PPC Takeaways From SXSW Interactive 2012

Greetings from beautiful Austin, Texas! Unlike most of the web nerds in town for SXSW Interactive, I’m actually a local. This is my third time attending the conference, and it’s great to see the best of the best sharing their ideas on web design, marketing, and technology. I’m about halfway through the festival, but I wanted to take a few moments and share some takeaways I’ve learned that are relevant to PPC.

From “The Secret Lives of Links“, presented by Jared Spool:

Lots of great information from usability studies in this one. For example, the use of the back button in a clickstream is a great indicator of the likelihood that a user will fail to find the information they are looking for. Clickstreams with two or more back button hits have a 98% failure rate. If you’re doing usability testing of your checkout process, seeing a lot of back button hits indicates that you’ll need to make some serious changes.

Paradoxically, users are 50% more likely to fail to find info if they use site search. Instead of relying on site search for navigation, you should utilize it as a research tool. Find what keywords people are using in site search, then make sure those words are prominently displayed as navigation links.

Fewer pages visited on an e-commerce site correlates to more dollars spent. If you want people to give you their money, make them able to do it in as few steps as possible.

From “High On Line: Applying Psychology To Web Design,” presented by Jason Hreha:

Three things need to coincide in order for behavior (conversion) to occur: Ability, Motivation, and a Trigger. Search engines provide the ability for a consumer to convert and the search query indicates the motivation. But, it’s up to us PPC folks to provide the trigger via great ad text and a relevant landing page.

When you’re designing a landing page, ask yourself if you are asking too much of the user. Are you asking for too much time? Money? Learning? Information? Creating an undue burden for the user will decrease your conversion rates. Get to the core of the user experience. Decide what is absolutely necessary, then get rid of everything else.

Does your product solve a real pain point? Does it provide actual, long-lasting value to a consumer instead of just a temporary distraction? If not, you may want to go back to product development before you waste any money on advertising.

I’m only halfway through this conference, but I’ve already learned a lot. If any of you folks are out and about, feel free to tweet me – my handle is @slivengood. I’ll be attending panels today and tomorrow, so if you see anything you think I should check out, please let me know!

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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