• Jun 30, 14
  • Direct Agents

As published in eM+C. By Brian Staples, VP of Creative and Product Development The quality of creative campaigns impacts the way consumers experience your brand's message at all touchpoints. A new campaign needs effective creative to make an impression across various distribution channels and connect with prospects. An established product or service needs refreshed messaging and imagery to continue to generate interest. Beyond these fundamentals of creative design and messaging, optimization is the most significant service to help brands increase engagement and drive measurable improvements. I define creative optimization as the use of customized strategy, technology and best practices that deliver outstanding performance for your campaigns and websites. Here are 10 best practices for creative optimization: 1. Get a website design that connects. What's web design really? Effective web design is eye-catching, engaging and drives the advertiser's intended actions. It's a vital part of any online marketing initiative. If your website is generic or appears outdated, this should be addressed first and foremost. 2. Understand the mobile factor. Mobile web usage is projected to overtake desktop usage in 2014. It's imperative that your website and landing pages are designed and coded to support mobile devices. This is known as responsive design, which allows your content to dynamically adapt the user experience to any device. Responsive techniques can even be applied to your email creative so it's optimally displayed on iPhones, Androids and other smartphones. 3. Load time can make or break your campaign. All elements of your website should be optimized to load as quickly as possible. A review of your file sizes, code structure and links to third-party support files helps you identify elements that are slowing your visitor down. The technical side is often overlooked, but it might be the reason your campaign is failing. 4. Attribute and adjust creative. If you're running several campaigns across different media and distribution channels, you may be surprised to learn that your best creative isn't equally effective in all channels. It's important to test your messaging and imagery until your campaign is optimized for each channel. Also, be sure to pay special attention to attribution to discover messages and imagery that are resonating, in addition to the timing and frequency of these interactions. 5. Be mindful of your campaign type. A landing page tied to a search marketing campaign can be enhanced in several channel-specific ways — e.g., judicious use of keywords and text-based content are a plus for Quality Score and contextually relevant content and support for site links. In addition, focusing on relevant keywords and content will help your ad stand out with a larger reach in search results. Creative and landing pages should be customized for other campaign types (e.g., email, display, social media) as well. 6. Test your landing page. This is crucial to success. Don't ever assume that your landing page design is finished when you start using it. Continuously test your messaging and images to find a winning combination that improves your conversion rate. Find the right test strategy for the type of campaign and/or traffic and establish an ongoing testing program. 7. Leverage your achievements. New visitors to your website or landing page may know nothing about your products or services besides an offer they just saw. Emphasize your expertise and showcase accolades, media praise and customer testimonials. 8. Call them to action. Your landing page, campaign creative and all online processes tied to marketing performance should provide clear language that informs and compels the user to take action. This is especially true for your main call-to-action link/button. Replace vague language like "Start Here," "Submit" and "Next" with something that communicates clarity to the user like "Request a Free Trial." 9. Improve the form itself. Each lead-generation campaign must capture certain key information to be of value. Ensure your form only captures required fields and do everything you can to eliminate other fields. For instance, city and state can be auto-filled by incorporating a back-end ZIP code database. 10. Optimize the funnel. Can you reduce or eliminate steps to request your products and services? When e-commerce checkouts and other complex processes are developed, the initial goals are centered on delivering the basic functionality without any bugs. From the beginning, user experience should be central to your plan, but it's never too late to revisit your funnel. By improving one or two things, you may see a dramatic improvement in your conversion rate. Brian Staples is the vice president of creative and design at Direct Agents, a multichannel digital marketing agency.