Victoria's Real Secret

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.

The Name of the Game is Persuasive Momentum

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.

You've Got His Attention

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:

Now what?

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?

Vicky Offers Up Scent and Runs with It

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.

Vicky's Secret for Follow-Through

Can you lay a good scent trail in your online ad campaigns? It's as "simple" as 1, 2, 3 ...

  1. Grab the visitor's attention (through the use of eye candy, if need be, but always by saying something of value)

  2. Craft a landing page that is consistent with the message of the ad and relevant to the problem the visitor is seeking to resolve

  3. 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.

Volume 122: 1/1/06


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