Landing Pages

We wouldn't be true online marketers if weren't also passionate about landing page and conversion optimization. So here you'll find all kinds of tips and tricks for increasing conversion rates on your landing pages. And if you're as focused on conversion optimization as we are, you might want to check out the ad tracking and PPC optimization features of our platform.

The Art of the Thank You Page

thank you page


Attention Marketers! Do you sell something or collect leads on your site? Thought so. I bet you’ve spent a lot of time designing paths to convert visitors into leads or sales.

If I were to ask you who were your highest value prospects, you would tell me, “The people who have taken a step down one of those paths by filling out a lead form.”

Most marketers spend hours, days, weeks & months optimizing landing pages to convince more people to fill out forms, but invest far less effort to optimize the thank you page and the user experience beyond it.

thank you elvis

Consider for a moment that if you have built a solid lead generation page that is compelling enough to get five percent of visitors to download a white paper, only 50 of one thousand visitors ever get to the thank you page, but those who do are your most valuable prospects.

Make certain that your thank you page treats your most valuable prospects the right way.

I visited a provider of cloud services infrastructure and downloaded a riveting white paper called 5 Ways Cloud-Integrated Storage Reduces Costs.

Even though a great deal of effort and expense had been expended to create this white paper, it downloaded without even sending me to a thank you page, suggesting additional content, or giving me a way to inquire without scrolling to the footer of the second page of the report.

The company did not acknowledge in any way that I had downloaded the report.

I visited the site of a large CPA firm and signed up for its newsletter. Once I did the email opt in, I went to this thank you page:

thank you content

Although the content on this CPA’s site is engaging and professional, he is missing an opportunity to make the most of the people who are ready to connect with him and his firm in a deeper way. His thank you page could let prospects know that he will soon be sending them the latest issue and a guide to other free information on the firm’s site.

I visited a leading firm providing chain of custody services and other specialized courier services. Here is a part of the page that firm sent me to when I filled out a lead generation form for one of their white papers:

thank you whitepaper

Now that I have expressed interest, this courier company does seem to want to talk to me, but under their terms. An additional nine-box form is a precondition of a conversation. This courier is making it hard for prospects to talk to them at a point when they have already taken a step to engage by trying to dictate when and how the next conversation will take place. Instead, this thank you page should offer options.

There should be a phone number to call an expert and the tone and substance of their thank you page should be friendlier. They should do better than offering a generic email address to those who are having problems getting the white paper.

Making the path so narrow and placing control with the company communicates a lack of interest in service and a lack of urgency in solving problems. Neither will make an inquiry warmer.

So what should your thank you page include?

  1. It should actually thank people and acknowledge the step that visitors have taken to engage.
  2. It should include additional suggested content that makes sense based upon the conversation that has taken place.
  3. It should promote social channels to invite deeper engagement and to turn prospects into fans.
  4. It should be clear about the next steps that will happen next.

Relationships start on the thank you page. Your thank you page is your first chance to impress someone who has placed trust in you. Make yours worthy of the King of Rock and Roll.

I hope this post has motivated you to reexamine your thank-you pages. Let our thank you post recommendations be a starting point. Here are some additional tips from Bruce Clay, User Experience Expert, Sandra Niehaus and GetElastic’s Linda Bustos to help you create superb thank you pages.

Thank you… Thank you very much.

Dan Golden is the President and Chief Search Architect with Be Found Online in Chicago. You can find Dan on Google+.

Are You Ready for Conversational Search?


It used to be the only time I talked to my computer was to scream expletives about how long it was taking to calculate a pivot table. That’s all about to change.

It’s time to tackle the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of search marketing….

Google Breaks Down Quality Score – Opportunity for Automation and Alerts?

I just finished reading another excellent blog post by Andrew Goodman from Page Zero Media

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that apparently, a few days ago Google, announced they will implement a new way to report on Quality Score by breaking it down into 3 components: Expected CTR, Ad Creative, and Landing Page Quality.

This has been a long time coming, and the implications for Acquisio and our customers are far reaching – finally advertisers will have direct feedback on which part of their ad strategy is causing issues with quality score, which as you probably know is an important determinant for success – including the price paid for clicks.

