Are the Top AdWords Ads for “Golf Vacations” Subpar?

by 0 08/23/2013

If you’re paying a lot of money for clicks in AdWords, you’d better be converting those clicks into leads and sales.

That’s why, when you study top AdWords ads in competitive markets, you’ll often find great examples of effective ad copy and landing pages that can inspire ideas to improve your own AdWords campaigns.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what the top five advertisers for the keyword “golf vacations” are doing in AdWords.

There definitely are some good lessons to take away from these advertisers. However, there also seems to be a lot of room for improvement here—and some lessons of what NOT to do.

Let’s see why…

Golf Zoo

The Ad:

My analysis

This ad clearly calls out its target audience… people looking for cheap golf getaways. (Though, since the keyword typed in was “golf vacations,” I’d want to at least test the headline “Cheap Golf Vacations” if they haven’t already).

The ad includes a short, to-the-point call to action with “Customize & Book Today!” (It’s often a good idea to have a call to action in your ads to let searchers know exactly what they should do when they get to your landing page.)

One thing I’d test here is to change the ad copy around to make the top line read “Get Hot Deals at 25+ US Golf Spots” or “Hot Deals at 25+ Top US Golf Spots.”

A few reasons…

1. It further reinforces their savings/cheap messaging (and “Hot Deals” is specifically mentioned a few times on their landing page, so using that phrase in the ad creates more consistency between the ad and landing page).

2. By putting a period at the end of the first line of ad copy, they could achieve an extended headline when the ad appears in one of the top three spots on Google. This often creates a nice bump in Clickthrough Rate (CTR). The image below shows what the Extended headline looks like where the first line of ad copy is next to the headline (instead of below it):

3. It gets the plus sign into the ad and you’ll often find top performing ads have numbers and symbols in them because, in part, they make ads stand out more.

The Landing Page:

1-golf zoo lp

My analysis

One of the first things to look for on a PPC landing page is whether it continues the conversation started by the keyword and the ad.

On this page, above the fold, there’s the logo for Golf Zoo, the tagline “Vacations Fit to a Tee!” and the form with the headline “Plan Your Golf Vacation Now!”

Coming from the keyword “golf vacations,” I’m clearly in the right place.

That said, the ad promises cheap golf vacations, and the word “cheap” (which appears twice in the ad copy) doesn’t appear anywhere on the landing page. The only spots that refers to discounts/savings/etc. are the “Hot Deals” link in the nav bar and list of a few Hot Deals below the fold.

I like the Post-It note that promises a customized itinerary from a local golf expert. (Unfortunately the link is broken so it doesn’t take you anywhere when you click on it right now.)

A few ideas to test on this page…

1. There’s a lot of wasted space in the middle of their header. You don’t want to clutter it up by putting too much up there. However, they could probably shrink their logo a bit and decrease the height of the header to fit more key info above the fold.

2. They’re advertising “cheap,” so why not make the Hot Deals the main focus of this landing page? Instead of their slideshow with mostly generic images of golf courses, they could rotate the Hot Deals there in prime landing page real estate.

Pebble Beach

The Ad:

My analysis

This ad has the benefit of the Pebble Beach brand (which most golfers are well aware of) behind it. But what I really like about this ad is that they don’t just rely on their name (as many well-known brands do).

They’re actually laying out a specific offer to entice people to click on the ad. In addition to the offer, they’ve worked in a call to action of “Call Today for Details.”  (While it’s not in this screenshot, the ad is using call extensions, so a toll-free number appears next to this ad on Google to make it easy for people to call.)

The Landing Page:

My analysis

I like that it has a narrow header with the Pebble Beach logo (not too big though!) and a phone number inviting people to call for reservations.

The image reinforces the beauty that helps make Pebble Beach so alluring. And they have a badge over the image, boosting their credentials as “America’s #1 Public Golf Course.”

Their AdWords ad told people to call, and that’s clearly the primary objective of this landing page, with their phone number listed four times throughout the page.

Also, after the “Welcome” paragraph at the top, the offer of the free upgrade in the ad takes center stage on this landing page (as it should).

