How to Prepare a WordPress Landing Page for an Ad Campaign

How I almost let my boss down...
John Armstrong
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An advertising campaign is a whole thing. You need to define key messages, design a landing page, set creative tasks, collect these tasks, find bloggers, negotiate with them, set up targeting... Time is running out, tasks from parallel projects still need to progress, while accounting is asking for some reports. All that makes you shiver!

The life of a marketer is full of quite understandable suffering, and he/she is ready for it. But there are rakes scattered across the field, which you can’t see. And to step on them is more offensive than to face typical difficulties. I’ll tell you about one of those rakes today.

There’s a big, long story waiting for you below. You don’t have to read it at all, and if you, my friend the marketer, don’t have the time to, just scroll down, all the good stuff is there.

The Boss Returned From a Vacation

I work as a marketer for a travel company. We sell regular trips and exotic tours. The director came to me one day... you know, rather than coming in, he ran into the office in excitement and said:

— I just got back from Baikal, I made a deal with the local men, we’ll do a joint tour.
— Ookay, what is "Baikal", I said, slowly switching attention from other things.
— What do you mean? It is the deepest fresh water lake in the world. It’s also in Russia.
— Ah, in Russia... — it comes to me while bears and kokoshnik lady’s head-bands start flashing in my head. — And what kind of a tour would that be? Walks on the beach?
— No! No! It’s going to be really extreme: unexplored mountain wilderness, Russian sauna, fishing, a trip on an airboat, dinner cooked on an open fire in a deep forest.
— Wow! Cool!
— Yeah! We are going to launch it in two weeks. Get the advertising campaign going!
— But two weeks is so little...
— I don’t want to know anything about it, just do it!

I had no choice but to say "Okay, boss."

Lake Baikal

It’s Time to Do a Good Job

I put all my business on hold and went into an ad campaign. I analyzed the audience, designed the offer, and came up with the family discount and referral program.

All these two weeks I worked non-stop, I didn’t sleep much and missed a lot of games of my favorite team. I was as focused as possible. I optimized everything I could.

That’s what let me down.

In order not to waste time on development, I decided to make a WordPress landing page for the advertising campaign. I uploaded the best template to the hosting, where our other websites were, filled it with content and customized it. The web developer went on holiday a week before, so I did it myself! I tested it myself too. It seemed to have come out quite decent.

In addition, I set up the advertising. There were links to the ready landing page:

  • From Google context advertising.
  • From Facebook targeted advertising.
  • From 15 bloggers who write about East Europe and extreme tours.
  • From the ad video on YouTube.

Absolutely everything was ready on time. The boss was happy and was already packing up to get back to Russia with a group of tourists. We decided to launch the campaign at the weekend — since it was about leisure anyway. On Friday, I went home with a sense of accomplishment.


An Unpleasant Surprise

On Monday, I was expecting to see some requests for the tour from those wishing to spend a week in Siberia. However, the result stunned me. Not a single message came in!

"Well, of course, who needs this Baikal. Some kind of fresh water puddle in the middle of deep taiga!" — you might say. I’ll admit, that’s what I thought at first moments.

But then I opened up Google Analytics and the Facebook ad panel. The number of clicks on the ads was not overwhelming, but good. Especially on Facebook. But where did all the requests go?

The website is there, it is working. The request form is right there, everything works. The prices are reasonable (the ruble rate is attractive now!). What’s the matter? I found the answers to all of my questions in a short message from a blogger:

"Hi, John! Something is wrong with your website. It takes forever to open! My subscribers liked your tour, they went to your website but it didn’t open. Or rather, it opens and then freezes. Everyone wrote to me, but there was nothing I could do. I have done my job! Take it up with your admin:)"

Huh! Your admin... There was no admin. I did everything myself. I almost ruined a huge advertising campaign I’ve been working on for two weeks. But what went wrong? What did I miss? Why was the website working slowly?

What Happened

The web administrator came back from vacation and started an investigation. He found out that the website was attacked by viruses — automatic programs that had infiltrated the site through vulnerabilities and used server resources for their dirty business. But it wasn’t just them. There were several factors that had come together:

WordPress with third-party plugins is not secure. Yeah, yeah, everyone knows that, but I thought I was going to get by. Or rather, I hadn’t thought about it at all: I didn’t have time, I was learning about Soviet SUV models.

I had not protected my security in any way. It turned out that there are very simple tools for protection, and even antiviruses for sites. And I didn’t use any.

Good ads. Yes, they brought the expected traffic, and after some visitor came a virus bot, which infected the website.

Bad hosting. There were already quite loaded websites on our hosting. When traffic increased thanks to the ads and then the viruses came, the hosting just couldn’t take it — it started slowing down (like my laptop slows down when I open many tabs). That was the reason why nobody was able to leave a request in the end. And that had absolutely nothing to do with Lake Baikal.

It took the web administrator a day to fix the website. We added money to the ad campaign, and the requests poured in. The boss didn’t find out about anything and left for Siberia, and I made some notes to remember.


What Have I Learned From This Story, or How Not to Ruin an Ad Campaign...

Well, now it’s time to tell what I learned from this incident.

  1. You have to enable the virus protection immediately!
  2. You have to make backups. If viruses had broken my wonderful layout (and they could!), I would have cried bitterly together with my boss — it would not have been possible to restore the work immediately.
  3. You need monitoring. If I had it back then, I would have found out about the problem immediately.
  4. You need good hosting. The kind that can cope with high traffic.

The list by no means short. But you do remember that I love optimizing everything? And our admin also likes to optimize everything — not to get involved in the creation of each landing page, because there are more important things to do.

So he found me a more powerful hosting (I think it’s called VPS) and connected Vepp, a handy control panel for a WordPress website on VPS. It ensures automatic antivirus, monitoring and backups. Actually, it has it all. I have already run a couple of landing pages about safaris on it (the boss is apparently through with fresh Siberian water and now he went the other way), and everything was fine.

Vepp is the most convenient panel for VPS-hosted WordPress websites. Designed to meet the needs of busy marketers.

Learn about the product

Rider on ice block

John Armstrong

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