How to Improve Your Ad ROI with Landing Pages
by Deb Harrsch
Do you remember when every ad pointed to a company’s home page on their website? It wasn’t all that long ago either – especially for B2B companies in the life sciences and software industries.
Did you ever experience that? When you clicked on a web address listed in an ad and landed on a home page, did you feel lost and left wondering what on earth you were supposed to do next?
That particular use of an ad spend always frustrated me and left me asking customers, “What do you want visitors to do?” The response I used to receive was typically, “What do you mean, what do I want them to do?”
If you expect to show an ROI for your ad spend, you’ve got to do more than drop an interested visitor on a random web page with no instructions.
What you’ve got to do is ‘marry’ the ad to a landing page. That landing page needs to:
- Look the same as the ad your potential customers viewed
- Finish your marketing message from your ad
- Tell the visitor what they should do next
It’s only by helping your visitor finish their journey that you’ll produce a measurable ROI from your ad spend.
What is a Landing Page?
Let’s begin with some basics. A landing page is a web page built specifically for an ad campaign. It is the spot on your website where someone lands (hence “landing” page) after they have clicked on the link in your ad. It has one goal – to deliver the call-to-action (CTA) of your ad campaign.
Whether your ad is a print ad, Google display ad, a digital ad from a trade publication or a LinkedIn ad, in every single case it will drive to a specific landing page to finish your marketing message and deliver your CTA.
The call-to-action is almost always a form for potential customers to download an asset that will provide them with information they need. Assets include white papers and/or case studies – these are the deliverables for any kind of advertising campaign. The trick is this: you cannot ask people to register for a case study, it would be like asking people to register for a brochure. The best practice is to provide both. Remember, at the end of the day it is about lead generation.
Every single ad should drive to a landing page. In this time of COVID marketing, the landing page has become so much more important than ever before.
There is no option, you’ve got to use them.
Why You Need a Landing Page
Your print or digital ads can’t just drop a prospect onto your website home page – or even a product page. If they do, your prospect will be lost. They won’t know what they are supposed to do next and you won’t capture their information. Your lead generation opportunity will be lost – and also the ROI on your ad spend.
A landing page does the heavy lifting in guiding ad prospects through the journey from your ad to your lead generation tool to your website and its content. It does three things for you remarkably well:
- One, it finishes your marketing message
- Two, it guides your customer and prospect on their journey
- And three, it’s rich in SEO
Here’s what I mean: the prospect clicks on the link in your digital ad or types in a vanity URL and travels to your landing page. The copy on your landing page finishes your message to the prospect and tells them what to do next (e.g. fill out the download form for your white paper). They’ll receive the white paper, and you’ll receive their contact information for follow-up. They’ll then follow the marketing path you set up within your website for them to explore.
In addition, search engines see every display ad or digital ad. And when they touch that ad, they follow the link that goes to your landing page. When search engines get to the landing page, they then follow the links on the landing page to the next step. For instance, if you’re sending them to a case study, it takes them there. If you’re taking them to a blog post, it takes them there. It’s a very rich source of organic SEO.
Where Do You Build a Landing Page?
There are two places where you can create your landing pages. One is inside your marketing automation platform. The other is inside your website.
The easiest – and most comprehensive way is through a marketing platform such as Marketo, Eloqua, HubSpot or SharpSpring. Some of our clients have marketing automation tools and we build landing pages in their specific platforms. But, we also have some clients that don’t have a marketing automation tool and we can use their website to help them meet their goals.
Most marketing automation platforms interface with your CRM systems and can track exactly who submits their information on the landing page’s download form. This gives you the ability to log and follow all these interested parties and allows your sales team to follow-up with the people who downloaded your content. You can also use this data to create an email marketing campaign which offers another related piece of content or even create an ongoing drip campaign. In addition, you can see real-time how your ad is doing without waiting for the publication to let you know weeks after the ad ran.