Imagine preparing a new campaign and learning ahead of time that your expected CTR will be lower than average for specific keywords? Or that your landing page quality for specific ads is below average? So many headaches avoided.

I can’t wait to design new campaign rules and alerts to help you take full advantage of this new data in AdWords.


Mobile Paid Search 101

In this clip, Marc Poirier Co-Founder and VP Marketing at Acquisio talks about mobile PPC and its implications for your paid search campaigns. Specifically, he looks at (1) the growth of mobile PPC, (2) what kind of advertisers it affects the most, (3) how mobile PPC ads differ from desktop PPC ads, (4) mobile landing pages, (5) how to choose mobile keywords, and (6) how to measure the success of your mobile paid search campaigns.


3 Tips to Use Paid Search for a Complex Sale

This is a repost of my monthly column at Search Engine Watch.

When you’re dealing with a niche and high value product, competition for active buyers in paid search can be fierce. And expensive. Consider this example from enterprise security:


It’s basic economics: the smaller the universe and higher the value of click, the higher the CPC. If you’re in B2B or marketing another complex purchase, you likely need to be in front of this audience.

But, it’s not the only way to reach them. And you can pay 90 percent less.

Target Prospects When They’re Ready to Learn

Buying isn’t a linear process, but prospects generally go through some various phases of consideration before they purchase. The classic marketing AIDA model is a good way to think of the phases of search activity. It stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action and looks a little like this:


Somebody searching for “networks security software,” for example, is likely in the Action phase. Their search goals are focused around the execution of their purchase vs. research about the problem.

That same person would like search “how to improve network security” or “network security advice” well before they’re ready to buy. When prospects are in the awareness stage, they’re looking for education, not a sales pitch.

They’re also much cheaper to target.

I know this from personal experience. I manage the paid search campaign for ClickEquations, a SaaS platform to help people measure and manage their paid search advertising more effectively. As you can imagine, reaching Action searchers is pricey.

However, that same audience often searches for education about how to manage paid search efficiently. You can offer them a white paper. Educational clicks are 90 percent less expensive:

Ready to Learn

Ready to Buy

In addition to reducing your cost, you get the benefit of reaching customers before the competition and the ability to establish yourself as a thought leader.

Successfully targeting learners vs. buyers requires a different approach. Here are three tips for reach your prospects when they’re ready to learn.

Tip 1: Get Their Contact Information Without Asking For It

It’s common knowledge that adding form fields decreases conversion rate and increases your cost-per-conversion in most cases. But, how much do you really give up?

Jon Miller, co-founder and head of marketing at Marketo (disclosure: I’m a customer), wrote a really interesting article where he quantified the cost of adding more fields to his landing pages:

Conversion rate decreased 30 percent and cost went up $10 per lead! Not surprisingly, the most expensive field to add was phone number.

Asking for a phone number is often a sticking point for sales and marketing. Sales wants and needs the number to reach out to prospects, but, for early stage, educational content in particular, prospects are reluctant to disclose it and you miss a chance to establish a relationship.

As Miller points out in the article, however, there are other ways to get the data.

One solution to consider is Jigsaw Enterprise. It’s a Salesforce company that’s directly integrated into the platform. What distinguishes it from others is their data source: it’s crowdsourced as people enter contact information they have to credits for the info they want.

It’s also automatic. You can set up the system to auto-append information that isn’t associated with the record (which I recommend rather than over-writing something a prospect or sales rep has entered):


The data, which is appended every 12 hours, isn’t perfect or complete and the system isn’t priced for small businesses. But it does offer an automated way to increase conversions without losing all of the contact information your sales team needs.

Tip 2: Integrate Offline Conversion Tracking

Finding the keywords and setting up a landing page are relatively straightforward processes when you’re targeting learners. As you would expect, these people need to be nurtured and marketed to over time before they move into the Desire and Action phases.

That exacerbates an underlying issue with complex sales: long sales cycles and offline conversions. Not every educational prospect will be equally valuable. That is say: not every lead is qualified.

Ultimately, we want to adjust our marketing mix and paid search buys based on what closes, not just who flirts with us.

