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It is now common practice for brands to include URLs or search calls to action within TV ads to encourage viewers to go online and find out more. 

Renault's current 'Megane Experiment' TV ad asks users to go online, though the execution wasn't perfect; the URL was too long, and related search terms didn't all lead to the correct page. 

With this in mind, here are ten best practices to help brands tempt customers online and make the most of any leads... 

Include a clear call to action on the ad

If you want to send users online, then you need a stand-out call to action on the ad, making it clear what users need to do when they head online. Brands could display a URL, ask users to search online for a particular phrase, or else advertise their Facebook page, which VW and others have done recently. 

There are pros and cons; while a URL will lead users straight to a brand's website or landing page, search is most people's starting point on the web, so it may make sense to encourage them to search for a particular term, as this may be easier for consumers to remember than a URL.

However, this does carry the risk that competitors will hijack the search term, and siphon off some of the traffic. 

Use a unique URL or search term 

By using a not only a memorable but also unique URL or search term on the advert, this will increase the likelihood that people will enter the correct term into a search engine or browser bar. 

It also makes it easier to bag the top spot on Google. Compare the Meerkat is a prime example of how to do this, and avoid having to bid for expensive keywords. 

Unique URLs and search phrases also allow you to attribute an uplift in traffic, sales or registrations to the TV campaign and measure the performance of offline marketing activity. 

Unique campaign name

Not every single person who views the ad will act on the prompt and enter the URL or selected search phrase, and may instead type what they remember from the ad into Google. 

If the campaign has a unique name that comes across within the ad (like Compare the Meerkat) then people are more likely to recall this. 

Does the URL or search phrase appear when typed into a search engine? 

This is where the Megane campaign was flawed. Only by entering the exact URL displayed on the ad, or the phrase 'megane experiment' (with a space) does the landing page for the campaign appear, and only via a paid search ad in the case of the phrase. 

In fact, the Econsultancy article on the campaign ranks higher than any page from Renault for the term. If you have failed to grab the URL (and related URLs), or to rank highly for the term, then you will need to spend money on paid search ads, otherwise much of the traffic generated by the TV ad will have been wasted. 

Landing page must match expectations

What brought me the visitor to the landing page? Make sure it’s consistent with what they find on the page. 

Landing pages should match the promises made within the ads, and people should get what they expect when they arrive at the page. 

So, in the case of Orange's 'More from Orange' campaign, customers arriving at the landing page get a range of offers and details of the benefits of being an Orange customer. 

Make sure your landing page has a clear purpose

Once they have found the landing page from the TV ad, what do you want your visitor to do?

Have a clear goal in mind; this might be a one-off sale, the collection of their email address, brand familiarisation, booking a test drive etc. 

Unless you know precisely what you want to achieve, you can’t be confident that you’re driving that end result with your page.

Clear calls to action on landing page

Whatever the purpose of the landing page is, it should be unmistakably clear to visitors. Litter your landing page with calls to action and make it simple for people to do what you want. People online are inherently apathetic and the slightest barrier to sale will cost you customers.

In the case of the Renault Megane landing page, there us no clear call to action to book a test drive, or to see some more photos or technical specs of the car. This only appears after the 11 minute video has finished. 

Add sharing options

If you have created a great TV ad and attracted visitors to your landing page, make it easy for them to share it with others, and extend the reach of your campaign for free. 

Add links to allow users to easily share the content with friends via email or social media sites. On this Compare the Market landing page, all bases are covered: 

tvad1

Don’t ask too much

If you are asking people to submit their details or sign up for a test drive, then make the process as smooth as possible. 

Asking for too much information at this stage risks frightening them off and wasting the investment you made getting them there. 

Don’t drive people away by asking for anything you don’t actually need.

Provide a range of contact options for visitors

You may have created the perfect landing page, but some people will still not respond, so give them options.

Provide a clear phone number, call back or live chat option in case they prefer to purchase in this way, and provide links so they can browse the rest of your website.

These are just ten suggestions, let me know below if I've missed anything...

Graham Charlton

Published 11 August, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Michael Boamah

Just so you know, viewers will never type directly the URL which was shown in the TVC. There will go on Google and search the brand name then land on the homepage and finally leave.

So when you are running a TV campaign, you better make your homepage the landing page of your ad.

over 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Yes, I think the vast majority would type the brand name into Google, but others will also type the product name being advertised, the search term the ad asks them to type, or even the URL into the search engine. 

Good point point about the homepage, though this may not always be possible when the TV ad is for just one of many products. 

over 6 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Michael - I actually think it depends very much on the campaign / goals / product but I'm not sure that the homepage is the best landing page for any marketing campaign, much less a TV campaign. I think you have to set the bar a bit higher, personally. And definitely if you care about measuring effectiveness. 

over 6 years ago

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Douglas McDonald

Of course, a key part of all of this is making it clear that you can visit the site on both your PC and your mobile.. This means making sure that you can detect mobiles and redirect mobile visitors to a site built & designed for mobile. Apart from the fact that more than 30% of us regularly go online via mobile (and will be far higher by Jan 2011: it's more immediate it doesn't require remembering anything for very long It doesn't disrupt their viewing it doesn't require them to move any muscles apart fom in their fingers

over 6 years ago

Dominic Geary

Dominic Geary, Managing Partner at Carat (Leeds)

I agree with Chris's point above. However, you also need to make it easy for the consumer to engage with the brand whilst also measuring the impact of the TV commercial.

The response funnel isn't linear and therefore consumers will undoubtedly visit the home page, so some recognition of the TV campaign needs to be clearly visible here too.

over 6 years ago

Antoine Becaglia

Antoine Becaglia, Digital Strategist at WebPropaganda Ltd

Reminds me I saw an ad last night and it ended with a full blown up screenshot of Google search box and the voice over saying "... or find us by typing our name in Google..."... now I found this a first but what strikes me now is that I can't recall what the advert was for!

over 6 years ago

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