Many companies don’t have a marketing automation platform. While we do recommend one – and there are many reasonably priced ones available now – if a customer does not have one and doesn’t wish to use one, the default is to build the landing page on their website. If your website is developed using a content management system, like WordPress, this is a good substitute and it worked well for one of our clients.
One of our pharma clients didn’t have an automation platform, but did have a WordPress website. We were running an extensive ad campaign for them and needed a landing page. Our goal was to take prospects on a journey and focus the marketing message while ensuring we captured valuable leads. Because their website was WordPress, we had the flexibility to build the landing page right inside their site. The WordPress content management platform allowed us to create and publish a page that was only available to visitors through a unique URL or by clicking on a link in a digital ad.
There is one challenge to building landing pages within a website. It’s more difficult to create what we call ‘clones.’ Essentially, we create one landing page for the ad campaign and make copies of that page – each with a unique URL. Each cloned page with its unique address is assigned to individual ads. While this is more easily managed in a marketing automation platform, it still helps your website’s SEO and finishes your marketing message. It’s also a way to keep costs down.
3 Reasons Why You Need a Separate Landing Page for Each Ad
Why do you want to clone the same landing page? Doesn’t that get messy? Why would you want that many versions of the same page?
Well, no – it’s actually not messy and the reason behind why you want that many versions of the same page speaks to tracking and measurement. You do want to know exactly how each ad performs, don’t you?
I know that when I run ad campaigns for our clients, I want to know – and so do they!
Whether you’re placing print ads or digital ads, you should always create a landing with a specific URL for each ad placement. If you have the same ad in multiple places, but a different URL for each one, you’ll be able to tell which ad placement performed best.
This unique-URL-by-ad-placement approach also serves to measure any A/B testing of ads you do. Say you create two versions of an ad in your campaign and those two ads are placed in the same publication – but you use the same landing page for both. How do you know which performed better?
The only way to differentiate the A version from the B version’s performance is by using a different landing page.
Another reason you want to create specific landing pages is because publications can only tell you what your open rate was and that you received a certain number of click-throughs. (If you are running a gated white paper promotion, the publication will also provide you with a spreadsheet of names.)
Having individual landing pages is smart marketing and you get immediate monthly confirmation of what’s happening, what’s working, and what’s not working. By having your own landing pages, you receive far more data on your campaign, faster. With specific landing pages, you’ll be able to tell exactly who downloaded which asset from the landing page.
One of our clients is a software company with a product that helps labs dealing with COVID-19 research and testing. We placed several ads targeting different audiences. For our first one, we placed a digital publication ad which targeted researchers struggling to find good solutions to help them with the increases in COVID testing. The landing page had a custom URL specific to the ad placement and had 30 downloads. Another ad targeted professionals grappling with how to test their employees for COVID. This was also a digital publication ad with a different publication. This landing page also had a unique URL and had 22 downloads. That same client ran a promotion where the publication created and hosted a landing page for our client. That landing page produced 27 downloads. Having individual landing pages provides instantaneous data on our ads – and how each one is performing at any given time.
What Do You Need to Build an Ad Campaign that Delivers?
As I mentioned, in addition to targeted ad copy and proper ad placement, you’ll need landing pages and assets to deliver measurable ROI on your ad campaign.
But, what are some of the key things you need to do when you create your landing page?
- Landing page content should be tailored to your ad placement.
You’ll want to be sure you customize the copy and download offering to match the audience of each ad. For example, don’t create copy on the landing page focused on what software needs a researcher wants if the landing page is linked to an ad targeting non-research people (such as an HR professional).
- Match your download asset to the ad and make it exclusive!
The topic of your downloadable asset (like a white paper) should match what the landing page copy is talking about and offer exclusivity. For example, your download should be created from original content produced by your company that the prospect wouldn’t be able to get by going to your competitor. You can use your company’s mined data to create a white paper and prospects wouldn’t be able to get that information anywhere else.
- Update your landing pages.
The beauty of landing pages is that they can be updated at any time. As your campaign progresses and you learn more about what works, you can update landing pages to reflect that learning.
Still have questions about landing pages and ads? Give us a call!
Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, energy, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.