How URLs destroy response rates and lose sales…

If you’ve ever lived (or died) on the success of a print advertisement, you’ll know the emotional highs and lows you go through once the ad runs.

The stress is event greater if your business (and therefore family) depend upon the leads you generate. Which is why all good marketers continue to test, so they learn what works and what doesn’t.

Since the interweb became so ubiquitous, the humble coupon has disappeared from press advertising, with marketers preferring to direct readers to respond to websites by displaying a URL.


But this can be a problem if not done correctly. For example, if the website people respond to is your home page and not a landing page specifically designed to match the offer in the press advertisement, you will lose customers. If people have to click around your site to find the information or offer you promoted in your ad, you will lose them almost immediately.

That’s why your advertisement should send them to a specific landing page with a unique URL, if you don’t want them to call you or visit a physical address.

Interestingly, if what you are selling cannot be bought online and must be sold over the phone, or face-to-face, a landing page will reduce response.

For my sins I own a travel agency. One of our brands is about to commence a national press campaign promoting specific holiday offers that can only be bought by phone.

Last year our partners did some very interesting tests. They built a landing page that had more information about the offer, the phone number to place the order and you could not link elsewhere on the interweb. They created two versions of the advertisements. The only difference between them was that one had “” at the end of the brand name in the logo. This was the landing page URL.

Whenever they ran the ad with the URL they received less phone calls and less sales. They got lots of visits to the landing page, but typically for the visitors, life got in the way and they didn’t pick up the phone after viewing the site. By adding a landing page between the press advertisement and the telephone call, they lost business. I call this “the conundrum of choice”. The more choices we have, the less decisions we make.

The reason is similar to the principles behind direct response television. People respond emotionally and immediately to the offer as soon as they see it. They want to buy it now. If they have time to think about it, rationalise it, or put it off, they lose enthusiasm – life gets in the way – and they move on to other things.

Sending people online can lose you customers and therefore lose you business.

In case you’re wondering, people in the digital age still love to buy over the phone – assuming they can talk directly with a human and don’t get put on hold for ages.

So if you’re selling by telephone, remove your URL from your ads. Give people only one option for buying – your telephone number. You’ll find you increase your sales, and without the landing page to worry about, lower your costs too.


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