From a PPC perspective, however, that presents a challenge as we have to tie together three systems:

  • Search engine data
  • Our PPC tool
  • Business outcomes from our customer relationship management (CRM) database

The trick to connecting the three systems together is the use of an external ID for each keyword. That unique key allows you connect front end data (clicks, cost, CPC) with online conversions (form submissions) and the later stage activity (opportunities, sales, retention).

A key can be any alphanumeric value, for example extid=18MQGH1MGKKQAG3T0.

You need four things to use this approach:

  1. System To Generate External IDs: This can be as simple as a spreadsheet or a more sophisticated platform that creates them automatically. Each key has to be specific to the keyword.
  2. Hidden Form Field to Capture External IDs: The IDs will be appended to your destination URL as a parameter. A hidden form field on your landing page will grab that ID from your URL. If you’ve ever setup a Salesforce form and added in a campaign or lead source variable, it’s the same approach.
  3. Method to Export External IDs with Values from a CRM: You need to be able to create a report or list that associates each external ID with a latent conversion and value from your system (e.g., “1 Opportunity” and “$500″).
  4. Tool to Connect Paid Search Data with External Conversions: Once you have an ID for a keyword and a value for that ID, you need technology to stitch together the two so you can measure, report, optimize, and bid on business outcomes.

Note that outcomes data, by its very nature, will be sparser than micro-conversions. You can optimize on earlier actions and do a biweekly or monthly review with the later stage data.

Tip 3: Retarget Prospects on the Display Network

It used to be that search marketers only got one, maybe two, chances to convert someone on a landing page before we lost them.

That changed with the introduction of retargeting, or remarketing as Google calls it. Briefly: remarketing allows you to show display ads only to an audience of people who have been to your site and exhibited some desirable behavior.

A classic business-to-consumer example is shopping cart recovery, or the targeting of buyers who added items to their shopping cart but who did not check out.

There is a parallel in B2B marketing. Prospects who visit your landing page, but don’t fill out your form are the most likely to convert from a display campaign and worth chasing with ads for a few days at least.

Setting up a remarketing campaign is relatively straightforward.

First, create what Google calls “Audience.” Set up a separate campaign for retargeting. Go to Campaigns > Audiences > Add Audience. If you don’t see the Audience tab, select the drop down arrow to add it.


In the “Create and manage lists” section, you’ll need to create three lists:

  1. People who visited your landing page.
  2. Those who visiting your thank you page (i.e., converted).
  3. A custom combination of list 1 and not list 2 (i.e., those who visited, but didn’t convert)

For each list (1 and 2), you’ll have a tag to put on your landing page (list 1) and your thank you page (list 2). This allows Google to cookie your audiences appropriately.

There is a lot of strategy in how to design and prioritize remarketing lists. I recommend you read Brad Geddes excellent article on the topic for more detail.

To be read for a remarketing campaign you’ll need:

  • Banner ads to run on the display network. You’ll want text ads too, as some sites don’t accept banner ads.
  • Separate campaigns for better budgeting and bidding.
  • Proper tracking and attribution. Last click will only make it look like your retargeting campaign deserves all of the credit.

And We’re Only Just Getting Started…

Complex sales require marketing that supports how buyers purchase at every stage. Paid search is an integral part of that mix. If you’re locked out of active buyers because of CPCs or simply looking for a way to expand your PPC buy, targeting prospects when they need education is a great strategy.

To learn more about B2B paid search, I recommend you read The Buyersphere Project by Mediative (formerly Enquiro) and Ryan DeShazer’s recent column, “The Reinvention of B2B Paid Search.”

Secret Truth Series #20 – Great PPC Is Only Half The Battle

Paid search doesn’t exist in a vaccum, although it frequently operates in one.

We spend our days, brain power, and sweat building and rebuilding links in the chain of customer attraction and conversion only to have other important links in that same chain be effectively mismatched, perpeturally ignored, and often broken.

These realities have a direct impact on our results and yet have been pushed out of sight and out of mind too much of the time.

It’s no secret that the people responsible for driving traffic to the website very often aren’t in control of user experience once visitors arrive. This disconnnect is undoubtedly responsible for more waste and poor performance than even the worst bidding strategies, the poorest match type choices, or almost any other optimization mistake.

