Lead with Landing Pages: Create Your Campaigns by Starting at the End

Why do keywords and ads inform landing page creative? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? This is a vestige of the old way of thinking about advertising. The ad was everything. The ad could persuade. The ad could influence. The ad could brand. Those days are a nice walk down memory lane.

Still, most every search marketer I know arranges their campaigns and AdGroups around keywords selection first, then AdGroup determination, then ads and then landing pages. It’s done this way because spend considerations have always trumped everything else and spend depends on the keywords you buy and how many users click the ads for those keywords. This doesn’t mean it’s best way to optimize overall campaign performance. Nor is it a process that’s focused on users. It’s a process focused on budgets.

In new media the ad isn’t everything. The user is everything. The user has control of the experience. The user is not someone that can be manipulated or easily persuaded. Users have their goals and as they make considerations more and more they are relying on other users to help inform the decision making process. Such is the power of social media. With users in control our most pressing need as marketers is to find the right mix of content that ensure users understand they can fulfill their goals. In search (and even in display) that deep-touch point and level of engagement only takes place on the landing page.

Of course search users help us out by putting a keyword query into a search field. As best they can, they tell us their goal. But most of the time (About 80% according to comScore and DoubleClick) their queries are not specific enough to provide us the insights we need for a full understanding of where they reside in the consideration or purchase funnel. Ads have also always been a byproduct of the keywords in the AdGroup. Certainly Google has reinforced this mindset with the way they are structured to “reward” advertisers.

But let’s forget for a minute the generic nature of most searches and the CTR desires of the search engines. Think about the goals of your user. Do some basic goal discovery. Think about what offers, messages, images and benefits align with the goals of someone looking for your product or service. Then create the best landing page you can and work “backwards.” What ads would work well with that landing page and reinforce it? What keywords would work well with that ad?

I think you’ll find the answers to those questions provide a campaign that is structured to deliver relevance not just on the landing page but holistically. By making landing pages not an afterthought, but the basis for your campaigns you are spending your time and money where your users are spending theirs. How can that be a bad idea?



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2 responses to “Lead with Landing Pages: Create Your Campaigns by Starting at the End”

  1. Matthew Roche Avatar

    Hate quoting motivational books, but this one seems to fall into the timeless truth of
    “Begin with the end in Mind”
    The simplest truths have the most power, and Jon’s advice here is very powerful. You looking for engagement? A few simple questions – With what? For whom?
    When you start with the landing page, and then seek to make it relevant to the media placement, you are pursuing the most effective combination of whom and what. When you try to just create an ad without considering the landing page, it is immeasurably harder.


  2. Patrick Schaber Avatar

    Good Post, Jonathan. Many people underestimate the landing page experience. I certainly did when I first started with Paid Search. But, after using the various paid search mediums, I’ve found greater success when my landing pages, ads, and keywords are in sync with each other


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