Understanding user goals forms the foundation of my methodology for landing page and search ad optimization. Goal discovery also forms the core of searcher behavior research. This is all due to the fact that delivering relevance can only be done by first understanding the goals of users. Through my experience, research and user observation I’ve determined there are three distinct goal types that influence user behavior and factor in the performance of search ads and landing pages.
1. Primary Goal: Every user has a goal in mind when they use the query field. I’ve discussed and exemplified primary goals and goal paths before here.
2. Secondary Goal: The further along the user is in the consideration funnel the more important secondary goals become. Sometimes if you can’t fulfill the secondary goal you may not convert the user.
Example: User may know they want a down jacket (primary goal). They also may know they want it in black (secondary goal). Your site may have a down jacket the user loves but if you don’t have it in black you’ve lost that conversion.
3. Latent Goals: We need to be very careful here. Your ad or landing page can awaken the user to additional considerations that they had not thought of. This can be a good persuasive technique or it can be a bad idea. There is a delicate balance between providing too much information, too little information and finding just the right balance.
Example (bad): The same user finds the down jacket they want. You have it in black. Your landing page messages that it has a goose down fill power of 650. Prior to reading that the user had no idea what fill power was. Instead of completing the purchase they go to Google to find out about fill power.
Example (good): The same user finds the down jacket they want. You have it in black. Your landing page messages that it has a sleeve pocket that can hold a mobile phone or iPod. The user had no idea that this was something that was available but knowing they will use it that closes the deal.
Discovering these three goals and considering them in your messaging is the first step to optimizing your landing pages and search ads. Only through testing will you truly be able to gather the insight needed to optimize based on evaluating the influence and optimal mix of messages that are needed to deliver relevant experiences and improve your ROI.
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