We began this series with the premise that each search is a question and each text ad an answer, or more accurately the promise of an answer. The answer of course has to be delivered on the landing page and website that the user is invited to visit.

A great many of the subsequent items in the series have focused on diversifying the questions you’re targeting, and differentiating them in terms of at least the ad groups and ad copy. Of course they should also be differentiated in terms of landing page too.

In some cases this is simply a matter of choosing the right landing page, but much more frequently it should also be a matter of creating new landing pages. Even if you have a large site with lots of highly targeted landing page candidates to choose from, your keywords and the search queries they attract will cover many different intents and personality types and buying cycle stages that aren’t addressed on existing versions of those pages.

Of course, almost nobody actually builds landing pages that aligned with all of their user segments because the resources aren’t available. Website developement tools, which for years ignored the basics of SEO but almost a decade later have finally included simple capabilites like title tag optimization and friendly URL structures, need to step up and make these types of page variation creation and management as easy as CSS has made on-the-fly font size or other design changes.

A precisely targeted and tactically aligned landing page is only the first step in the post-click conversion process. Many of the others – offer quality, purchase path, checkout process, etc – get even less attention than landing pages, on most sites. Yet despite some level of commercial visibility and conference session coverage, very few websites get any testing or tuning after deployment.

The exception seems to be in the lead-gen world, where offers are few in number and very high in value, extensive post-click testing is a necessary element of survival. But retailers and b2b marketers, in what seems like the vast majority of cases, do not have a culture of testing or the post-click resources are really necessary to work on an on-going basis on the entire start to finish process.

Is that your experience? Is there a good explanation for this?

The Real Issue

There are two problems with all of this.

First, paid search is judged and measured, and tuned and optimized, based on the results it produces despite the fact that it only controls a part of the sequence. PPC may be sending qualified buyers who are bungled post-click. Yet PPC generally gets the blame and has to adjust.

Second, full revenue potential is not being realized. Forgetting who is responsible and why, the fact that full end-to-end optimization isn’t happening is limiting our results. Those additional sales would benefit the entire organization, including of course the PPC team and the site owners and everyone’s larger business and economic interests.

This is a gigantic problem. It’s a failure of tools, training, resource allocation, and people. Paid search is a 40B industry for a few search engines, but on the spend side it’s made up of hundreds of thousands of relatively tiny advertisers who don’t have the scale, knowledge, or resources to get anywhere near optimization.

Something has got to change. Any ideas?

This blog post is part of a series extending and amplifying the ideas in our free ebook ’21 Secret Truths of High-Resolution PPC’.

What they’re saying: “Everything you know about AdWords is the basics Google wanted you to know. Just enough to get you hooked. But what if there was fundamental secrets that they neglected to share? Would you want to know them? Now you can! 21 Secrets Truths is what you must read, no, act on, before your competitors do.”

- Bryan Eisenberg Conversion Expert and New York Times Best-Selling Author ’.

Download Your Copy Today


The Best Things in Life are Free

Sam Cooke once said that the best things in life are free- the flowers in spring, the robins that sing, and free consulting at Search Engine Strategies Toronto. Okay, he didn’t really say the last one.

This year, SES Toronto is on fire with express and site clinics. You now have the chance to review your site with top industry experts and get solid actionable recommendations… you know, the kind of stuff we don’t all have a budget for.

Site clinics will take place on Day 2 (June 11th) and include:

Search Ads & Landing Page Clinic

Moderated by Bryan Eisenberg, yours truly and Mona Elesseily will show you how to carry out your promises from ad to landing page to ensure a smooth visitor experience, increase your relevancy, and boost your conversions.

Tough Love: Get Your Site Tuned Up

Let experts Jonathan Allen and Dawn Wentzell give you a little tough love about your site in a session moderated by Mike Grehan. They may be tough on you, but you’ll love the tips and tricks you learn in this session.

Here are the express clinics lined up:

  • Express Search Usability Clinic
  • On-The-Spot SEO Site Review
  • 3 Steps to Conversion Nirvana
  • Landing Page Improvement Clinic
  • Socializing your Website
  • If Links are Votes… Is your Site on the Ballot?

