Mapping the Complete Path to Success

OK, I know I’m supposed to be an online media guy and this is supposed to be an online media column. But, I just have to speak up here. Far too often, advertisers who base the success of their online campaigns on hard conversion and action metrics forget that media will only do one thing: put your ads in front of the right people. It won’t make people, desire, click, or convert. It’s the job of the creative to encourage desired behavior — and it is some form of desired behavior (clicks, actions, or conversions) that success is typically based on.

The funny thing is when our firm just does the media buy for our clients, and doesn’t do the creative (banners and landing pages), we can usually tell whether something is going to work before the first impression has even been served. We can always tell when creative was done without the final metric for success in mind and wasn’t mapped all the way though to the desired action or behavior.

You cannot measure a campaign’s success on clicks and actions if the creative doesn’t give people a reason to click or convert. What you need to do is plan, design, and model the whole transaction associated with the initial conversion event and also plan immediate automatic lead escalation triggers.

Let’s say you are a high-tech company or online service trying to generate leads by getting people to sign up for a free trial or download a white paper. You must have a series of components that funnel prospects towards your marketing objectives. The components that must be modeled to complete an online conversion for a free trial or white paper should include the following:

  • An arsenal of benefit and offer statements.
    • According to Millward Brown and Google, benefit statements and immediate offers are what most influences clicks.
    • Have a few ready to test against each other.
  • Ads (banners, search listings, etc.) with those benefit and offer statements.
    • People want to know how you are going to help them and what you have for them “right now.”
  • A simple concise landing page that fulfills the offer by presenting a form and communicating the benefits of immediately taking advantage of the offer.
    • Keep in mind the landing page’s job is selling the desired action we want the user to take at that very moment — essentially to complete the form and become a lead.
    • Of course, the page can list product features and benefits but the page’s main objective is selling the action so you can capture the visitor’s data.
    • Tell the visitor just enough about the product to make her want to try it for free or download the white paper — then let subsequent lead nurturing and sales people sell the actual subscription.
  • Thank you page / confirmation page that can do any of the following actions:
    • Simply delivers on the offer (white paper, etc.) or tells the user about next steps to activate trial or contact sales (e.g, “you are about to get an e-mail with your password”).
    • Continues the engagement and asks the lead if she’s interested in getting more information about other products.
    • Gives her links and more information about the product she registered for to get her enthused about activating the trial.
  • Confirmation / auto reply e-mail with:
    • Offer fulfillment including a white paper or free trial password.
    • More product info that gets her enthused about reading the white paper or activating a free trial (such as “Activate it now and start growing your business!”).
    • Contact info for sales rep or team so it is easy for her to talk to someone when she wants to make a purchase.
  • Remember, online you have only seconds to communicate your offer. Make sure you don’t have banners that take 20 seconds to get to the offer. By then most people will have scrolled or moved on, so make your offer and give it a permanent place on your banner. If it is a skyscraper put it at the top. Don’t make people wait to see your offer!

    A thought out conversion path will not only get you a cheaper action or lead — it widens your universe of performing opportunities because buys that would have been labeled “non-performing” will work!

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