Annotation. The article will be useful for those who are just planning to promote their product and attract customers through the Internet. The author’s recommendations and conclusions will help avoid common mistakes, streamline the lead generation process and increase the return on advertising investment.
Keywords: contextual advertising, website conversion, lead generation, landing page, target audience, marketing analysis, sales.
If you have decided to use contextual advertising, you need to think about how to avoid mistakes and ensure the return on your advertising investment. It’s good to be able to draw on real-world examples and the experiences of others. We have been in this business since 2015, and in that time our clients have spent thousands of dollars on contextual advertising. Observing and analyzing the results of the campaigns, we were able to draw 20 important conclusions, which are presented below.
Target audience and competitor analysis
The launch of advertising should be preceded by an analysis of the target audience and competitors. This is one of the most important rules that is often forgotten. If you advertise without knowing your customers and competitors thoroughly, you are guaranteed to get bad results and waste money. Without thorough preliminary research, such work makes no sense.
A competitive analysis will allow you to look at the situation on the market, and an analysis of the target audience will reveal the main triggers that make their representatives make a decision to buy a product or service. With this data, you can create a strong, competitive offer. It will be the starting point for the marketers’ work and the basis for the promotional materials used on the website and in advertising.
Segment target audiences by needs
Target groups must be segmented by need. Segmentation is the shortest way to increase conversion rates, reduce costs, and improve conversion quality. Offers focused on the benefit of specific audience segments are much more effective than meaningless “across the board” advertising that drives users to the same website.
There is a classic segmentation scheme commonly referred to as 5W (see table). Using this scheme is a simple but very effective way to find out at a basic level what you offer and to whom.
|What||What are you selling, what goods and services do consumers want?||Storage of goods in warehouse.|
|Who||Who is your consumer, who needs your product?||Trading companies.|
|Why||Why do people buy your product, what is their motivation to buy it?||Requires the organization of goods handling and logistics.|
|When||When do people buy a product, at what moment, in what situation does the consumer need it?||Not satisfied with the existing warehouse, the company is to expand into new regions of sales.|
|Where||Where do consumers “live”, where will they see, order, receive your product?||Search the Internet, brokers, message boards.|
In addition, it is worthwhile to perform segmentation according to the following parameters:
- demographic (gender, age, marital status, education, occupation);
- geographic (country, city, region of residence, places visited);
- economic (income level, consumer culture, ability to pay);
- psychological (areas of interest, values, worldview);
- motivational (what needs are behind the choice);
- the stage the consumer is in according to B. Hunt’s theory:
- he does not see the problem;
- is aware of the problem, but does not see ways to solve it;
- searches for solutions and compares them;
- has found a solution, gathers additional information;
- concludes a transaction.
Develop a unique selling proposition
The unique selling proposition (USP) is the foundation of the project. No matter what technology you use, advertising will be unprofitable if the ad leads the visitor to a website with a weak, “fuzzy” offer. The more accurately your offer meets the need, the more customers the company will attract.
How do you test the offer before you place the ad? First, ask yourself if you would buy your product, and if not, why? You know your product best, not your customers, so you can identify its weaknesses. It is impossible to sell your product to your customers if you have not first “sold” it to yourself and convinced yourself of its usefulness. If the answer is “yes” and you can justify it by stating the specific advantages of your product, your service, the features of the offer, then move on to the next stage.
Secondly, imagine that the customer asks a direct question: “Why should I buy this particular product, and buy it from you, and buy it now? What you tell him is the core of your offer, this is the information that should be in the ads and on the website.
Verify the relevance of the USP
Relevance is an important advantage in the battle for customers. What is relevance? It is the relevance of an offer on a website to the expectations of a potential customer who clicked on the ad. It is a good practice to adapt the offer to the individual needs of the target audience. For example, if the ad talks about renting a Class A warehouse for food, the user should see the same information on the website that is relevant to their request.
In the segment of warehouse rental, one of the main factors in the decision-making process is the location of the warehouse, so it is very important which city is listed in the header (Fig. 1).
