Back when e-commerce was relatively new, one of the go-to best practices for improving usability and conversion was to consistently tell visitors what would happen next.  So you would:

  • write embedded links so that visitors could reliably tell where they would land after the jump
  • explicitly state what would happen as a result of filling out and submitting a lead form (we’ll contact you by e-mail), along with what wound’t happen (we won’t sell your information or bother you by phone), as well
  • ensure that the look and feel of the landing page, website, and check out flow all matched up with no major disconnects,
  • and you’d be sure to ask for the minimum commitment necessary: don’t label the button “Buy now” when “add to cart” more accurately represents what will happen after the click.

The goal was to relieve e-commerce and website anxiety by clearly setting and meeting expectations with each click and every micro-conversion. was especially good at this, and we can see the extent to which they took this practice by this old screenshot of their “add to cart” button, which not only employed the “add to cart” label, but also added two other reassurances:

  1. The “You can always remove it later” reassurance
  2. and the “Shopping with us is Safe” guarantee/Point of Action Assurance

Of course, Amazon tested this religiously, and changed their shopping buttons a half dozen times at least in recent memory, but they continued to keep the “You can always cancel it later” parenthetical remark through 3-4 iterations.  Meaning that that reassurance continued to positively impact sales until fairly recently.

So what does all this have to do with Facebook Ads?

Because Facebook and clicking on Facebook advertising is fraught with many of the same anxieties earlier stage ecommerce faced, the same reassurances and best practices are still at play — i.e., you violate them at your own peril.

Here’s an example:

Now, a few simple questions:

What does this ad image show?  A classic, cut-it-out-of-the-paper style coupon.  And what does the headline say? “PRINT Your Coupons Here.”  So what do you think the vast majority of prospects will expect to see when they click on this ad?

Answer: they’ll expect to be taken to a page where they can print out, old-school style coupons, just like the one pictured in the ad itself.

At least, that’s why I expected.  And frankly, I was intrigued by that: what a funky and semi-cool way to combine Social Media advertising with old school marketing techniques to drive real-world sales in brick and mortar stores, right?

It also seemed an easy upsell for a premium service of sending digital coupons to your phone so as not to have to waste paper and printer ink printing them out. A nice way to collect e-mails and cell phone numbers, all in all. But that’s not what happened when I clicked on the ad.

Instead, the advertiser violated every expectation that they possibly could.  Just see for yourself on the landing page I was taken to:

So, um, where are the coupons?  Hmmm… Maybe you have to pick the categories of coupons you want first, and then they’ll show you the coupons for printing? But what’s this about “sending me” the coupons. Didn’t the ad say I could print them myself? Oh well, why not pick 5 categories and see what comes next…

So what the heck is this?  When the hell did “Free Samples” come into play? I thought I was clicking through to get printable coupons?

And who the heck is Lifescript Advantage?  What happened to Girlpon? Just who am I giving my e-mail address to?

Finally, where, Oh Where, is LifeScript Advantage’s privacy policy or any other kind of Point of Action Assurance?

Not only did these people waste a click, they pissed me off and left me decidedly more cynical about clicking on Facebook ads in general. Not good.

So here are 3 easy tips to keep you safe from this kind of advertising disaster:

1) Make sure the mechanics of your actual offer are clear

If you’re taking people to a site to see a video, make sure they know that they’re being taken off-site to “learn more” or whatever.  If they’re going to a fan page, that should be clear also.  And whatever it is you’re offering to get the click, the fulfillment of that promise should never be more than two clicks away — one click for the ad, and one click to start the video, add the item to cart, download the report, etc.  Making people click from page to page will only create massive distrust. If you’re going to ask for a “like” say so.  If you require an e-mail to use to send people the report, test mentioning that in the ad itself.  CTR might dip, but CPI will likely rise.

2) Test having your store or brand name in the ad itself

This is especially important for ads pointing to an outside landing page.  The brand match-up from ad to landing page is important, as the disconnect will spook people more than you may realize, just like I was spooked to be handed from Girlpon to lifescriptadvantage.  Beyond this, I know that Facebook also councils that you stylistic connect your Facebook Ad-specific landing pages to the overall look of Facebook and possibly have some sort of Facebook Fan Welcome message.  This is good advice, as it further reassures visitors that they are in the right place.

3) Never skimp on the Point of Action Assurances

If you’re going to ask for an e-mail, have some kind of privacy policy or statement. If you offer a guarantee, mention it. In fact, test mentioning it on the ad as well as the landing page. And if your one of the few advertisers giving something away for FREE, no strings attached, test mentioning that, too: “Instant Download –No e-mail sign-up  necessary,” or something like that.

Remember, in most cases, you don’t just want the click — you want the conversion as well.  So plan for it with well known conversion best practices.