The Keyword Query and Transactional Landing Pages
Picking up where we left off in Part 1 we’re now heading downstream and focusing on experiences where the user lands closer to completing their goal. I refer to these as Transactional Landings. Here the keyword driver can be anything from a general query like “mortgage” to a more focused query like “30 year fixed APR.” It is also on these landing pages that the direct response nature of search leverages itself well.
If we examine the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) we can see a clear and interesting dichotomy and I would say optimization, emerge for delivering relevance. The natural results are leading to informational pages or as I talked about in my last post Reference Landings. For someone who has a Discovery>Information>Directed>Closed goal path this is a highly relevant landing experience. These pages help fulfill their goal by providing them with more information on the subject and then ideally steer them in the right direction if their goal advances from an “information” to an “obtain.” PPC is a different story. Most paid search results lead to transactional pages. For someone who has a Recovery>Resource>Obtain goal this is a highly relevant landing.
On a transactional landing the user has the ability to immediately engage in some type of transaction. These pages are usually radically simpler to gain understanding of than Reference Landings so there is much less thought involved. Also, and this is an important point as we look at landing page optimization in a holistic manner, the user has already achieved the secondary goal of Discovery>Information on the SERP, mostly likely from the Ad (this will be covered in detail on my next post). The flow of going right to a form page or right into engagement is natural. There will be a brief moment of recognition (hey, I’m on the right page/site) but that brevity is all that most users need. Anything else, heaps of content, even images could possibly interrupt the flow.
With any kind of campaign that has a CPA/CPL or COS goal these are the users you should be focused on. Prioritize you testing and optimization around them. Keep in mind, these users don’t need persuasion, they need reassurance and confidence. Simply all that needs to be done is to present relevant messages in context along the pathway to the completion of their goal. Coming full circle to what I mentioned earlier if your marketing initiative is focused on persuasion this is better done through a reference landing, ideally from natural link to a microsite.
Once again we will divided our targets into the two high level goal classes, recovery or discovery and then quickly find goal paths we can bucket users in for each experience. Armed with that, we can begin to explore aligning ad creative and messaging with their goals. So let’s take a look at a couple of queries that would have Transactional Landings and attempt to classify them.
Here is a generic query. High volume, high value and also very hard to define. The user could be looking for any number of things, rate information, names of loaners or actively be in market for a loan. As such, their goal can be recovery OR discovery. We have already covered in this post a good strategy for this type of query and if we are held to ROI metric we have no choice but focusing our efforts on users in-market with a Recovery>Resource>Obtain goal. This experience would be a form page that ideally would message to the goals stated in the query.
I also want to use this high funnel query to exemplify the dichotomy and optimization of the SERP that I mentioned earlier. Here’s a quick check of the landing experiences from the top 3 results on Yahoo and Google, natural and PPC for “car loans”:
Transactional Landing (6)
Reference Landing (0)
Transactional Landing (0)
Reference Landing (6)
“D and B report”
This is an interesting query because it is both a branded query and in some regards a generic one. The user is likely looking to obtain a D&B report on a company. Her experience would be one that is heavily brand benefit focused and where she could engage immediately in a form to help her complete her goal. Seems pretty clear that the goal would be Recovery>Resource>Obtain.
“Black Prada sandals”
This is a product search and a very specific one at that. The fact that the user has told us the color they are interested in is an amazing opportunity for optimization and one that is often overlooked by retailers. People shop by color. This experience would go right to a product page, Ideally the page will be optimized to have a number of other “Black Prada Sandals” styles or a mix of other brands black sandals. This goal is another Recovery>Resource>Obtain.
In Part 1 I hope I’ve shown how user goal discovery begins at the keyword and how a methodology around targeted your landing experiences to these goals is the way to provide contextual relevance to users. But this is only the beginning of our landing page optimization methodology. In those crucial moments when users are engaging with a search engine pulling information and even when users are interacting with other forms of digital media through push, there is another critical touch point along the pathway to goal fulfillment. Next up I’ll take a look at that important and often-neglected component of landing page optimization, the ad.