You can replace and test everything: the headline, the description of services, the text in the application form, and even the images. Why should you do that? Making the offer relevant increases the conversion rate by half or double and increases the number of calls to the company. In the above example, we have also used the switch for each customer group (transport company, pharmaceutical company, retail company) separately.
Use landing page with content swaps
For each audience segment, you should create a different landing page (or use a substitute offer). The more specific the product or service, the more specific the target audience. If you sell a “standard” product, you can get by with multiple landing page (using content substitution of the first section of the website), then for the specific it is better to make a separate landing page, the content of which will fully correspond to the specifics of the segment.
For example, if you are advertising services for cleaning warehouses, the site should have a relevant offer and content: a statement such as “Clean your warehouse in a day (cost of 2 dollars per m2)” and then a description of the benefits, cases, letters of gratitude from previous customers. This approach will save you a lot of money, it is much more effective than the way of action, in which the offer “all and for all”.
Work on the website and advertising together
The website and advertising do not function independently. The likelihood that you will commission the development of a website from one web studio and then turn to another agency for advertising and end up with hundreds of clients is close to zero.
The website should be created for advertising based on a study of the target audience, a competitive analysis and a unique selling proposition, so you should commission the entire package of lead generation work from one company. Thus, you avoid a situation where professionals blame each other, because in the absence of results, everyone will cover his “butt”, it’s human nature.
If you drive traffic to a weak website, the advertising budget is wasted. As for advertising itself, it will be effective only if its creators know exactly what they are doing and for what purpose.
Reduce the number of fields in the lead form
Only one field should be used per form. We tested the hypothesis about the optimal number of fields in a form and concluded that each additional field required reduces conversion by about 0.5-0.7%. So if you use a form with three or four fields and the conversion rate is 1%, leave only the phone number request and remove everything else (Figure 2). The result will surprise you.
Update the offer
Any offer “burns out” in 6–12 months. If you work in market segments with strong competition, you need to constantly update website content and ads. Websites become outdated, people’s behaviors change, and the offer becomes less relevant. Ads also become less effective: if you address the same target audience and do not change the advertising message, users suffer from “banner blindness”. These are facts that must be taken into account and acted upon.
For this reason, companies turn to professional digital agencies that ensure that their advertising, ads, offers and website are regularly revised. In this way, the company remains competitive in the long term.
Work on site and advertising conversion
Conversion rate can be increased by working with both website and traffic. The technique of working with advertising involves A/B testing of the website. Let us assume that the first option leads to a 3% conversion rate and the second option leads to a 5% conversion rate. We leave the second option as it is. Then we test different headings in the USP description and find one that increases the conversion rate by another 3%. Optimizing the traffic: adding minus words, strengthening the ads, the creative component and increasing the conversion rate by another 2%.
As a result, the conversion rate is 10%, and this is not the merit of a particular specialist, but the achievement of the entire team led by the project manager, who understands the principles of lead generation and can identify possible growth points.
Design is secondary
It does not matter what CMS is used to create the website and how impressive it looks. You can create a well-functioning website using a constructor like Tilda or Webflow, the WordPress or MODx content management system, or you can code from scratch using HTML, CSS and PHP.
The method does not matter, what matters is the speed and technical quality of execution, the relevance of the offer, the quality of traffic and advertising, the clarity and comprehensibility of the design.
If the website opens quickly, the visitor sees the relevant offer and the weighty advantages, he will leave a request or a call.
Avoid selling from the doorstep
Trying to sell from the doorstep is a poor strategy unless you own an online shope. Direct selling, especially in the B2B segment, is very difficult. Offers such as “Get advice”, “Find out the price”, “Sign up for a test drive” placed in the application form work much better on the first touch with client than “Buy now” (Fig. 3).
Closing a deal is a stressful situation for a person. According to neuromarketing theory, at the moment of parting with money, the same brain areas responsible for the perception of physical pain are activated: the anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior areas of the insular cortex, so that the brain tries to prevent the loss of money.
