Friday, November 30, 2007

Helpful SEM Advice from MarketingSherpa

If you missed it, MarketingSherpa hosted a webcast on New Research: Top 5 Tests to Raise Landing Page Conversions earlier this week. Key findings from their presentation:

  • Marketing results are generally getting better—either marketers are getting landing page design down to more of a science, or the strong economy is fueling more buyer interest, or some combination of the two.

  • The most popular test was dynamic pages—changing the information displayed on the landing page to reflect the exact search term. Considering that half of the respondents don't or can't do even simple a/b testing, it's surprising that a sophisticated technique like dynamic landing pages would generate this level of response, but that's what their data showed. Here is MarketingSherpa's example of this practice, though it doesn't work quite right (I actually searched for "stratocaster guitar," not "stratocaster parts").

  • Other popular tests included registration forms (shorter is better); creative design (the key is eyeflow—two columns are better than three, one column is better than two); and optimizing SEO landings (which should be a no-brainer).

  • Other design findings: never use center-justified text, avoid reversed-text (light on dark background) if at all possible, and use big type: 10 point minimum, 12 point is better. Make buttons big—you should be able to see them from six feet away from your monitor.

  • I've had it drilled into me that "PR is NOT lead gen," but one company that linked terms in its press releases to specific landing pages on its site saw a 12.5% conversion rate. Hmm, may be worth trying.

  • The most important—and basic—point is that you can't manage (or test) what you can't measure: nearly 20% of respondents had no way to test landing page results. They are (quite possibly) wasting their money just paying for clicks.

  • And the most surprising point: 16% of respondents said they didn't share SEM results with their agencies. My question is: why isn't their agency managing their SEM program in the first place?

For more MarketingSherpa advice on landing pages, you may want to check out this excerpt from their 2007 Landing Page Handbook (or spring for the $497 full copy).

They also recently published an outstanding case study on improving SEM results through Google's content network entitled How to Get the Most Out of Google AdWords—8 Strategies to Maximize ROI. It's one of the best pieces I've seen providing clear, concise and practical advice on maximizing content network results. Sandy Sanges has also written a good piece, More Traffic For Less Money — How To Get The Most From Content Campaigns, on content network targeting.

Lest you think I'm a shill for MarketingSherpa—naw, just a fan, as they usually do excellent work. Once in a while, however, they blow it. Another of their recent case studies, "How to Use Online Calculators for Lead Generation & Quadruple Conversion Rates," sounds tempting but is crap to be avoided at all costs. The campaign it describes is too idiosyncratic for broader application; too expensive for most marketing budgets; and panders to global warming hysteria—"carbon footprint" nonsense designed only to make the ridiculous Al Gore even wealthier. I remain a fan of MarketingSherpa, but even their experts screw up now and then.


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom


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