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FutureNow Article
Friday, Sep. 21, 2007

Brands & Landing Pages: A Neanderthal Challenge

By Bryan Eisenberg
September 21st, 2007

caveman.jpgThis week — thanks to some of you being in town for our Persuasive Online Copywriting seminar and a staff training — our team had some great insights while examining online and multi-channel marketing campaigns. Eventually, we got to thinking about one of today’s more compelling brands: Geico.

But first, a little background…

One of our seminar attendees helped us notice something interesting about “Corporate DNA”. Something wasn’t “write” with her company’s messaging. They’re large, well-known, and have spent decades projecting themselves as a Humanistic culture, with massive, ongoing radio and TV ad campaigns. So, the first thing we noticed on their website was that the copywriting was tailored for Methodical types. (To read more about how we classify personality types into Competitive, Spontaneous, Methodical, and Humanistic, click here.)

Where did this disconnect come from? Were they really a Methodical company, after all? According to our guest, they were. OK, then why not just say so in the TV and radio ads? It’s a bit jarring to have one impression of a brand through its multi-channel advertising, only to go to their website and find it’s something completely different. This is the friction that causes customers to bail. Customers want a consistent relationship and tone from their brands, whatever the channel may be.

When I came across this banner on Technorati this past week, I was intrigued:

Step #1 — The Banner / Advertising Campaign

Since we’d been talking about how to create messages that appeal to different personality types, I thought it would be a good idea to see what my team had to say about the experience Geico created from banner ad, to landing page, to getting an insurance quote.

Over email, I asked my fellow Future Now consultants what they thought about the campaign:

1. The banner appeals to which personality type(s)?

“The fast-paced types; Spontaneous first, then Competitive.” –Cinde Johnson

2. Would the brand itself cause other personality types to click through anyway?

“Geico is a brand that’s known and trusted. People who recognize that it’s a Geico ad, and have a positive association with them, will likely click.” –Dan McGuigan

“Humanistics will like the friendliness of the gecko from other ads they may have seen/heard, and the cup of tea makes it a bit more personal, more human. A Methodical, on the other hand… I’m not so sure. There’s not a lot for a Methodical to go with in the banner, except that it says that it’s ‘easy’. But they’re generally too deliberate to be moved by branding alone.” –Cinde Johnson

3. How does this banner connect with their brand, and your expectations of it?

“The little lizard with the Aussie accent (using “mate” in the messaging) helps us connect with a brand we already know. Their branding has always expressed how Geico makes it ‘easy.’ so this is continuing that perception.

“The problem is I forgot what they did; I just knew they made it easy! Although I like the banner, and it probably connects well with the other marketing communication spots that they have out there, I actually don’t know anything about Geico besides seeing this lizard on ads — and that he’s got an accent. I’m probably not the typical American, but I actually forgot what they did.” –Melissa Burdon

“Geico positions itself as the easy way to save money on insurance in 15 minutes, so this ad does reinforce their branding.” –Ron Patiro

4. What’s your overall impression of the banner?

“Not bad. I’d say a solid B.” –Anthony Garcia”

“One of the only times I’ve seen ‘click here’ work in a Call to Action. People can’t say it, but well-branded talking geckos can.” –Ron Patiro

“If I just saw this banner ad, and didn’t know they offer insurance, I wouldn’t be enticed to click. Even changing it to ‘Geico makes insurance easy,’ would have cleared that one up for me. They need to be thinking of the different stages of the buying process as well.” –Melissa Burdon

Step #2 — The Campaign’s Landing Page

I am glad Geico continued the scent from banner and landing page by reinforcing and repeating the logo, the imagery, and copy tone. Remember, our friend the talking gecko has promised us it would be easy. But once I clicked through, I had even more expectations.

