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Landing pages should be part of your strategy too

We get so caught up in targeting that we forget that landing pages are just as important. I’d argue that they’re more important than the targeting and the creatives of the ad. Because their main objective is to make the sale of the promise you made in the ad.

I look at search queries as questions: Someone is looking for an answer. They might be after more information, or they might want to buy something to solve a problem. Your ad is the first answer to that question. It’s the: “Yes, we have what you need”.

But that answer is not enough. You need to answer with more detail and that’s where your landing page comes in. It allows you to explain point by point why your solution to their problem is best.

This is where trouble starts. We take so much time creating campaign structures, A/B test camel cased ads, and then we let people land on a generic landing page. Sometimes we let them land on a category page, or even the homepage… But how can these pages give a clear answer to the question that people have.

Two queries, two landing pages

Let’s say that someone is searching for “Best Widget Provider”. That means we need to convince them that our widgets are the best. We can’t do that on a generic page with generic information on widgets.

But if we let them land on a variation of that page:

  • Showing off your independent reviews and ratings
  • Talking about awards you’ve won
  • Having customers talk about why they love your widgets

Same widget provider, but a different query. This one is for “Cheap Widget Provider”. Now we need to shine a light on the cost of those widgets. That means:

  • Talking about prices, and what X buys you.
  • Talk about added services that are free.
  • Showcase discounts.
  • Highlight customers talking about how inexpensive our widgets are.

Let’s say your widgets aren’t cheap at all: You might talk about how inexpensive widgets are a bad decision. That allows you to steer the conversation in a way that highlights your strengths.

Landing pages are your only shot to hook potential customers. You have their undivided attention for a few seconds, so you need to make the most of that time. You know what they’re looking for, use that information and make the sale.

Why you’re fucked if you’re an AdWords consultant

You’re one of the top AdWords consultants in the game. You use your rules, you change CTA’s, you’ve got you’re extensions down to a T… And in a not so distant future: You. Are. Fucked.

Automation makes your job redundant

Every AdWords announcement in the past two years has had machine learning as it’s focal point. It seems like Google is slowly setting everything in place to automate AdWords campaigns.

Audience & keyword selection

Google already offers In Market Audiences on the Display network. It will roll out those audiences on its Search network too. Google creates these audiences based on the sites (content) people visit and the searches (queries) people use. That’s everything you need to target a search campaign. Or as Google puts it in its blogpost:

In-market audiences uses the power of machine learning to better understand purchase intent. It analyses trillions of search queries and activity across millions of websites to help figure out when people are close to buying and surface ads that will be more relevant and interesting to them.

Ad Creation

Another new feature are Automated Ad Suggestions: Small variations on existing ads that Google automatically serves. The variations experiment to find the right ad text for that audience. That’s right: These are their first small steps into automating creatives too. From their blogpost:

Ad suggestions may be automatically offered to advertisers who have ads running in any of the supported languages shown below. Ad suggestions will automatically apply 14 days after they’re created unless you proactively apply, edit, or dismiss them beforehand.

Bidding and budget

Right now it seems like Googles main weapon in the automation fight are its bidding systems. What use are AdWords scripts, API calls and rules? You’re up against millions of possible parameters that adjust bids instantly. That means you’re fighting a gun duel with a dull pocket knife. There’s no point in trying to out think that automation.

Smart Bidding is built on Google’s deep experience using machine learning to power a wide range of products, including the Google assistantautomatic album creation in Google Photos, and AlphaGo, the first computer program to ever beat a professional player at the game of Go. Smart Bidding can factor in millions of signals to determine the optimal bid, and it continually refines models of your conversion performance at different bid levels to help you get more from your marketing budget.

Our new jobs

So what will we be doing two, five or ten years from now? It seems like it’s a given that Googles and Facebooks algorithms will set-up and run campaigns. Yet there’s good news too: You will still have a job. The interplay between the ad networks and websites won’t be automated soon. Because Google and Facebook will never exchange data. So that crucial part of successful campaigns is still safe for the time being.

Seems like now is as good a time as any to start reading those strategy books!