Here’s the scenario:
You have just completed a major advertising campaign in major newspapers, TV, radio or other media and now you need to accurately measure the results and ROI of all that spending. Meanwhile, not having any clear picture or any numbers to fall back on, your boss or company president is getting increasingly impatient as each day goes by.
You have a great website that is well optimized for the major search engines and that brings in a fairly decent amount of quality, targeted traffic.
Everyday, you carefully analyse and evaluate all your web log files, closely watching for any clues of new traffic that could have come from your ad campaign. All you see is an increase in traffic, and a corresponding increase in sales, but you still have no way of accurately measuring exactly how much of it is directly related to your new ad campaign.
Before going into that major ad campaign, your site already had about 80% of its traffic coming from referrals of major search engines such as Google, AltaVista, Yahoo, etc.
How can one accurately measure the real ROI and have access to exact numbers while conducting an important advertising campaign? How can you separate traffic from search engine referrals from new traffic that is directly produced by a major ad campaign? It’s very simple. The solution is to create a “landing page” system that will tell you precisely how many new visitors uniquely come from that ad campaign and, with the right tools, can accurately compute your final conversion rate.
How do “landing pages” work?
First, we need to know how landing pages work and why they are called “landing pages” in the first place. Under normal circumstances, most if not all the pages in a website are directly connected to the homepage and the sitemap. At least it is highly recommended that they be, in order for the search engine spiders and crawlers to be able to index all those web pages and include them in their database.
In the case of landing pages, and for their maximum effectiveness, they usually are not. To have accurate numbers, they need to:
Be disconnected from the homepage and the sitemap
Be prevented to be spidered by a search engine
Be prevented from being directly accessed by a visitor
In essence, landing pages actually break every rule of common sense on the subject of SEO! However, there are no other way of doing it, if you are to get effective and precise numbers that will satisfy you or your boss or company shareholders. So how is it actually done in the real world? Rather simply.
Let’s use an example where a company embarks on a major national advertising campaign, wishing to promote two new products: White widgets and red widgets.
It would need to create two new pages on its website, one clearly labelled “white widgets” and the other marked as “red widgets”. Those two new pages would NOT be linked anywhere else on the site- not the homepage, not the sitemap, not anywhere! Additionally, in the ad campaign, if the company uses the newspaper media or TV, somewhere in the ad would have to appear, in bold and large letters, the exact URL’s of both the white widgets and the red widgets landing pages.
That way, when the server log files are analyzed, you can come to a clear conclusion that 100% of the traffic arriving on those two pages is the direct result of that specific ad campaign and nothing else.
To prevent the search engine spiders from indexing those two pages, install the robots.txt exclusion protocol. That way, the search engines will not be able to “distort” what would otherwise be perfect and accurate numbers of the real, true traffic resulting uniquely from your ad campaign.
Additionally, one must be certain not to “publish” those 2 URL’s anywhere else but in the ad campaign itself.
When conducting any major ad campaign, be it local, regional or national, landing pages are the only truly effective ways of getting accurate results you can really depend on, if implemented the right way. The same principle can be used in other media. For example, a partner’s website can be used in a similar fashion, again, using landing pages as the correct way of accurately calculating the real traffic coming from that unique source.
Additionally, special tracking tools or tracking software exist in the market place today to calculate the final conversion rate of these new sources of traffic.
The same principle can also be used to conduct user or client surveys, market analysis, consumer opinions or even conduct pre-marketing studies based on a very specific geographical location or the whole country.
Used in conjunction with professional search engine optimization and positioning, landing pages can in fact become very powerful tools to any web marketer’s available means in staying a step ahead of its competition.