This morning I was searching on my phone for Patio Furniture. Granted, I don’t have a patio, nor do I need any patio furniture. But I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the various kinds of patio furniture there are lately – such as those big leaf-shaped umbrellas, chairs that fold 100 different ways, and huge tables that seat 15 people. I was very curious as to how much one could spend on having the perfect patio furniture. So that is how I ended up on Google searching for patio furniture.
A Large Ad Budget Doesn’t Always Equal Success
The first ad I saw when searching for patio furniture was one from American Signature Furniture, which I will called ASF from now on. This company is a pretty well-known one in terms of their industry, and they’ve been around since 1948 – so they know what they’re doing. Since this is such a big company, I decided to run with it and perform a live audit.
I like auditing larger companies to show you that small businesses are not the only ones who struggle setting up great paid search advertising. As a small business owner, I know it’s hard to keep up with the changing times, and clearly this isn’t just something that the smaller companies are struggling with.
According to SpyFu, a tool you can use to track competitors campaigns in paid and organic traffic, they are spending around $68k a month in paid search campaigns – not a small chunk of change if you ask me. That’s around $800k per year in paid search alone. So the question is, how well are they converting?
Here is a video audit I completed of their campaign. I go into more detail in the post below.
ASF’s Mobile Search Campaign
Here is a screenshot of their ad from my search on Google. At first glance, it doesn’t seem too shabby. They’re using sitelink, location, and call extensions. These not only increase the amount of real estate your ad takes up on the SERP (search engine results page), but they also help increase click-thru rates (CTR) and ad rank.
Great job so far, ASF!
It should be a requirement to have a dedicated landing page anytime you’re running an ad campaign. In almost all cases it’s a bad idea to send traffic to your home page, or a typical page on your website. The exception might be if you’re boosting a post on Facebook that goes to a blog post and you’re not looking to get direct customers from the campaign. In this case, we aren’t taken to a specific landing page, but it is a relevant page to the search we completed.
This page includes many distractions, I’ve highlighted them all in this screenshot of the mobile page. There are 42 in total. Whoa.
While this is better than going to a homepage, there are plenty of ways this page could be improved:
- This is not a landing page so it includes a lot of distractions:
- A menu at the top of the page that includes links to every other section on their website – living room furniture, mattresses, sale items, etc.
- A clickable logo that goes to their homepage
- A search box that defaults to open so you can more easily search the site and head somewhere else
- A link to see the sale they are running
- A breadcrumb link to go to their homepage
- A banner for free delivery
- A banner for a free umbrella
- More links to go to other sections of the website
- Email list signup form
- Social sharing buttons
- A full footer that has 16 links, 2 phone numbers, and even a link for Careers with the company
- The text is running off the screen on the left-hand side. This should just be a quick fix by adding some padding to both sides of the paragraph and heading.
- There are multiple broken links
- The three furniture products they highlight on this page lead to either 404 pages or are out of stock. Can’t buy anything here!
Location and Call Extensions
They include a location extension that allows you to get directions to the store. This is a great option for people looking for local furniture stores.
The call extension however is showing up even though this audit was done early in the morning before the store was open. I called the store and go the typical “Our store is currently closed. Please call back during normal business hours.”
This is a waste of money. You can, and should, set time limits on the call extension so that it only appears when someone is in the office to answer the phone. Otherwise, someone clicked on your ad, cost you a few bucks, and couldn’t even talk to a representative.
ASF includes sitelinks on their ad, which is a great use of their ad space. However, these aren’t the best options:
- Patio Furniture – This link takes us to a page that has a missing image which causes most of the page to show up as white space. All I can really do here is check out financing options, or sign up for their email list. Again, check that your pages are working and make it EASY for potential customers to buy from you.
- Patio Furniture Packages – Great – furniture packages! You can upsell, make a bigger sale, etc. However, this page contains ONE package. ONE! Not only do I no longer think ASF is a leader in the patio furniture space (how can you be if you only sell one package?), but more importantly, what if I don’t like this option? Looks like I’m going elsewhere to get what I’m looking for.
- Magnolia Home Furniture – I searched for patio furniture, this is a page about home furniture. Not the most relevant option for people who are searching specifically for another type of product. Make sure your sitelinks are relevant to the user’s query.
We learned a lot here today. Namely, even if you have a large search budget, if it’s not being constantly tweaked and QA’d, mistakes are going to pop-up.
- Send people to an ACTUAL landing page, not just another page on your website. Remove business and points of distraction, such as a header, full footer, etc.
- Always check mobile – While your site might look great on desktop, you MUST check everything on mobile to make sure the experience is just as great.
- Make sure your not highlighting products that are out of stock or that lead to broken links or 404 pages – especially when you’re paying to drive people to this page.
- Set time restrictions on call extensions so customers aren’t calling when you are closed.
- Relevance is KEY. Including a sitelink for home furniture on an ad when someone is searching for patio furniture doesn’t mean someone is interested. Take the time to make sure links are relevant for each user.
- Give users more than one choice, especially for an e-commerce website.
All of these can be avoided if you take the time to make sure your ad is relevant, links are working, and it looks good on a mobile device. What’s even scarier is that since this ISN’T a “landing page”, that means their organic traffic is getting this same user experience.
You’re spending money to try and get more customers, you cannot simply set up an ad and not make sure it’s working. Take the extra 15 minutes to ensure the experience allows people to easily purchase what you’re offering. Otherwise, you’re going to waste a ton of money on paid advertising.
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Competitive research is the foundation of any strong marketing strategy. It’s important to identify your competitors and their marketing tactics to help you differentiate your offering.There’s reason to dive deep