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Drive and Convert (Ep. 087): Should I drive traffic to a landing page or PDP?

Jon and Ryan explore the importance of landing pages and their role in building trust and educating customers.

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About This Episode:

Sending everyone to a Product Detail Page (PDP) without context or information about the brand can be counterproductive in building trust. Landing pages, however, allow for more curated information and more consistent and relevant messaging during the customer journey. 

This is exactly what Jon and Ryan explore in this week’s Drive and Convert episode. They also cover how the lack of educational information on a PDP could make it difficult to convince customers to make a purchase. 

Listen to the full episode if you want to learn:

  1. Why landing pages are crucial for building trust and educating customers 
  2. Why alignment between ad messaging and landing pages is important
  3. How landing pages should be optimized for Google Shopping traffic
  4. How context and personalization can improve landing pages and PDPs
  5. How to create and optimize landing pages

If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We’re @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.

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Episode Transcript:

Announcer: [00:00:00] You are listening to Drive and Convert a podcast about helping online brands to build a better e-commerce growth engine with Jon MacDonald and Ryan Garrow.

Ryan: Welcome everyone. Today is a fun day because I was wrong and Jon was right and. That happens so infrequently. Actually, no. It happens more often than I’d like to admit, but

Jon: I just told you, hey, every squirrel finds a nut. I just happen to have gotten lucky. Yeah, and

Ryan: this is something I’ve believed for a while, Jon, at Logical Position, we run lots of shopping, in fact, more than anybody else.

So all of this shopping traffic off of Google and Microsoft goes to product pages almost across the board. And I’ve always been of the opinion. Before, you know today I was today years old, learning how wrong I was, that people go from shopping ads to product pages and they expect to see the product page, and it’s been fairly standardized across the major [00:01:00] platforms.

Product image in the middle, put description stuff on the right, buy button above the fold suggests products. Hopefully down there at the bottom you can obviously change things up on landing page, but people expect to do it. No reason to change that and let it go. Why would you invest in a landing page builder?

Because you’re just running your traffic to shopping pages. Who cares? You changed my mind. So the, the main question we’re answering today is why on earth if I’m running all this traffic to my product pages and it’s working. But I even need to invest in a landing page builder and send that shopping traffic somewhere other than the product page.

Mm-hmm. That’s already built. Yeah. So why do I need to do that, Jon? Tell me why I was

Jon: wrong. Yeah, and I’m not gonna get into the weeds about using a particular builder. This is whatever. I mean, really, let’s go higher level than that in terms of, I just want to prove. Why I am right about using landing pages instead of running ads to your product detail pages.

[00:02:00] And I think that’s what we should focus on. Mm-hmm. Because I don’t wanna make you feel too bad and keep going and keep digging that hole for you. But here’s the reality, right? It’s all around context for the visitor. That’s really what this comes down to. The visitor is not gonna know everything about your product or your brand as well as you do as being an employee of the brand, right?

Mm-hmm. So just sending them to that P d P, it’s just making so many assumptions. That the consumer will figure everything out for themselves, and that’s just not true. So due to that, sending them to a dedicated landing page is just often gonna really increase your conversion rates. Got it. And I

Ryan: assume you see a lot more data than I do around conversion rates of PDPs versus landing page software builders.

And I’m also assuming on this then that my shopping traffic that’s going to a product page, I’m interrupting that and I’m sending them to a product page under a landing page builder, essentially. That’s

Jon: fair. You can, and you [00:03:00] should be able to have an option to sell off that landing page, but that doesn’t always need to be the case.

Let’s talk about what’s going on here and I. You know, really when you’re driving traffic to a product page, you’re driving most likely that perspective traffic to a page that immediately focuses on selling. Mm-hmm. And I want to just say, you know, you should have an option to buy, or at least take that next step and convert.

Right? Again, conversion optimization is all about just getting somebody to the next step in the funnel. Doesn’t mean you’re closing the deal with the first step, second step, et cetera. Right? You need a funnel that’s right for your product and however complicated that product is, but, It’s like being on a sales call and someone says, Hey, you can just buy it right now.

Well, you’re unlikely to do that, right? Your sale’s gonna die right there. So why are you doing that with your potential customers? Most people are sending everybody to a P D P and expecting them just to buy. They just need to be ready to buy. Go ahead. You found that in Google shopping, that must mean you’ve [00:04:00] done all your research and you’re ready to buy.

