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Campaign URLs: What's the Right Address?

  |  August 17, 2004   |  Comments

Master of which domain? Is it better to use a dedicated campaign URL or the client's brand URL?

As a reader, when checking out a ClickZ column you're mainly interested in learning more about a particular topic in online marketing. Each "ClickZ Expert" offers advice and opinion on a wide range of strategies and tactics that hopefully you can put to immediate use.

Now, it's your turn to chime in. I'm looking for your collective expertise to solve an emerging issue.

The topic: What's the best way to manage campaign-URL use in broad-based communications to drive maximum brand recall, traffic, and transactions? Though it's critical to develop the right media strategy across all communication forms, what's the best URL form to drive traffic?

Let me illustrate.

Prefix or Suffix?

Say you have a new brand campaign for a company. The ad/marketing folks want to send people to a campaign site that supports the key message attributes, www.newcampaign.com. The content is very multi-media oriented and cannot easily be hosted or managed by the corporate Web site, www.client.com. Note the corporate site is transaction-oriented.

The site marketing manager for client.com wants the URL to be client.com/newcampaign. His point is any time you promote a URL, the focus should be to drive awareness of client.com.

I've see test results that show 70 percent of people who see a prefix or suffix on an URL (e.g., newcampaign.client.com or client.com/newcampaign) in broad-based media focus on the main URL element, in this case client.com, and just type that into their browsers. The other 30 percent type the complete URL, including the prefix or suffix.

And, I've seen a huge shift by major marketers to use what I call "campaign URLs," such as newcampaign.com.

Examples include:

  • Burger King: haveityourway.com and subservientchicken.com

  • Mitsubishi: seewhathappens.com

  • Subaru: need-desire.com

  • Universal Studios: iwantmyvacation.com

  • Lincoln Mercury: oneandonlyclearance.com

  • Dish Network: stopfeedingthepig.com

  • Audi: neverfollow.com

The question is, is it better to use a custom campaign URL or extensions of the brand URL?

Can You Remember the Address?

One thing I'd love to see is fewer onerous domain extensions in marketing materials. Nothing pains me more than seeing an industrial-size URL in an ad or brochure. The company expects users to type something like www.brand.com/goheretoenterthisreallycoolcontestnowtowinsomethingnow.

Yet one could argue using the brand domain consistently, across all media and over a period of time, helps build awareness. It reminds customers your preferred method of customer interaction is online through the brand site.

Who's Got the Answer?

I know there are some really sharp marketers out there who've already thought this through, conducted some research, or actually implemented a control and exposed research methodology to solve the question. So I'll appeal to your altruistic nature and ask you to share your knowledge with the marketing world. Save us from future bad addresses!

Have you seen or heard any information that indicates campaign URLs generate better results than extensions of corporate URLs? Any case studies or second-hand facts that document better business results or customer interactions?

Don't worry, if you send insight, we won't reference any company names or secrets to protect the innocent. I'll publish your collective knowledge in a future column. Share your thoughts now.

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James Hering As SVP and director of interactive marketing at t:m interactive, JamesHering's teamdevelops a full range of interactive solutions for a variety of clients.Since 1994, he's been involved in development and evolution of AmericanAirlines' AA.com. With over 10 million registered users, it's one of theworld's most successful e-commerce sites. James' experience includes contentpublishing and development; online CRM; sponsorship/partnerships; searchengine marketing; and execution and implementation of AA's award-winninginteractive campaigns. Other client experience includes Adams Golf, BellHelicopter, eiStream, Nationwide Insurance, Nortel Networks, Match.com,SABRE Travel Information Network, Subaru of America, Reno Air, Nestle Foods,Texas Instruments, Texas Tourism and Pizza Hut. His group's honors includethe Internet Marketing Association's Excellence in Interactive Marketing,WebAwards for Site Design, Communication Arts, NY Festival, iNOVA awards,CASIE Interactive awards and @d:Tech awards.

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