Leading Users To Dead Ends
Besides books, I don't read anything on print anymore, and so I don't see print ads very often either. But, last Thursday while I waited for my car to be fixed at Walmart I took the opportunity to immerse myself in a fishing magazine and its advertisements. Print ads don't have to connect a reader to a website, but there were few ads that didn't try in some way. Most of the ads would append a url to the end of the body copy, and leave it at that. But, some of them tried a little harder. Intriguingly, the two ads that I think did the best at connecting readers to their websites had completely different strategies for converting users who actually got to the website: one built a dead end website, the other built a busy street.
FLW Outdoors had a full page ad taken out just to promote their website. It had a run down of all the things they were doing online to take your fishing experience with you on the web. I was impressed with some of their features: Twitter, Facebook, a Firefox skin, and a Google Maps mashup for locating fishing buddies. But when I went to their website, I had trouble finding just about all of these features. It wasn't impossible, but it wasn't easy either.
On the other hand, M&M's had a more minimalistic visual ad with one small line of text that asked the reader to visit the website to join the fun. This ad was also a step up from the rest of the ads in the magazine in terms of connecting offline and online efforts: I didn't have to read through lots of copy, and the pitch was clear and compelling. But, there is a significant difference between these two campaigns that doesn't have to do with the advertising. M&M's website made it easy to reach other areas online where M&M's was active. The Twitter & Facebook buttons on the bottom of the page made it simple to get to the brand's other locations without having to think about how to get there.
Both of these companies are making efforts to spread their brand online by using social media, but without a website that facilitates navigation to the rest of the brand's activities, the corporate website becomes a dead end rather than the busy connecting street it should be.