This is Part 3 in a 5-part series. Read the rest of the series here:
- The PPC Guide for Beginners, Part 1: Intro to PPC ROI 
- The PPC Guide for Beginners, Part 2: Setting Your PPC Goals 
- The PPC Guide for Beginners, Part 4: Finding Your Keywords 
- The PPC Guide for Beginners, Part 5: Bringing it All Together 
When a visitor knocks on the door of your home, do you chase her away? Invite her inside? Pour her a drink of iced tea?
Your response depends on who is knocking, doesn’t it? The same principle applies to landing pages. Every person searching on a keyword or term related to your business is an individual—why not recognize that individuality and serve up a proper reception?
What do summer camp and PPC have in common?
This morning, I put my boy on the bus, headed to a 4-day summer camp. Getting back in my truck, there were tears in my eyes. I missed him already, and I was worried whether he would fit in with the others.
Zebadiah is only 12, you see, but he’s a precocious little guy. He doesn’t go in for much horseplay and is disgusted by goofball antics. He would rather talk about new technology, or save the world via video game than tell fart jokes. Zeb’s not athletic. He doesn’t run fast, and he has trouble catching a ball.
But he’s strong. And he’s wise beyond his years. And he’s mine.
What does your customer care about?
Do you think, over the next four days, I’ll be hypersensitive to any news about a bus wreck, a boy lost in the wilderness, or anything else remotely related to my son and his welfare?
And, if I saw an advertisement about a soon-to-open technology camp that allows parents to video chat with their children in the evenings, do you think I would be interested in checking it out?
You bet I would. In a flash.
For anything related to my son and his camping experience, I am definitely a part of the “target audience.”
Let me ask you: What are the parameters of the target audience for your business? Who cares about the work you do? Who is listening?
Know thy customer or perish
It’s the first commandment of any marketer, and it is especially important in the realm of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. When you are spending your hard-earned cash to get people to click on your ad , you want to be as sure as you can possibly be that those ads are speaking to people who need (preferably already want) and can afford your product or service.
The second commandment follows: When you design a landing page, begin with customer identification.
Do I really need a landing page?
Every time you click on a link, you are transported (metaphorically speaking) somewhere else. You may be redirected to a news release, to a particular article within a blog, or to a signup form for free toothpaste—but if the link is working correctly, you go into the rabbit’s hole known as the “world wide web,” and come out somewhere other than where you began.
And that “somewhere” is the landing page , where marketing is concerned.
Perhaps the easiest and most popular place to send visitors is the company’s home page. For a pay-per-click campaign, however, that is probably not the best selection. It’s like giving every visitor who knocks on your front door a tour of your home. That’s a nice gesture, but chances are the letter carrier doesn’t have time for that and the kid selling magazines doesn’t care.
The best landing pages have specific calls to action  (CTAs) tailored to specific queries.
How many landing pages does a PPC campaign need?
I know. You don’t have the time or resources to develop a separate landing page for every potential customer. The good news is you don’t have to do that. In reality, you could probably circle 80% of your customers with just a handful of motivational descriptors—and that is really all you need to know to get started. (More about customer identification and motivational descriptors coming soon in this series.)
Remember that boy at camp? I sure do. I am an anxious parent, and I want to know there is a better solution than four days of no communication with my son. I don’t want to sign up for your mailing list, buy your logo gear, or read all about your work with Outward Bound . I searched for “how to stay in contact with your child at camp,” and that’s the information I’m after.
Tell me about how your camp can ease my worries, please, but don’t try to recruit me for anything else.
There are two questions you want to ask for every Ad Group  in your Campaign:
- Does the text of the ad accurately illuminate the question you want to answer and encourage the target audience to click through to discover it?
- Does the landing page accurately answer the searcher’s question and provide the next logical step to easing the tension that brought them here?
Remember: the words you employ in the ad will select the question you want to answer. You need enough landing pages to answer the questions and solve the dilemmas of the situations for which you have a product or service to address. No more. No less.
The most important steps in PPC
PPC experts can ring all the bells and sound all the whistles. They can take your PPC campaign and squeeze it like a lemon to get every drop of value from your efforts. You don’t need to be an expert to get started, though. If you have access to a few necessary tools  and can grasp the basics of PPC management, you’re good to go.
That is the purpose of this PPC Guide for Beginners. My aim is to help raise your confidence level up high enough to feel good about starting your PPC engine. Or, if you’ve already been around the track a few times, help you make the necessary adjustments during this pit stop and get you back out there to brave the competition.
This sequence is the heart of pay-per-click. Ignore it to your peril, and write it in permanent ink on your whiteboard if you wish to prosper:
- Know who needs, wants, and can afford your offer
- Word your ad carefully to attract (only) those searchers
- Present everyone who clicks on your ad with exactly what they need to take the next logical step towards realizing the benefits you provide
Do that, my friend, and you win. Don’t do that, and you may be wondering where your money went. Other marketers can, perhaps, afford to be sloppy, but sloppiness is the bane of PPC.
Your landing page must match your advertisement, and your offer must be congruent with both. In other words: Stay focused and sensible. Don’t confuse or mislead your customers.
How does your PPC campaign taste?
Dr. Michael Haley sells pure, raw aloe gel from his location in South Florida. He doesn’t provide the pasteurized pseudo-gel you find on the shelf at the grocery store, but aloe straight from the field, hand filleted and quick-frozen. If you’ve ever used aloe to treat a burn or wound, you know it is amazing stuff.
Dr. Haley knows he has a high-quality product. You can’t get aloe any fresher or more natural, without walking out to the field and harvesting the plant yourself. One would think the universally favorable reputation of Aloe vera, coupled with the fact that it is the most popular natural remedy for burns on the planet, would have customers beating a path to Stockton Aloe’s front door.
That may be true in Pompano Beach or Coral Springs, but when it comes to online customers, the first problem is to get found by the right people, and the second is to assure those people they found the right company.
Haley puts it like this: “Is the landing page salty? Does it interest the viewer and create a thirst for more?”
Then, with a little thought he adds, “After all, isn't that the goal? The seller must lead potential customers to the solution for their problems, while making them think they found it all by themselves.”
Every part of your online advertising campaign must be aimed at getting the attention of those who want and can afford your product or service, then prompting that person to click on your link to arrive at a landing page that motivates them to get your product or service, then presenting them with a call to action that makes them feel like the whole thing was their idea to begin with.
After all … it’s their search.
This is a guest post by Don Sturgill , a freelance writer and speaker from Bend, Oregon—PPC capital of the world. Don is the author of The Roadmap to Freedom , a work focused on helping entrepreneurs reach their dreams.