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o360 Series: Optimising UX with Display

This is the third post in our o360 Series on 360 Degree Optimisation; using SEO, UX Optimisation, Content Optimisation, Customer Journey Optimisation and Conversion Rate Optimisation to enhance the user experience to not only garner positive results for our clients, but also foster a positive experience for users that they will want to return to.

Crafting a quality user experience requires imagination, tact, a skilled team, and quality content. It’s not just about throwing good ads at a webpage anymore, it’s about creating a curated journey for a user that makes them feel comfortable, that’s personalised, and that also has great display and ad creative. I’m going to walk you through what a quality user journey looks like, and why a great display initiative is at the heart of it.

Step 1: Identify Your Audience.

Because we work with sophisticated programmatic partners like AMNET and GDN, as well as take advantage of Facebook ad targeting and other social media targeting programs, we can curate a quality user experience from the beginning by giving the right user the right creative.

Recently, we had a client who had done extensive research about the types of people who used their service. They determined that there were 4 main reasons people purchased or engaged:

Emotional Connection- People engaged based on an emotional reaction and connection to the product. They responded best to ads that appealed to how purchasing would relate to them and their lives personally. They wanted to feel that their money would improve or change their life in some way.

Factual Evaluation - Those who engaged and purchased based on hard facts about their product, including the value they received for the money they spent. These consumers cited that infographics, cost breakdowns, and a detailed explanation of what specifically they will receive with their purchase were their biggest influence.

Flexible Product- Consumers could curate what they spent based on the product they wanted and were given a variety of options. This ranged from the specific type of product and an assortment of price points for similar products to payment methods and options.

The Outcome- Consumers were invested in the sustainability of their investment and wanted to read or see accounts from those who had previously purchased. These people were more likely to read reviews and accounts of the products offered and do research about other’s experience outside of their web page.

Knowing these were the types of people who purchased and understanding their motivations not only gave them a clear look at who cared about their product, but also gave them a leg up when figuring out how to market to those types of users in the future.

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Step 2: Build Creative Relevant to Them

A smart marketer knows that while one ad for the product might appeal to a range of people in any of these four categories, it takes more than just smart creative to actually make them click. Our client ended up creating different user journeys curated to each of these types of buyers, beginning with different creative in their display ads for each.

Here’s roughly how that broke down:

Emotional Connection and The Outcome- Ads featured imagery and messaging that enticed viewers with a quote to hear stories from past purchasers, how they benefitted, and the emotional value that was added after purchase.

Factual Evaluation – This creative cited numbers in the creative that viewers might find surprising with clear messaging about the value of the product.

Flexible Product- Users in this category were given empowering messaging, emphasising “you” and “your”- highlighting that the choice of what they wanted to purchase was up to them.

Obviously, a software platform can’t tell which of these soft categories the user fits into, but it can sort out a user from which they click. Each user was served a range of all three ads, and based on which they clicked curated the rest of their user journey.


Step 3: Keep it Personal as the User Moves Down the Funnel.

In the digital marketing world, we hear quite a bit about the “purchasing funnel,” or the journey the user takes through the purchasing process- from first click to thank-you page. A key element of the creative in the funnel for our client was that as soon as they clicked on a certain type of ad, those elements followed them through the funnel. They saw similar creative on the landing page, they were either dealt more factual or emotional-based information on that page, and the images they saw in those first ads followed them through to purchase.

This reinforced what they had already seen, took them through step by step what they cared about, and allowed our client to create a comfortable environment for users that didn’t alienate them with irrelevant information. Of course, if a user wanted more information outside the landing page, they could click elsewhere, but we wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to move through the funnel.

Step 4: Reward Past Users for Previous Purchases.

Retailers don’t do this enough online, and it’s a huge miss for them. Think about it- offering something excusive to your best customers just makes sense, doesn’t it? If you’ve made a purchase for over 50 or 100 euro from a clothing site, it’s likely you like what they sell and are on your way to being a valuable customer (if you aren’t already). But even good customers need reminders and incentive.

Plan your creative accordingly. Offer BOGOs or percentages off when they click through the ad. Let them know why they’re getting the offer (We love you as much as you love us!) and give them a bit of urgency as well. I’m terrified to think of all the money I would spend if I consistently ran into online ads that offered deals because I had made a big purchase previously. I would be oh-so-fashionable but oh-so-poor!

Step 5: Use Audience-Specific Ads that Consider a User’s Browsing History

Someone who has clicked through 5 fashion blogs is much more likely to click on your department store client’s ad than one who, say, looked at deep sea fishing tours. It’s common sense in this age, but curating your audience to those who will really care about your topic not only can help to keep your CPR high, but also doesn’t alienate users who don’t care about your client’s brand. It also allows you to more tightly curate your content for those who genuinely care about the topic rather than trying to be generic.

Also- Remember to set caps on the number of times a user sees your creative. There’s nothing worse than feeling like a brand is haunting you around the internet, especially if it’s unwanted. I’m not saying who, but someone close to me at one point used my computer to look up One Direction posters to send to his little sister for her birthday, and I was haunted by images of Harry Styles for a month. It wasn’t ideal… though I was thankful it wasn’t Justin Bieber. You pick your battles and clear your cookies.

Step 6: Help Users Pick Up Dropped Baskets.

It’s pretty typical to see users drop off along the conversion funnel. Internet users are easily distracted- there are Facebook feeds to check, dog videos to watch, TED talks to send to their friend about that topic they were discussing over dinner last week… and you’re asking them to stand up and grab their credit card.

Great content is key for picking up dropped baskets. It should just be a light touch that acts as a friendly reminder, not a blaring alarm that comes off as nagging. Lend a helping hand the next day or week by reminding them just how great of an idea buying that coffee press was the other day, or that they have been planning to take a holiday to Spain- didn’t you just find the perfect trip? You’ll be shocked how many users have a light bulb moment and pick up right where they left off.

With that, we’ve come to the end of our journey. Smart, quality creative really is the driving force that jump starts a great user experience, as evidenced above. Unlike the way we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, users judge a site by their creative (as they should, especially if they’re an ecommerce site), and if anything seems awry or unfriendly, they’ll bounce. So know your user, know how to talk to them, and walk them through to the end. If you’ve done your job right, you’ll be waiting for them when they come back for a visit, whether you asked them to come or not.

Concepts by Katie Mac Carthy, words by Diana Edmundson