First impressions matter.
For a large number of prospects in the digital world, their first impression of you is what happens when they click on one of your ads. Maybe it was a display ad that caught their eye. Maybe it was a search ad that appeared on a Google results page for a topic they were researching. Maybe it was a sponsored link in Twitter that aligned with their social interests.
For a brief, magical moment in a ridiculously noisy and crowded marketplace, you’ve caught their interest.
That’s a heroic accomplishment, and one that you no doubt paid handsomely to achieve. A recent IDC report on high-tech marketing budgets shows marketers allocating 23.6% of their digital spend on display ads and 15.9% on search ads. That’s a lot of money being spent to win that moment of attention.
But if someone clicks on your ad — another brief but crucial victory! — how do you capitalize on that moment that you’ve invested so much to win?
The baseline is giving them what you promised in that ad. It’s a complete fail if you don’t.
(Surprisingly, there are still a large number of companies advertising on the web that don’t cross that very low bar. Don’t take my word for it. Do a Google search on something of commercial intent, read the ads, and click through to their destinations. How many fulfill their promise? How many fail? For most categories, it’s a sorry ratio of broken promises.)
But meeting promises is simply table stakes in winning hearts and minds. You can have “message match” between your ad and the landing page that comes next, yet still leave them relatively unimpressed. Many commoditized landing pages do just that. The headline, bullets, and call-to-action align with the ad that won the click, yet they’re as bland and cookie-cutter as mass-manufactured gingerbread men. They make a lackluster first impression.
What a waste of that precious moment of interest.
As marketers, our goal should be something greater than merely matching words. We want to take that spark of interest and fan it into a flame of desire. We want to position ourselves consciously — and subconsciously — as something special, a brand that the prospect longs to engage with, feels good about engaging with, and trusts to achieve their goals.
We want them to fall in love with us.
We can draw inspiration in this mission from the iconic book Lovemarks by Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. According to Roberts, the ingredients to creating love, building “loyalty beyond reason” as he describes it, are:
- Mystery — great stories: past, present and future; tapping into dreams, myths, and icons; providing inspiration
- Sensuality — sound sight, smell, touch, and taste
- Intimacy — commitment, empathy, and passion
Roberts published his book in 2004, when this recipe applied more to physical retail locations. But here in 2012, we should strive for the digital equivalent in the web and mobile experiences we deliver to people when they express that precious click of interest.
Such experiences do more than fulfill the promise of correct information. They exceed expectations in the way that they present the information. The design of the user experience. The features embodied in the experience. The flow beyond the first click. The way the layout, functionality, words, imagery, and offer intertwine into something greater than the sum of their individual parts. There is mystery (the good kind), sensuality, and intimacy.
Malcom Gladwell zeroed in on the power of this phenomenon in his bestseller Blink. “When you meet someone for the first time,” he writes, “or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions.”
When you click through from an ad, the web or mobile experience that is rendered next will be judged in that two-second “blink” as well. That is the first impression that will set the stage for your relationship with that prospect. Or, more accurately, the relationship you have in their mind.
What deep first impression are you making?
We want love at first click.