Here’s what they had to say about the landing page:

5. Does the landing page reinforce the banner’s message?

“If one were to ‘think’ about the connection — which most people don’t do consciously — they would see that ‘Would you like cream…” does inject a message of how easy Geico makes getting a quote or rate.” –Peter Lee

“I didn’t notice the little mug and tea bag in the banner. I actually wondered what was in the lizard’s hand, but, when I clicked, I noticed the mug. Instead of just telling me Geico can save me money, they specify they could save me ‘hundreds,’ so I have a better idea of what we’re talking about. ‘Would you like cream or sugar with that?’ tells me it’s a commodity; something we need in our everyday lives. We treat ourselves well without Starbucks, so how are we treating ourselves with insurance? We could also be saving some money on insurance to put toward our coffee fund!

“I’m going off on a tangent, but there are quite a few messages that could be taken out of this add.” –Melissa Burdon

6. Would you do anything to improve this page?

“They might want to provide a bit more information for Methodical types. People often switch to a methodical choice when shopping for something like insurance.” –Mal Watlington

“The ‘continue’ button gives me no sense of what I get if I enter this information. What’s the payoff? How much more information am I going to have to give you? My inner Methodical side isn’t happy at all.” –Holly Buchanan

Be prepared. Geico chose the the word “just” fill in your zip code. That word has meaning. As in there is really nothing much more to this than “just” filling in your zip code.

Finally, let’s see what happens when we click through to get an insurance quote…

Step #3 — A Disconnected Form Process

When a Spontaneous type lands on this page, one of the first things that stand out is the big “0% Complete” in the progress indicator. They don’t jump right to the form. Instead, their eyes scan the progress indicator, thanks to the disconnect between the first landing page/banner and the green “0%” — and everything else on the form.

Here are their impressions of this crucial third step:

7. What would the personality type(s) you chose — the ones driven by the banner — think of this first step in the quote process?

“I’ve already given you my zip code. You mean, there’s a lot more to getting this quote!? This isn’t easy.” “You said this would be easy, but I’m not sure this is going to be easy.” “Why do you need my name and phone number to give me a quote?” “Wow–six pages of forms to complete to get a quote! This is easy?” (“Where’s my little gecko buddy and his little cup of tea?”) –Cinde Johnson

“Then complete disconnect. I hit a page with a completely different design, asking for lots of information. I’m looking for the lizard, but instead I see the typical white chick, offering help. I don’t want to talk to the white chick. I want to talk to the lizard.” –Holly Buchanan

8. What would you do differently to appeal to each of the personality types on this page?

The primary persona driven by the ad, the Spontaneous, most likely never spent the time filling out a long form like this – they just don’t have the time. They might call, but like everyone else in the world, the would never admit they “need help.” What if they had the Gecko right there and in his tone said something like, “If filling it out ain’t easy, call me.”

“The Competitive is going to think “OK, you said you can save me money, but now you’re asking for information, and there’s nothing to tell me how much more you’ll need or how filling out this form is going to accomplish that goal. All I see is “continue” (really weak Call to Action). What’s the benefit in continuing?

“The Humanistic, like me, is going to feel like “I want to talk to the lizard, not that white chick. What happened to my milk and sugar? You went from warm and fuzzy to cold and impersonal. You just lost that wonderful rapport you worked so hard to establish.

“The Methodical is going to think (since they don’t feel) “How many steps are involved? You don’t indicate the exact number of steps involved in this process. What is this process? Exactly what information do you require? How long will this take? How will you use this information to save me money? Will I be here for a minute, or two hours? I can’t plan ahead because you give me no way to understand the process, how long it takes, or what the process even is. And what’s with that annoying icon with a foreign accent about, anyway? My 3 year-old daughter thinks it’s cute. Want to sell car insurance to 3 year-olds, do you? Great. Want to sell car insurance to me? Get a life.” –Holly Buchanan

The Brand & Landing Page Campaign Challenge:

Perhaps it’s not so easy…

Please let us know what you think of the Geico brand, its ad campaigns, and its landing pages. How would you answer the above questions?

