If you’re like most search marketers and advertisers, your goal is to acquire new customers, new clients, and/or drive online sales. Your success is based on driving online traffic, but more importantly, on driving online sales/clients/leads. So how much time do you spend on acquisition vs. conversion?

If you’re spending money to drive users to your site, you should also be making sure that those users are converting. This can be done by optimizing the entire path, from the keyword to the ad to the landing page, in a process I like to call Path Optimization. Path Optimization means that you are optimizing both your acquisition-driven SEM campaigns and conversion-driven landing pages, together. This covers a user’s entire path from the search engine through to the landing page conversion.

Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Message Match: Is your ad copy reflected on your landing page?
  2. The Search Funnel: Do the keyword, ad copy and landing page all speak to the same user intent and stage in the search funnel (information, consideration,  transaction)? Tip: If you’re a Retail company and your “information” funnel keywords aren’t converting, consider identifying a secondary metric which may be more appropriate, such as newsletter or email registrations. Or, lower goals as appropriate knowing that 80% of searches are in this category, and are the least likely to convert compared to the other two stages in the funnel.
  3. Bounce Rate: Are there SEM landing pages with high bounce rates? Is it possible the bounce rate is high due to inefficiencies with #1 and #2 above rather than the landing page itself?

As an online advertiser, our work doesn’t stop with traffic. We need to ensure those site visits convert. We can increase ROI by optimizing both acquisition-driven SEM campaigns and conversion-driven landing pages, and we need to look at both.

I’d love to hear what your experience has been with Path Optimization. Please leave a comment and tell me what’s worked well for you.

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