Mm-hmm. That’s very unlikely. Right. Everybody loves to talk about building a brand, but are you really building a brand if you’re just sending people to your p d p? Very unlikely, right? If that’s the first touch. They don’t know, they have no context. They have no idea who you are, what pain you’re solving.

So instead with a landing page, you can really curate that information. I think that’s what’s gonna be key here, is controlling what somebody sees and helping them down that funnel in that journey. So the best part about landing pages is you can curate what somebody sees based on where they came from, and I think that’s what’s really important.

Hmm. So you’re running an ad set. That a, that has a particular message, you should have alignment of that message on the landing page. It is near impossible without a lot of personalization tools that get very expensive and unwieldy it. For most brands to run ad group message and have that message align on A P D P [00:05:00] and then replicate that across several ad groups and messages, it’s just unlikely to happen.

Right? Mm-hmm. So I think one of the things that people need to think about, and I hear this all the time, is like, well, yeah, I built a landing page. I’ve optimized a landing page. There is no limit on the number of landing pages that you can have. So I. Just do one for each message that you’re using in your ads and then have some alignment between those.

Ryan: So yous talking about too, in addition to product pages, like you might land on a category page that we’ve talked through multiple times, but you might build a landing page, Billy, that may make it easier to do some of those tiles. Because I’ve talked to a lot of people over the last couple weeks, even after our last podcast around category pages.

Mm-hmm. Building those tiles isn’t out of the box. Easy to do on Shopify, even BigCommerce, because they’re so stuck on what’s not a product in your feed. Therefore, it’s not gonna show on a category. Right. So even just using a landing page builder on your category landing pages, From [00:06:00] an ad standpoint would

Jon: be, yeah, to replicate that experience, right?

Mm-hmm. And, and be able to customize it how you want, and free product idea for anyone who wants to build it. The good would certainly be a customer, build a Shopify plugin that allows you to add quality

Ryan: tiles. It’s a big need. I haven’t been able to find it or hear about it, so if you’ve got it. Message us somehow.

Let us know

Jon: what it is. Yeah. We always end up doing it manually and building it into the theme, which is certainly an option, but yeah. Okay. So free product idea. There

Ryan: you go. Landing page builder, you would say, Hey, we want to be able to keep the themes, like for example, two of our kids got connected watches so they can text and call us when they’re not in the home.

And if I’m looking for that, and let’s say we went with a company called Gap, but let’s just say my initial search would’ve been like, Smartwatch for kid. Mm-hmm. And I’m gonna see it on shopping and be like, oh, it was half off yesterday, which is why my wife directed me to buy it yesterday. And hey, half off, I’ll take it.

But it was a non-brand search. I didn’t know what I was looking for yet. And so you would [00:07:00] land me on a product page from shopping and mm-hmm. I don’t know. Gab from another thing. So your first non-brand visit to your site. You might want to have something a little bit more about gab or the brand rather than just the product.

Now, if I’m only looking for a gab, watch, maybe you wanna send that more to a product, typical product page. Versus more

Jon: information. Again, that’s a message from a branded search. And if you know you’re capturing that term, you could send them directly to a product page ’cause they’re looking for your product, right?

If you run a search query for particular model number, something of that sort that you’re running an ad against, yeah, sure, send ’em to the P D P. But if I’m looking for kids connected watch. Okay. I’m doing research, I’m in research mode. Mm-hmm. And when you’re in research mode, the page and the resulting page for that click needs to be all around education.

Got it. And that’s the second step here is product pages often have no real educational components to ’em. Mm-hmm. Right? So unless that brand’s really well known, [00:08:00] your product page is just doing a really poor job of teaching people why your brand is different. And what problem you’re sending out to solve and why someone should even trust you in the first place.

And so really education is gonna be key here, and it’s hard to do all that job. You’re asking a lot of A P D P. Mm-hmm. To be the education. And this is why I said not all landing pages need to sell. Maybe the landing page does the education component and then takes you to the P D P to sell. Right. If most PDPs are just doing a horrible job explaining why they should get a share of your money in exchange for their product, I think you really need to focus on more than just details and specs, which is what A P D P is good at, right?

So A P D P can really tell you, here’s the size, here’s the material, here’s what it looks like on a model. Here’s, you know, all the potential use cases maybe. But taking that extra step will really help you sell at a premium price point if it’s a [00:09:00] commodity. Probably don’t need to have a landing page because it’s a commodity.

But if you wanna really set yourself apart, help explain why a product is worth that premium price or whatever you’re charging for it, a hundred percent. You need a different page to do

Ryan: that job. Okay? So if I’m sending traffic from shopping ads on Google, I have to have the price that I showed in the ad and the ability to add to cart that part of the P D P has to still live.

