What’s the Weakest Link in Your Online Campaign?

I admit it. I’m addicted to the new TV quiz shows. Maybe it’s the elusiveness of dot-com riches that now has me dreaming of making it to the hot seat of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” instead of making a mint off stock options. (Yes, I admit it — I’ve got the toll-free contestant number on speed dial.) So, of course, I tuned in to the latest Brit import, “Weakest Link,” the other night. Just as with “Millionaire,” I was immediately hooked.

For some reason, the concept of the “weakest link” got me thinking about online advertising. The more I mulled it over, the more sense it made. In the offline world, there are far fewer variables. You buy a schedule, create the ad. But online there are more links in the ad-to-sale chain… and greater opportunity for one of those links to break the chain before the prospect reaches the end of it.

Look at your campaign, and consider the following:

  1. Is the weakest link your media plan? Have you selected the right sites — the ones that truly reach the demographic, pyschographic, and online habits of your target audience? Have you given adequate thought to reach and frequency? Do you have so many sites that you’ve diluted impact? Do you have too few sites to really do the job?

  2. Is the weakest link your placement of ads on the sites? Are standard banners at the top of the page all that you’re running? (Personally, I believe that consumers have by now trained themselves to block out banners.) Have you taken advantage of the new ad units that are available to you? Have you gotten creative and truly integrated your message into the sites?

  3. Is the weakest link your creative? Is your creative working as hard for you as it can? Have you pushed the envelope with new creative formats such as pop-up boxes, interstitials, and streaming media? (Rich media is great, but it’s not a panacea.) Is your message clear and concise? Is your brand or product center stage?

  4. Is the weakest link your call to action? If your campaign is designed to generate leads or sell product, is your call to action strong? (As every good salesperson knows, you must ask for the sale!) Do you brand your URL so that folks remember it so that they can visit later even if they don’t click now?

  5. Is the weakest link your landing page? What page on your site do you deliver the consumer to? Does it flow logically from the creative and call to action? Do you deliver the customer so that he or she is one click away from consummating the deal? Have you considered creating a custom jump page for key buys?

  6. Is the weakest link your online order process? If you’re looking to sell a product or get a lead, does the complete process flow smoothly and seamlessly once you get the customer to your site? How many steps does it take, and how often do consumers have the chance to bail? Do you collect all the information you need to follow up on a lead?

  7. Is the weakest link how you follow up on leads, emails, or orders? If you’ve collected email addresses or gotten an order, do you follow up in a timely, targeted, personal manner? Do you automatically send order confirmations? Does your response to a lead include a further call to action? Do you give consumers the option of calling a toll-free number?

I challenge you to look at a current campaign and find the weakest link. It could make all the difference.

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