Website Visitors Read Your Copy, Right?

4 comments

Wrong! After optimizing pay-per-click campaigns for the past seven years I now fully believe that visitors clicking from a paid search ad simply don’t read. Further, I question their skimming and scanning comprehension. I theorize that paid search visitors emotionally motivated by relevant ad copy plow into a landing page with tunnel-vision seeking only to take the offer.

Now my theory has some caveats like the usual one – this is not the case for every market, product or service. Some “considered” purchases invite slow and deliberate meandering around a landing page and click-throughs to pages beyond. The structure of the landing page also supports or derails my theory. If the offer is hidden or confusing then tunnel-vision collapses and the visitor is forced into skimming and scanning potentially leading to abandonment. Yet in many cases, especially for consumer focused markets, this theory may hold weight. Obviously the cutting-edge marketers who have mastered the development of name squeeze pages are certainly attuned to this behavior (so maybe my theory is no theory?)

Here are two examples.

A while ago I worked with a company featured on the very popular TV show, “Extreme Home Makeover.” As part of a large promotional campaign leveraging their TV exposure, my company created a paid search campaign with highly relevant landing pages focused on “extreme home makeover.” However, it was important for us to not over-emphasize “extreme home makeover” and instead gain focus around the client’s exceptional product Therefore, in the ad copy, we only stated “as seen on Extreme Home Makeover” and on the landing page we only added a “extreme home makeover” logo and a similar “as seen on” headline. All other copy, images (including the primary hero image) and elements were squarely focused on the product and its customer benefits. The campaign was launched.

The sheer volume following the show’s airing was tremendous. We were generating sales leads left and right except we started noticing that some (about 25%) of the lead comments were stories about how the prospect’s friend, family member or associate needed to be on Extreme Home Makeover. People will completing the form, completely ignoring the extremely clear call-to-action, copy, images and other qualifying elements and telling their stories why my client should give an extreme home makeover! Nothing – and I seriously mean “nothing” ever indicated a thing about giving away or signing up for the show!
Example two. I was working with a client operating in a tough to define market. Potential prospects are often turned off by the labor-intensive service but if they see the tremendous money-making opportunity available their interests pique (e.g. my client is a franchise in the home improvement market.) So we wrote some motivating “earn money” and “ambitious entrepreneurs wanted” ad copy and sent the click-through to a highly relevant landing page explaining the benefits and processes of my client’s franchise business. The call-to-action was a requesat form for a free Franchise Introduction Pack by mail.

Surprisingly, the highly motivating ad copy drove strongly emotional small business owners seeking leads within the home improvement market to complete the client’s request form. We discovered this by carefully reading the comments some leads entered into the form asking for leads and help improving their business. The situation stumped us completely because no where on the landing page did any offer or even partial offer talk about sending leads or assisting business. The form submit button even stated “request franchise introduction pack.” We changed the ad copy and have since minimized the unqualified leads (note: it is tough to eliminate all unqualified leads.)

If you are operating in a highly motivated and emotionally charged market, carefully check your lead quality and look for ways to disqualify leads. Strong ad copy is great but watch for what you attract. And never assume that people are ever reading your copy, subheads or even skimming/scanning your page elements. Know your market, analyze and optimize.

About the Author

Kevin Gold is Director of Internet Marketing at iNET Interactive, a social media company operating prominent online communities for technology professionals and technology enthusiasts. Kevin is a frequent contributing author to multiple publications including Search Marketing Standard, Practical eCommerce, DIRECT, Entrepreneur.com, ConversionChronicles.com, About.com, and On Target (Yahoo! Search Marketing newsletter).

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4 Comments

  1. I can attest that the clients of mine that use ad text saying "As Seen On" (for TV) or "As Seen In" (for Magazine) are wildly more successful than ads where I don't use that text. People like to associate what they see online to what they've seen in the past in other media forms.

  2. There is a difference we believe in not quite reading everything a page has to offer within the copy and being just plain stupid. We're not surprised people went through an entire website to fill out a form to be on the show when it was blatantly obvious that it was for a product.

  3. thanks for the backlink.

  4. In recent study, visitors only browse page content from left to right and mostly visitors has an eye catch when it comes to bold text, larger fonts and action call button .