Try as Washington might, the economy is bad and there's no way around it. Budgets are being slashed and workforces are being cut.
It is widely thought that search advertising will be one of the last to feel the brunt of the economy's affect on advertising.
Still, search marketers are faced with pressure to keep the sales coming in during these tough times. Google Website Optimizer's Tom Leung says, "It's like trying to get your car to go the same amount of distance on less gas."
The good news is that you can help improve your search marketing campaign's miles-per-gallon with Landing Page Testing.
When marketers use landing page testing, their conversions almost always increase. And right now, that might mean maintaining - or even increasing - sales.
"Landing page testing is a continual process and should be focused on even more when the economy is down," says Al Scillitani, Internet Marketing Manager at Global Golf. "We have increased conversions dramatically by simply moving category links from one location to another, adding different promotional verbiage (dollars off vs percent off), testing different call to actions, etc."
Eric J. Hansen, president and founder of SiteSpect Inc., a provider of multivariate testing services, agrees. He compared landing page testing to plugging holes in a leaky bucket.
“During an uncertain economy, it is crucial for online marketers to test and optimize their landing pages. Landing page effectiveness is typically measured by bounce-rate – the percentage of visitors who hit the back-button instead of browsing deeper into the site. Average landing page bounce rates range from 50% to 70%. Multivariate testing enables marketers to greatly reduce landing page bounce rates; in effect, driving more visitors into the site and towards the key conversion points that generate revenue."
Not only can you generate more revenue from increased conversions, but you can save money on your search advertising campaign as well.
"Optimizing your landing pages also lifts ROI from pay-per-click advertising, since fewer dollars are wasted on bounced traffic," said Hansen.
Complicating matters is the ever-changing search landscape. Oliver Chaine, CEO and Founder of magnify360, a behavioral marketing firm, says, "Landing page testing is an absolute necessity today both because PPC has the highest ROI in this climate of shrinking budgets and because of Google's recent changes to the way it calculates quality score. As of last month, Google began calculating marketers' quality score against every single impression. That means that your CPC and your rankings now rely on the relevancy of your landing pages to every single visitor."
It may even be wise to spend money to invest in landing page optimization. The costs could be offset by increased conversions.
"The best way to ensure that relevancy is through testing and optimizing your landing page content and ensuring that your [Landing Page Optimization] provider can test and serve the right variation in real-time to each and every visitor," said Chaine. "The major upside of an investment in testing however, is that with a low CPC, you can reinvest your savings in outbidding your competitors and completely dominating search."
Google's Leung compares investing in landing page testing to winterizing a house. You might have to spend money making your house more efficient, but in the long run, it will ultimately save you money.
Also, Don't forget that landing page testing can also help influence other marketing campaigns both online and off.
"Our landing page testing results help us in many other ways. We use what we have learned for email campaigns and our paid search ads and paid search landing pages. We have seen an increase in email open rates and email and paid search click thru rates all leading to higher conversions and revenue," said Al Scillitani.
Another way to think about landing page testing is what happens if you don't do it. Google's Leung says marketers who aren't doing testing are missing the boat and leaving sales on the table.
During these uncertain times, that certainly could leave marketers forever holding their peace.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!