Notice the page also has the secondary call to action (in two places on the page) of signing up to receive special offers. This is done really well. It doesn’t detract from the main offer/call to action, yet it does allow them to capture email addresses of those who may not be interested now but can be followed up with at a later time.

Condoresorts.com

The Ad:

My analysis

The ad clearly calls out its target audience… people looking to go to Arizona, particularly Scottsdale, for a golf vacation.

However, the ad copy is confusing.  There’s some punctuation missing and it’s not really clear where one thought/idea/phrase ends and another begins.

You don’t want people to have to think about your ads. Clearly communicate your message to prospects. If people have to think about it, they’re not going to click.

The Landing Page:

My analysis

The ad goes to the Home page of their site. The copy does mention golf a lot; however, there’s a page on their site specifically related to the discount golf packages they offer. That seems like a stronger landing page for their AdWords ads.

Also, the ad promises a discount, but the word “discount” (or any mention of savings, for that matter) isn’t addressed on this Home page.

The headline “We Are Meridian CondoResorts” is very weak. I’m coming from the keyword “golf vacation” and I don’t care about this company. I just want to know what discounts I can get on my Arizona golf vacation.

Lastly, there’s no clear call to action on this page. Yes, there’s a phone number in the footer, but not much else. Every landing page should have a crystal clear call to action that’s the main focus of the page and gives people a good reason to take that action.

GolfThere

The Ad:

My analysis

As most of the ads for this keyword, this ad clearly calls out to a specific audience… those wanting a Florida golf getaway.

The ad offers a good call to action/benefit statement with “Plan your ultimate golf vacation!”

However, personally, I’m not a fan of the cutesy “Vacations to a Tee” line. I do like that they add some credibility by saying they’ve been around since 1990. I just think there’s a better way to say it.

The Landing Page:

My analysis

On this landing page, your eye immediately gets drawn to that big block of green buttons with city names on them. A few issues with this…

1. The main call to action on this page seems to be the green button in the header that says “Looking for a Golf Vacation? Get Started by Clicking Here.” I think most people are totally missing that because their eyes are immediately being drawn to the green blocks. They’re more of a distraction than help.

2. By having these blocks stacked vertically like this, the copy gets buried way down the page.

3. There’s a ton of wasted space to the right of the buttons. This is prime, above-the-fold landing page real estate! This space can be used for their call to action, for copy or, at the very least, they could position the green buttons in horizontal rows of three so they don’t extend so far down the page.

The last comment about this landing page is the banner ads in the left column. The AdWords ad promised Florida golf vacations, but the banners are promoting vacations in states other than Florida. It’s just a bit confusing and you don’t want visitors to your site to be confused. Confused visitors don’t convert!

Pinehurst

The Ad:

My analysis

Like the Pebble Beach ad, this is promoting a well-known golfing destination and offers a special deal to get people to click with their “get the 3rd night and 4th round free.”

A good lesson from this ad is they mention “this summer.” This makes the ad appear more timely and relevant (and implies a deadline for taking action) which can often boost CTRs.

The Landing Page:

My analysis

I’d like to see a good headline on this page that reinforces their offer. The closest thing to a headline here is the generic “Offers & Packages.”

Also, the only call to action on this page is to call their toll-free number. They could take a lesson from Pebble Beach and have a secondary call-to-action on the page with a sign up for special offers. This will give them the option of following up with those who at least showed some interest in golfing at Pinehurst but weren’t ready to pull the trigger on this particular offer.

I’d also recommend they put a caption below the image of the golfers leaving the green. Images draw people’s attention and, often, a caption below an image will be some of the most read copy on your landing page.

What about you?

The lessons drawn from these examples don’t just apply to golfing packages. It’s important to keep people moving forward, from ad to landing page to close. To do that…

Use the same key idea or offer throughout your campaign.

Just as important, use calls to action that make sense for people who are ready to buy and and those just researching.

And finally, don’t confuse your visitors. Keep your message simple and clear, and you have a far better chance of getting the response rates you’re hoping for.

About 

Adam Kreitman coaches business owners on how to make their websites more compelling to their prospects.. and to Google. He owns Words That Click, a firm specializing in Conversion Optimization and managing Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses.Follow him on Google+

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