1:1 Attention Ratio Works – A Study in Conversion Rate Optimization
We had a lot of landing pages for our PPC campaigns. One for every keyword cluster sitting in Google Adwords adgroups. Each page had the main keyword in the header and spoke to it in the copy. Then, we made an offer for a free resource, asking visitors to fill out a form.
These pages served us well for a long time. Google preaches continuity between search query, ad copy, and landing page copy.
In their best practices Google suggests making landing pages more robust than just an offer with a form. We added thought leadership copy to many of the pages to fulfill that Google suggestion as well.
This was the right move at the time. Google instituted Quality Score as a variable in their ad rank formula in late 2008. They played this up as an important component to how well your ads placed on the page and the cost per clicks.
Many postulated that Quality Score required substantial and topically-related content just like Google’s suggestions for higher organic ranking.
However, Oli Gardner from Unbounce planted a seed in June 2014, speaking about conversion rate optimization at Inbound Marketing Day in Milwaukee.
He preached the 1:1 Attention Ratio, which encourages marketers to remove all extraneous stuff from their landing pages. It sounded obvious and rang true, but the idea triggered an existential crisis.
What about Google’s suggestion to have more content than just offer and lead generation form on a landing page? Do I dare take a different approach? Google is, by far, our top channel for lead generation.
I had to test it.
De-escalation Adgroup Test
Here are two old ads:
And here is the landing page. Needed two screenshots to capture it because it’s long.
Humor me here. This is what Google said they wanted. I had copy and a video (which is our top watched video on Youtube), and a link to our de-escalation product. After we overwhelmed the visitor with goodness we offered them a free resource. This page did pretty well for us actually.
We also had another de-escalation lander that featured an entire article and an eBook offer. Again, not a bad performer.
As I was thinking about this stuff we came out with a new resource, CPI’s Top 10 De-escalation Tips. It was perfect for a test, because it was applicable to most of our target markets. De-escalation skills are useful to everybody in education, healthcare, and human service.
First, I tested the offer in the de-escalation adgroup. Copywriter Erin Harris wrote copy to sell the download. Front end developer Terrence Foulk built a landing page. And, I created new ads offering the free resource. Nothing else.
It worked well, so I knew we had a solid offer.
I put the De-escalation Tips ads in more adgroups testing it against other more generic ads.
The de-escalation offer outperformed the more keyword specific landing pages. The clickthrough rate was lower on some of the ads that didn’t contain the keyword, but the de-escalation resource conversion rate was much better in every instance.
That was enough proof for me. The new de-escalation page focusing just on the De-escalation Tips offer was a winner.
Here are the elements.
- Clean look.
- Lots of white and light gray space.
- Eye catching header image.
- Headline that calls out the resource on offer.
- Subheader that explains what you get with this offer.
- Sparse copy and a bulleted list calling out some of the specifics of the offer.
- Call to action.
- Shorter form because we removed the eNewsletter subscription (see below for more on that).
- The form submit button says “Get the Tips” rather than “Submit.” Oli hates buttons with the word “submit.” He’s right. It does sound like you’re asking people to give up their happy lives and submit to your omnipotent command. “Get the Tips” reinforces what we’re offering maintaining the 1:1 ratio.
Streamlining the Rest of Our Offers
With this success in mind Erin put together copy for the rest of our resources. Terrence built the pages and I spread the ads into more adgroups. We completed the transition in both Google and Bing on June 1.
Record Number of Leads
We had a record number of leads brought in by PPC in June…a month that is the start of the summer downturn.
Here are the relevant results comparing Year-Over-Year (June 2014 vs. June 2015), and Month-Over-Month (May 2015 vs. June 2015).
Whoa! This is working.
In one less day June 2015 got 18% more conversions than May 2015. Again, June is when traffic starts to drop for search queries we target. The impressions actually went up because I revisited adgroups that I had paused long ago because they weren’t producing conversions at a reasonable price. It will be interesting to see if the new landing pages make them viable again.
As expected, the clickthrough rate (CTR) went down because the ads are offer-based rather than keyword-based. The cost per click (CPC) went up, which is what often happens when CTR goes down. That, also, may have been a result of re-engaging lesser performing adgroups for testing purposes.
Conversions went up. Cost per conversion went down by $2.22/conversion (14% decrease), and the conversion rate jumped to 7.98% from 6.66% (20% increase).
May 2015 was also a good month for us as we started the switch over process to these new landers, but June 2015 rocked it as our best Google Adwords conversion month ever. March 2015 was our previous best month with 817 conversions at $16.07/conversion.
Responsive Landing Pages (Mobile-Friendly)
Another piece to this campaign was mobile-friendly landing pages. In Google and Bing you can keep mobile traffic from seeing your ads. I was doing this because I didn’t want people on smart phones visiting our non-responsive landing pages. Marketo was slow to create a responsive template, so Terrence took it upon himself to build one from scratch.
This contributed to the overall number of leads generated, because we tapped into a channel (mobile searchers) we were avoiding previously. Here is the breakdown of NCI-related traffic on the Google Search Network between June 2 and July 13.
Prevention Perspectives Sign Up
One final interesting piece to this campaign was the Prevention Perspectives eNewsletter sign up. The old version of the form on our lead generation page included a chunk asking for a subscription to PP. This broke the rules of 1:1 Attention ratio by adding another element to the page potentially causing user confusion.
So, we moved the Prevention Perspectives sign up form to the refresh page. After we capture the lead information, we refresh to a page that has a link to the resource the user requested and a short form asking them if they want to sign up for an edition of Prevention Perspectives.
I expected our subscription rate to drop off. But, the improved conversion rate on the initial form was worth it.
The subscription rate did drop from mid-70% to 46.34%. But, more people saw the subscription offer because of the increase in leads. Thus, we grabbed a record 793 subscribers in June, outpacing the previous record of 435 in August 2014.
More Conversion Rate Optimization Tests
Hey, this conversion rate optimization (CRO) stuff works. Iterate, test, improve offers, ad copy, and landing pages and get more leads with the same traffic channels.
More Ideas to Test
I am currently testing slipping the main keyword from the adgroup in the ad, while still promoting the offer. This may be the best of both worlds or it may cause confusion. I’ll report on that next.
Our current page includes a header image with people in settings that are relatable to the people we are targeting.
I want to swap those images out with an image of the resource. Oli said that the following template is one of Unbounce’s top performers. He hasn’t guided me wrong yet, so we might as well use that as inspiration for our next design.
Finally, I’d like to add testimonials for the resources. We’re going to set up a survey that resource downloaders can take to offer feedback, including a free form field to tell us what they think. We’ll take the strongest positive feedback and add it to the landing page. This addition shouldn’t distract from the 1:1 Attention ratio, because it’s a positive social signal encouraging people to download the offer.
Read Oli’s words: 6 Things I Do to My Landing Pages When My Conversion Rates Suck