Over the years I have launched hundreds of online marketing campaigns. I’ve tested, analyzed and optimized landing pages, ads and copy on billions of impressions and millions of clicks.
And the data always tells me the exact same thing.
Simple Always Wins.
“Think Small” was an advertising campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle, created by Helmut Krone at the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) agency in 1959.
In the late 50s car companies sold cars using ad campaigns that provided an exhaustive amount of information about the features and benefits of their amazing machines.
Their key selling points were all the same: luxury, security and size.
1957 Ford Ad
Volkswagen did the exact opposite and created a string of simple little ads that called their cars small, ugly Lemons.
It became one of the most successful ad campaigns of all time.
The best advertising campaign of the twentieth century: DDB (Volkswagen’s agency) had “simplicity in mind, contradicting the traditional association of automobiles with luxury”.
Don’t Be Fooled
Many people see a simple looking little ad campaign and think it’s being run by amateurs.
But these simple, often ugly little campaigns are more likely being run by data scientists who are printing money for themselves or their clients.
In my own experience, my biggest wins have come from ideas that took just a few minutes to come up with. And the projects that I spent the most time on performed the worst.
My First Campaign
I came into the online ad game with a heavy background in hi-end design. At my last day job I was the creative director for a design agency that did 6-7 figure websites for big brands.
So when I launched my first paid campaign on Adwords I did what I was used to doing. I spent about 3 days creating the most awesome design I could put together. It had flashy graphics, audio and ajax effects. When launch day came I was expecting to kill it with my hot design.
The results? 0% CTR.
I’m not kidding. I was spending $50/day back then and on that first $50 I got zero click throughs. It was brutal. The next day I updated the page, making it even FANCIER and loaded up my $50 again and got zero clicks again.
It was an awful experience and went on for 3-4 days before I changed gears.
I finally got so frustrated I decided to just File > Save As the homepage of my blog that I had at the time, a crappy little WordPress theme. I pasted in the copy I was using for the campaign and launched it as a joke. The whole thing took about 10 minutes to create.
This simple little page got a 15% CTR (click through rate) and started getting conversions right away. I think I made about $250 on that $50 spend. I learned my lesson right then and there and have been making simple, ugly little pages ever since.
Simple Ad Copy
Simple works on copy and banner ads too. If you try to make your language too fancy, you’ll lose half your audience. I try to write copy for my ads that could be easily understood by anyone with a 7th to 8th grade reading level.
The U.S. Dеpartment of Education, Institute of Education Sciences has conducted large scale assessment of adult proficiency in 1992 and 2003 – and concluded that the “average” American reads at a 7th or 8th grade level.
A colleague mentioned just a few days ago that he recently made six figures in 60 days using the ad copy “Click here to Download XYZ” and direct linked to the offer’s download page.
This stuff can be real easy. Don’t overthink it.
What’s Your Ultimate Goal?
If you’re creating a brand and want it look as glossy as Coca-Cola, go for it.
But if you’re goal is to attain customers or sales at the lowest cost possible… Fire your designer and make something in Microsoft Paint (really) You may be shocked at the results.
That simple stupid idea that pops in your head that takes no time to make and almost no effort to write… That’s the one.
Keep it simple.