It’s one of the most tried & true aphorisms: You only get one chance to make a first impression.
In the world of online marketing, where competition is so intense, click-through rates so dismal and conversion always the name of the game, this sentiment is magnified many times over.
When you’re looking at tenths of a percentage to approach or surpass break-even on an online spend, even the slightest error will drag you down into the red. As a constant reminder of this, here is a screenshot of a contextual text ad served to me by AdWords one day, that I’ve kept on my desktop for many months:
What’s wrong with this ad? A better question might be what’s not wrong with it? First, there is a glaring typo in the copy – “Maitenance.” Am I going to trust someone to service and care for my expensive home heating equipment when they can’t even spell the word? Heck no!
This nasty typo aside (which Google’s proofreading should have picked up, btw), the design and content of the ad itself is also poor. The title is “Radiant Heating Service,” followed by a URL of a different name. This is an instant disconnect. Next, we see that the maitenance is performed by “RS English.” But who is he (or they)? Why is the URL listed as “allislandradiant.com” if the organization is “RS English?” To quote the venerable Mo Szyslak, “that don’t make no sense.”
Of course what I assumed happened was that the company picked a URL featuring their service offered and omitting their name entirely in hopes of raising their SEO rank for “radiant heating.” But this tactic (a much less effective one in 2013, btw) wasn’t in play. Instead, we see, way down on the homepage below the fold, that All Island Radiant is a “Division of RS English.” Now that may be fine on their corporate charters or tax statements, but consumers – the people this ad is aiming at and hoping to convert – neither understand or care about the relationship between these entities. The ad – and the web site it clicks through to – must be 100% branded for one name and entity. Either one is fine, but don’t make people have to think and figure things out. They’re paying you!
More inspection finds still more issues with this ad: they included the optional closing slash after the URL. eww! Seriously, that’s just gross. You are advertising to consumers, not java programmers. The dash take two precious characters away (counting the space afterwards) and it also looks horrendous. Finally the ad tells me to call today, which is good, a call to action is what we want. But there is no phone number or no prompt on how to get it. Of course Google no longer allows you to put your own phone number in an ad, but you can still include a phone number in the ad if you like, you just need to use their Call Extensions feature to do that. (Bing still allows your own phone number, btw)
There’s no way the ad example above was successful. No way. There are two possibilities of what happened here:
A traditional or low cost agency was charged with setting up this business’ AdWords, and the work was thrown to a recent grad who lacks experience, or
A non-marketer related to the company (owner’s son, computer literate employee, etc) was set to the task.
For possibility one, well, that’s why you’ve hired Concept 5 online marketing instead. For the second one, it’s ok to dip your toe in the AdWords ocean by running a campaign yourself (though break-even is unlikely), but always get a second or even third, set of eyes to review all of your creative. Always!