There are several reasons why an advertisement might not work, which include the way the advertisement is written, the activity of competitors, the attitude of teachers towards to product or service, the way the web page that receives potential customers is written, the need to give teachers additional information before a sale can be achieved…
The problem is, how can one possibly know which of these many factors is affecting your particular advert?
A similar problem can occur with a product that has been advertised successfully for some time, but for which sales are now declining. Has it had its day or could more sales be achieved by making a few changes?
This issue is made more difficult because most of the time the answer is not one that can be found through the application of common sense. For example, while it might seem common sense to talk about the product and who you are from the start, quite often this not the best way to write an advert. Sometimes a more oblique opening can deliver better results.
Where can the problems that reduce sales rates occur?
1. The writing of the advert
There are five ways of writing email adverts, and unfortunately the most common approach that is adopted by writers is generally found to be the least effective. It is a case of looking for the most effective approach for your product or service, and then experiment with different styles in order to find the best approach overall.
2. The key benefit
It is very valuable to know what it is that will make teachers buy from you rather than someone else. Once we know this we can focus on that issue.
One point to note here is that although sometimes price is an issue, in many cases it is not – although confusingly teachers might often tell you it is!
3. Advertising research
We often find that although experience and analysis shows what type of advert will work best, sometimes a very subtle difference can affect response rate. Therefore detailed research into the way teachers respond to various different advertisements can be very helpful.
Likewise assumptions that creep into the writing of an advert can reduce response rates if teachers hold a different point of view – and again this can only be resolved by research.
By way of example, in one recent research project we discovered that many schools had recently changed when they were making decisions about their annual “Leavers Week” and that although orders were being placed at the same time as before, decisions as to what to do were made much earlier. Companies that advertised early were thus getting more sales – although the timing of the sales remained the same.
In another case a company stated that their product was “unique” but got few sales. Our research revealed that it was this one word that was stopping teachers from buying because they felt that although this might be a very good product, it was not unique.
In a third case we asked classroom teachers and heads of department in secondary schools in which year group a specific topic was introduced for the first time into the classroom. The two groups gave totally different answers, which meant we needed to advertise in different ways to different people in the same school! (It would have been good if they had been talking to each other in the staff room, but clearly they were not.)
As one final example, we asked the head of special needs in schools which issue in special needs was causing them the most difficulty at the moment. The result was a complete surprise, and allowed our client to gain significantly increased numbers of sales by focussing on this issue.
4. The landing page
Most products sell best by being promoted via an email which extols the benefits of the product and a web page specifically written in order to receive teachers who have read the advert and now want to see the features.
However this can also be the place where advertisements can fail.
In a recent case we saw a company which got around 500 hits on their website landing page following a series of adverts. Of these 500, around 30 eventually became customers. A change to the landing page made it possible to transform many more of these website visitors into customers.
5. Reaching teachers who don’t read emails.
Not everyone will read emails – which is why our programmes allow us to advertise to teachers both via email and via the highly popular rolling news service, UK Education News.
6. Gathering the email addresses of interested teachers
Not everyone is ready to buy now, but if you can get the email address of some of the teachers who are interested enough in your area of work to visit your website, you can then email these people from time to time with new offers. This becomes a prime mailing list.
7. The background project
A website which provides significant information about your area of interest can attract significant numbers of teachers who from that point will be drawn into purchasing from you. In short they come to your site to gain information about the issue you specialise in, but can then be persuaded to buy your product or service.