(This interview was done by yours truly, Gab Goldenberg of Conversion Rate Optimization .co. I’ve added a few comments here and there in [square brackets], to clarify and add something extra).
Here’s Dennis on the intersection of PPC and conversion rate optimization:
“The hard-core conversion optimizers look at paid traffic as helping jam more camels through the eye of the needle. There’s just one hole and we either shove harder (PPC tweaking in all its variants) or we make the hole larger (landing page tweaking).
In the last 15 years, I’ve spent over a billion dollars of other people’s money on PPC all geared towards alleviating this very issue– to get more conversions at a lower cost per conversion.
Only there is one major misunderstanding here that I’ve come to realize.
And that is that because of content marketing, social media, review sites, word of mouth, and information sharing in various formats, there is no single stage conversion any more. Instead of a landing page, we have a journey of many gradual steps, traced out as a funnel.
Or to continue the analogy, instead of trying to force people through the hole in the wall, we can call to them and they can walk willingly around the wall, which takes a few more steps and a bit more time.
If you subscribe to this better way of doing things– call it inbound marketing, multi-channel marketing, social proof, marketing automation, or whatever– then you’ve broken the conversion path into many little steps, like the courtship cycle that goes from first date to marriage.
In that case, PPC is about using the influence of existing customers to attract new ones.
- Amplify the good things that others say about you– on a favorable article on a site other than yours.
- Promoting a tweet from a happy customer– yes, you can do that with Twitter ads.
And in regards to catering to the wider loop for conversion – the alternative paths with multiple touchpoints I mentioned above, you can:
- Build up an email list by creating a series of lead magnets– to catch them well before they type that keyword into Google.
Conversion optimization now means getting more yield not by increasing the conversion on any particular visit, but crossing channels:
If they came to your site on a particular keyword (paid or not), remarket to that audience on Facebook with a related message. Here’s a soup-to-nuts guide for such Facebook/Google cross-channel growth-hacking.
If they are in your email list, remarket to them on Google (called Customer Match) [Gab: or with your own retargeted email marketing.]
[Use PPC to drive foot traffic, like in this case study where an ecommerce store drove 12,000 coupon clips that packed the retailer’s brick-and-mortar locations with foot traffic.]
If they are on social, get them into email. See e.g. this reddit native ads case study.
If they are on channel X, remarket into channel Y, so you can get another shot at the conversion. [Cart abandonment software like AbandonAid can be handy in this regard.]
Now conversion optimization and paid search go hand in hand, since they work together to bring a potential customer one step further along the path you’ve outlined.”
That’s remarkable… thank you Dennis for that generous sharing. Here are some further points to elaborate on reaching your audience before they enter the funnel. For top of the funnel marketing, you can take display tactics and apply them to search, getting you multiple touchpoints as Dennis was getting at.
You can do interest targeting (aka psychographic targeting) on Google’s Search network.
The reasons for doing this are that:
- You’ll get cheaper clicks and conversions, because most people ignore the long tail, especially if it’s not tied to product keywords.
- This enables you to have more touchpoints along (and before) the buying cycle, and facilitates retargeting later since you can cookie these visitors
- You can gain market intelligence from these visitors, e.g. by offering them segmentation options on the landing page (two links to “read case studies for fly fishing or read case studies for deep sea fishing”). This can allow you to convert these visitors better down the line, e.g. retargeting ads and landing pages for fly fishing products instead of a general fishing products ad.
This isn’t exclusively a display or a social media targeting option.
What’s that? Is there a new targeting option you didn’t hear about?
No, this targeting is done through your standard keyword-based ad groups. Sign up for a SpyFu account or login and look for keywords that hobbyists in your niche would use.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Are there particular products that only an enthusiast would be aware of?
- What techniques would someone be interested in that a non-hobbyist would have no clue about?
- Who are the famous personalities in your niche?
- What questions would enthusiasts ask on a forum? They may search these as queries in Google, and you can target them with modified broad match.
- What keywords are driving traffic to forums in the niche?
- Are there any events in your field coming up? (See this SpyFu post on event-based competitive intelligence .)
- What jargon exists beyond these above categories?
Your ads can speak to them as enthusiasts, like “Avid Fisherman? Read 10 Secrets to Bigger Catches & Enjoy Your Trips More!”
There are definitely more areas where pay per click ads and conversion rate optimization overlap – if you’ve got some tip to share, please comment below. We can add a link in this post to your site if you share value-added comments!