Web Design: Hook, Look or Book?

Web design for pages in the natural search index is much different than for those pages receiving site traffic from paid advertising. Designers need to be aware of the unique business challenges presented by each channel and the current design trends for each. Today we're looking at trends in paid listing landing pages and drawing some assumptions that we hope will help you produce design that converts - regardless of channel.

When Website Magazine does a custom micro-research project like this one, we tend to use highly competitive search terms as a starting point, and today is no different. "Ring tones" is our term of choice - a good one, we think, thanks to its large search volume.

Web Design Trends for Paid Advertising
A great deal of attention is given to Web design for paid advertising listings - as it should be if you're spending money to acquire traffic. What a "quality score" world has forced marketers to become expert at is shuffling users through the sales funnel. Of course, there are several approaches to doing so. Far more than, as you will see, when Website Magazine SEO Web design trends is published (coming soon), designers of paid listing landing pages need to make an art form out of balancing the need to acquire information with the perception of providing value and instilling trust with the user and thusly moving them down the path of conversion. I call this the "Hook, Look or Book" trend. Review the top five or ten paid listings for the keyword 'ring tone' on Google, Yahoo! or Bing and you will find plenty of examples of each. Below we show you one each of the hook, the look and the book in action.

The Hook: To catch a fish you must bait the hook. The bait in the case of the keyword 'ring tones' is, of course, going to be ring tones. Consider the hook nothing more than a sample of something. Remember that the hook can be applied to any niche and could be a product demo, a white paper, a video, etc. If something is being given away (regardless of its value) it is the responsibility of the designer to make it a prominent element in the design. The challenge with using hooks is that they are often so valuable that users can get distracted - silly users. Only offer hooks if you can do so in balanced tandem with other funneling strategies (like the 'look', as seen below). 


The Look: Perhaps the most sophisticated of the current Web design trends, 'the look' implies getting prospects to 'look' a little further. In the past it was not uncommon for designers to profile dominant, brightly colored images/buttons to drive users further into the site and towards conversion (unlike the hook, where we offer up a sample of it right away in the hope they will feel confident enough to look further). Designers and marketers have gotten much smarter. Instead of using big images which tell a big story to force the look, now they are drawing users into looking by encouraging self-segmentation first. For example, in the ringtones niche, instead of offering a hook like free ringtones to get the user engaged, they are forcing a self-segmentation (in this case 'select your carrier'. The value in this is that if they have already invested their time doing some of this self-selecting, they are more likely to look. Those spending more time looking are better prospects - and better prospects means bigger profits.


The Book: The most aggressive of the current Web design trends, the 'book' approach pays big dividends (in the form of lifetime customer value) for those with the highest risk tolerance. The book is the booking of information. While it would be valuable to have them segment and look, or hook them with some immediate freebies, it all comes down to collecting information, so why not start off there. The benefit of the immediate book is that regardless of whether they complete a conversion, you've already got some of their information. If they are trusting enough to give you some, you can market to them in perpetuity if you so choose and increase the lifetime value of the visitors you have paid to receive.