What does this have to do with search engine marketing, you ask? Imagine if Bank of America followed the same marketing strategy on AdWords -- a deceptive call to action in the company’s ad text followed by further deception on its landing page. For example, let’s say that its ad text said “Exclusive Loan Offer for San Francisco Residents Ends Tonight!” but there was no mention of an exclusive offer or San Francisco on the landing page. And what if the landing page had a standard form on it with a headline that read “guaranteed loan approval results within 60 seconds” -- but after submitting the form, users only got a message noting “a representative will get back to you in two to three days with more information.”
The results of this sort of campaign on AdWords would be disastrous. For starters, the bounce rate from the ad to the landing page would be very high (simply because the benefit promised in the ad text is not communicated on the landing page), potentially leading to Quality Score decline and wasted spend. Second, the campaign could prompt user complaints and/or a review by the AdWords policy team for false claims. And those unfortunate consumers who made it through the entire conversion funnel -- would they really want to entrust Bank of America with their mortgage after already being duped twice?
In direct marketing (or email marketing, for that matter), the goal is often to drive a high “open rate”: the percentage of people who open the envelope (or the email) and actually read what is inside. And the best technique to achieve this is to appeal to basic human emotions: fear, greed, vanity, and exclusivity. So when a bank sends me a letter promising “important information inside,” my “fear” quotient is raised enough to open the letter. Did I get a late charge, miss a payment, inadvertently get foreclosed ? I had to open it.
But let’s remember that the ultimate goal of any form of marketing is to get people to actually buy something from you. If I all I wanted was to increase my click-through rate on AdWords, I could certainly come up with some great -- and totally inaccurate -- ad text, to drive droves of users to my site (it would probably involve free money or lascivious celebrity pictures).
Seasoned SEMs know that simply focusing on getting clicks and increasing your CTR is great for Google, but usually ends up winning the battle and losing the war. Good marketing starts with enticing but accurate creative, a landing page (or piece of collateral) that follows up on great creative with a strong call to action and benefit statements, and ends by actually delivering what you promised in the first place with outstanding service or product. And while it is true that egregious violations of these principles will get you kicked off AdWords for policy violations, most businesses will probably fail long before the AdWords policy team acts, either because of wasted clicks with low conversion rates or an utter lack of customer retention.
We all think our marketing offers are “important” -- it’s just that most consumers don’t share our sentiment, and ultimately, their definition of the term is the only one that matters. The most successful companies know that building long-term relationships with customers drive far more profit than short-term marketing trickery.