Online Advertising: How to Attract Customers

Whether you are a small business owner, marketer at a large cor, or an artist trying to get an audience, writing ads that grab attention is important.  We’ve all gotten a crash course in advertising copy without even realizing.  If you have ever used Twitter than you have already started with the basics: short, catchy, and leads somewhere.  In this post I’ll talk about three components to ad writing which can be used on message board posts, magazine spreads, or even Facebook ads.  We start with a pretty picture.

Images That Sell

This book coined the term "grok"

A picture speaks a thousand words and in the advertising field finding the right picture can mean the difference between sale or stale.  When choosing an image for your ad, the most important thing to keep in mind is what will resonate with your target buyer.  It isn’t always the first thing you’d think of either, which is why understanding what deeply excites your market is the first step in putting together any ad.  This story from a training session with former Pragmatic Marketing lecture Adele Revella illustrates why “groking” your buyer is so important.

In her seminar, Adele held up two ads for a conference that catered to the part of the computer networking industry that sells bandwidth solutions to help Internet traffic.  The first picture was a high-tech looking, slick shot of traffic at night.  The second picture was of a nerdy kid in a soap box derby car ready to race.  Which picture do you think was more successful in testing with the target market?

If you answered the high-tech traffic one, then you picked my first choice too.  Only, the buyers resonated more with the second image of the nerdy kid, and this is why groking your buyer is so important.  And now a definition:

Grok: to understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with” and “to empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment.

The people this ad was targeting were the nerdy kid.  They identified with that picture and it resonated with them.  It meant something.  Techno traffic images were cliche to them, not genuine, and boring.  A kid playing with his toys to win a race, now that hit home.  Understand your buyer, think of what would excite them from a deep, emotional level, and select images that correspond to that.

How to Write a Call to Action

This is a line in your ad (or blog post, article, etc.) that asks the reader to do something.  Follow these three steps to make a great call to action:

  1. Be clear - don’t dance around the issue.  If you want them to watch a video say, “watch this video.”  If you want them to click to get 20% off their next purchase or book a seat at a seminar then say so.  People will appreciate the honesty and frankly they don’t have the attention span to figure out what you want them to do.
  2. Excite the User – clarity doesn’t require boredom.  The old days of “click this link” are just over.  People know what to do when they see a hyperlink now-a-days.  Saying something to the effect of: “learn how to destroy the competition (nicely) with our free ebook” or “dating stinks; find the RIGHT one today.”  Adding a little drama can move people to act.
  3. Start with Key Phrases – while the first two tips are definitely important don’t feel you need reinvent the wheel every time.  There are key phrases that resonate with your buyer, a lingo that speaks to them.  Start with that, spice it up, and then simplify.  Also, you could refer to this list for 37 sample calls to action.

Landing Page

Think of the ad as the phone call before the first date.  You are making an impression, but not quit selling the customer on going out with you yet.  There has to be something great to come to when they meet your product.  Since we are dealing mostly with online advertising (although these concepts work for other media as well) a solid landing page is key to having your ad lead to a sale.

Avoid creating confusing destinations.  9 out of 10 users will leave a site they would have purchased from if the frustration factor kicks in (not a real statistic, but meant to illustrate the importance of a solid user experience).  The idea is that you need to lead the buyer where you want them to go.  This is called consumer engineering and consists of placing all the right cues in front of your buyer to lead them to a sale, much the way a Disney experience is a carefully crafted, step-by-step adventure with planned points of purchase.  Make your site feel like a trip to the Magic Kingdom.

In sum, writing advertising copy that gets clicked on is all about knowing your buyer.  Lead them through the sales process, and be helpful to them.  Remember, what you have to sell is useful to your target audience.  Show your passion for it and the usefulness to them.  This is what effective advertising does.

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