These days it’s a popular thing, particularly among real estate agents, to go bashing pay-per-click as a legitimate marketing strategy. Two of the most popular criticisms I hear are that PPC does not generate a significant amount of traffic, and that landing pages don’t perform better then if we just sent all the traffic to their home page. The first thing I do when I hear either one of these is pull open Google Analytics (you did install that, right?) and see what’s what.
The new reports module for Analytics is freaking awesome. I have to say it again; it’s awesome. My favorite new ability is to be able to easily compare the performance of landing pages with the entire site. It’s as simple as clicking on the ‘Content’ button on the left-hand side and then clicking on the name of your landing page. What you will then see is an overview of that page’s peformance. You can choose to Analyze ‘Entrance Sources’ or ‘Entrance Keywords’ and be able to rattle off a number of impressive stats about the site in question:
1. The percentage of the site’s total unique page views that are generated through PPC that is funneled towards that landing page.
2. The bounce rate of the landing page vs. pages on the site as a whole.
3. The average amount of time people spend on the landing page vs. pages on the site as a whole.
Armed with these facts, most of the time what I can say to my client with supreme confidence is that PPC represents a large percentage of their daily traffic. I can also confirm with them that their landing page has a lower bounce rate than the site itself (because the marketing is so focused on delivering just what people are searching for). And that people are spending on average more time on the landing page than on the site itself.
Dropping those kinds of bombs on a client can certainly bring up some fiery questions about the quality of the site being advertised. In the end, when you are doing everything on your side to make sure that the PPC campaigns and landing pages are set up right, what ultimately makes pay-per-click ineffective is the product that is being sold. Sometimes there’s no way to ‘polish a turd’ enough to turn it into the Lexus the client wants it to seem to its visitors. In those cases, they are in need of a serious marketing consultation and revamping of the website so that it can deliver upon what is advertised so well.