We’re headed out to Trick or Treat in the U.S. today, and that means there’s no better time to review some of the cutthroat candy competiton in Google’s paid search results.
For candy retailers, Halloween is the highest-grossing holiday of the year, followed by Easter, Christmas and Valentine’s Day respectively.
We’ve taken a closer look at three PPC ads and their landing pages for the highly coveted search query ‘halloween candy.’
The three sites reviewed were Century Novelty, Candy Galaxy and Candy Warehouse
This is the PPC ad for candywarehouse.com
And this is the landing page.
The page title “Shop By Halloween Candy” and the image in the upper right matches the query ‘halloween candy’ well. And the PPC ad makes nice use of social proof by adding the AdWords Seller Rating Extension (e.g. the 518 seller reviews.)
But the most obvious eye-catcher on this page isn’t the brightly-wrapped confections or even the sprinkling of Halloween-themed décor – it’s the mailing list sign up form. This draws the visitor’s attention away from the goal of buying candy and toward the request to sign up for the newsletter.
The “exclusive” newsletter promises “candy news” – but doesn’t really present an incentive to sign up. Are there coupons? Special bulk candy deals? Upcoming closeouts or clearances? How often is the newsletter sent?
Answering these questions could spur more users to subscribe, but again, it also detracts from the main focus and goal. Perhaps the call-to-action to join the email list should be left for later during the purchasing process.
They’ve done a great job with sorting their inventory to highlight the Halloween items, and even allow you to sort by specific color, which is a nice touch. The site search is prominent and it’s easy to filter your search by color, occasion and flavor. Their site also states that shipping is fast – but it doesn’t let you know up-front about the cost of shipping or if there’s a minimum order amount necessary.
The “Buy Safe” insignia (pictured below) featured in the bottom left of the website may tip the scales for buyers that need a bit more convincing.
Candy Galaxy advises visitors to “Keep those candy bowls full this year with our bulk prices” in their Google PPC ad.
And here is the landing page.
Bulk candy retailer Candy Galaxy’s Halloween landing page
There is nothing on this page that immediately communicates “Halloween Candy.” The design and copy is the same as it would appear on any other category of the website. Aside from the type of candy (candy corns, candy pumpkins) the site visitor is forced to wonder if they have landed in the right place. Not good.
They offer flat rate shipping with the price clearly noted on the page.
There’s a handy search bar, but also a large dark blue area at the top of the page by the cart. It’s not entirely clear what the purpose of that area is. It’s not for search, and it doesn’t tell you how many items are in your cart until you happen to click the back button on your browser. My guess is a click map from Crazy Egg would show a lot of frustrated clicks on that blue mystery box.
One helpful thing Candy Galaxy does is showcase their top sellers prominently on the page. Their Halloween landing page also has some fall-themed items on it, although I had to search that page specifically for Halloween candy to get to the more interesting items, like wax fangs and chocolate dipped insects.
As with other candy sites, you can search by occasion and color (but not by flavor). You can also compare different candies in terms of price, size and so on, to determine if you’re getting the best deal.
This is the Google PPC ad for Century Novelty.
And this is the landing page.
In addition to Halloween candy, Century Novelty also sells party favors and costumes.
This landing page does a better job than Candy Galaxy but not as good as Candy Warehouse at providing “scent” or ad continuity from the PPC ad by placing the word “Halloween” two times above the fold.
But Century Novelty isn’t just about Halloween candy.
They also sell party favors, costumes and crafts. They’ve done a great job in tying candy together with their other items, by offering a “Halloween Party Planning Guide” and recommending other items beyond candy in the sidebar.
My only issue was that the recommendations weren’t all that smart, such as a Christmas stocking. I’d recommend putting impulse-buy items there, just as convenience stores do with their shelves. Things like pre-filled, cellophane treat bags or bundle packages would be a great last-minute party pick-up idea.
The site itself is a bit overwhelming if you’re only in the market for one particular item, and you keep getting distracted by everything else on the page. On the plus side, they do have a slight Halloween theme on the page and offer guaranteed same-day delivery which will entice many last-minute sales.
Their newsletter also offers a $6-off coupon to encourage visitors to subscribe. All in all, a definite plus for a site with so much to offer.
What do you think of these three spooks PPC Ads and landing pages? Let us know in the comments.
If you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to check out How to Increase eCommerce conversions during the 2012 Holiday Season article on the KISS Metrics website.