People are increasingly using their mobile devices while on the move traveling to work, dining out or even watching TV at home. With smartphones, tablets and phablets many people have the internet at their fingertips at all times.
It is more important than ever to be focusing efforts on directing the audience from offline ads to the coordinated landing pages or websites where the ad experience is continued with full details of the product or service and in full resemblance of the original offline ad.
For me, it comes down to brands who should think carefully about the user experience of the advertising and marketing campaigns. Any campaign must be reviewed in the context of how easy it will be for the target audience to respond, and how effective each channel will work in supporting that goal. The target audience doesn’t care that they saw an ad on the tube and now they are on your website. For them it’s the same brand selling the same product or service. If the brand takes its campaigns seriously it needs to transcend the message seamlessly across all channels.
Use search calls to action
This is something Samsung has been doing in its recent ‘Give me 5’ campaign for the new Galaxy 5S smartphone.
Their recent offline advertising collateral features a large picture of the new smartphone with a simple one line message saying search ‘5 reasons’.
The audience will see this advert for example on a building wrap in the centre of London or a poster at a train station and if the ad inspires them they will type the ‘5 reasons’ into their Google search. They will see a paid search ad followed by an organic search ads both leading to the same landing page describing the new smartphone with 5 reasons why they should upgrade to it.
The landing page features beautiful photography, with links to buy the smartphone direct, or join the discussion about it on social media platforms.
Whether it is the aim of ads or not, offline campaigns often drive spikes in search activity. It makes complete sense to direct this activity into a place where brands can continue conversation with their audience until they convert.
Getting people to search online after seeing an ad also helps brand SEO. User activity has been a ranking factor within the Google algorithm for a while now, and spikes in user activity will naturally promote landing pages, resulting in the website appearing higher up in search results.
Integrating social sharing mechanisms into landing pages can help brands to spread the message to a select audience who came as a result of the ad and build a following, hopefully users will arrive at the landing page inspired by the ad and share it with their network.
Then, if they hit the ‘like’ or ‘+1’ button, the page will not only be promoted to that user’s Facebook or Google+ friends in search results but build social authority of the brand domain, which in turn helps improve rankings the overall performance in search results.
Analytics and Attribution
Directing the audience to search makes the offline campaigns more trackable, as brands and advertisers can monitor spikes in searches for keywords and phrases used in offline advertising and attributing them to the correct channel and the marketing spend.
Alternatives to search calls to action
Directing audience to search is a much more elegant way of directing audience online than placing vanity URLs in ads or using QR codes.
Placing URLs in ads is less productive because people generally don’t like typing URLs directly into their browser, instead they prefer searching for what they want in Google. URLs are also harder to remember.
QR codes are even less widespread, and mobile users need to download a code reader application before they can scan them. To me, this offers a less valuable response mechanism.
Make it easy for people to search for the product or service
Whether you include a search call to action or a vanity URL on the ad or not, many people will respond to them by searching for it online.
Brands must not forget to prepare the strategy of how to direct this search to the correct website or landing page, and create the right SEO and PPC search strategy.
I am fortunate enough to work in a forward-thinking Delete agency where we think visibility deserves a completely holistic approach. All staff, from UX designers and technical developers to account managers and media buyers – have a good understanding of search engine acquisition both through organic and paid search results. Whether we work on an offline advertising campaign or a complex Enterprise CMS implementation search is always considered part of the project.
SEO for such campaigns should be planned in advance so that the key phrase gets high enough in organic positions to capture the new search traffic that ads will create. This should not be hard to achieve if the catch phrase is chosen wisely and there is little competition for it in search results.
Samsung hasn’t managed to get their SEO right, and people searching for the ‘5 reasons’ don’t see their brand landing page in organic search results.
PPC campaigns for such campaigns is almost a guaranteed way to top the search engine results around the time of the campaign. All companies need to do it to buy the related catch phrases.
Marketeers may be worried about spending too much on paid search campaigns like this but if the catchphrase is chosen wisely it shouldn’t happen. Samsung spent £0.04 per click for ‘5 reasons’ catch phrase because there was no demand for it. Search activity around this catchphrase spiked when the campaign started, Google search volume trends graph below reflects it.
This approach has some potential drawbacks. Firstly, the use of a unique search keyword or phrase tells competitors about the brand search strategy, and gives them the opportunity to bid on the same terms, stealing traffic driven by the ads.
Many sources promote advantages of digital marketing versus offline marketing in isolation. I of course believe that embracing all channels, recognising their strengths and making them work together towards a common goal is what marketing is about. Use the visual impact of the offline ads to deliver interest or buzz around your product or service and direct your audience online to continue the conversation, listen to them and convert.