People are bombarded by advertisements. The things are everywhere - blazoned on surfaces from taxicab roofs to bathroom stalls. And banner ads appear on virtually every website with traffic worth talking about.
But the ad isn't an end unto itself. It's great when your ad's salient and catchy enough to snag someone's interest. The payoff is what happens after someone clicks through.
Now, Vicky's one smark cookie. And it seems she knows something many players in the advertising and marketing game don't.
So let's let her whisper in our ear.
What moves people from the search engine or portal you're advertising on to your website? Persuasive Momentum. This is the force that propels people forward in their buying process.
Persuasive Momentum is all about Scent of Information. Scent either leads a person directly to the content they seek or closer to the content they seek.
When the scent trail peters out so does the momentum.
Banner advertisers have it rough. On the web, people are volunteers and are in control of their experiences. They decide which ads they'll tune out and which ads they'll pay attention to. Usually they ignore ads like the plague. So if you've motivated the click in your banner ad, you've accomplished a major feat. You've risen above the endless buzz and noise, and snared your elusive visitor. Maybe your banner ad looked like this one from TV.com:
Ads can be engaging, attractive and even offer enough scent interest to persuade us to click. But can the follow-through sustain attention? It's in this next step - the click to the landing page - that many marketers miss the mark.
Click through hoping to catch behind-the-scenes action and those deleted clips featured in the banner ad, and ...
Thud! The landing page is a total disconnect. The scent evaporated. In fact, the only way we know this has anything to do with the banner ad that got us here is the TV.com logo. What are we supposed to do?
Let's watch and learn from what Vicky does. She provocatively captures us with this banner ad:
We click. Vicky gently lands us here:
Notice a few things.
The offer, clearly stated on the banner ad, is just as clearly repeated on the landing page. Instructions are easy and concise, and the navigation lends itself towards product selection. If the offer was the tipping point in persuading the visitor to click, the landing page has satisfied by emphasizing that offer.
If the brand was the tipping point for the visitor, this landing page is as successful as the homepage would have been. The top global navigation is clearly evident (breaking more than a few "expert" landing page rules). It provides intuitive entry points into the other products offered and the homepage as well. The landing page has satisfied from a branding perspective because it sustains the corporate spirit expressed in the ad.
If it's not the offer or the brand - and most times, it isn't - we look to the ad itself. In this case, it refers to a specific product, bras, and a specific qualifier, very sexy. The landing page is within the category of the advertised product and provides the contextual left navigation (chock full of trigger words, you'll notice) appropriate to provide the visitor with the biggest leap they're comfortable making.
If customers can describe their needs more specifically - by designer or product line perhaps - Vicky can whisk them off to their chosen destination. If not, the graphical clues build on the imagery of the ad. Scrolling down the landing page shows various lines of very sexy bras.
Calls to action within these images of very sexy bras could (and should) be stronger, more intuitive. Vicky could do a better job motivating the click. However, clicking-through cements our perception of Vicky as one hip chick when it comes to getting the customer to the specific goods. Observe the pure satisfaction upon click-through ...
The left contextual navigation is still present, yet the collection we've clicked through to (albeit, unknowingly by clicking through the image we found attractive) has been highlighted. We are actually learning to use Vicky's own navigation scheme. Product pictures are cleanly displayed, as the products would be used (or as closely as they can be without a parental warning). Prices are clearly marked, as are product labels, and there are options to view similar products.
This page provides the visitor with a high degree of relevance. Customers have now entered the conversion funnel, and this scenario is much more likely to convert.
Can you lay a good scent trail in your online ad campaigns? It's as "simple" as 1, 2, 3 ...
Grab the visitor's attention (through the use of eye candy, if need be, but always by saying something of value)
Craft a landing page that is consistent with the message of the ad and relevant to the problem the visitor is seeking to resolve
Deliver on that message
If you want follow-through from your ads, learn from Vicky.
Howie Kaplan is Future Now, Inc.'s Senior Conversion Analyst.
We've been busy bees over the holidays. Check out our services page - new services have already been launched and more are coming!
You'll also want to keep an eye on our publications page. We've been working on creating resources that will help you put many of our principles into practice more easily and more efficiently. We're just about to release several of our newest products, including Which Sells Best?: A Quick Start Guide to Testing for Retailers and The Conversion Experts Handbook.
I'm sitting on a stark metal folding chair. There's a sole bright light bulb glaring overhead. Out of the shadows walks a man in an Armani suit and $400 sunglasses. He stares at me. "Ok - I've just about lost my patience. Talk. Don't hold anything back. I'll know if you're lying."
I squirm uncomfortably in my chair, but keep my mouth shut.
"If you don't start spilling the beans - this could get ugly. I'm just about out of patience here. For the last time - tell me - how do you create personas?"
I stare at the marketer in front of me. I hear movement in the shadows. He's not alone. There are other marketers and business owners in the room. I can hear their Blackberries going off in the darkness. They're all waiting to hear confidential information that will tell them how to create personas. They know if they can get this information, they'll be able to create marketing campaigns that will leave their competition in the dust and catapult their careers and reputations. If they can just get the secret formula.
"Well, um," I start. "I can't show you exactly how we create personas. We use special software and charge clients 10's of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars for direct access to our tool and our knowledge."
The crowd grows more menacing.
"But wait! I can tell you how to segment your audience by personality type and where they are in the buying process." This prompts a few interested murmurs. "We can talk about what questions personas ask. I'll tell you about how to make your personas more real using demographics, psychographics and topographics." I feel myself sweating.
"That's a start. What else?" asks the leader in the dark glasses. I think I smell a Cosmopolitan on his breath.
"Well - I can show you how to do uncovery - how and where to gather the most important information on your customers so you can really get to know them, their needs, and their motivations." I've got their attention now.
"I'll show you how to write persuasive online copy - how to write to your different personas so you can speak each persona's language and persuade them to take the actions you want them to take."
"And???" Dark glasses prompts.
"And how about this - we'll even create a set of personas together so you can get an idea of how it's done and even participate."
My Madison Avenue captor smiles for the first time.
"Excellent" He says. "Name the time and date and we'll be there."
Holly Buchanan is VP for Client Services at Future Now, Inc.
January 17 and 18, 2006 - at the Future Now offices in Brooklyn NY.
Yes - this is a course about copywriting. Good copywriting is based almost entirely on understanding your audience. Lisa T. Davis and I (Holly Buchanan) devote a big chunk of our course to uncovery - how to gather information about your customers. And to persona development - how you create personas and write persuasively to different personas.
I will be honest - we don't give away the secret formula and you will not see our proprietary software tool. But you will learn enough to get an excellent start on creating personas that will allow you to see your business from a new perspective and more effectively communicate and persuade your customers.
After all - what is copywriting if not communicating and persuading?
Space is filling up fast - and we keep these classes small so everyone gets one-on-one attention and feedback. So sign up today.