Conversion optimization doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Collectively, your efforts to optimize off-site traffic acquisition and on-site conversion rates serve as the ingredients for a great (or perhaps, not so good) online business strategy. Attract the wrong site visitors, and the best site in the world won’t convert them. And while the converse is also true, running a finely tuned game in both areas yields benefits that might surprise even you.

Think about it—when everyone sells the same or similar products, then success isn’t just about converting site traffic, but in winning that traffic in the first place. Let’s examine how companies can run paid search in conjunction with a robust testing and targeting platform to drive:

  • Consistently better positions (and cheaper clicks) in paid search
  • Continuous conversion rate improvements
  • A clear justification for added investment in both search and site targeting

Search Optimization
Most retailers have been running some form of paid search for close to a decade. If you’re like the majority, you’ve bounced between in-house and agency-based teams and have test-driven a number of SEM platforms, all leading you to the same result: high clickthrough rates (CTRs) that rarely translated into bottom funnel conversions.

What was wrong? In a sentence, you had a great engine and a bad set of wheels. Your search team had identified great ad creatives, but your ability to deliver on them—from the landing page through the shopping cart—was hamstrung by a sub-optimal website and the lack of resources to do much about it.

Further investments in paid search yielded diminishing returns, and your conversion rate plateaued.

Site Optimization
Enter website optimization. Your first forays likely had you salivating. This was the answer—your silver bullet for extracting the highest conversion rate possible from your paid search!

But soon thereafter, disillusionment set in. Targeting and personalization was hard. Incremental tests meant incremental coding, and your IT staff was already overworked. This wasn’t true integration—in six short months, you had only managed a handful of tests, and your testing platform was dangerously close to becoming shelfware.

What was wrong? Your ideas far surpassed your testing solution’s ability to deliver. Site optimization became an expense, not an investment, and you were back to square one.

Integrated Campaign Approach
You’ve heard it again and again: “Don’t buy more traffic. Targeting helps you do more with the traffic you’re already getting.” But the latest generation of testing, targeting, and personalization platforms really are poised to drive the ROI you’ve been hoping for, representing a dramatic leap in terms of the ability of marketers to maximize the conversion rate of paid search (or, for that matter, any off-site acquisition channel).

By combining robust features and functionality with ease of implementation and ongoing use, marketers can now:

  • Implement multi-page test campaigns with no additional coding required
  • Echo paid search creatives on the landing page—and throughout the website
  • Segment not just the paid search channel, but on individual search queries
  • Segment paid search visitors from tablet or mobile devices

The New Reality
By making it easier to deliver a relevant experience and consistent message to your paid search visitors, prospects stay in a ready-to-buy state from click to conversion, providing a further boost in ROI to both your traffic acquisition and website optimization efforts. In other words, 1 + 1 really does equal 3.

Once you’ve got a strong paid search program in place, you’ll be able to justify an equally capable targeting platform. But more importantly, an integrated strategy combining best practices in both the search and website optimization worlds drives continuous investment in each area. For example:

  • Investment in paid search mandates a targeting solution that helps retailers provide a better shopping experience to visitors from search.
  • The introduction of a targeting platform drives higher paid search conversion rates.
  • Higher paid search conversion rates attract additional investment in traffic acquisition, along with the need to constantly fine-tune test campaigns and develop new ones.

The Bottom Line
The cycle of continuous investment has other tangible benefits as well. Increasingly high conversion rates for paid search mean you can invest not just in additional spend, but incremental efforts to improve the efficiency of that spend (that’s “search speak” for better ad positions at lower costs per click).

The result? Maximizing ROI through a combined site-search optimization strategy means that you can consistently (and profitably) outmaneuver competitors for the top ad positions. Your competitors can’t convert the clicks they don’t get!

Corral your search and site optimization teams, because we’re about to dive deeper. Stay tuned for a follow-up post on the details behind the cycle of continuous improvement.