But do you think that if I’m designing a landing page off of Google Shopping traffic, That I probably have to scroll down a few thumb scrolls or scroll down on my screen to get to that product information and the education’s on. On the top, or am I almost splitting the screen and the education’s left product right.

Jon: Well, I think that you should have an easy way for people to purchase right away. I’m just saying don’t make that the only focus of the page. So if you wanna put that up front, Hey, ready to buy, click here and then that’s great. If you need to educate more, I would focus on the education and then yeah, [00:10:00] you could do a side panel or it’s really common.

Lately you’ve probably seen a lot of these landing pages where the add to cart and price, things like that are up in a bar along the top of the page that stays there. It’s like a sticky, almost like a sticky nav, but it’s really not. It’s more of a add to cart, a sticky add to cart. Ah, as you say on it just stays.

Yeah. So when you’re ready to buy, it’s there. Right. You could do it at the bottom of the page. At the top. You could have a sidebar, although that’s less common, especially because of mobile. So I think, you know, you have options, but the key here is you’re focusing. Not on converting the sale. You’re focusing on education.

Announcer: You’re listening to Driving Convert a podcast focused on e-commerce growth. Your hosts are Jon MacDonald, founder of the Good, a conversion rate optimization agency that works with e-commerce brands to help convert more of their visitors into buyers. And Ryan Garrow of Logical Position, the digital marketing agency offering Pay-Per-Click [00:11:00] Management search engine.

And website design services to brands of all sizes. If you find this podcast helpful, please help us out by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and sharing it with a friend or

Jon: colleague.

Announcer: Thank you.

Ryan: Got it. Okay. I like that idea. What bit? Okay. So I’m gonna go from traffic to a product page, I guess, and the air quotes that came up there.

For those of you that can’t see it, but I’m talking about the brand or the product in a way that lets people see differently than they would by just hitting that typical product page so that, you know, richer content. Mm-hmm. You know, maybe more unique visuals. Okay. I like that. Okay. Yeah, so. Even if you’re selling at a lower price point, there’s still a lot of value.

You can breed that you’re creating a value that’s above the price point, regardless of whether you’re selling premium or less expensive. You’re just making it easier to see, oh, I should click that buy ’cause I can see all this stuff. Exactly. Okay, great. Yep. Alright, so outside of that education, a piece from a, [00:12:00] instead of a product, you’re educating more, what else do I need to be aware of or think through besides, all right, education.

Provide more value. Then I can on a general product page.

Jon: Yeah. Well, I think the last major component really is that PDPs lack this ability to create a page that just aligns with the reason that the visitor is on the landing page in the first place. Right? So what is the angle that your product is selling under?

Again, this ties into what I’ve been saying over and over, which is you need alignment between the message of the ad and the page, right? But, You need to explain here, what’s the benefit for that visitor? What’s the pain or need you’re trying to solve with that product? Even if the need or the pain in some cases is just a want, right?

Maybe it’s just I desire to have this product, right? If that’s the case, you still need to have an angle for why they want it, that aligns with what their search was, right? So maybe [00:13:00] it’s, I want that because you know, all the famous influencers have it. So, I mean, Look at the Stanley Water Cup that everyone has, right?

Ryan: We just had a giveaway for our employees be of Stanley water cups. I’m like, oh my goodness. Like,

Jon: well, there you go. Right? And I bet they all loved it, and they were like, oh’s amazing. It’s

Ryan: probably the best we’ve ever had. Probably.

Jon: Yeah, there you go. What’s funny about that though, is every influencer on TikTok or Instagram has it, so every mom wants it, and that’s where it started that demographic.

Right? But if you tried to sell that to me, As if you were marketing to a mom, I’m not gonna buy it. Mm-hmm. Like I don’t want the mom cup. Right. So think about it in that way. I might buy it as a gift from my wife. Mm-hmm. If she didn’t already have some, but whatever. The whole point here is you can really tailor with landing pages, but if you just try to have your P D P do all of that work on the angle side of why.

Your product is better and who it’s for, et cetera. You’re really just [00:14:00] creating more issues because your P D P just can’t handle all of that. Mm-hmm. You really can’t.

Ryan: Yeah, because there’s gonna be searches, like the functionality of the Stanley Cup can’t deny, like it fits in the cup holder right there still holds 40 ounces.

