The importance of user journey consistency when designing social ads

Social Media shows no signs of slowing and should be an integral part of your digital strategy, as customers seek to engage with the brands they love. But as marketers how do you make sure your social ads are heightening and not hindering your customer’s overall experience? In this blog, we seek to discuss the importance of user journey consistency when designing social ads.

What is user journey consistency?

We know more times than not, that a customer journey is not a simple interaction, whereby a customer will land on your website and immediately, buy a product or enquire about your services – if only it was that simple. Predominantly customers will embark on a customer journey with multiple touchpoints, this can look something like seeing a Facebook advertisement, registering details,  receiving an email campaign, visiting the website, enquiring and purchasing. The key component here in order to succeed is user journey consistency, but what is it?

The user journey is the experience a person has when using or interacting with something, with a focus on what the user sees and interacts with. User journey consistency is a process a user takes where all visual elements are uniform.

64% of marketers say they have become more focused on providing customers with a consistent experience across every channel – including in-store, online, email, mobile, social, sales and service – as a result of customer expectations over the past 12 to 18 months.

–  Marketing Week

Why is a visually consistent user journey so important?

Consumers trust brands that they recognise and remember. From the tone of voice to graphical style to the photographs used in their advertising, consistency makes a brand more dependable and recognisable. Consistency in design keeps customer satisfaction high.

Brand consistency is the act of repeatedly displaying the same brand messages, styles, and other brand elements to your audiences to ensure brand recognition. Brand recognition then builds trust and loyalty between your brand and your consumers.  

Creating a consistent brand image from one touchpoint to another is vital, what do we mean by this and why is it so important? The moment you deliver a social advertisement you are setting an expectation for your potential customer, one that relies on your website living up to that expectation. As customers, we expect a seamless experience between different touchpoints, from the tone of voice, graphical style and photography used, it all should reiterate one another, to help build a story and move the customer from one phase to another in the sales process.

As a brand, if you nail this on the head, you have the ability to achieve some amazing results for your brand such as:

  • Making your brand far more recognizable across different touchpoints, this, in turn, makes prospective customers more comfortable as they know what to expect as they transition between different touchpoints.
  • Increasing trust in your brand across an array of different platforms, as users, we expect patterns, from your logo to colours and messaging to be translated from social media platforms to your brand’s website.
  • Promotes storytelling, did you know it’s out with the one-off, single-channel experience and in with the omnichannel, multi-touch points? Therefore consistency is key to build the story over time.
  • Enabling a single brand experience which is positive for your customers and cost-effective for your brand as a whole.

Using social media ads for lead conversion.

Social media can be a powerful tool when it comes to generating leads, but how? This comes in the form of paid social media, otherwise known as Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and LinkedIn Ads.

Facebook ads.

The process of setting up an advertisement on Facebook is simple and can be broken down into 4 steps, deciding your ad creative, affirming targeting & bidding options and customising form fields.

Often the most popular social media platform, when it comes to advertising, with 84% of marketers choosing to advertise on Facebook to drive traffic and acquire leads – Adstage.

Instagram ads.

The setup for Instagram is similar to Facebook, the only exception is that lead form filling options are limited to an email address, name, phone number, and gender.

Instagram seems to be growing in retrospect to advertising with eMarketer finding 48.8% of brands existing on Instagram and hoping to increase their participation by 70.7% – eMarketer.

LinkedIn ads.

LinkedIn offers many different advertising types from sponsored content, sponsored inmails, text ads, and dynamic ads. Specifically for lead generation, LinkedIn offers Lead Generation Forms which work very similar to the ones we have previously discussed, except more data can be collected from a lead, and the lead details can be pre-populated.

LinkedIn is a successful platform for promoting your business especially if you are a B2B business, 62% of B2B marketers deem LinkedIn advertising to be the most effective social media platform – Adstage.

Using landing pages & microsites for lead generation.

As we have discovered, some social ads allow you to create lead generation forms directly into your ad post, meaning your customer can convert without having to leave the social platform. These lead generation forms are exclusive to Facebook and Instagram. This is a cost-effective method, if budget restraints occur, however, if you do have a sufficient budget, we highly recommend sending the user somewhere, where they can receive more information before converting. Perhaps sending them to niche content on a landing page or microsite.

So what is a landing page & microsite?

