Why You Shouldn’t Use Dynamic Landing Pages For PPC

dynamic landing pages

It seems like dynamic landing pages are all the rage in the conversion rate optimization field nowadays. So wait, am I really recommending that you not use them!?

Well, you’ll have to read this post to understand where I’m coming from, but first I want to make sure you know exactly what dynamic landing pages are, how they can be used, and the impact they can have on your PPC campaigns. Once you’ve finished this post you’ll understand why you should…or shouldn’t…be using dynamic landing pages for your website.

What Are Dynamic Landing Pages?

Well, it’s a landing page… that’s… dynamic. Easy right? Ok, ok. I’ll explain. Dynamic landing pages are landing pages that can be manipulated to give your visitors a customized experience. Instead of creating different landing page for every single campaign or service,  you can create template-style landing pages and switch out content based on what your visitors are looking for. Today I’m going to focus specifically on dynamically swapping out text based on keywords and user searches.

Your job as an advertiser is to show the searcher the most relevant ad based on what they searched. So, in a perfect world, when a searcher clicks your ad they should see a relevant landing page that matches their search query closely.

(By the way, using Single Keyword Ad Groups is a great way to make sure you’re staying very specific and relevant at the keyword and ad levels.)

Once a searcher clicks your ad, how do you make sure you’re showing content consistent that ad?  Well, you could build separate landing pages for every single keyword and ad group, but that could be pretty intense if you’re working with dozens or hundreds of ad groups or keywords.

That’s where dynamic landing pages come into play. Instead of making multiple pages, you can use dynamic text to make a single landing page specific to multiple keywords. Let me give you an example:

Let’s say you have a set of ad groups that are targeting “polar bear conservation fund” and other closely related keywords:

Keywords

“Polar Bear Conservation Fund”
“Polar Bear Conservation Charity”
“Polar Bear Conservation Donation”

So, if we wanted to be ultra cool and relevant we have a couple options.

Option 1 – The Hard Way

We could make a static landing page with the headline “Polar Bear Conservation Fund,” duplicate the page into two other copies, and switch out the headlines and other elements where we want the keyword variants, leaving us with three separate landing pages.

– OR –

Option 2 – The Easy & Awesome Way

We could create one baseline page and use dynamic text to swap out the headline, page titles, and other hotspots on the page by altering the destination URL in our PPC ads.

I’m voting for option 2 here. Let me show you how we’d do it. We use a platform called Unbounce to create our landing pages, which lets us easily build and test landing page variants without require any coding to implement dynamic text insertion. If you don’t already have the ability to easily test landing pages on the fly, then I would strongly recommend taking a look at Unbounce.

Creating Your First Dynamic Landing Page:

Step 1: Create Your Page

For this example, I’m going to use a template page provided by Unbounce:
http://unbouncepages.com/polar-bear-conservation/

dynamic landing pages adwords

This is what it looks like 🙂

Step 2: Set Up Dynamic Text On Your Landing Page

Ok, remember our three keywords? “Polar Bear Conservation Fund” , “Polar Bear Conservation Charity” & “Polar Bear Conservation Donation”.
We need to set up a few different places to swap out that text. The first and most obvious place is the headline.

Edit__A__-__A-Dub_-_Dynamic_LP_s_-_Blog_Post_

Other landing page providers may have a similar solution

Unbounce makes it really easy: just highlight the text you want to dynamically change and click the ‘Dynamic Text’ button. That will open the Dynamic Text editor. There you’ll have three things to set:

  1. URL Parameter – You will use this parameter in your ad’s destination URLs. I use ‘kw’ because it’s an easy reminder that I’m using dynamic text to swap out keywords.
  2. Default Text – Set text that will be a placeholder until it’s swapped out by dynamic text.
  3. Text Style – Since we are doing a headline, title case makes most sense.

Edit__A__-__A-Dub_-_Dynamic_LP_s_-_Blog_Post_-1

Now my pretty landing page is ready to be manipulated based on the specific keywords, but first we need to set up the URL parameters in our AdWords account under the ad destination URLs.

Step 3: Insert Your URL Parameters into your Ad Destination URL

In order for the dynamic text to work on your landing page you need to set URL parameters in the ad destination URLs. We defined our parameter as ‘kw’ so that’s what we will add to our URL, followed by the text we want to insert.

Here is what your original destination URL looks like:
http://unbouncepages.com/polar-bear-conservation/

Here is what it looks like with URL parameters added.
http://unbouncepages.com/polar-bear-conservation?kw=Polar%20Bear%20Conservation%20Charity

This URL is telling the landing page to swap out our headline with ‘Polar Bear Conservation Charity’ instead of ‘Polar Bear Conservation Fund’

Here’s another one:
http://unbouncepages.com/polar-bear-conservation?kw=Polar%20Bear%20Conservation%20Donation

dynamic pages

Try changing out the words in the URL yourself

Check it out! Now you have one landing page, but it will change depending on the search term entered by your visitor. This isn’t limited to headlines either. You can dynamically swap out locations, phone numbers, title tags, and a number of other elements of your page using this simple but effective tool.

You can show a more targeted message to your visitors, increase the likelihood of conversion, and improve your quality scores all at the same time. Pretty rad, right?

