How to DESTROY Your Pay-Per-Click Campaign Like a Pro [SmartFocus Example]

SmartFocus Marketing Platform

Dissecting SmartFocus' ebook download campaign on LinkedIn.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a goldmine for the advertising platforms like AdWords, because they make money on ignorance. Many marketers and business owners who are disappointed with PPC results simply failed to run an effective, well planned, and optimized campaign. It's not that PPC does not work. It does. Skilled marketers know how to setup a PPC campaign to deliver results, unfortunately not many are skilled.

In this post I will address several points that relate to PPC and lead generation using SmartFocus campaign as an example. I'm not affiliated with SmartFocus, I stumbled upon their campaign on LinkedIn and saw how wasteful they are with their PPC budget.

Takeaway: You will learn how to avoid common mistakes when running a PPC campaign, including landing page optimization tips to ensure you're converting visitors to leads.

SmartFocus Campaign

SmartFocus is some sort of a marketing platform, similar to HubSpot and other marketing platforms. They even have a landing page feature to allow marketers to easily create landing pages. I only wish they spent a bit more time on their own landing page for this campaign as you'll see in minute.

LinkedIn Update SmartFocus

Using Brian Solis and his reputation is a good way to get that click.

Based on the information I saw, SmartFocus is running a sponsored update on LinkedIn that promotes their ebook “Creating Truly Personal Omni-Channel Customer Experiences”. They did a decent job at creating the actual update, I was interested enough to click on it to get more details and download the ebook. In the update (see screenshot), they mentioned that it includes exclusive video insights from Brian Solis. Good hook, I clicked.

Once I clicked the link and landed on the landing page, I was greeted with nothing more than a sentence and a form that was asking for my life's story.

SmartFocus Landing Page

Send enquiry? Um, no.

Now you know the basics of the campaign SmartFocus is running, now let's dig into it and see how you can learn on their mistakes and prevent your PPC budget from being destroying without any ROI.

How SmartFocus is Destroying Their Budget

Sponsored update image should be an image of the ebook

The first mistake they made is the image used in the sponsored update. It's a car. LinkedIn allows you to upload a custom image when you create company update. In this case, they should have created an image of the ebook. Even a screenshot of the cover page would be better than some car.

  • First, providing a visual representation of the ebook makes it a bit more tangible, which gives it a bit more perceived value in the mind of the lead. They're actually getting something, in a way.
  • Second, the visual representation of the ebook initiates a mental bridge that you take a person on from one side to another side successfully converting the lead.

The landing page is a complete disaster

This is not a landing page. It is an abomination. There are so many things wrong that I don't even know where to start. Let's start from the top.

  1. Landing pages come in all forms, and it is not required to remove your main menu. This really depends on how aggressive you're trying to be. If you remove the menu, the landing page now becomes a squeeze page. There's no where to go but to fill out a form or close the page. In this case, I would remove the menu. It's too distracting, especially their demo request button in the corner.

    Tip: Remove distracting main menu.

  2. The content of the landing page is the heart of the landing page. It is designed to “sell” value of your downloadable asset (or whatever it is you're offering) in exchange for the visitor's contact information. It's a barter exchange, value for contact information. If you fail to deliver value, visitors bounce. This landing page completely fails to deliver any value other than that one sentence. If there was an entry point that promised value (the PPC ad), you MUST continue to emphasize that value on the landing page.

    Tip: This landing page should re-emphasize that this ebook contains exclusive video insight from Brian Solis. Ideally, you would want to include his picture on the landing page to tap into his reputation. You're increasing your perceived credibility by using an influencer's status and reputation.

  3. The form used to allow user to download this ebook is asking for too much information, including a message. It seems to me they simply used a default form without any thought behind it. The button “Send enquiry” is disconnected from what the visitor needs to do – download an ebook. In its current state, this form quickly turns on visitor's flight response and they bounce. The form is not designed to allow visitor to download an ebook, even though it is the end result.

    Tip: If you're offering an ebook for download, be very careful what form fields you decide to include in the form. Go with as few fields as possible. Keep in mind, adding more specific form fields can lower your conversion rate but increase quality of leads. If you're trying to generate leads (top of the funnel), go with name and email. Make sure the action (button) communicates value and the outcome: Download Ebook Now.

  4. Everything in the footer on this page is useless, and the newsletter sign up box distracts visitor from the intended action (download).

    Tip: Remove everything from the footer. Less distractions will improve your conversion rate and user experience.

 What Happened?

As you can see, SmartFocus failed to create a fluid experience taking a person from a click on the ad to the landing page to the download page. In a webinar I did last year on marketing automation mistakes (which you can download here), I talked about taking a lead on a broken bridge.

Lead generation is a journey across a bridge. You take a person on a walk across a bridge and when they cross they become your lead.

You must maintain message continuity across the entire lead conversion process, otherwise you will lose that lead. Your PPC ad must offer value proposition that closely relates to the value proposition on the landing page. In this case, the sponsored update offered exclusive video insights from Brian Solis but failed to even mention him on the landing page. That's a broken bridge, your leads fell off. Here's a conversion bridge diagram to help you understand the process.

Bridge to Conversion

When you communicate the same value proposition from the first contact (ad) along the conversion funnel (or using my analogy, bridge) it acts like a supporting pillar maintaining a clear path to the destination. When you fail to communicate it at any given point, landing page for example, the mental bridge is broken and your lead falls off.

The bridge to conversion analogy applies to other conversion funnels, not just PPC. Few other examples:

  • Social media updates, emails, calls to action that lead to landing pages
  • Product page and the checkout
  • Sign up process

How does this destroy your PPC campaign? The goal is results: leads or sales. When your leads click (you pay) but do not convert, you will not get the ROI you're looking for. This is why many brush off PPC and lead generation as useless or not working. They work, you're just don't know how to do it effectively. In this case, ignorance is far from bliss.

Hopefully this post has given you some ideas and tips to take away to improve your current campaign, landing page, and forms. I also hope SmartFocus will get their shit together. As a marketing platform and (hopefully) experts, they're making amateur mistakes with their landing pages and forms.

Do you have any additional tips for SmartFocus and everyone else looking to improve their lead generation? Share in the comments below.

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Viktor Nagornyy

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