Using Visitor Flow and Site Search in GA to Prove You Need PPC Landing Pages
Elizabeth Marsten Jul 19 2012
How do you know when you should use a lander over a category or product page in PPC? Well, yes, you test. But let’s say you’ve tested between the two, but are stuck in a circle and would really like to test a category lander just for PPC and need some “evidence” to convince a designer, developer, client and your mom.
Or, you’ve got a client with 400+ products, terrible navigation and not helpful internal site search. (It was like dropping someone off in a Whole Foods blindfolded and telling them they have 30 seconds to bring back six bulk vegan chocolate chips. Go!)
Here’s a real instance on where I used Visitor Flow and Site Search in Google Analytics to convince a client to let me have some wonderful PPC-only landing pages featuring products of my choosing!
So this one just takes some common sense. When you use the site as a “user,” can you find things? Is it intuitive? When you perform example searches, do you get frustrated? Do your bounce rate, time on site and pageviews look great but no one wants to buy anything? Average order value order refuses to grow? If so, it’s time to start digging.
If you’ve never used Visitor Flow in GA, you really should, even if it’s just to play with it. You can really “visualize” where visitors come in and where they go. In this case of this client, we were seeing the visitors come in from various pages and too many of them are having interactions with internal site search.
But, the overall PPC site metrics, are 4+ pages per visit, almost 3 minutes on site, 33% bounce rate. My concern here is the reason that’s high, is because they’re having to “hunt” for what they want. So, I need to prove that it’s not because I am driving irrelevant traffic and instead it’s that they find the one thing they’re looking for, they just can’t find the second and third, which is attributing to my low average order value.
Matching It Up
I know the days that I made major changes to the account, including tripling their spend for the holidays, thanks to a handy annotation I made in GA, so I went and looked at their internal site search stats to see if there was a correlation. Lo and behold, we turn up PPC, site search use skyrockets.
OK, so how am I proving that it’s not because I suck at bringing in relevant traffic? Pull the revenue and transactions and compare. They were making money and sales, just not making as much money and sales as they could be.
Since there was no plan or resources in the short term to improve upon or change site navigation, product categorization or internal search, the answer was landing pages. Let me simply present the desired items on a single page with a giant ADD TO CART button. (Ideally, if they had piles of money, they could do something like real time offers or a recommended products program to really bolster average order value, but I think you can sense they did not have the capital for this.)
The takeaway: go play with visitor flow in GA. It’s fun times.
Vice President of Search Marketing
Elizabeth supervises the overall search division at Portent, which includes PPC, SEO, Social Media and Analytics. If you really want to know more about her check out her bit.ly bundle. Elizabeth has written several ebooks, is a ClickZ columnist, a Lynda.com course author, a Dummies book author and speaks on PPC across the USA at various conferences including the SMX shows, mozCon and Hero Con. Read More