Does Your Website Smell Bad?

Does Your Website Smell Bad?

Like a blooming rose – or a rotting vegetable – your online brand is characterised by “scent clues”. This post is about how to make your online scent as attractive as possible to the swarms of traffic that encounter your brand on the web. We’ll look at how some of the big players such as LivingSocial, BlackBerry and Facebook have followed simple steps to make them smell irresistible.  We’ll also look at a few examples of brands getting it wrong, so you’ll know what not to do.

What are Scent Clues?

You scatter scent clues throughout the Internet (and offline) as part of your swarm-driving initiatives. They may include:

  • Banner advertisements
  • Pay Per Click advertising
  • Remarketing
  • Social media
  • Promotions and competitions
  • Email Marketing
  • All offline media

Whether you realise it or not, you leave a “brand scent” across all of these mediums. Everything you communicate should give off a consistent scent that’s aimed at capturing a sale or enquiry.

Does this scenario sound familiar? You click on a brand’s banner advertisement that promotes a Free Consultation. But you’re directed to a page that does not mention any kind of free consultation. Instead you’re presented with a contact form to fill out – and not even sure you’ll get that advertised free consultation if you do. Your expectations were not met, so the brand has lost that alluring scent which lead you to click its banner ad. It’s also probably lost the opportunity to have you as a customer.

How Zafu Lost Its Scent

Zafu, an online fashion retailer in the United States, created a humorous viral video titled The Bra Scientist.

This video drove a lot of traffic to the Zafu website. The only problem was the page where visitors landed.

There is no indication of anything related to the video, or even to bras. Zafu created The Bra Scientist to generate interest for its new bra-fitting service, but to a visitor who arrives via the video, the website seems to be all about jeans.

And just like that, Zafu’s scent goes bad: the visitor is disappointed, annoyed, confused and/or frustrated that she has been mislead into wasting her time with a false advertisement. She might even tell her friends about it, or post a negative online review to damage Zafu’s reputation.

What Zafu should have done is directed visitors arriving via The Bra Scientist to a dedicated landing page for its bra-fitting service. This page should have featured an image of the Bra Scientist character and a relevant headline, as well as the video. These elements would have instantly reassured the visitor that she has landed on the right page, and enabled her to make an enquiry.

3 Surefire Ways to Leave a Good Scent

    1.   Trigger words

These are keywords or phrases, often embedded within the attention-grabbing headlines. They are one of the primary reasons your visitors have clicked through and are open to doing business with you. To keep your scent reassuringly consistent and sweet-smelling, repeat the same trigger words you used in your advertisements or emails on your landing page.

Here is a good example from LivingSocial on how to do this right. LivingSocial’s remarketing banner advertisements feature the trigger word “1-day deals”:

And here is where visitors are directed after clicking:

All visitors who land on that page know they’ve come to the right place.

   2.   Consistent graphics, colours and shapes

Like your trigger words, your graphics and colours should also be consistent. People often devote copious time and energy to crafting a strong offer and call to action for their promotions, only to forget to keep the same on the landing page. This inevitably has a negative impact on brand scent.

A prime example of this is a remarketing banner ad by Campus Corner:

Clicking the banner leads to this landing page:

What has Campus Corner done wrong here? Leave your answer in the comments below. 🙂

On the other hand, BlackBerry is getting things right with its Facebook page to promote its new PlayBook tablet:

The visual cues BlackBerry used effectively are:

  • Colour
  • Product image
  • Call to action “Discover”

And if a visitor chooses to click through to the BlackBerry website from Facebook, here is the landing page:

The call to action is “Discover” and visitors entering this webpage have that expectation. To meet it, BlackBerry has listed more attractive images of the new PlayBook, and information about its features and benefits. Crucially, the visitor’s experience is streamlined by maintaining the same colour and style scheme used on BlackBerry’s Facebook page. This keeps BlackBerry’s brand scent alluring and credible.

    3.   Location of graphics

Visitors form their first impression of your website in 1/20th of a second. Even if you have attractive graphics and headlines, if you don’t present them optimally, your efforts will be wasted.

Some common mistakes include:

  • Placing your primary offer in a multiple image slider feature.  This distracts visitors and dilutes the offer, as it is blended in with other promotions and calls to action.
  • Squeezing your primary offer among less important offers. This is similar to the sliding banner mistake – when your landing page is overcrowded, visitors miss the core message.
  • Placing your primary offer or call to action below the fold (i.e., users have to scroll down to see it).

Conversely, Facebook’s sign-up landing page and homepage could not give off a clearer, more attractive scent. Can you identify five things Facebook has done well here?

Putting It All Together

Consistency is key when it comes to brand scent. Your scent clues should always go beyond the landing page. If you have read my previous post on conversion optimisation, you understand how quickly people forget a message. Repeat your brand scent across all pages until the very last “Thank You for Choosing to Shop With Us” page.

If you would like me to review your scent clues, write your request in the comments section below and I will help you out.

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E-Web Marketing

We’ve been in the digital marketing field for over 18 years and worked with hundreds of Australian (and international) businesses to grow their web presence. Specialising in SEO, search ads (PPC), social media, content marketing, email marketing and conversion rate optimisation.
E-Web Marketing
Follow us
E-Web Marketing

We’ve been in the digital marketing field for over 18 years and worked with hundreds of Australian (and international) businesses to grow their web presence. Specialising in SEO, search ads (PPC), social media, content marketing, email marketing and conversion rate optimisation.

  • Posted at 5:44 am, March 17, 2012

    I use Febreeze on my website every morning to keep it smelling fresh! 🙂

    To answer the question about Campus Corner’s mistake – I think the advertisement should take the viewer to a page specifically designed for searching for nursing schools in your area. Sure, their home page has that small search bar, but it’s not exactly notable, the CTA is small, plus it’s asking for some seemingly ambiguous information – “School”? What does that mean? What am I putting in there? What school of nursing? What school I want to go to? Maybe it’s more clear to someone who knows something about nursing school, but to someone like me, it seems unclear.

  • Christopher West
    Posted at 11:14 am, March 17, 2012

    Nice post Amy 🙂

    Intresting things you cover, and while they sound ‘logical’ many companies fall short as you can see.

    as for Facebook’s home page/ads
    1. Colours and logos are uniform
    2. a sign in and signup section right there, visible on the home page
    3. the CTA in the banners are visible and the images (while targeting different demo graphics – single people and groups) still confer the message of finding friends
    4. cta again is above the fold and easy to read (color stands out well against the blue)
    5. ok you lost me, I cant really think of much else. I do believe the signup is fairly quick and easy (although you have to confirm your email address)


    anyway, still a great post.

  • Posted at 2:28 pm, April 5, 2012

    Hello Diane.
    That is correct! the homepage of CampusCorner does display any obvious clues on how relevant the page is to their ad. Users will be searching for at least keywords to make sure that they have landed on the right website – if they cannot find any obvious links, they will bounce.

    and …

    Thanks Christopher, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it! The 4 things you listed are spot on. The 5th element links to what I said to RE: Diane. It will be the keywords used. Notice in the ads, they keywords which stand out are connect, share, friends – and these are also evident on the home-page of Facebook. Visitors immediately know they are in the right place!

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