A PPC campaign we can believe in

Posted by Nathan Pabich on 8 Sep, 2015
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The presidential race of 2016 is already a hot topic in the media with many candidates taking to PPC advertising to drum up support.

The presidential race of 2016 is already a hot topic in the media. And if the past is any predictor of the future, we can expect a massive spike in coverage right before election time. But before the big showdown next fall, there are a lot of things to sort out, and pay per click marketing has made its way into many presidential hopefuls’ arsenal of marketing tactics.

In this post I’m going to explore the current political advertising landscape through the eyes of a PPC analyst, not a political analyst (mostly because I’m completely unqualified for the latter). We’ll look at some of the candidates’ use of pay per click marketing so far in 2015, how they are using their ads, and how their landing pages are helping them achieve their campaign goals. At the end, I’ll give some recommendations I hope can help the campaign teams get more out of their PPC advertising.

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush makes it clear that you should donate. Being direct in your PPC ads is a very good strategy as a whole.

The grammar on this ad makes it a bit hard to understand. I get that Jeb is running for president, and I get that I’m being asked to donate, but a simple change in wording wouldn’t make me work so hard to understand that I’m being asked to donate, not found a society called “Jeb Bush Chip.”

Maybe something like this could work better?

The second ad he’s running is much clearer, and it’s upping the ante in the donation column. It’s a great move for his team to be running an ad test. 

To improve these ads, I’d recommend going a different route and just asking for a donation of any amount. If you’re only asking for $5 or $10, then that might be the majority of what they see since they are setting the expectation so low. Try experimenting with an open ended donation, and track ad to donation correlation.

Landing Page

Well, the site is not shy about what it wants, which is a good thing from a conversion rate perspective. This page is clearly all about donating. The issue is that the ad asks for $5 or $10, but the landing page starts with a $25 option. This is a misalignment of the message, and the ad set the wrong expectation.

I’d love to see the results of a landing page test where they add a $5 and $10 donation option. You do, however want to keep the $2,700 option – this is the maximum contribution from an individual donator.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary’s ad is pretty robust. It says what it is and makes it 100% clear that this is the official site and you should sign up today to join. Hillary is also doing a great job going above and beyond by using site links.

I couldn’t trigger any ad variations with the same query, so there doesn’t appear to be any active ad test; however, by changing the query I was able to reveal alternative messages.

Hillary Clinton 2016

Hillary Clinton for President

This shows that their campaign manager (ahem, PPC, not presidential campaign) is using multiple ad groups and is testing messaging. They are also doing a decent of job of matching query to headline in these further examples.

Landing Page

The call to action on the landing page is “Sign Up.”  However, only one of the ads I’ve been able to trigger uses “Sign Up” as the call to action.  

My issue with this landing page is that if I’m not familiar with Hillary Clinton’s visage, I have to struggle to actually find who this site is about. I am also unsure about what I’m signing up for.  Once I do submit my information, though, it all becomes clear.

After I sign up and they have my information for their email campaign (smart! Now they can continue to market to me for the next year plus), they ask for a donation. But If I’m not ready to donate, I still don’t have too many options to learn more, and I don’t have any more information about what I just signed up for.

Even on this page, I’m still not given any text that says this website is for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Both these pages could potentially benefit from a clearer call to action and some succinct copy making an emotional or informational plea. From my initial search, I still don’t have any information about what Hillary stands for and why she’s worthy of my support, let alone my campaign contribution.

The lack of navigation on these web pages makes it clear that these are landing pages with a single focus. This can be a terrific tactic, but the execution on Hillary’s website makes too many assumptions. If a voter is not already aware of the party affiliations and what Hillary stands for, this site doesn’t help a searcher learn anything about Hillary. This landing page could be good if I was searching for “donate to Hillary Clinton’s campaign”; but even then, I have to sign up first, and the call to donate wouldn’t be on the landing page.

The intent of a search for “Hillary Clinton” is incredibly vague. In such situations, it might be best to make fewer assumptions and work a little harder to convince the visitor about the merits of the candidate the site is selling.

In part two next week we'll take a look at the other candidates using PPC as part of their presidential campaign.

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