Response Design – Getting to the Thank You Page

Bob Dumouchel

Let’s face reality – we judge AdWords performance based on the response, not the clicks. CTR and clicks are important to Google, but businesses are interested in the response they get.  Response creates value and it comes mostly from the web experience.  The right keywords and ad copy is what gets to the click and without the click there is no web experience. We have to remember however that there is a limit to what AdWords can really do with 95 letters and spaces.

After the Click Happens the Rest is Up to the Website

There are lots of different types of responses that businesses are after; the most popular are an online form completion, phone call, order or some other positive action by the visitor. Which one will be your priority is a decision you need to make before you design the website. Some people want the phone to ring, but in a smaller business where you do not have staff to answer the phone you may want to stress the online form.

Position Counts!

This might seem obvious, but regardless of the type of response you want it needs to be above the fold. This term actually came from the newspaper industry and it meant exactly what is says. In the internet world above the fold means that you can see it when you first land on the page without having to roll down. The challenge here is that not every computer has the same size screen so the fold is a concept not an exact physical position. The vast major of screens are 17” or above so using that as a standard to decide what is above the fold is a good general guideline. One of the classic problems with designers is that they fail to remember that not all the audience is using a 30” monitor like they do so they design response above the fold for their monitor not the masses. Make them test their designs on a 17” monitor.

It is Getting to be a Mobile World

There is no doubt that mobile devices are coming into this world quickly. If you think a 17” monitor is a design limitation, wait till you deal with this one.  Design for mobile delivery is yet another design challenge, and here you have to realize that people are responding to less and less information so you have to adapt to that. Gone are the days of long copy, now your message is being delivered on a screen where 5 inches is considered huge. Mobile devices current range 3.5 to 5 inches and to be readable you need to be brief and to the point. Most of the time mobile visitors want directions, phone numbers, or very small specific information. Rule 1.01 in response design is; Give them what they want!

Be Clear About What You Want

If you want a phone call then ask them to call and if you want a form filled out ask them to do that. We see websites all the time that just assume that the person knows what they want and the simple truth is that is a dangerous marketing practice. Ask for the order early and often and make it very clear what you want them to do.

Stay On-Topic

When a person goes to a search engine and puts a query in the box that is the start of a conversation. Your website should continue that conversation. If they started out with a search for Water Heater Installation, connect them to content related to that. You want to avoid just dropping them on your home page and expecting them to hold the conversation together by themselves. In this area there is a challenge and that is that we break traffic down to a very fine level and it may not be worth the expense to have a specific page for every ad group. You want to have refined content related to the keyword for the keywords that make your business work. If you’re a plumber and get lots of frozen pipe work in the winter, then talk about it. The more your landing page content matches the search the more it’s going to connect with the searcher.

If it’s Important, Measure it

We see websites all the time that violate this rule and most of the time it’s the phone number that is overlooked.  As a minimum get a phone number that is unique to your website and use it only there. There are several ways to implement this but one of the easy ones is that you pass your website a URL tag that says show the paid traffic phone number. Any good website designer should understand how to do this. On forms make sure that the design goes to a unique thank you page that confirms that someone will get back to them. For some reason some web designers want to reuse the same page and just rewrite a section of it. While this will work it makes tracking the response more difficult than it needs to be. A unique thank you page is not really an option.

Offer Choices

Some people like online forms and others like phones. If both are of value to your business then by all means offer both because the total response will most likely go up. Simply stated people like choices.  Forms get better responses during the off hours and phones get better response during business hours. There could be several reasons for this and the most likely is that people would rather email than leave a voice mail in a general mailbox after hours.

Get to the Point

People are in a hurry and yet most websites drift around and waste our time with lots of unnecessary words and details. The golden rule here should be: give them as much detail as they need to make an educated decision but no more than that. This is hard because different audiences will respond to different levels of detail but do the best you can. As a minimum tighten up your language and keep the words to a minimum. Use lists rather than paragraphs and use good highlighting to make scanning your text easier.

Do not ask for too much

We see this one all the time where the client wants much more than the market is going to give them on a first contact. We are often contacted by companies that just want the order and they want nothing to do with the early sales cycle details. The problem is that the market is only going to give you want you earn, and going from a first hello to a closed deal is rare in most situations. Now there are some products that this works with, but you have to ask yourself how often to you buy on the first exposure. The likely answer is not very often.

Remove Roadblocks to Your Response

I have seen hundreds of sites with unnecessarily complex response design and every decision you engineer into the process is an opportunity for the customer to leave.  We have seen errors on screens that issue messages that might make sense to some programmer but for an ordinary person might as well be in an alien language.  Make sure that a non-programmer reviews every error message given by the system to make sure it makes sense to mere mortals.

Nothing is Perfect

In closing there is no perfect response design and you need to experiment consistently to find the attributes that push your audience’s buttons. Remember that small things can make big differences and you never know what they will be until you test.