Volunteers from the National Research College Higher School of Economics conducted a curious experiment. The subjects (29 people) participated in an economic game in which sound signals predicted different amounts of loss in each round. Participants had to respond quickly and accurately to these signals to avoid losing money. Electroencephalograms of the subjects showed that the auditory cortex was tuned to more accurately discriminate sounds associated with large financial losses.
Optimize the sales process
In most cases, companies do not know how to sell. Many companies, even large ones, are unable to properly set up a sales process. Sales managers call back customers who have applied only after a few days, they do not know how to deal with objections. The sales process itself is chaotic and lacks order. It’s good if the company has a CRM system at all, but often a spreadsheet in Excel or a notepad is used instead. Relying on advertising and the website, customers often do not think about the fact that sales also require a systematic approach.
Why is sales management a process that is inextricably linked to advertising promotion? Today there is a battle for consumer attention, companies spend huge budgets on advertising. Advertising efforts that drive traffic to a poorly performing sales department are like pouring water into a leaky bucket. Crucial to achieving results are:
Speed of call/application processing;
The quality of call/application handling;
the right polite greeting;
expertise and professionalism in the field;
availability of sales scripts;
availability of effective ways to increase the average check;
competent guidance of the customer through the sales funnel.
Many calls are answered by a robot or automatic routing of incoming calls to various departments is set up. The potential customer is forced to do a real search to get an answer to their question.
We have recognized the importance of this problem and, in order to help our customers make sales, we have even published a “Sales Manual” describing sales techniques, approaches to sales management and process building, ways to handle objections, etc. All these methods should be implemented and applied so that the incoming traffic in general and each transaction in particular brings the maximum return, because the company has spent a lot of money to attract customers.
Work on the first screen of the landing page
The first screen of the landing page is very important to get results, because the fight for the user’s attention starts in the first few seconds. Most website visitors decide within three to five seconds whether to continue surfing or leave the page. The potential customer opens multiple pages and evaluates each offer based on price, benefits, reputation and credibility of the company. Your landing page competes with a dozen other browser tabs that either have their offer on the first screen or don’t.
The potential customer will only engage with the company whose website they can see their value on. The first screen of the website is the foundation of effectiveness, so it should contain the strongest arguments and product demonstrations, such as videos.
Test different hypotheses
If something isn’t working, you need to change your approach. Contextual advertising specialists and marketers often pay special attention to different nuances, turning checkboxes on and off, setting up retargeting for those who have been on the site for more than 30 seconds, changing the color of buttons, etc. But what’s better: making adjustments and increasing ad click-through rates by 2%, or creating two or three new landing pages and increasing signups by two or three times?
We learned our lesson: if the result is very far from the expectations, you need to fundamentally change the approach, rebuild everything and look for a new value proposition. You should carefully examine the target audiences and their needs, change the logic of the website and the advertising strategy. Otherwise, you spend time on unimportant details, qualitatively not improve the result, because the problem doesn’t lie in them.
Sometimes at the stage of launching ads, we have to rebuild the site from scratch two or three times. The same is true for advertising campaigns. Unless you find a combination that works well (targeted ad traffic + an offer on the website), other settings are irrelevant.
Do not chase the number of keywords
A broad semantic core is not advantageous. A common mistake is to use a broad semantic core at the beginning of a project. Testing it requires “spilling over” traffic (at least 500 hits from each ad group), which means you risk going over budget. It is much more productive to “sharpen” the ad for commercial inquiries at the beginning and work out the basic vector of the proposal in detail. Do not be afraid to buy expensive traffic in search engines for your commercial target queries with the prefix “buy”, “order”, “rent”, etc. Such traffic is of the highest quality and will allow you to quickly assess whether your offer and website as a whole are effective.
Taking our projects as an example, which have been running for more than a year, we can clearly see that only 20% of keywords come from the entire semantic core, the rest just eats up the budget. Add new areas of the advertising campaign only if your proposal is able to meet additional commercial demand.
