elements they spend the most time on to optimize your landing pages based on real-time interaction data.
That’s one step closer to working smarter instead of harder if you ask us.
Streamlining your strategy
Once you make sure your landing page and PPC ad copy are in complete alignment, it’s time to set some goals and get into campaign mode.
Throughout this guide, we’ve been talking as if you’re selling a product or service. In truth, we don’t know what your goal is.
That’s because whether it’s brand awareness, lead generation, or sales, the same principle still applies: Optimize the post-click experience through message matching.
Copy, segmentation, and page design are the tools you’ll need to make that happen. And once it does, there are a few metrics that will matter more than others. These include:
- Landing page views: Page views are the first indication your PPC ad struck a chord with someone (hooray!). The number of page views your PPC ad generates shows you two things: Whether your ad copy reaches your audience (or not) and attracts the right audience (or not).
- Sessions by Source: When you’re able to see where traffic to your post-click landing page is coming from, it saves you from guessing how to optimize your campaigns. Whether people are reaching your post-click landing page from a blog post, a referral website, a display ad, or a search ad, these insights reveal where your target audience spends their time online and your best way of reaching them. Once that’s discovered, you can refine your targeting to base your ad spend on demographics, timing, and trigger events that have already shown positive results.
- Bounce rate: As we mentioned above, as much as we dislike it, bounce happens. Bounce rates represent the percentage of visitors that come to your page and leave without viewing other pages or converting. Your bounce rate doesn’t mean you failed. It’s an opportunity to figure out what isn’t resonating with visitors.
- Goal completions: Here’s a metric that shows you when you’re winning! Whether it’s a purchase, a subscription, or a resource download, conversions are what make your efforts worthwhile. Just make sure that you’re tracking the goal completions that justify your investment in the PPC campaign compared to company revenue.
- Cost per acquisition (CPA): This is the metric that shows how much money you’re spending. CPA is the average amount you pay for a customer to take action like:
- Filling out a form
- Downloading a resource
- Purchasing a product
- Signing up for a newsletter
Here’s a simple formula to calculate CPA: ad spend ÷ number of actions taken.
You don’t want to wait for this number to get high and out of control before optimizing your campaign, so improving your CPA and making the most of your marketing budget is essential.
Put It All Together and What Do You Get?
A dedicated landing page for your PPC ads (rather than just a generic homepage) enables you to streamline content and reduce friction along the path to purchase.
With this guide, you can rest assured that, regardless of the format you choose for your PPC campaign, your post-click landing pages will be ready to go.
Remember why your PPC ads need a dedicated landing page:
1. To align to the user.
2. To increase personalization for your audience segments.
3. To increase conversions, of course!
To achieve those goals, you’ll need to focus on a combination of copy, imagery, page design/structure, and audience targeting. It may sound like a lot, but it’s all about connecting the dots. Make sure you keep your messaging consistent, and you’ll be well on your way to optimizing a post-click landing page that delivers better results in your PPC campaign.
If you need help testing out variants of your landing page, try Smart Traffic and let machine learning speed up your results to get the best conversion rates possible.