I drink a lot of water and Good to hear. You’re being healthy. Yeah. I just, I, I’ll drink. I’ve been drinking a gallon of water for probably 10, 15 years, like no

Jon: problem. Wow. I drink a gallon of coffee. Does that count? There’s water

Ryan: and coffee. I actually have to, I monitor it. I’m like, okay, I’ve had my.

Generally three small espressos a day is what my limit on coffee is. And then it’s like I gotta have a gallon beyond that. But one of my struggles with, like right now I’m drinking out of a little soda stream bottle. We have a one of those nugget ice machines. Like, it’s what makes me feel fancy in my house.

Yeah. Like I have a Nugget ice machine. It’s really great getting ice in there is a pain in the ass. But I, I will steal my wife’s extra standard ’cause you know, she has like five and I, there’s always one there, so I’ll steal. Yeah. She’ll never know. Ice gets in there easy. And I’ll drink through this straw.

I’m like, great. This is a really cold, I like it. I’m feeling great. But then it’s like, it’s pink or it’s [00:15:00] like, ah. It’s just, so if I’m going there, the functionality, it does keep it very cold for the 10 days it takes me to drink 40 ounces of water. But you could message that like, I’m gonna search probably differently than my wife.

Like she’s gonna be looking for the influence or color that she saw. Like I just randomly happened to see that there’s some new blue. That is mm-hmm. Gonna sell out. And I’m like, I don’t

Jon: care. Randomly, right? Yeah. I’m like,

Ryan: yeah. I’m talking to my wife about her Stanley things and I’m seeing ads now. Weird.

They’re listening, but you’ll be like, Hey, I need a, you know, insulated. You know, mug or you know, mm-hmm. Maybe I’m gonna look for a black one, or I’m gonna look for something that would be more along the color scheme I’d like than the pink and the yellow that I have to choose from now in my wife’s collection.

You could message that. Or maybe there is a, a way that certain influencers are targeting men on social media. I follow Grill guy ’cause he is funny. Mm-hmm So if Grill guy was like, yeah I got a Stanley mug that we’re a collaboration with Grill Guy Stanley, if you do that, I just send me one. But it would be like, hey Grill guy mug.

That [00:16:00] would be messaged generally across to men. And you’d have a very different appearing landing page than you would for a woman.

Jon: Exactly. So it goes back to the first point. Right. Which is context. It all needs to be about context, and that’s why this is important where A P D P can’t answer every question as much as you may try, and it can’t have context for every single visitor.

So if you have a single demographic with a single pain point that you know your product solves, then sure send ’em to that P D P because you can talk directly to that one customer. Mm-hmm. And if you listen to any copywriting expert, take any course on copywriting, they’re always gonna say, write your copy for one single person.

And that’s what’s gonna perform best, right? So you’re really niching it down. You’re addressing that pain point. You’re using language they’re familiar with. All of that is gonna be helpful. But it’s so hard if you have a product that is going after multiple [00:17:00] demographics. You’re gonna have a really hard time having a great converting P D P on its own if that’s where you’re sending all your traffic to.

Now, if somebody’s on your site and they end up on your homepage or a category page or something like that, which helps with the branding and answering all of these questions we’ve talked about today, then yeah, your P D P can also be optimized to help facilitate the sale, right? But what we’re talking about here is the step up in the funnel.

And too many people are trying to cram the P d P up the funnel when it really is one of those last steps or the last step in the funnel. So

Ryan: that’s, yeah. I fully agree. Non-brand traffic of shopping is massive, and that’s where you get a lot of people doing research since the first touch. Mm-hmm. But in theory, with this process, you could probably shorten up the touch points between first touch on a non-brand shopping traffic.

Page to purchase because you’ve done a better job educating and showing value [00:18:00] and answering brand questions. So that would be what I’d wanna start testing and seeing and, and so on that, what’s the practical, easiest way to test this for, let’s say if you have a ton of money, it’s easy. You’re gonna go buy a really expensive page builder and go full bore, but how does a small Shopify brand test this practically on

Jon: their site?

Even with Shopify, you can set up a new page template that you just replicate, right? Yep. So set up a new page template that you’re gonna use as your landing page. And it doesn’t have to be a product, it doesn’t have to be in your navigation. Mm-hmm. Yes. It’s probably gonna show up in search engines, but that’s okay if someone lands there ’cause it has relevant content.

To what their search engine was, right? The other option, I mean, you know, without getting into too many of the tools, there are hundreds of landing page services out there that you can use that will allow you to use your own domain name and put it under like, uh, an additional directory, right? So [00:19:00] you could do your domain slash lp slash.

