January 06, 2010
How To

Banner Ad Test Drives Site Redesign: 4 Steps to 18% More Traffic

SUMMARY: Finding the right message for your website can be difficult when you’re trying to appeal to multiple audiences, such as consumers, businesses and investors. This is when a good test can help.

Read how a coffee company tested consumer messages in display ads and videos before incorporating them into a new website, resulting in an 18.5% lift in traffic.

Bob Weagle, VP, Marketing, Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Co., and his team were used to marketing to businesses. The chemical-free coffee decaffeinating company sells to both companies and shops, who then sell to consumers.

But Weagle’s team wanted to market directly to Canadian consumers to explain what made their decaffeinating process different from the decaf they grew up with. The problem was that the team's consumer communications were very technical, and did not connect well.

"Our website tried to be all things to all people," he says.

The site gave equal prominence to information for companies, consumers and investors. It contained a wealth of technical information that didn't appeal to most consumers. The team needed to communicate how their coffee tasted great and did not have caffeine, but they couldn’t jump into a site redesign without first testing a message.


The team researched its consumer market and crafted an advertising campaign to test different messages. Based on the campaign results, they crafted a consumer-focused website overhaul.

Here are the four steps they followed:

Step #1. Research the consumer market

Weagle’s team sold to businesses and cafes, but consumers drove demand. While researching the market they found that decaf drinkers make up about 12% to 15% of all coffee consumers.

In particular, they noticed these consumers were:
o Mostly female
o Interested in healthy lifestyles
o Originally drank caffeinated coffee

The team also uncovered life events, such as pregnancy, that motivated their consumers’ change to decaf.

Step #2. Craft banner ad campaign

The team used prior knowledge of their target market to develop an online display ad campaign to communicate their message.

They created three 200x200 display ads, each emphasizing one of three words: "awaken," "enjoy" and "relax." The Flash-based ads each cycled through five images that described coffee that was chemical and caffeine-free. They then drove viewers to a landing page to learn more (see Creative Samples below).

- Video landing page

The landing page featured four videos. Three were 30-second testimonials from female consumers mentioning why they drink coffee decaffeinated with the Swiss Water process. The fourth featured one of the team’s in-house experts discussing the process in more detail.

The team hoped testimonials from consumers in similar demographics to their target audience would resonate with viewers more than the technical information on their website.

The landing page also included links to:
o Learn more at the team’s website
o Use a vendor locator tool
o Email an invitation to the page to a friend

Step #3. Run and monitor campaign

The team ran the ads on several advertising networks and targeted entertainment and healthy lifestyle websites. They ran for about 13 weeks, starting in December 2008, reaching hundreds of sites in that time, Weagle says.

The ads could not convey the team's full message without first asking visitors to visit their landing page and watch the videos.

"But [the page] was sending customers to our old site, which was not the best way to do it," Weagle says.

The team reviewed metrics and realized the ads performed well compared to industry benchmarks. They decided to take the ad design and apply it to a website overhaul.

Step #4. Incorporate ads into new site

Looking at historical data from the old website, the team knew that visitors came to learn about their products and to find out where to buy coffee made using their process.

Here are the key elements from the updated website:

- Color scheme

The team used the soft blue, brown and white color scheme from the ad campaign throughout the website.

- Images

The homepage cycled through large images of women enjoying cups of coffee. Similar images were also used on site areas explaining how decaf fits into a healthy lifestyle.

- Repurposed videos

The team repurposed two of their testimonial videos for use on the new site, specifically the testimonials relating to healthy living and pregnancy. They also added two videos explaining the decaffeinating process.

- Carry-overs

The team decided to keep three other areas from their previous site:
o Partnership information
o Investor information
o Vendor locator

Knowing that visitors often used the previous site to find vendors, the team updated the locator tool. It now includes a search function and satellite image map.

"In terms of risk management, we felt there were only upsides to us making the changes," Weagle says. "We feel very good about the new site."

- Banner campaign

Of those who saw the ads, 19% clicked to visit the landing pages, and helped bring a 15% lift in traffic to the site during the effort.

Traffic from team-monitored, branded search terms increased from 112% to 140% in major search engines for the first six months after the initial ad run.

- New site

Without any advertising, traffic to the team’s website has increased 18.5% since launch.

Visitor loyalty metrics, such as page depth, recency, and time spent, have increased between 4% and 15%.

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee’s website redesign

Efficient Website Redesigns: 6 Tactics to Guide Your Process

How Multivariate Test on Banner Ads Boosted Clicks 50.4%

Engine Digital: Helped the team design the ads and website

Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Co.

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