Have you ever purchased a product with missing instructions, or found a recipe that has only the ingredient list but no directions? These typical activities require a structured sequence of events to accomplish a goal. Without them, successful outcomes are unlikely.
It’s the same with advertising. An ad is just the first outward sign of a well crafted message in a campaign. It is the beginning of a sequence of events that marketers use to connect with consumers. But, just like the examples above. if you fail to follow all the needed steps, the results will be disappointing.
A Chain of Events
Successful advertising includes a series of steps and elements designed to provide the maximum opportunity to capture attention and convert it into business. It starts with a carefully crafted campaign that has a singular message directed at a specific audience. This will be expressed in the ads that will be designed. A good ad will pique the interest and guide the viewer to do something with a Call to Action (CTA). The CTA for online ads will typically direct consumers to a landing page. This is a carefully crafted web page that will expand the level of information and present a fully developed pitch. The landing page will have its own CTA that can be as direct as, “Buy Now’” or as simple as an email sign-up to gain access to a download. This designed action is your Conversion Event. If your ad campaign has attracted a visitor and convinces them to take the prescribed action, you have a successful conversion.
This process can involve more steps depending on the complexity of the campaign but at the most fundamental level, the campaign, ad and a landing page are the core elements.
One of the hardest concepts for new advertisers is that their campaign needs to have a single primary message targeted at a specific audience. This can be a tough concept because advertisers try to get as much information in an ad as possible in the hopes of providing something for everyone. You see this all the time in low-end newspaper ads crammed full of bullet points and text that ends up looking more like a brochure than a carefully crafted message. But when consumer encounter ads they are not looking for a brochure, instead they are glancing while doing something else. Catching a glance requires a skillfully designed message that will slow down that passing glance and make a momentary connection. This is not to say that ads cannot carry additional messaging, but the primary message must be prominent and clear and must resonate with your audience.
Clarity is king with ad design. An ad must be able to carry the messaging clearly and communicate it in a visual format. A powerful image or graphic will amplify the idea and help connect at an emotional level. For a example a well photographed and meticulously plated entree looks delicious, but it also connects with associations each viewer has with memories of great meals. Reaching into that realm provides the real power of an ad and can move the viewer to do something based on the call to action in the ad.
Ads are the enticement to move the process along to one of two options. Certain ads in certain places can immediately motivate a viewer to make a purchase. This kind of direct action is typically associated with low-end purchases. For example someone may see an ad for a candy bar and buy one because of the ad. However very few people see an ad for a new BMW and then go buy one. The bigger the expenditure the greater the need to answer potentials questions and help justify the visitor’s pending purchase. A Landing Page can provide the environment to close the deal, or at the very least move it along to a significant juncture. A good landing page will pitch the benefits of the product or service with data and supporting information. It’s also a great place to include testimonials from other happy customers, as well awards and distinctions that build credibility. But remember design is critical. The landing page needs to deliver what the viewer needs in a way that is not cluttered or overwhelming.
The pinnacle of the landing page is your Call to Action (CTA). Getting them across this line represents your Conversion Event which is usually the most important metric of your advertising. Your CTA can be as simple as “Buy Now,” or can be the transition to a live salesperson with something like, “Contact a Dealer Near You.” Whatever your CTA is, make sure you can track it in analytics. The beauty of online advertising is that it allows you to see what’s happening in near real time.
Don’t Break the Chain
Marketing dollars are too valuable to leave to chance. Understanding the sequence of events involved in effective advertising will help you make sure you have the best opportunity to succeed and generate more leads and ultimately more sales. A failure in any of the steps can break the chain and severely diminish the effectiveness of advertising. The examples above show the minimum elements required to advertise effectively. More complex campaigns will have more steps and include tools to improve results but at the end of the day, these 3 steps will put you on the path to effective advertising and generating more business.