Use more websites
The more websites a company has, the higher its revenues. We have clients for whom we have developed 20-30 landing pages each. Additional pages increase profit because they attract more customers. This happens because a separate landing page is created for each product, target audience and need: The exact offer provides the best result.
There should be regular investment in the website because the success and sustainability of your business depends on it. Today’s market leaders are those who have worked on the presentation of their company on the Internet, improving the usability of their website and expanding their online presence, including through social media pages and web applications, and linking all channels to their main website and landing pages.
Increase the budget if the competition is high
The more competitors a company has, the larger its advertising budget should be. Competitor activity in the advertising auction directly affects the number of incoming requests and calls received, the budget spent, and the cost of treatment and website conversion rate. The stronger the competition, the fiercer the fight for users’ attention.
To compete, of course, you need to increase your advertising budget, regardless of how good your offer and website are – this is how business works in the advertising systems “Facebook Ads” and “Google Ads”. However, it is possible to influence the quality of advertising campaigns and ads, the strength of the offer for the target audience on the website, the quality of the sales department and data analysis.
Don’t trust the “guarantees” of conversion
Conversion guarantees are a ploy to lure customers. Many pseudo-agencies have appeared on the Internet marketing market that guarantee a certain conversion rate or a certain number of applications. You should avoid such providers. Marketing is not an exact science, you never know in advance what will work best. The job of a digital agency is to find the target audience and find the best combination of ads and offers on the website. All those who guarantee applications at a certain price and in a certain quantity are either newbies or intentionally misleading customers.
A common practice in this case is the use of fraud (of fraud, deception). Calls and applications come from people who only feign interest in the product, but have no intention of buying it. There are whole “farms” where such applications are traded. Agencies that work with a “guarantee of results” simply buy such leads on exchanges. As long as there are customers on the market who believe in a “magic wand”, there will be such offers, unfortunately. Promoting business with contextual media advertising is always a test of hypotheses and a search for a “conversion bundle” (offer + advertising traffic).
Prioritize website speed
When opening a website, every second counts. Literally every extra second a user spends waiting for the site to open decreases their conversion rate and increases the cost of attracting them. Many simply do not wait and move to the next tab, where a competitor’s website is already loaded.
Use GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights to monitor loading speeds, look for errors and “heavy” images and scripts, and set tasks for developers to optimize based on the analysis results. Fig. 4 shows an example of the website loading speed data for one of our agency’s clients.
On the speed of the site affect external scripts online services, analytics counters, all kinds of plugins, in the presence of clips on the page from the video hosting YouTube – the speed of response. As a rule, the “hardest” images. Highly recommended to compress all the images on the site and translate them into a modern format WebP, which makes them “easier” than to save them in JPEG and PNG. Not superfluous would be to remove unused scripts and plugins, set up caching and minification.
The opening time of the site when you click on ads should not exceed three seconds, and ideally – two. Meanwhile, many advertisers do not even think about optimizing the speed: They place ads and then wonder why the conversion is so low.
The clicks are people
We have to remember that we work with people first and foremost. We are used to analyzing traffic, conversion rates, sales volume, in other words, what is expressed in numbers. However, we should not forget that behind all these numbers there are real people. A person does not like it when you impose something on him, talk only about yourself and do not care about his problems, waste his time. Talk about what he will get, not about how good you are. Create a customer-centric advertisement and offer that speaks in the customer’s language about him and how to solve his problem. Once the visitor’s interest is piqued, he will want to know more about you.
Contextual advertising is a tool that can increase the sales and profits of any business, but as in any business, the outcome depends on who and how this tool is used. Take the time to consider all aspects of the lead generation process. Procrastination and a careless attitude hoping for “chaos” is a direct path to promotional failure.
Work with the website, ads, keywords, placement pages, test hypotheses, perform data analysis, improve the quality of products and customer service, get feedback from customers – in the long run, only a comprehensive approach will bring sustainable results and ensure business growth.
Journal: Internet Marketing. March, #1, 2022.
Article: “How to work with contextual advertising: 20 practical tips”.
Author: Konstantin Tyesov, Managing Director, Uwindi Agency.