I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on a long copy landing page for one of my Adwords campaigns. The page went live this morning and I am A/B testing it against one of my short copy landing pages. It’s important to realize that the traffic to both pages is 100% sourced from Adwords, the traffic will be split 50/50 between the two pages and I’m using Google Analytics to perform the A/B Test.
Here’s a link to a copy of the short copy landing page: Short Copy Landing Page
And here’s a link to a copy of the long copy landing page: Long Copy Landing Page
The A/B test was started at 9.30AM, 22 May 2012.
First, a disclaimer, I am not a marketing professional. I do a lot of reading and I try different things but I don’t pretend to understand the detailed psychological reasons why certain marketing approaches work and others do not. One type of marketing I’ve been interested in for a while is the performance of Long Copy on landing pages versus Short Copy on landing pages. Given my somewhat haphazard approach to marketing copy it’s impossible to define what you find on my landing pages as either short form or long form. Most would be defined as short form, but calling it well-crafted short form copy would be a stretch. The closest I’ve ever come to really trying to generate short form copy would be landing pages specifically created for various Adwords campaigns.
Long form copy has its roots in direct mail outs. It is typically (as the name suggests) a lot of text aimed at breaking down objections or barriers that consumers have when making a purchasing decision about a complex or expensive product. Long form will have multiple call to actions (CTA), repetition of benefits and price information, and will encourage the reader to jump around the text as they address their particular concerns. In short, long form copy tells a story, breaks down barriers, and engages the consumer.
Conversely, short form copy is writing that gets right to the point and is targeted in the language, slang, or vernacular that your target market expects or understands. It will provide the basic information the consumer needs to make a decision and usually only have one CTA. Short form copy is intended to capture attention quickly, to not overwhelm with information, and allow a decision to be made. Here’s a (poorly done) short form landing page that I’m currently using for one of my Adwords campaigns. Conversion is rather dismal, around 12%.
Short Form Landing Page
As you can see, there’s a minimal amount of information and one (rather obvious) CTA. The great big red “Get the Free Trial” button. In the interests of not distracting visitors to this page I’ve removed all site navigation apart from some links in the footer at the bottom. I’ve also ensured that the CTA button appears “above the fold”* for most commonly used browser sizes. The copy on this page is (in my opinion) particularly poor. It’s a mish-mash of benefit / feature/ information based copy. Trying to achieve these three things with so few words really ends up telling the user nothing. The key reasons for trying to make three messages on this page are:
- It’s been drummed into me that features don’t sell software, benefits sell software. So, list some benefits.
- It’s short form copy. You can’t help but use few words when describing the benefits. So, yes, Time Clock MTS WILL save you money. It’ll save you a bunch of money. But I don’t have the room to tell you exactly WHY it will save you a bunch of money.
- You can’t NOT mention features. People need to know what my product is, what it does, and some basic feature information so they have some idea that it might be useful.
- It’s been drummed into me that you MUST tell the visitor the price of the software and whether or not it will work on their computer. Not telling them this is just going to annoy them and make them look elsewhere.
My aim with this series of blog articles is to craft a long form landing page for one of my Adwords campaigns, A/B test it in Google Analytics, and report on the results here. I haven’t quite decided on the landing page yet but the form is similar to the example I’ve linked to above.
* Above the Fold: above the fold means that the button appears on the web page without the visitor needing to scroll down the page. Any page elements that do not appear on a page without the visitor needing to scroll run the risk of not being seen by the visitor. They simply might not know that there’s more of a web-page to see than what they do when they first arrive.
I hired a well known Google Adwords consultant to setup some campaigns for me late last year. Geographic targetting was done on the basis of my previous sales database. The consultant finished work for me recently and I’ve been going through the conversion results to check the ROI. In terms of downloads (the only metric I can reliably track from Adwords or Google Analytics) the campaign appears to be reasonably successful. Here’s a graph of the traffic since the start of this year originating from Adwords.
The blue line shows total Adwords traffic, the orange line is traffic originating from Italy (one of the 10 countries I targeted with Adwords). The big jump in March is when I switched off the search network in Adwords and directed by entire budget to the content network. The cost per conversion for the search network was simply not viable. Since mid-March the cost per conversion has been quite reasonable. Today, when I was conducting my first audit of the ROI on the Adwords I found something very different.
Italian Adwords referrals comprise 11.0% of total Adwords traffic since January 1. Conversions (software downloads) from Italy comprised 13.4% of the total. However, when I examined my sales for the period the total sales made to Italy totalled $0. Let me repeat that, $0. It turned out that 3 or 4 of the other countries we’d targeted since day 1 had performed just as poorly. So needless to say these countries are now excluded from the Adwords campaign leaving budget to be spent on countries that I know do convert!
Moral of the Story : regardless of what historical information tells you always check what is going on now. Italy has been the source of quite a few sales for me over the years but clearly Adwords traffic from that country is rubbish for my products.
I’ve always tried to include some varying content on my websites because many people believe it helps your search engine rankings. The logic being that fresh content is likely to be more relevant and get a boost in the SERPS. I don’t know if it’s true or not because I can’t find anything definitive posted by anyone from Google or a similar major search engine. In any event, it seems like a good idea and I’ve been including a small amount of changing content on my website for years. Thinks like the last 5 blog entries or customer testimonials mainly.
That sort of content is database driven so rather than hit your database every time there’s a pageview you should consider creating the content on a regular basis and having your website display the cached information. I do this with PHP and CRON jobs. My PHP script generates the content and writes it to a file. A bit of PHP in the web template includes that file to display the content. The CRON job runs the PHP that generates the content, perhaps hourly, but more commonly, daily.
Here’s what my CRON jobs generally look like:
14 */8 * * * php /srv/www/public_html/cron-scripts/create-blog-links.php
And a skeleton PHP script to generate some content looks something like what I’ve shown below. Note that I echo out the data created because (generally) when your cron jobs are run you’ll get an email from your server displaying the output from the script.
//code to generate content goes here
$file_handle=fopen($file_name,'w') or die('cannot open file');
echo "create-blog-links.php complete, run time:".number_format(microtime(true)-$now,4)." seconds<br /><br />";
echo "$content<br />";
And finally, the include for my web templates that actually show the generated content. Again I do this in PHP.
I believe this process could be taken one step further (and it’s something I plan on experimenting with) by actually rotating the parts of the static content of a website. I think I’d do this less frequently, perhaps weekly or monthly and you’d want to make sure you have a large pool of static content to rotate in and out.