Is creating the right brand and landing page experiences so “easy” a caveman, of any personality, could do it? What will you do to insure your brand and landing pages connect with customers? Let us know if you need help.

Add Your Comments

Comments (10)

  1. Entertaining example of the disconnect of which we all have been guilty. (I keep waiting for the caveman and the gecko to do a TV spot together – maybe Neanderthal gecko.)

    This is a company wanting me to give so it can take. Should be the other way around. Maybe an insurance industry issue, in part.

    At a conference a few years ago, a different insurance company was there – represented by two members of its e-team.

    I tried out the sites of all the people I met on the first day, including that insurance company.

    On day 2, I came back to them and told them I crapped out using their site: I didn’t want to give them details about my current policy (not that I had it on me in a distant hotel), or my name, or my contact info.

    I told them I want to provide my age, gender, year-make-model and ZIP code and see a dollar amount or dollar range – and THEN I’ll decide whether to pursue further and possibly provide more info.

    Their jaws dropped. They seemed genuinely surprised. They had no ill-intent – it just hadn’t occurred to them.

  2. One thought I have is how do the caveman and lizard relate to each other. Geico could use two banner campaigns one with the lizard and one with the caveman. Anyway, these are just rambling thoughts.

    The main point is regardless of what ad (the lizard in this case) the ad or lizard needs to be present throughout the process.

    I think there’s two problems with the info form here:

    1. This maybe a case of just using a “standard” form instead of spending the money to customize the form.

    2. Information for the sake of information. This is an example of companies requiring you to submit too much personal information. The most personal info (mailing address, phone number, etc.) I should have to submit is my e-mail. Requests for more info above this should be well explained.

  3. If Geico is interested in my business, they will put input boxes on that banner for present insurer, age, gender, year-make-model and ZIP code with a note that I will get information with no other info to be provided. When I click, I want to see how much lower they are than my present insurer for similar cases to mine.
    That’s not so hard. If their prices are low enough to entice me to change, THEN they can ask for my name. I already get enough junk mail, e-mail and phone calls.

  4. I do agree that I still want the warm and fuzzy Gecko (what is his name?) to still direct me through the process. It wouldnt be hard to create a gecko form look and feel just for this scent. This, at least for the Humanistic, would make me much more willing to jump through the hoops they seem to require to get the quote. And with him there, I would be much more forgiving of the qty of questions, since I “like” him.

    I dont like the 0% either. It does not give you an idea as to how much more is to come… “will this really be easy, after all?”

  5. 1. Explain benefits and selling points up front w/ price points: – Most competitive rates around starting at $100 – Easy sign up – 15 min or less – Etc .. or else why am i giving you my zip code , why do i even want to start this process?

    2. Brand is good, I like the cross channel use of the gecko. Everybody in the US probably realizes this is car insurance. Include this through out the sign up process.

    3. Not sure about the form process.. they have to collect all this information somehow. Maybe a few less steps and try to provide as much info up front… I don’t want to go through 6 steps of work to find out the answers to my questions.. namely i don’t want to spend 15 min to find out how much cheaper/ more expensive this is going to be.

  6. To all the people wanting short forms… to get an accurate quote the insurance company needs a lot of information. There is no changing that unless you prefer to get a low quote and then after you sign up have the price jump up.

    About the only things that are not absolutely necessary are full name, street address and phone number.

    So maybe it could help if they are listed last. Give the customer the option to input their full name/address if they want the quote mailed.

    Now would the possible increase in conversion help cover the lost conversions from their other marketing attempts, to people that requested a quote online, such as snail mail and telemarketing. Probably not.

  7. he looks like a real monkey sombody want to give him a pinute?

  8. Very important point about landing pages whether it gets out the emotions that are required to connect with the brand.

  9. The Geico campaign is brilliant!
    I wish more companies followed their creative thinking

  10. Very good points. I think that a marketing theme is so important as the consistency makes the user feel at home. A consistent theme makes the website seem familiar and therefore the user is more likely to trust the site and purchase its offerings.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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