How to improve your Google Ads conversions: a step-by-step guide
8-MINUTE READ · By Tina Arnoldi.
Traffic to your website is nice. But it doesn’t put money in the bank. The goal of any website should be to increase the number of visitors who convert. It’s about getting that traffic to take some action that drives them closer to becoming a customer. I have seen a number of paid campaigns, specifically Google Ads, with ads that send people to the website, but there is not a defined goal or clear action step when the visitor lands on the site
Although the vanity metrics of pageviews or sessions can help you understand behavior and measure micro conversions, you want actions that lead to a macro conversion, such as a purchase or sign-up. And increasing the likelihood of a conversion comes from small, incremental modifications rather than changing everything. When you change everything on a site, it’s hard to know what worked. Your goal with conversation optimization is to improve on experience, not just report on it.
Optimize your site first
It’s tempting to test everything on your website. If you subjectively see things about pages that you do not like, you can quickly get caught up in testing for the sake of it. Not all tests are right for all businesses. Instead decide what would have an impact on your bottom line and remember to start small. What matters the most for your culture and goals? Before you think about AdWords optimizations, there are first two non-negotiables for every site.
A must have: usability
At the most basic level, the site needs to work well for users. What’s the load time? Page speed? Mobile performance? Get your site running smoothly before you consider other factors on your site.
A must have: navigation
This can be a bit subjective. People will have different preferences for how site navigation should work which is something you can test, but overall is it clear what to do based on the design? Is it easy to navigate to get from one step to the next? Become familiar with some of the best practices for both usability and design before testing and optimizing for specific campaign conversions.
Improving Google Ads conversions
I live in the land of Google Ads, so my goal is to focus on conversions from those paid ads. However, some of these tips are ones you can use with any channel.
Message Matching: The words that entice visitors to click should match what they are drawn into it. BrightOrangeThread has a great example of that which you can see below. There is no confusion about about the connection between the ad message and landing page.
Design Continuity: I have zero design skills. But I know good design when I see it. If I see a bold, colorful message leading me to a drab and dry website, I wonder if I’m in the wrong place. How I was invited should follow me all the way through. If I have any uncertainty, I’m more likely to leave rather than think about whether or not the page is relevant to my search
When there’s a disconnect, conversions will decline.
Don’t Be Vague: What does ‘high quality’ mean? If you have a third party giving you that rating, you want that on your landing page to give credibility to your use of ‘high quality’. Is it a product that I replace once a year or is in good for a lifetime? If I ‘join today’ for a discount, is the discount 10% off or 30% off? Don’t leave fine print to the sign-up page.
Don’t Be Obvious: Don’t use ad copy for stuff that’s assumed such as “online meetings from anywhere”. If it’s online, then we already know can get it anywhere. Same with the use of “high quality” mentioned above. The assumption is that everyone is selling things that are high quality, especially if there’s a price point to match. Be cautious about using space for words with no new info.
Create a Landing Page First: I’ve written ad copy before without even a wireframe of a page. It’s tough and I don’t recommend that. Have a page first that’s written for conversions, then write the message for the channel that brings people in. Google offers tips for good landing pages.
A/B Testing: A/B Testing helps you understand what pulls your audience in. You can test the ad copy with Google Ads and the headline on your landing page, among other things. This is a huge component to optimizing because we can hypothesize about preferences and the best language to use with our audience, but we do not know for sure unless we test. One landing page could have an ad highlighting the gains from what you offer. Another can emphasize what people lose if they do not buy your product or service. See how people respond differently between those two types of messages.
The offer: What offer appeals to buyers? Things that may not seem to matter may have a big impact on the response rate. Price points are one offer to test and do not necessarily mean a significant loss in revenue. For example, you can discover if a $99 offer works better than $100. Where people are in the customer journey may also influence how they respond to offers.
Key metrics to consider
Throughout the optimization process, you will constantly test how your campaigns perform and make ongoing changes based on those results.
Ask why: For each metric you report on, ask “Why?”. Is the data used for strategic planning or collected merely for the sake of reporting? Will you make changes on your site to improve conversions as a result of that metric?
Keywords = Intent: Whether it’s organic searches identified with Search Console or paid keywords in Google Ads campaigns, keywords can reveal a lot about intent. “What is a financial planner?” may mean I want training to become one or perhaps wonder if it’s a service I need. “Financial planner near me” indicates I’m probably ready to hire a planner.
Time period: With B2B versus B2C, the conversion period will generally take longer and the rate of conversion will vary by industry. To see how long it takes for your Google Ads audience, use the Days to Conversion report.
Bounced traffic: If someone clicks on a Twitter link, reads your blog post, then leaves the site, it’s not ideal but is somewhat expected. But when you are conversion driven, that bounce is a problem – especially if you thought where you led them would naturally bring them to step two in your buyer journey. View the segment of traffic that bounced unexpectedly and look for high bounce, high exit, and low time spent metrics which may indicate a message match disconnect.
Revenue is more than a traffic game. Bringing in visitors does not automatically result in more conversions.Constantly look for ways to improve on what you’re doing and aim for those micro-conversions along the way. Improve experience for people who do come to the website and have continuity in your message to increase your conversions. And of course, never stop optimizing.
About Tina Arnoldi
Tina Arnoldi is Analytics and Google Ads Qualified and one of the few people in the United States recognized as a Google Developer Expert(GDE) for marketing. Her agency, 360 Internet Strategy, is also a Google Partner. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn
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