Whether you’re selling products or offering your professional services, here’s how you can make the most of your online display advertising opportunity:
1. Offer a Simple, Clear Benefit.
Put yourself in the shoes of potential customers. When they make that split-second decision about a commercial message, only one thing is going through their head. It’s the question, “What’s in this for me?”
Since that’s the only question a potential customer cares about, it pays to answer that question clearly and quickly. If it takes more than a glance for a reader to see a clear benefit, their attention will be gone in the blink of an eye. For instance, while your company name is important and should be prominent in your advertising, by itself your company name offers no benefit to a busy reader.
When you sketch out your advertising campaign with your account executive, ask yourself, “What are my customers really looking for?” Here are just a few possible benefits you might offer to potential customers:
CONVENIENCE. Will your product or service save customers precious time? Will your service make life easier for your clients? Then by all means, let them know how they will specifically benefit from what you offer.
CREDIBILITY. Are you in a business where the price of making a mistake can be huge? Have competitors left cynical former customers in their wake? Then let people know why you’re different. Let them know why you can be trusted.
AFFILIATION. I’ve noticed that people at some parties have little ponies monogrammed on their shirt. So the next time I go to one of those parties, I’ll buy a shirt with a little pony on it. In that case I’m not merely buying the shirt, I’m announcing that I belong to a certain club. When you’re building a brand, you’re known by the company you keep.
VALUE. Value, not price, is the real benefit to your customers. I may have only paid $2 for my last pair of socks, but price alone was not the basis of my decision. The socks were the correct size, the store was on my side of town, and the quality was reasonable for the price I paid. In other words, price mattered but what I wanted most was a good value. Nobody shops on the basis of price alone.
2. Highlight a Specific “Call to Action.”
In studies of online advertising, a clear and compelling call to action is associated with higher click-through rates than ads with no call to action or generic messages like “Click Here” or “Call Now.”
Give potential customers a reason to click. Here are a few suggestions:
Click for Our Latest Listings.
Call to Request a Free Brochure.
Join Our List and Get a $20 Gift Card.
Hint: This probably sounds incredibly old fashioned, but in our experience, we’ve noticed that ads with “Click Here” messages that appear to be a text hyperlink (typically blue and underlined) produce good results, along with simple gray buttons that have the same appearance as a web page “submit” button.
3. Link to a Great Landing Page.
What happens after someone clicks? That’s a question that often gets ignored when developing a local online advertising campaign. The usual answer is that a visitor lands on an advertiser’s home page. But that’s often a bad idea.
The reason is obvious if you think about it for just a moment: If your call to action was “Click for Our Latest Listings” make sure the next thing a potential customer sees is your latest listings.
Remember that by clicking on your ad, a potential customer has taken decisive action — even if it’s only to learn more. If you drop them off on your home page, they may still be several clicks away from what they were expecting to find. Even worse, now they’re on their own to hunt for it. In some worse-case scenarios, we’ve seen call to action messages that can’t be found at all on the website where the visitor lands.
The best approach is to make sure your landing page is consistent with the message of your ad. Your landing page should limit a prospect’s options to the actions you’d like them to take, such as filling in a request form. Links to other portions of your website are only a distraction at this point.