These clinics are free for anyone to attend and require no appointments. Best of all, they’re spread out throughout the 2 days, which means you can go to all of them if you choose to.

If you’d like some suggestions for sessions to attend, check out Andrew Goodman’s blog post: Red Hot Topics at SES Toronto 2010.

And While You’re There…

Make sure you stop by the Acquisio booth to say hello and pick up one of our famous t-shirts. People who wore Acquisio t-shirts during SES New York have reported having better social lives, getting promoted at work, and being offered free drinks… no, seriously, see for yourself:

See you in Toronto!

3D PPC Landing Pages

How do you make your PPC landing pages jump off the screen?

a. By giving your visitors cheesy 3D glasses? Everyone looks sexy in those.

b. By designing with animated Gifs, CSS sprites, and excessive Flash?

c. By optimizing your landing pages with the 3 Dimensions of the conversion trinity developed by Bryan Eisenberg?

Did you guess right? Fresh off Bryan Eisenberg’s online presentation 2 weeks ago where he introduced his conversion trinity; a simple but very effective way to optimize your PPC landing pages by examining the following 3 dimensions:

1. Relevance: Focusing on understanding the intent of your visitors and delivering the most relevant content for their needs.

2. Value: Making sure your visitors understand the value of purchasing from you.

3. Call To Action: Making sure that your visitors not only know what action they should take next, but that they feel comfortable taking it as well.

To put this more in perspective for you, I’ll show you how we’ve used the trinity internally to develop a landing page for our new free eBook: You Know You Need a PPC Management Tool When… (see my analysis below the graphic.)

1. Relevance

We’re in the business of PPC, talking about PPC to the people who like PPC.  Think of it the same way you would about your keyword targeting and ad placement.

Just like  a PPC ad, when a visitor clicks on your offer, you’ve only done half the job by making it compelling enough and click-worthy. Finish off the job by making sure that your landing page not only matches the offer, but reinforces it. This offering is about a free eBook and so is the landing page.

Besides, you don’t really want your ads looking like this:

You want them to look more like:

2. Value

I’m sure your offer is unique and valuable, but what are you doing to convey that to your visitors? This is where your unique value proposition (UVP) needs to be prominent on the page to remind your visitors of why you’re not only a relevant, but the best solution for their problem. This where you also get to harness the power of copywriting to convey the value of your offer in an easy way that stands out.

In this case, Acquisio’s UVP (PPC management software for agencies) is loud and clear at the top of the page. We’ve also used concise bullet points that first communicate pains the visitors can relate to, then benefits they can use to overcome their problems.

3. Call To Action

Nothing is worse than a visitor bouncing off your page because they didn’t know what to do next. It’s your job to hold their hand and guide them throughout the whole experience, until you lead them to the action you want them to take.

To ensure that, we’ve designed our call to action buttons using action verbs with implied benefits that are relevant to the offer. “Get Your Copy” vs “Submit” or “Download”.

Finally, a little scent doesn’t hurt. We’ve made sure our e-mail blast and landing page are not visually disconnected by using the same template, pictures, and wording.

Whether you’re currently running some ads you can evaluate, or thinking about creating some new ones, make sure you keep those 3 dimensions in mind to create relevant, valuable, and actionable landing pages that pop off the screen for your visitors.

PPC Management Tips

In this podcast interview, Marc Poirier, Co-Founder and CMO of Acquisio talk about ad:tech NYC 2009 and he offers some tips to manage your pay per click campaigns, including:

  • Keyword evaluation
  • Keyword structure
  • Landing page optimization

Listen the podcast interview (5 min.)

Marc was interviewed at ad:tech 2009 NYC by Brian Eisenberg for Webmaster Radio.

Multi-Variate Landing Page Testing for Beginners

That title is a trick, I’m mostly a beginner myself when it comes to multivariate – it was basically beyond my reach before Google decided to eviscerate the proletariat and release Google Website Optimizer tool (GWO) – killing offer all competitors with another amazing free app. Love to hate those guys.

I’d like this to be a follow up to my previous post where I tried to show the essentials of photoshop for beginners, specifically with respect to creating basic layouts for landing pages. It’s really intended for people who need to create (actually be the creative person behind) the landing page elements themselves, even if they can’t do the final design….