Over the summer, I had the opportunity to try my hand at archery during a Boy Scout camp. It’s actually quite hard to hit the target, (and for me virtually impossible to hit the bulls-eye). However, it occurred to me that some of the instructions I was given, were quite similar to some of the advice that I give my clients.
To hit the bulls-eye, I was told to make sure that my elbow, wrist, base of the arrow, and arrowhead were all ‘aligned’ with the target. The concept of alignment is one that I have often discussed with my clients that make use of pay-per-click strategies such as those offered through Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing (previously Overture).
The elements of an effective web marketing campaign can be compared to the elbow, wrist, base of the arrow, and arrowhead in archery – all must be pointing toward the same target in order for you to hit a bullseye.
Here are the elements as I see them: keyword selection, pay-per-click (PPC) ad listing, landing page, and offer. Let’s break them down and see how the alignment works:
If you have done any PPC advertising, you’ll already be aware that selection of the right keywords is a critical step. In some ways this is harder than it might seem because the goal is not just to get as many people as possible to visit your site, but to target qualified visitors.
This means that in addition to the keyword being relevant to your business, it also ideally indicates some purchasing interest on the part of the searcher. As an example, if you’re selling luxury widgets on-line, you would do well to put more of your PPC dollars into keywords such as “widget distributor” and “high quality widgets” rather than keywords such as “free widgets” or “discount widgets”, even though the latter phrases may have a high number of monthly searches.
Pay-per-click Ad Listing
As well as building interest (and generating a click), your ad listing needs to further ‘qualify’ visitors to make sure that they actually might be interested when they read about your products and services.
Continuing the above example, an ad for high-quality widgets should mention the quality to align the ad with the product. Writing an ad which brags about the low cost of your widgets would be a mis-alignment.
The ‘landing page’ is the web page that visitors are first directed to, or ‘land’ on. It could be a home page, or could be a content or product page within the site. For keywords such as “high quality widget”, the principle of alignment dictates that you send the visitor to your ‘Deluxe Widgets’ page, rather than a home page that deals with your full range of widgets, gadgets, and gizmos.
The overall ‘feel’ of the landing page should provide the visitor with the instant feel that they are in the right place (we call this ‘affinity’). The graphic design, headlines, etc all play a role in accomplishing this.
Your offer should be aligned with any original offer that you made in the PPC ad (free download, etc), and also aligned in the sense that it moves visitors forward in the purchasing process. As an example, free samples, white-papers, ‘how-to’ guides, etc can all be used in this way. An example of a mis-alignment is offering a gift certificate or a prize draw for an un-related product. What I mean is that giving away a bigscreen TV only really makes sense if you sell big-screen TVs – otherwise the leads that you capture as a part of the give-away may not be at all interested in your products, they just want to win the TV.
Let’s consider a complete example of both alignment and mis-alignment for the same product. Let’s assume that our Widget Company is launching a new line of disposable widgets, and wants to use web marketing to generate some buzz (and sales) by offering a free sample:
|Poor Alignment||Good Alignment|
|PPC AD||“The best range of widgets on the planet- including disposables”||“Great range of disposable widgets. Free sample.”|
|LANDING PAGE||Company home-page featuring entire range of widgets.||Land on a page dedicated to disposable widgets. Graphics, headline, and copy are all highly relevant.|
|OFFER||“Request a free sample”||“Request a free sample”|
You can see that although the offers are the same (the free sample), the campaign with good alignment will convert a much higher percentage of traffic because the message is consistent throughout the visitors experience. Each step moves the visitor closer to taking the final step.
The principle of alignment is equally as important and effective for $20 products where the offer is a purchase, as for a $20,000 service where the offer (such as a whitepaper) is just the first step in a sales relationship.