(As published in Marketing Online. Issue 4, March 2016)

We have all experienced our own Google Advertising “Content Shock. The scenario usually unfolds like this.

You are on the hunt for a person to help design a new brand for your business. You search Google using the phrase “brand design Auckland”. Immediately you start scanning down the results – starting at the organic results. The top two results catch you eye and open a new tab in your browser on each.

Unfortunately neither are right. Either they are too big or too small, so you start clicking away in the paid advertising space. First click done and you are taken to a page on graphic design – Content Shock – this has nothing to do with the problem you need to solve – so you bounce back to the search results page and click on another ad.

This time the ads lands you on page that shows you what you expected to see. It looks OK – not amazing – just OK – think Mild Content Shock. So you add it to the list of possible contenders. But keen for more choice you bounce back again to the search results and click on your last ad.

Now we are talking – the page you see is clearly the winner. They just “get it”. Through good use of images and text they answer nearly all the questions swirling around in your head. These are the one. So they get the phone call and the rest remain a short fleeting memory for you and say $6 each in wasted click costs for them.

Wouldn’t it be good if all your clicks translated into calls like the last example? You are not alone. Ensuring every costly click delivered its own phone call is the goal for all Google advertisers. So how do you avoid the “Content Shock“ mistakes of the first two?

Here are three strategies that I believe can help.

1. Research the real intent behind the search keyword you are bidding on.

For example, we work in the home services market. Think, cleaning, renovating, plumbing and electricians. A while back we had a company come to us wanting to launch a new service in Auckland as a trial before taking it to Australia.

They had built a website based on what they thought the market wanted to see. We were told to send all advertising to the home page. You guessed it – it failed miserably.

This was a new space for us so we were unsure of the intent of the prospect but the Content Shock our statistics revealed showed what was there was way off the mark. So we kicked off some market research to uncover the motivations and mindsets we were advertising too. A month later we had the data. it revealed the high amount of stress these buyers were facing and the core reasons they began their search journey in the first place.

Based on this information we redesigned the imagery of the landing page and rewrote the top 20% of the content. The ad copy was then tuned to match this new content and the campaign released using the exact same search keyword selection that had failed before.

All this work was well rewarded with conversion rates that were above industry standards as opposed to those well below they had experienced before. The success was so good we rolled the changes outside of Auckland and the core messages were used successfully during their Australian expansion. Research tells you what to say – next up we need to find the best way to say it.

2. Tune your content to be fast to consume and conversational in style.

Once your research is complete and you have created your first draft content you can put it through two very simple “human” tests before going live. The first involves paper and a willing helper.

Go ahead and print out the landing page (print multiple pages if itś a long one) and then take it and a colleague into a meeting room. Place the printing facedown on the table and ask the colleague to sit opposite you – approx a metre away.

Then brief them on who they are supposed to be and the problem they are searching to solve. Then pick up the first page and show it to at eye level for just 5 seconds. Place it facedown on the table and then have them tell you exactly what they saw and if on reading it they were interested in learning more.

Content that confuses or fails to capture attention in print form will struggle online. If your page passes the first test then you can test the persuasive nature of the copy. Simply read it out loud to your colleague and note the reaction you get. Slowly drooping eyelids and contained yawns are not a good sign.

Copy has been described by many as “selling in print”. So if you are struggling to come up the right words, just think back to what you said in the last conversation you had with prospect to guide you. Once all the changes have been made then you can place it into live and head to the final stage.

3. Harness the super analytical benefits of the web to tune your landing pages to success.

Hop into your Google Analytics account and you will be met with a mass of metrics and dimensions to keep even the most geeky of analytics geeks busy for weeks. Here are three to focus on that reveal the effectiveness of your work.

– Bounce rate – how many people viewed your landing page and didn’t go any further. You want this number to be as low as possible but zero is an unrealistic expectation. For your paid advertising I always shoot number that is no more than 15% above your site average bounce rate. So for a 30% site average your top level would be 45% which even so is hovering very close to one in two not looking any further.

– Page Value – bit of an advanced metric and it does require you to set up values behind your goals. BUT it lets you know place an exact value of worth for the page – think numbers like $5.89. So you change the top copy and the page value goes to $8.45 from $2.67 and you know that it really is time to celebrate.

– Content Interaction – not exactly a metric you will find in GA more an approach to track everything you can. So if your page includes a video – you need to know if it is played and if so for how long. And if the good meaty part of the sales message is a third of the way down the page then knowing that everyone scrolled this far would be of help.

So there you have it. Three strategies to apply to ensure your Google advertising doesn’t instill content shock on those who visit your site this way. Want to learn more about other areas of online marketing? Just visit our Free Stuff section at the Ark Advance website.