This past Friday, a friend came to me exclaiming “My sales are down! My sales are down!” A recognized author, this person was used to receiving hundreds of book orders per month via his website. In April of this year, he saw sharp drop in his sales. Believing it was a seasonal fluke, he didn’t think much of it. But as July ended, he was alarmed that his sales had remained abnormally low. So he called me in to look at his web analytics and try and find the cause.
Google Analytics has a powerful feature called Advanced Segments. By setting specific criteria, you can filter out all unwanted data and look only at information that matters. In this instance, I created several segments. The first was a filter that only showed website visits where the page selling the book was viewed. The second and third filters were ones that divided those visits by medium (pay per click advertising and organic/referral traffic). I ran a report showing activity from May 2010 through July 2011 and charted the following data:
The first thing we can see is that other than a peak in from January through March of 2011, organic / referral traffic to the book page remained relatively steady. However, the pay per click traffic was wild – dropping sharply in August 2010, recovering through March 2011, and then plummeting to an all time low in April 2011.
This data pointed the finger for loss of sales to the Google AdWords campaign. It simply wasn’t producing visits to the book sales page.
To analyze this further, I took the PPC traffic and split it into two advanced segments. I wanted to see where the pay per click advertising was sending traffic. The first page any visitor sees when arriving at your site is called a landing page. Google Analytics tracks this data and lets you segment your audience accordingly. The first PPC landing page segment I created was raffic that took the visitor directly to the book sales page. The second was AdWords traffic that sent the potential buyer to another page on the website. I extracted and graphed the data, comparing it to the overall total of book page views.
Notice the correlation between the blue and green lines. The red line, which shows pay per click traffic to other pages on the website, remained relatively constant – and had little to no affect on how many people visited the book sales page. In other words, unless the ad was sending traffic directly to the sales page, it wasn’t doing much anything to generate revenue.
This is a key lesson for all pay per click advertising: link your ad to the page where your desired action can be taken.
One of the biggest mistakes I see attorneys make is sending pay per click advertising traffic to their website’s homepage. As can be seen from my friend above, if the desired action you want your PNC to take is on a different webpage than the one your ad is sending directing them to – well, you’re wasting advertising dollars.
Send your PPC traffic to a designated landing page and watch the conversions rise!