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How to Improve SEM Conversion Rates

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

To optimize the results of a Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing or other SEM program, start with best practices in search engine marketing. I've written previously about typical SEM click-through rates (CTR), which are important—balancing your budget against driving as much traffic as possible to your website.

Ultimately, however, what's really important isn't raw traffic, but conversion of that traffic into buyers or B2B leads. Dan Briody recently wrote a helpful article for Inc. magazine, Turning Browsers into Buyers: How to Improve Conversion Rates that provides some practical guidance.

From my own experience, here are a few basic practices to help maximize conversion rates (which average 3% according to Dan's article) and minimize your cost per conversion:
  • Keep content short. Your landing page should have one-two paragraphs (a couple of sentences plus 3-5 bullet points is even better) of compelling, straightforward copy: this is what my product/service will do for you and why you should act now.

  • Keep the contact form short. For generating B2B leads, ask for minimum amount of information necessary, such as name, company, phone and email address.

  • Don't confuse the visitor with multiple navigation options—but do provide some. Best practice is not to duplicate the entire navigational structure of your website, but give the visitor one or two options in addition to the call to action, such as "Learn More" and/or "Visit our Home Page."

  • Provide a clear call to action. Once a visitor has hit your page and read your concise, compelling content, make it clear what you'd like them to do next: buy something (for low-cost, simple products and services) or provide contact information (for more complex B2B products and services).

  • Offer an incentive for response. White papers, reports, free trials, product videos and other relevant offers are a powerful inducement for B2B lead generation.

  • Test, test, test. The recommendations above and those in Dan's article serve as general guidelines, but your company, offering and prospects are unique: in the end, the only way to truly optimize your SEM conversions is through testing several alternatives and then fine-tuning the landing pages that work best for you.

Utilizing these practices will help achieve your ultimate objective in SEM campaigns—generating prospects and buyers.


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom
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