Traditional banner ads can be frustrating. They’re easy to ignore. And all too often, the landing page on the other side of the click doesn’t fulfill the promise of the ad.
So why not try something new, like placing an ad on Facebook, where captive users are forced to see it right there in their news feeds?
That’s Virgin America‘s strategy. But is it anything new?
Despite the hype, social media ads are rarely different than traditional banner or pay-per-click ads. The landscape has changed slightly, but the need for fundamental persuasion and conversion tactics remains. As always, better planning makes all the difference. Let’s take a look…
Here’s Virgin’s latest “sponsored news feed item” — i.e., fancy contextual banner ad that targets only certain demographics:
As you can see, the language is simple and engaging. A time limit (March 28) is set, thus creating a sense of urgency without drilling it into the customer’s head.
Nobody likes to be yelled at, especially not on an airplane. So why yell at them to “BUY NOW”? Virgin knows better, and this ad’s subtlety makes it that much more click-worthy.
The landing page continues the scent trail that started with the banner ad. Notice how the exact wording carries over.
See that? Change may be “in the air,” but Virgin was smart to stick with their original verbiage.
What’s even more interesting is that this landing page is actually the VirginAmerica.com homepage. It was the homepage last week, when the March 28 promotion was happening, anyway. This week, there’s a new promotion, and a new homepage message to match.
Consistency across channels is what ensures the success of Virgin’s ad buys. By adjusting the homepage to match their current campaigns, they’re capitalizing on the persuasive momentum of their various banner ad campaigns. (This screen shot proves that Virgin’s Facebook ads are no different than any of their other banners. Would they change the company’s homepage just to match a persuasion scenario that starts at Facebook? Nope.)
Virgin America continues the momentum from click-to-click by keeping it simple and keeping visitors engaged on the active window. By showing all March 28-related promotions on a single page, they’re reduce friction in the buying process.
Virgin uses this page to reinforce the visitor’s original interest while introducing a few more offers, thereby qualifying our needs. We click through, and it’s off to the booking engine.
Like most e-commerce shopping carts, it seems flight-booking engines were made to confuse us. Not Virgin’s. Theirs is intuitive and straightforward. As you can see, several steps are combined into one. It’s the website usability equivalent of the magical airplane stall door lock (which doubles as a light switch, and triples as a switch for the fan).
The only downside to having a site that works this well is that now Virgin needs to make sure people enjoy the flight as much as they enjoyed booking it. But if the real experience is anything like the one online, it looks like they’ve got you covered.
CMO’s should take notice.
While there’s no such thing as a perfect website, you should still try to convert like a Virgin.