Six Tips to Get Prospects to Click

I have a saying that I often apply to many situations in life: “Don’t go to China to get to California.”

How does that apply to online marketing? More often than not, we determine an online campaign’s success through some high value action, like lead capture, video view, or something similar. But just as often, and even though these actions are at the heart of a campaign’s success, those actions are hidden or put at the end of a process or banner.

Critical messages and calls to action are obscured by creative, images, and messaging, and they’re relegated to the back of the visual and click-path sequence. Yet those items’ resulting metrics are the first thing people look at when evaluating a campaign’s key performance indicators (define). This is done for a variety of reasons, such as simple ignorance of best practices, an aversion to asking people for what you want, extraneous pages and content, or an overly hard sell that focuses on selling a product rather than the escalating or high value action on a landing page. The result is always the same: users are forced to jump through more hoops to engage in the behavior we want and conversion rates go down. Users are being forced to go to China to get to California.

Below are six tips to helping your users get to California by a more direct route:

  • Promote and deliver on benefits and offers. Google did a study a couple years back showing that 70 percent of what influences clicks in its text ads are the benefit and offer statements. Our agency has found this fact applies to most things online; tell people how you will help them and what you can give them right then and there. Display benefits and offers in your banners, deliver on them on your landing pages, and watch your conversion and action rates go up.

  • Use a reverse-pyramid message structure. Typically, good creative people love building to a crescendo. Lead with a tease, then deliver the payoff with a bang. This may be good for a mystery novel or an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but for banners and landing pages it’s not so good. When trying to get people to take action online, lead with the payoff and get right to the point. Most people won’t sit through :15 animation frames to get to the offer. You need to grab them right away with the wow factor, then follow up with the facts. Sizzle, then steak.
  • Have a static call to action. No one will care about your call to action if she doesn’t see it. Leave real estate in your banners for a constantly displayed call to action. That way people don’t have to sit through all your brand messaging to see the offer. Don’t just lead with it, make it ever-present. It should be brand message next to offer, not brand message then offer. And with skyscrapers, always put the offer at the top of the banner
  • Make your landing pages deliver. This should go without saying, but deliver your benefit and offer right on the landing page. Don’t make people dig for it. If you have a form, limit the form to just those items you really need.
  • Surface calls to action. Remember, people may not convert on your landing page. They may click through to your site or even come back later. When it comes to the rest of your site, don’t drown those calls to action — surface them! Make sure you have real estate on every page for those great offers.
  • Sell the action, not the product. Finally, if you want to capture leads or build your e-mail list, sell the action, not your product. Let’s say you’re a high tech company with a hugely expensive solution; we’re not talking impulse purchase here. Expecting a landing page to sell the product is a pretty daunting task. Let the landing page sell the white paper or lead capture event, and leave the selling to your salespeople. Sure the page can inform and warm, but it won’t close the deal.

Join us for a one-day Online Marketing Summit in a city near you from May 5, 2009, to July 1, 2009. Choose from one of 11 one-day events designed to help interactive marketers do their jobs more effectively. All sessions are new this year and cover such topics as social media, e-mail marketing, search, and integrated marketing. Register 30 days in advance and get a $40 discount!

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