What is ‘too artsy’ when it comes to websites?

“We’re artsy, but not too artsy.” It sounds a little odd and perhaps even a little offensive to describe ourselves this way, doesn’t it? While the term creative marketing is still relatively new, the idea has been around for a long time. In 1965 the Ford Motor Company got creative and disassembled its new muscle car. They then shipped it up 86 floors of a New York icon. There they reassembled the car and had a party to celebrate the Ford Mustang becoming a massive sales success. It was creative, original and gained headlines far and wide. People flocked to see it and now the vehicle takes on the same iconic status as the Empire State Building itself.

It was a very successful and creative PR stunt. So successful in fact that 50 years later Ford was able to play on the nostalgia factor and do it all again. This time though they also held a launch party on the 58th floor. The who’s who of motoring journalism were invited along to ensure that the new model received plenty of media coverage.

That is creative marketing done well. It is about standing out from the crowd and getting recognised in a sea of competition. It is something that as a marketing department is a holy grail if you can do it with regular precision.

A great example of when it doesn’t go to plan was when a radio station in California decided to run a ‘hold your wee for a Wii’ competition aiming to create some hype for the station. What they got instead were ten employees who were fired and a US$16.5 million lawsuit. That is creative marketing done badly.

Creative marketing and the “digital space”

Those two examples are the extremes and aren’t really where the average business will be aiming. But they are a good illustration of what happens when your marketing department tries to come up with out of the box ideas. Some work, some don’t.

From a digital perspective marketing companies are doing the same sort of thing. They are constantly looking to come up with new and inventive ways to get a brand recognised. What is important though is not to lose focus on the end goal. Is the strategy going to achieve the desired result and how much time, effort and money is going to go into getting it there?

creative marketing build websites to deliver an outcome
Don’t build a website just to be pretty, build it to deliver an outcome.

Creative vs Conversion

You also don’t want to lose touch with your target audience. Creating a great looking website is one thing, but creating a website that not only looks good but also sends the user down the right pathway to a conversion is a lot more complex than just being creative.

For one, you should never just engage a developer to build you a website and think the customers will come. Don’t get me wrong, they are great at what they do (and I am not just saying that because my better half was a developer when I met her!).

The reasoning is that to find a developer who also understands the needs of the business, as well as knows how to work out your cost per acquisition, and your return on investment is almost impossible. Add to that someone who is good at creative, and conversion optimisation then you have a very rare bird indeed.

Likewise, you should never get a creative marketing team to design your website without taking these elements into consideration. There is a saying in the industry that “ugly websites convert better than pretty websites”. This is because to build a good looking and conversion orientated website is no easy task. It is much easier to build a plain looking website and then work on getting it to convert.

It’s a business on its own

Having worked for a global corporation that was spending hundreds of thousands each day on their online marketing, getting the conversion rate to its optimum was a core focus for some members of the digital marketing team. In fact, there was a team of marketers and analysts whose sole task was to would work together to identify the optimum pathway for website users. Having already delivered the big gains much earlier in the process, they were working with percentage points.

Theories would be tested against each other for what to many of us would seem like such small gains, but these incremental improvements across the entire business meant millions of dollars.

Trust me when I say these websites were not ‘pretty’. Creative marketing team members were rarely involved in the process and when they were it was to the extent of designing a new call to action button or choosing some new imagery to use on the page. A lot of solid converting websites have a very similar look which makes it easy for the user, and even easier for the guys building it. But it isn’t exactly groundbreaking artistic work.

Where does NewyMedia come in?

Through our experience, we know where the big gains start. That means you can begin working on the incremental stuff from the outset. It still amazes us when we look at some websites out there that are not mobile friendly, not ‘on brand’, and have either no clear call to action or way too many.

When we build a website, we build it as part of your entire marketing strategy to make sure everything works in unison. We aren’t developers, so we won’t go overboard with the technical details, but we do know what a good website needs to have to perform.

Here’s our list of top 10 rules to a good looking and good converting website:

  1. Your website should be fast
  2. Your website must be mobile friendly
  3. Make sure your conversion pathway is obvious
  4. Content should be engaging
  5. Images should support the conversion pathway
  6. Your website should be secure
  7. Make sure your website is on brand
  8. Post and update content frequently
  9. Make sure your content is optimised
  10. Have a plan and track it

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