A roadmap to creative success

by

iMedia Connection

By Tiffany Young

Part of what makes a campaign work is appropriateness of media and message for each stage of the purchase process. Here’s how to map it out.

I recently judged an online advertising competition and I found a very clear distinction between the great work and the rest of the work. The great online ads were few and far between — even in a competition in which agencies submitted their best efforts — because doing great work is difficult (no surprise).

As I looked at the best ads, here’s what I noticed: The very best ads surprised me. And while they were unexpected, they were not irrelevant or unfocused. Most were inventive without being obtuse. They were approachable and appropriate for their target audience. And finally, the very best ads engaged consumers by putting them in control of interactivity.

So those are some simple tips, right? Easy peasy! Just go out there and invent a campaign that’s surprisingly relevant and approachable while being fun and engaging. Unfortunately, that’s only the beginning.

The beauty of online advertising is that it encompasses so much. But this can also be the ugly part. Many media plans are presented with an emphasis on rich media. All the “other stuff” like newsletters, contextual content and keywords are often treated like value-adds, because they cost less or require less time to produce.

By emphasizing the most expensive online media, it’s easy to mistake the “other stuff” as unimportant. But each component of a comprehensive online media plan is an important piece of a puzzle that can help bring consumers from awareness to purchase. Taking time to map each piece to the purchase continuum can help your creative teams craft messaging that resonates with consumers right where they are, both emotionally and in terms of how much information they have about your brand.

It seems like common sense, but I don’t see it done that often. I imagine media plans as road maps for consumers. If I get each piece of communication right in a comprehensive online media campaign, I give consumers driving directions from where they are to where I want them to be.

So let’s start with the first turn on the map: awareness.

Run-of-site and run-of-network display ads can help build awareness of your brand through multiple impressions. These ads shouldn’t be complicated. If a consumer doesn’t know about you yet, he’s probably not going to drill down into multiple tabs of an expandable rich-media ad unit. Focus on a simple, compelling message that catches the attention of consumers and leaves them with a good impression of your brand.

Now as for relevance, section placements and e-newsletters place your brand in the context of something consumers choose to view. For instance, say they’re reading a home furnishings blog. You could serve a geo-targeted display or text ad for your brand that tells them “hey remember me? You just met me. Guess what, I’m in your area — funny huh? Yeah I’m totally relevant now.” This is also the point at which to share more of your brand with consumers. Splurge on the rich-media ads with more interactivity and information for these types of media placements wherever possible.

Moving along the purchase continuum, consumers eventually get to preference. They know you, they know you’re relevant to them and in their area now, but they have other options. When they search for products like yours, the search results they get should give them a reason to prefer your brand over the others. Are you better, cheaper, faster, more exclusive or more fun? Make sure your search results tell consumers why you’re the best option.

When consumers are interested in you and your brand, you’re in a great position. Unfortunately, many brands drop the ball at this point. A media plan doesn’t normally include what happens after consumers click, so it’s easy to get caught up in planning and forget to fulfill your end of the deal. Give consumers a compelling, relevant landing page to take the next step towards purchase. Make sure they’re glad they met you, and then make it easy for them to get what they want.

Lastly, once you’ve made it easy for consumers to purchase, utilize that success by putting measures in place to analyze your website. Make sure you’re set up to track results so you can garner the most learning for next time. Remember that a consumer’s first purchase can be the beginning of a long-term relationship, or it can also be her last purchase. Strong analysis is key to turning more first-time buyers into lasting, loyal customers.

By mapping creative executions and your media plan to the purchase continuum you can get the most out of every bit of your media budget while giving consumers a great online experience with your brand.

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