A high CTR (click-through rate) usually indicates strong campaign performance. Your advertisers would be happy to see all the impressions leading to clicks. If that were the end of the story, it would have the happiest ending, but it’s not. Sometimes CTR can be high, but conversions are low.

So, why does this happen, and how can you provide insights to advertisers to boost conversions?

A CTR Refresher

We recently published an article on what to do when CTRs aren’t meeting advertiser expectations. In the post, we offered ways to optimize them, looking at targeting, inventory quality, creative and CTAs.

CTRs could improve with these strategies in place, but that doesn’t mean conversions will. However, the same principles apply to conversions. Many times, the lack of conversion has to do with a disconnect between the ad and the landing page. Let’s look at all these areas to dissect campaign performance and low conversions.

Ad and Landing Page Disconnection

No matter what kind of digital tactic, there will always be an ad and a landing page where users end up after the click. If the ad’s content is persuasive and compelling to the audience, they will click, but if they end up somewhere unfamiliar, they will bounce.

For example, if you’re running an SEM (search engine marketing) campaign for an HVAC company promoting spring checkups for $89, it would appeal to many looking for this service. If they click the ad and end up on a generic homepage, they’ll be confused. They would have to click around to find that offer, and many wouldn’t make the effort.

If they land on a page dedicated to the promotion with details on scheduling an appointment via a form fill, it’s exactly what they need and super easy. Creative should also be part of this discussion. There should be branding synergy between the ad and landing page.

You should also evaluate a few things about your client’s website. First, it needs to be secure with HTTPS, so if they haven’t upgraded, they should. People will leave unsecure sites fast. Second, page load time matters. Users will lose patience and click close if it takes more than a few seconds.

Assessing the landing page for a campaign and providing feedback to the advertiser is critical to ensure it aligns with the ad message.

Is the Target Audience the Real Decision Maker?

Another possible reason for low conversions relates to targeting. If you’ve designed this based on what your client told you about their ideal buyer, it should reach the right people. However, they may not be the final decision maker, so they don’t convert.

An example would be the education space. Colleges and universities may target young adults because they are the ideal customer (students), but parents greatly influence their decisions. It may be more impactful to position ads for both groups.

The B2B ad can also have these challenges. B2B buying is often by committee, and those doing the research may not make the final decision either. In these cases, you may need a series of ads to address everyone with some power in the process.

Inadvertent Clicks Can Occur on Low-Quality Websites

Inventory quality matters a lot in campaign performance. It impacts who will see the ad and its credibility. It can also affect conversion. If the inventory is lower quality, those clicking may not need the product or service. Some websites drop popups and ads incessantly into content, so “accidental” clicks happen too often. If someone didn’t mean to click, they would immediately bounce off the website. Thus, you want confidence that the inventory doesn’t create these situations.

Confusing CTAs Lead to Abandonment

The CTA used in ads should be accurate and drive the action that the user expects. If the CTA is confusing, people may still click but quickly abandon the website. For example, a display ad for a local financial planner could have a CTA to schedule a consultation. The user then lands on a page that has nothing to do with a meeting and instead is a hard sell on financial planning courses. The user wanted to have a conversation about finances, not pay for classes.

Things like this happen, and addressing it before a campaign begins can ensure there’s no confusion.

Another CTA miss is considering the stage of the funnel the ad represents. An awareness ad needs a CTA about learning or exploring, not buying. Thinking about intent, especially in SEM, can improve conversions.

Campaign Performance: High CTR, Low Conversions Checklist

Many of the things above are discussions to have before the campaign, but some won’t be obvious until you’re reviewing the campaign’s performance. In summary, here are the top things to focus on to improve conversions:

  • Ensure the ad and landing page have the same offer, branding and content.
  • Check on the advertiser website security and page loading speed.
  • Review targeting and whether there are multiple buyer profiles for the product or service.
  • Assess the quality of inventory and if accidental clicks could be the culprit.
  • Recommend specific CTAs that aren’t misleading.
  • Remember intent and funnel stage when choosing CTAs.

These are a good start for dissecting campaign performance. One or more of these things could be impacting conversion. If you find areas to improve and run a new campaign, you can see how those changes affect performance.

Going through the performance of a campaign is a great time to demonstrate your aptitude and value. Even if the campaign underperforms, you can come to the table with answers and ideas. For more tips on having these meetings with clients, read our post on how to explain results to them.