Some Dynamic Landing Page Best Practices:

Before you run headfirst into the the dragon’ss den of dynamic landing pages, here a few best practices that would be wise to follow:

  1. Don’t overfill your landing page with keywords. It’s gross, it gives the user a poor experience, and Google doesn’t like it either.
  2. Utilize the hotspots on your page. The title, call to action, and headline are some great places to test dynamic text. Anywhere that is an action spot on your page is great to test.
  3. Does it makes sense? You can easily use dynamic text anywhere on your page, but make sure it fits appropriately. You don’t want to swap in text that makes the page harder to read or doesn’t make sense.

So, why wouldn’t I recommend using Dynamic Landing Pages? I wouldn’t do it because I’m hoping that after reading this you know it’s just common sense to use them. No recommendations necessary.

Seriously though, I hope that if you weren’t using them before today, that you start using them right away. You can make a solid impact with less effort than building multiple separate pages. If you need help setting up dynamic landing pages for your business, leave us a comment or click here to get a free conversion rate optimization proposal for your business!

I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

 

 

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Andrew Warren

eCommerce PPC Strategist
Andrew Warren is our beardiest Client Account Manager. When he's not making awesome ecommerce campaigns you'll find him at the Army surplus trying on boots and ordering regular shoppers around.

14 Comments

  • Marcel says:

    Could you use unbounce for email marketing as well? Say you wanted to send custom landing pages to each email recipient, all you would need to do is add the kw parameter and their company name – correct?

  • Willy O says:

    Thanks for the article Andrew!

    Do dynamic pages work with organic traffic from search results, or only PPC?

  • Hi Andrew,

    I was actually looking for creating Landing page, and Im glad to get a perfect post for my need. Unbounce gives better leverage to create dynamic pages that most Email marketing toold dont provide. Is there any other tools like Unbounce which provides facility of creating dynamic pages.
    Thanks for the guide.

    • Andrew Warren says:

      Unbounce is definitely my top option. There may be others that do similar things, but Unbounce is the only one I’m aware of that makes dynamic text insertion so simple.

  • Dom says:

    What about dynamically changing the background image? Is that doable with URL parameter on unbounce. I didn’t see answer online. Thanks

    • Wouldn’t that be so convenient? At this point, we’re not aware of any way to make an Unbounce background (or any image on the page) dynamic with URL parameters. I have talked to a product developer at Unbounce about the feature though, so they’re aware that there’s a need!

  • Joe says:

    I have to disagree. Ive ben utilizing PPC for 2 months. After speaking to an endless amount of “experts” i realize most dont know what they’re talking about. These PPC consultants… when you run their landing page speed test… look at the page source.. even most of them are pretty sad. Unbounce is pretty slow. Please test your landing pages with google tool. When you add a form… it kills mobile. That is a DIRECT link to higher costs per click. Plain and simple so right there almost makes it unusable.

    Now to your point, ive created different URLS removing one element at a time from my unbounce lander and have seen a direct correlation between dynamic keywords/meta description/page title with slow load times. Again- you’re worse off especially with mobile considering it really will increase your bounce rate (slower load time).

    The conclusion ive come to is to create a ton of different landing pages… try different funnels (to increase how many pages a user visits which increases landing page experience- quality score) then take that top performer… clone it with your own site and run it. For me unbounce was costing me a lot… pretty much the difference between success and failure as for some reason it was slow even with zero photos. The form builder is just a killer.

    No need to go dynamic text.

    1) most of the headlines wont make sense… thats a bounce. You need to include another h1 tag lower in the page with the keyword do its not as obvious but putting a headline that doesnt make sense is getting a bounce.

    2) You need to setup an adgroup per keyword. Yep… and an individually landing page per group… a lot of work? Oh and also each group should be exact match- maybe phrase match but going broad even broad modified almost always kills the whole group. Yeah it sure is but this is the only way to have a super fast, super optimized lander.

    adgroup1= [buy windows]
    adgroup2= [buy windows online]
    adgroup3=[where to buy windows]

    And go on for the rest of your life… yes its a lot of work but paying 2x the cost per click is a lot harder…. ive spent a lot of money getting back this data as it seems most people even experts are doing it wrong. This is my opinion and what has worked best. Hope it helps anyone here with a rising “first page” cost and cost per click.

  • PK says:

    Quick question?

    Is it possible to have more than 1 parameters.

    Example copy …. “Hey looking for {Dyanmic Text: Indian, Italian, Spanish} restaurants in {Dyanmic Text: New York, Washington, Chicago}

  • Francois says:

    I just had to say thank you very much. Your explanation is a 1000 times beter than unbounce’s.

  • Tom says:

    What happens if someone uses the dynamic functionality in some negative way?
    http://unbouncepages.com/polar-bear-conservation/?kw=kill-all-polar-bears
    This could be especially bad with other companies trademarks and abusive comments etc, thoughts?

  • Hi Andrew, you made me laugh… 🙂 By the way it’s a nice article on dynamic text replacement, but I’d like to bring something new to your attention. It is dynamic content replacement on any website. By using this new tool called TagHacker you can dynamically replace anything on your landing page on any website, hosted anywhere. I hope you can mention this somewhere… Have a nice day

  • Robert Paulson says:

    Question: is it possible to insert the actual search query into the landing page instead of the keyword? I have not been able to find a formula to accomplish this.

    I am currently using which simply puts my targeted keyword on the page, but i want the actual search query on there:
    [landing page URL]?[parameter]={KeyWord}

    Thoughts?

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