How to create the right ads for each part of the funnel

Many best practices for creating effective online display ads are clear: You need an attention grabbing visual and a strong headline. The body copy must be concise. The call to action has to be attractive and your logo visible. And don't forget to A/B test and optimize.

There are, however, subtleties for creating display ads that work in each segment of the marketing funnel. There are also best practices for creating landing pages that map to the marketing funnel. How you put together an effective display ad and landing page differs based on your marketing goals and whether your message is aimed at prospects in the upper, middle, or lower funnel. The templates and success metrics vary for ads and landing pages intended to increase awareness, boost engagement, and drive conversions.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when developing display ads and landing pages in each part of the funnel:

Upper funnel

If your goal is awareness, use your display advertising to focus the viewer's attention on your brand. Often, this approach means having your logo appear very large in the display ad. Awareness ads typically have minimal text -- the goal is to make prospects remember your brand and to communicate a simple benefit that your brand delivers. The call to action should be broad, such as "Learn more."

For a landing page aimed at the upper funnel, deliver prospects to an inviting page that doesn't intimidate with a lot of content. The page should quickly summarize your product or service. An offer, such as a short, un-gated video, should be available on the page. Resist the urge to get prospects to convert on a page like this, which is aimed at generating awareness. Include links to other pages, so that interested prospects have the opportunity to move to areas on your website where conversion forms do exist.

To measure the impact of upper funnel ads and landing pages, use metrics such as increases in awareness, brand recall, and site traffic.

Mid funnel

Mid funnel marketing is designed to engage and educate prospects who already have some familiarity with your brand. In mid funnel display ads, the call to action -- or perhaps more to the point, the "call to engage" -- must be front and center. The offer should be featured in the ad, and it should include low friction content, such as a whitepaper. Social media advertising on Facebook or LinkedIn can also be effective in driving engagement.

A typical mid funnel landing page will have a mixture of un-gated and gated content. The goal is to engage and educate prospects, but at this stage of the funnel you can be a little more aggressive in striving to get them to convert by filling out a web form and proving their email address or other contact information.

A key metric for mid funnel marketing tactics is branded search lift -- an increase in prospects searching for your brand on search engines like Google and Bing.

Lower funnel

In the lower funnel, marketers want to boost conversions, drive leads, and ultimately increase revenue. Lower funnel display ads are all about generating leads, so the call to action is aggressive. In their lead-generation ads, many marketers offer access to a valuable piece of content -- such as an eBook or video -- that prospects will desire enough to share their contact information. In lower funnel ads, the company logo is often smaller than the call to action. These ads are often retargeting creative, and the assumption is that the prospect already knows the company.

For lower funnel landing pages, the goal is getting the prospect to fill out a form -- so the form is above the fold. In fact, the lead form should play a dominant role on the page. Don't provide links on this page, so as not to distract the prospect from the goal -- filling out the form to get the desirable piece of content. And in an ideal world, keep the number of fields on the form to five or fewer. Any more, you'll cut into your number of leads.

The best metrics for measuring lower funnel success are leads, cost per lead, and, if you can make a direct correlation, revenue.

Sean Callahan is the editor and marketing director at Bizo.

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Comments

Randall Jacobs
Randall Jacobs May 21, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Good insight and application for sales cycle management. Approaching different "levels" of the funnel requires a great deal of thought about message and its application to different audience segments to have an impact.