I was on a conference call today and I had said how many people misunderstand what click fraud actually is, and some mistakenly believe that just because a click doesn’t convert that it has to be click fraud. But in many cases, it had zero to do with the quality of the click, but instead has everything to do with the quality of the landing page.
So when was the last time you took a look at your landing pages, especially if you work in a company where you might handle the PPC but someone else handles actual on-page content and issues? I am willing to bet that many people would probably be surprised to learn that their ROI is so low because what they are presenting their visitors is, well, lacking.
A few days ago, I noticed @rogerdooley who twittered the following:
Clicked on an Infiniti Adwords ad, got a redirect msg telling me the Infiniti site had moved & 2 update my bookmark. Nice.
So, I did what probably a few people did… I went and Googled “Infiniti”. But since I am in Canada, I was geotargeted (and rightly so) to the Canadian Infiniti site. However, what the Canadian Infiniti site was just as bad, if not worse. Consider the fact that Infiniti has just paid for me to go to their website, since I clicked an AdWords ad. It is in their best interest to give me the most bang for their buck, so they can squeeze every bit of ROI out of me as possible. So what do I get instead of the Infiniti homepage? Or even a specific page about Infiniti? I got this:
Um, okay. And that was it, nothing in the background, that was the entire page, Now, I don’t know how much they paid for my click, but this is not the kind of user experience you want to present to your paid visitor. But I am willing to bet that whoever does their PPC ad campaign manager has no idea that this is the page that visitors are getting when they click an AdWords ad. And its probably because the web design team decided they wanted feedback on the site, without thinking about how it could impact other aspects of their online presence and promotion. And obviously the team wasn’t thinking about usability, only how to get as many people to fill out that survey as possible.
Usually, this is the kind of thing you display after someone has visited at least one page (or preferably 5!) on the site – whether I am a paid visitor or not – because you know what this makes most visitors want to do? You got it, click the back button. And I won’t get started about the fact it is a five minute survey… I suspect the % of visitors who actually go to the trouble of filling it out are pretty low.
It is worth noting that they must be tracking the results of their advertising, as the URLs include the ?gclid parameter. But their results must be pretty poor compared to what it was before they started giving everyone the survey page as the initial entry page to the site.
So, I wondered what exactly it was that @rogerdooley saw, because it couldn’t be worse than my user experience.
So here is the ad:
A pretty standard automobile AdWords ad. Nothing fancy, and note the InfinitiUSA.com display URL.
And this is what he got when he clicked:
But at least in his case, the website was showing in the background, albiet quite delayed. Now, this isn’t a very good user experience either, especially for a paid click. But, and here is the kicker, the actual ad clicked was already going to the correct destination URL, InfinitiUSA.com, so it wasn’t a case of a visitor being redirected, everyone was getting it regardless of whether came into the site via an outdated bookmark or not (which is a whole new level of poor usability!)
So the moral of the story, make sure you always know what the web dev team is doing on your site that could impact your PPC conversion rates, because that team has certainly dropped down their PPC ROI significantly. Or better yet, have a dedicated landing page that the dev team has strict instuctions to not touch or mess with in any way without clearing it with you first. Because with a little conversation between the two teams (and yes, I know it is often easier said than done, especially if one or both is outsourced), you can prevent this kind of problem from happening.
It also makes the case that you might want to periodically click on your AdWords ad in the serps from a virgin computer that has never visited your website, just so you can see what happens from a user experience standpoint, and make sure there aren’t any of the mistakes plaguing the various Infiniti sites on your own or client sites.
And Infiniti, if you need a new PPC or usability specialist, let me know 😉