You know, for landing page, right. And the consumers aren’t gonna really see that LP in the U R L and think, oh yeah, this is a custom landing. Like they’re just gonna see how many times Are you even looking at the U R L to be honest, right? Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, Chrome even hides most of it these days.

So the reality is it’s much easier than people making out to be. And you don’t need to be a technical wizard to create a custom landing page. I mean, heck, you could go create a WordPress site and have those be landing pages, and then it redirects to the P D P. Mm-hmm. Now, is that trustworthy? Yeah, I’d say you’re gonna take a knock on that because the domain’s gonna change, et cetera.

But I guess my point here is stop limiting yourself by thinking you have to a. Have a developer and b, go buy a huge lining page tool, right? And spend all this money, commit to a year, contract, all that other stuff. Just start simple. Mm-hmm. Create a new page on your Shopify site with a generic page template.

Right. Can [00:20:00] have your navigation in it though, not recommend it. It can. You could start there, right? Or hire a developer. A Shopify developer to just build a new template that’s a landing page template. That’s pretty simple. It wouldn’t take ’em about a couple hours probably to hide your navigation and create a C T A or that bar we talked about at the top or bottom of the page.

That lets you choose what product shows there and has an add to cart. That’s a day’s work at most. So, you know, all of these things are very doable and I encourage people to think outside of that box that they’re in on this, where they have to shoehorn things in or really go out and have an expensive page builder.

You just don’t. Yeah,

Ryan: like simplify, like all you’re trying to do is figure out mm-hmm. If this at scale could make big enough improvements to justify a larger investment at the end of the day. Right. Right. Okay. So if you test one product on a landing page versus the P D P on some shopping traffic and your conversion rate doubles, whoa.

Now you have proof to [00:21:00] say, yes, if I scale this across the site, chances are I’m gonna see some results. And then just make iterative improvements on that. There you go. So I would even suggest. Testing like cre, duplicate the product. Mm-hmm. And say if you have the same product that could appeal to men or women for different searches, duplicate the product on a different id.

So you’re just testing one, like keep the old one. Don’t change that and just say, Hey, you have a second product in your feed that is gonna show in shopping for maybe different searches so you can change the description. Yep. Same product. You’d call it something maybe slightly different, but it wouldn’t be tremendously complicated on Shopify to probably execute that.

Yeah, love it. So, yeah. Great. Okay, so as a quick recap, step one, Jon, we’ve gotta come up with context, understand mm-hmm. Why this visitor is coming to this page. If you don’t understand that, you better figure that out quick. Well, almost making an assumption that you do understand why people are coming there.

There you go. And then you have to understand then the curation of the patient. You’re not just trying to sell, sell, sell. You have to set it up [00:22:00] so you’re like, Hey, let’s start building a brand first. Still maybe have the conversion up there, but it’s not just like, yeah, pick your options and go buy, because that’s not what people are generally coming when they’re mid upper funnel search terms.

So curation of the page, educate. The purpose of that page now is going to be education. And if you’re educating, well, generally you can shorten that conversion timeframe than you would’ve without that education piece. On the P D P, tell them what they’re getting. Build that value through education. Yep.

And then the angle that your product’s selling under, so you know, what’s that specific pain point that you’re solving for that viewer. So if you’re selling Stanley Cups to men, make sure it’s that angle is selling to men because you’re landing the men on this. Version of the Stanley Landing page. There you go.

Did I miss anything? Any last? Comments on what? Well, I guess the only question is have I convinced you otherwise? No.

Ryan: Nope. I am definitely going to be talking more about landing pages versus product pages. [00:23:00] The PDP is probably done, so my job here is done, probably not at all. It’s built up to be, and I’ve seen the light now, so I have a lot of conversations to go back and have.

Jon: I’m glad I could be of service. Hey, I’m glad that I didn’t learn this. Two, three years down the road after having another thousand conversations and say something uhoh dumb on stage where you’re coming up after me and tell me I’m wrong. That’s why you don’t have me speak anymore. Yeah, no, it’s too dangerous.

Jon. Thanks for the time and the education and, uh, helping me see my blind spots. Always value there. We’ll chat soon. Thank you.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to Drive and Convert with Jon MacDonald and Ryan Garrow. To keep up to date with new episodes. You can subscribe at driveandconvert.com.

About the Author

Angel Earnshaw

Angel Earnshaw is the Marketing Coordinator at The Good. She has experience in improving brand awareness through digital marketing and social media management.