SOS For Marketers: Avoid A Crash Landing

by , Sep 18, 2008, 7:00 AM
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The fastest, cheapest way to boost return on your online advertising investments has nothing to do with the design and placement of your creative. Based on a recent study, it is possible that your competitors could be generating five times the ROI as you are with comparable messaging and spending.

What can you do right now to increase the ROI of your ad campaign? Pay more attention to the post click-experience. You've already paid to bring these customers to your online turf, so each additional purchase, registration, or meaningful engagement with the brand is a boost to your return with minimal additional investment. Because agencies and ad buyers are often measured by impressions and click-throughs; companies under invest in this step of the process. Or worse, they overinvest in post-click experiences by copying competitor strategies that look impressive, but aren't really delivering results. That's why post-click conversion measurements can vary so widely.

Based on more than two years of working on landing pages and five years on funnel effectiveness here are four lessons for CMOs to optimize the online advertising experience:

Don't get between your customer and the activity you are trying to encourage

(Except when it helps customers get there.) This is true even if you don't sell anything on your site and your only goal is to get customers to engage more deeply with your brand. While dropping customers right into your purchase funnel might bring them closer to getting them to purchase, we have consistently seen that this approach alienates customers who might be simultaneously engaging in another activity (i.e., reading the news). Advertisers must help customers transition to the shopping experience through dedicated, quick-loading landing pages that tie the messaging and look of your advertising to that of your website.

Clear calls to action are key

The consumers most likely to take the next step in the shopping process are the ones that have already taken the first step by clicking on your advertisement. Compete evaluated credit card company campaigns and found an incredible range in the rate at which customers were encouraged to start online applications -from 2% to 68%. The more successful campaigns had the "Apply Now" button prominently placed and linked directly to a card application.

Excellent integration and execution are needed

One of the complexities of designing full landing page experiences (rather than just optimizing button placement or offer levels) is that it is never one component that drives success. Companies need to look across all aspects of the user experience: calls to action, degree of integration with creative and targeted messaging.

Benchmark against rivals

You can always learn from the competition- even if it's to do the opposite. While optimization software can help maximize the effective of your current experience, virtually no one has the money or resources to test all the ways websites can engage visitors (just to name a few, a marketer can consider among flash-heavy immersive experiences, single click calls to action, info heavy sales sites, and picture heavy catalogue sites). Too many companies are copying what they think works for others without data to back it up. Given the disparities in post-click performance and the potential for direct improvements to ROI by boosting post-click performance CMOs spending money online should all be asking their teams some questions:

• What is the Best in Class performance in our industry for engaging and (if applicable) converting people who click on our ads?

• Where do we stand in relation to Best in Class?

• What can we learn from all the other campaigns our competitors are running?

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