Jun 7, 2013 3:16:00 PM

How to Make Your PPC Program the Next Summer Blockbuster

Posted by Teknicks

Creating a successful online marketing program is like developing the next big summer blockbuster – it’s all in how you get your customer’s attention.  I often compare paid search ads and landing pages to movie trailers. “Why?” my clients often ask, eyeing me skeptically. Because, like a movie trailer, your ad and landing page have about a second to capture your viewer’s interest, entice them, and leave them wanting more.  In either case, if the message is unclear, confusing, bland, or apparently meant for someone else, why would it hold their attention?  Why would they go see the movie?

After all, the point of pay-per-click media is to get people to click through to your website and complete a desired action, or “convert.” Regardless of your medium in online advertising, the goal is the same: To drive more conversions (whatever those “conversions” are per your business goals).  The formats we have to work with as online marketers all require that we deliver a clear message with a call to action that compels our target audience to take that action: “Save now! Only 3 left at this price!” or “Register today! Don’t miss this historic event!”  Of course the targeting is equally important - relevancy ups the “enticement” factor of our ads. If a shopper is searching for soap and a Borax appears, that’s as good as gold. But, by the same token, an ad for “All My Children” might really miss its mark, leaving the shopper confused, a little irritated, and certainly unwilling to click.

Naturally, the messaging from your ads must be pulled through to your landing page. That’s the final thirty seconds of your trailer - when we finally see the name of the film and the release date.  Your landing page has to deliver on the promise of your ad. If it’s the ad that says “Register today! Don’t miss this historic event!,” the page had darned well better explain who, what and where that event is - and it better have a big, honking, orange registration button too, right where they can see it; Because, again, if the intent of your landing page isn’t clear the second your visitor lands on it, they are not going to stay and complete any action. They will not register if they can’t figure out where to do it. You’ve lost them, literally.

Similarly, in a movie trailer, the producers, directors, and editors have just a few minutes to reel us in with a great story and entice us to shell out $12 to see the whole film. A confusing, boring or inappropriate movie trailer wouldn’t help achieve this goal. What would a trailer be without the pulsing music, the suspenseful images? What if it was just a bunch of out-of-context dialogue from a scene somewhere in the middle of the movie?

Of course, no matter how compelling, it also has to be relevant. If I’m settling down for the latest installment of “Paranormal Activity,” I’m not sure I’ll want to sit through a trailer for a remake of “Lassie.” See where I’m heading with this? A poorly targeted and executed movie trailer is just as ineffective as having an unclear call to action in your ad copy, or a landing page that doesn’t clearly convey to the user where they are and what they’re expected to do.  In either case, the result is the target market fails to complete the desired action, i.e., seeing the movie or converting on your site.

With that said, here are some basic Do’s and Don’ts for both ads and landing pages. These are essentially guidelines for best practices. They’ll hold true in most cases, but of course, there are always exceptions.


  • DO keep it simple – with a limited number of characters- clarity is challenging, but imperative

  • DON’T forget your strong call to action!

  • DO make sure to include a compelling offer wherever possible (limited time or quantity is always powerful)

  • DO differentiate your ad - DON’T be generic

  • DO have 2 – 3 variations or your ad to test against each other (keep one as a control)

  • DON’T create so many variations that you can’t collect enough data to determine effectiveness. That limits our ability to optimize quickly and effectively. (See my article on statistical significance here)

  • DO target mobile v. desktop users separately

Landing Pages

  • DO optimize your landing pages in accordance with basic SEO. Even if your page was built as a PPC landing page, optimization gives your page the best shot at a decent natural ranking for your keywords - as well as improving quality score for paid search.

  • DO keep images compelling, positive and relevant. The goal of any landing page image is to reinforce the brand image, message, or offer. Even if it’s funny, steer clear of negative imagery - like showing an inferior or clearly outdated product or service, with captioning that says, “We do this better!” The negative image is likely to linger with your prospect - and associate with your brand in the search engines.

  • DO choose colors - and all other content elements - in compliance with brand standards. Landing pages should feel like a natural extension of the main corporate site.

  • DO insist that your Call To Action (CTA) is above the fold and easy to find! Assign it an obvious button call out that specifically instructs the visitor to “Order Now,” “Click Here,” “Subscribe Today,” - or whatever it is you want them to do.

  • DO make the CTA button a color that pops! That button is one of the most important elements of the page, so be sure it stands out from the background and the rest of the page. Your visitor’s eye needs to be drawn to that button.

  • DO remain consistent. If your marketing team is promoting a campaign or specific offer, make sure that offer is repeated, reinforced clearly and easily found on your landing page.

  • DO keep the conversion process – whatever that may be – as brief and to-the-point as possible. The fewer clicks through the conversion funnel, the more likely the conversion. Limit the number of steps and don’t ask for more information than you actually need at this stage of your buying cycle.

  • DON’T overload the page with too much copy (hard to read), too many offers (confusing), and too many images (distracting). As with your ads, keep it simple.

  • DO make sure you have a mobile version of your landing page

A movie trailer whets your appetite for the full film, offering you the promise of an exciting evening at the cinema. Similarly, a well-written pay-per-click ad offers just a taste of your solution’s promise - and the landing page offers just a bit more - giving consumers every reason to click and convert. Give them the experience they expect and deserve, and you’ll have them eagerly lining up for more.  

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Topics: Internet Marketing, Paid Search Marketing (PPC)

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