Full Service Marketing for Higher Education, Health Care & B2B Marketing


You Have 10 Seconds—Thrill Me!

Stu Eddins

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The user clicks your ad and hits your landing page. Within the first 10 seconds, they assess the headline, any images, and maybe the first sentence or two of content. Then, one of two things happens:

  1. They are hooked, at least a little bit, and decide to engage for a few more seconds.
  2. They believe that your page isn’t helpful and bounce off the page.

Content is the key to a landing page’s success. After clicking on an ad or email hyperlink, a user will only give the landing page a few seconds to prove their click was worthwhile. For perspective, the statement and its two bullets shown in red above take most people about 10 seconds to read. That’s not a lot of time, but for 50% or more of your marketing traffic, that’s all the time you’ll get to capture their attention.

The 11th second is earned—or lost—by how relevant the headline and initial paragraph are to the visitor’s search query or intent. Look in Analytics; how are your current landing pages doing when it comes to earning more than 10 seconds of attention from your ad visitors?

This article is part of a series on marketing landing pages. In this installment, we will focus on how landing page content must be relevant to both the campaign and the visitor.

Relevant Content Earns Time & Attention

A “bounce” is defined in Analytics as a visit lasting 10 seconds or less with no event interactions. On average, 60% of non-branded paid traffic spends less than 10 seconds on the landing page and then bounces off.

There is no secret to what it takes to make visitors engage with a landing page instead of bounce. To retain visitor attention and avoid the dreaded bounce, the landing page content must be relevant to the visitor’s needs and aligned with their purpose and intentions.

Relevant Content Earns Ad Clicks

We discussed that landing pages are the new keywords in a related article. Part of that blog summary:

  • Today’s marketing platforms measure the relevance between what we advertise and the supporting landing page.
  • The closer our page and campaigns align, the more often our ads are eligible to be served and our cost per click decreases.

Complicating that last part about click cost:

  • Competition will increase as AI reduces the complexity of digital marketing allowing new competitors to enter the market.
  • Increased competition brings the need for relevance into sharper focus. The most optimized message gets heard above the background noise of less relevant choices. 

Given these factors, marketers need to refine their processes to maintain, let alone enhance, current performance. The landing page is the marketing asset with the greatest influence and impact on relevance.

Earning attention in marketing isn’t easy, so when a campaign does connect with a prospect, it’s no small feat. In search marketing, out of six ads and 10 blue links, they chose you. Yet for most marketers, the win is very brief. 50-60% of campaign visitors arrive on the landing page, look around for 10 seconds or less, and leave. The landing page couldn’t earn the 11th second.

Poor landing page relevance is costly in two ways. First, through increased cost per click which also means increased cost lead. Next, poor relevance squanders the opportunity created by the campaign, costing a potential lead because the page didn’t fulfill the promise of the marketing message.

The most common reason for a bounce is that marketers promote one thing, but the landing page appears to have content about something else. Campaign targeting and messaging are often a mismatch to the content on the landing page.

Recognize The Mismatch

We frequently see mismatches where ad copy for a specific program or service leads to a page written with generic content.

  • Ads that target welding classes lead to generalized workforce development pages.
  • An ad that promises an accounting degree leads to a business college page with accounting only mentioned in a bullet with a single line of description.
  • Promotions for two-year associate degrees that point to pages that only have branded content.

The solution to this mismatch is to create more specific landing pages. Ads that target welding classes should lead to landing pages about welding classes. Ads for accounting classes should lead to pages about accounting classes.

Herding Cats

We get it. Creating and managing a host of marketing landing pages aligned with each unique marketing theme can seem daunting, time-consuming, and expensive. But the payoff can be better click-through rates, lower cost per click, and better-qualified leads with greater application to registration yield.

We’d call that “winning.”

Setting up unique and specific landing pages can present some challenges, such as maintaining consistent brand identity, aesthetics, and voice. Then there are the mechanics of setting up forms or click-to-call phone numbers and adding conversion tracking for each page. Thankfully, there are ways to smooth out the process and help ensure every marketing page starts from the same footing.

One recommendation is to build a marketing landing page template. Create and use one template across all marketing landing pages. Using a template creates natural compliance with fonts, phone numbers, colors, and forms. When using a template, Analytics tracking can be built-in so that basic data is always collected. Please note that this templated approach can be on your website or hosted through a service such as Unbounce.

But your biggest concern is likely creating new content for all those new pages. While that can be a challenge, there are ways to create a winning content formula that reduces the creative writing workload.

Build Better Pages

Let’s assume that your current landing pages are indeed converting some visitors. Rather than tossing all that content out, mine the pages for their useful parts.

Start with your current landing pages and analyze them for similar content about your institution. This is the body content you need to have on each page to support your brand. Collect all the institutional content and rewrite it as one or two paragraphs or sentences.

Do the same with the college- or category-level content. Collect all the content about the business school, the health sciences college, or the continuing education program and combine it into distinct paragraphs for each category-level theme.

You now have enough body content to populate two-thirds of any landing page. Next, all you need is a paragraph or two relevant to the specific program, service, or brand message being promoted. Once you have this last section, invert the order of your previous landing pages:

  1. Top of page, specific program content. Value proposition and call to action live here.
  2. Mid-page, college- or category-level content. May include faculty profiles or other assets that discuss points of difference, and build on the value prop.
  3. Bottom of page, brand-related content that reinforces your image.

There’s more to a landing page than these three blocks of body content—call-to-action, testimonials, other callouts, motivating headlines, and sub-headlines—but for most of the clients that I’ve worked with, creating body copy looks like the insurmountable obstacle in front of them.

  • Really big important note: The page headline (H1) and entry paragraph need to have high relevance to the campaign’s ad headline, body copy, and targeted search query or search theme!
  • Call-to-action is very important, but the campaign goals determine the CTA: RFI form, application, registration, in-person appointment, etc.
  • Once you have body copy, headlines and sub-heads are easier to create.

Here’s the good news: since it’s a best practice to block marketing landing pages from organic search, you can save time by reusing content as needed. A person who hits the accounting landing page probably will never see the nursing landing page, so it won’t be noticed that you reused the institutional body copy. You need to test landing page content and layout to learn what serves your prospective students best. What works well for the two-year bookkeeping program may not perform as well for a doctoral program.

Measure It, Or It Didn’t Happen

Benchmark landing page performance before making any changes and take another reading just before any future edits or updates. Look at the bounce rate in GA4, calculate the user conversion rate, note the lag time between the first click and the converting click. In Google Ads, note the cost per click and click-through rate to determine if the page update has improved ad rank and relevance. Pay attention to the number of conversions (should increase) and the cost per conversion (should decrease). These last two metrics are the two most important for any campaign.


You have 10 seconds or less to keep a marketing visitor on your landing page. How will you earn the 11th second?

We earn the 11th, 12th, and even the 20th second the same way: through engaging, useful, and highly relevant content. By aligning our landing pages with campaign targeting and ad copy we increase engagement with our marketing message and reduce our cost per lead earning better-qualified leads.

While your current landing pages are generating conversions, it’s very likely they could be much more efficient. Study your pages and collect all the institutional/brand content into one or two paragraphs, then do the same at the college or category level. Finally, write new content for the specific program/service/brand message being promoted and make that the page’s lead content.

Measure, always, so that you can learn how your changes affected page performance and prove the value of your methods.

Ready to rock the landing page for your next campaign?

Stamats digital experts can help you strike the right message and strategy to create landing pages that convert.