Multichannel Design Strategy from the BEHIND THE SCENES eBook - Part 3 of 10

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"We have a very simple creative mantra that we borrowed from David Ogilvy who believed that 'it's not creative unless it sells.' Most everything we do is designed to motivate the consumer to take anAcquiryaction, usually make a purchase or request more information or an appointment. To that mantra we layer in 'enhance the brand' because brands take decades to build and must be protected. That's our starting point."Marc Lalosh, Creative Director

What is the overriding principle that you follow when developing creative and writing copy, whether it be for the DRTV commercial, web site, collateral materials, etc.?

The single most important guiding principle in developing direct response creative is efficacy – doing what's necessary to produce a desired result. Without it, nothing else matters. Beautiful design is useless if it doesn't drive a response; eloquent copy is meaningless if it doesn't persuade consumers to act. In everything we do, we keep that top-of-mind.

Although the creative process is organic, and each project is unique in terms of design, message, channel, strategy, target audience, etc. The one constant is that efficacy needs to govern every creative decision throughout the process.

How important is it that web sites have the same look and feel as DRTV commercials?

Consistency is absolutely critical. At first glance it might seem harmless, and maybe even more dynamic, to vary the look and feel of creative from a DRTV spot to a landing page. That seemingly innocuous assumption is capable of significant damage to a campaign.

People have a natural gravitation to consistency. As consumers, this includes our responses to marketing that lead to purchasing decisions. We find inconsistency to be disconcerting or worse, aggravating (like when a large group of files are labeled inconsistently). Inconsistency acts like a stop sign in our consciousness. When we approach any kind of inconsistency, we naturally pause and, whether we can put our finger on it or not, feel as if something is not quite right. It's that kind of pause that can be deadly in direct response.

This is the innate principle that can lead consumers to abandon landing pages that aren't consistent with the referring creative, whether display ad, DRTV, or any other medium. Once the consumer has paused, there's a very good chance they will not continue down the conversion path, whether due to the feeling that something is not quite right, or simply by some other distraction coming along and derailing their attention, interest, or even intent to purchase.

How often do you make "real-time" changes to the web site based on results from the commercials?

The answer is "whenever necessary or potentially beneficial." There's no absolute, numerical system for landing page revisions. The important steps are (a) identifying a need or an opportunity for improvement; (b) determining the most appropriate and effective change or correction; and (c) executing the revision while tracking and comparing the results to the original landing page. Having said that, the ability to make real-time changes in the commercial, on the web site and everywhere else is necessary in this day and age, where optimization takes places every day.

What are the three most important elements of a successful landing page?

It's nearly impossible to pick only three, but again, consistency with the referring creative in terms of look and feel, as well as messaging, is absolutely essential.

Clarity is also critical in terms of messaging, CTA and user interaction. First, the messaging should be so clear and concise that, even at first glance, there's no question about what the landing page is for, what the offer is, or what's in it for the visitor. Secondly, the call to action should be clear, obvious and engaging to the visitor. Third, visitors must never feel confused or distracted by any elements on a page and should be presented with unequivocal and understandable interaction and flow.

Another important element involves attention to the conversion path.

A strategically designed landing page makes it fast, easy and intuitive for a visitor to convert. One important way of achieving this is to reduce and eliminate any potential obstacles in the path, including redundant copy, images and especially navigation.

A landing page should have one single purpose, and in most cases, navigation is unnecessary and even antithetical to accomplishing that purpose. Obstacles ultimately distract visitors from the conversion long enough to result in lost conversions and poor campaign results. A streamlined conversion path, on the other hand, is essential to maximizing results.

What was the most innovative online creative you developed?

One of my favorites was a lead gen campaign for Power-Save™, a manufacturer of consumer solar energy products. The client requested that we develop the campaign around a sweepstakes or giveaway concept. We created a campaign called the "Go Solar! Giveaway" in which visitors to the landing page were presented with an engaging, interactive game similar to "Press Your Luck."

Multiple prizes including coupons and solar products of varying values were presented in a grid. To the right was a control panel with large, glowing START and STOP buttons. Visitors were asked to provide a valid email address in order to play. Once they provided their email, they were able to push the START button, which caused all the prizes to cycle in a random pattern to music. Visitors could then hit the STOP button whenever they liked, and instantly win whichever prize was selected.

The key to the success of the landing page was using a tremendously fun engagement device to capture leads. Consumers were thrilled to play and win, and the client was thrilled by the number of leads we generated.

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Irv Brechner has written over 100 published direct marketing articles and 13 books on a variety of topics. He's been a pioneer in online customer acquisition since 1996 and offline for his 35-year career. He has developed's "Customer Acquisition Intel Center" ( ) he evangelizes best-of-breed tactics to help companies acquire customers in the digital age. He can be reached at: .

Read all Irv's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Customer Acquisition Intel.

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