A landing page is an internal page on a website where the content is tailored to suit a certain niche, product or service. This page is used to inform a user of the What, Why, Where and How of the product or service, which includes consistent “call to actions” that push users to convert.

A microsite is a small website, which usually sits on a subdomain, this acts as a hub of information for a specific product service or niche. Microsites are similar to landing pages but they sit separately from their main website, yet still encourage users to convert directly.

The key considerations here are the point at which you capture a user and the point at which a user converts. Here’s an example to get you thinking:

Capture point: An advert on Facebook.  Conversion point: A landing page on your website.

Below is an example of an inconsistent visual journey:

Although Apple Music’s social graphics looks great, they haven’t assured that design styles are consistent between them and their streaming platform.

Now let’s have a look at user journey that is a little more visually consistent:

As you can see above, Spotify have nailed their visual brand identity, as when we look at the capture point and the conversion point side-by-side, the fonts, colours, imagery and messaging are consistent across both platforms.

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How to achieve consistency from your social ads to your website.

To ensure brand consistency, we need to be looking at the design and structure of the social advert and the landing page, side-by-side. The quick wins for this are colours, fonts, messaging and imagery: if we can streamline these tiny elements, we’re onto a winner already.

The following steps should always be considered to achieve this:

Brand guidelines.

Brand guidelines are a must in order to achieve brand consistency and brand recognition. A brand guidelines document is a guide which contains all elements that are key to brand identity. Don’t worry if this document wasn’t supplied when your brand identity was first delivered – this document can be created at any time, but once it is, it should be stuck to.

Maybe you already have a brand guidelines document but aren’t happy with the brand identity. Remember: A brand and a logo aren’t the same things, you could always refresh your brand, and retain core assets like your logo, fonts, and colours.

This document should include all of the following:

Company logos. 

  • You may have multiple logos, you may just have one, but whatever you have, these need to be included in your brand guidelines. Your logo may also have different ways it can be displayed, whether that’s landscape, portrait or even changing colour depending on the background colour.

Typography.

  • To ensure brand consistency, your company’s typography should be set in stone, whether you have one type family across the board or a selection of families, they should be brought together and their rules should be stated in the document. Rules include the difference in font sizes between paragraphs and titles; letter spacing & line spacing; as well as different weights of each font and their purposes.

Colours.

  • Another essential part of any brand guidelines document is a colour palette. The colour palette should always include visual representations of each colour, colour codes (including HEX, RGB and CMYK), and rules around how colour is to be applied to brand assets.

Tone of voice.

  • The tone of voice is how the brand speaks to its consumer, for example, this could be conversational, formal or playful. This is usually written as bullets then an example sentence is shown to put the tone of voice into context.

Brand activation.

  • A brand activation section should outline the visual usage of the brand across different materials and assets including, but not exclusive to, business cards, website and social graphics.

Easily accessible templates.

Once the brand guidelines have been confirmed, a great way to ensure consistency is through templates that are easily accessible to everyone within your company.

Designing templates like the ones above make producing adverts simple, they are predesigned by your design agency in a way that can be quickly and easily edited and replicated, changing as little as the wording each time. This is a great tactic for lead generation using social media.

Making your brand human.

The best brands communicate with their consumers very directly, they achieve this by using language and imagery that directly relate to their target audience. A simple way to explain this is that if your target audience is children aged between 12 and 15, use imagery of this age group and language that they would use & understand in your brand assets. As you can see below, eCommerce fashion retailers, ASOS target one of their key demographics (young men) through their use of imagery, language and emojis to create a sense of aspiration; this is just one of many great examples of social advertising.

How to use customer journey touchpoints in your creative.

Touchpoints are all the elements that we have control of during a conversion process. Considerations we are going to address include Customer Journey Mapping, Research, Concept Creation and Split Testing.

Customer journey mapping.

Customer Journey Mapping is the process of creating a hypothetical or physical diagram of how users navigate through a process. The process helps businesses learn about their customers’ experience when navigating through their platforms, and learn about their frustrations, pain points and their points of conversion.

Before even thinking about the design or visual elements of the user journey, storyboarding (or customer journey mapping) the process that a user would take is essential. The most effective way of doing this is exactly how we’d plan a car journey: start with the destination and work backwards, step by step.

Here’s an example:

  • Customer purchases a product
  • Customer clicks “buy now”
  • Customer reads reviews
  • Customer lands on product page
  • Customer clicks social advert promoting a product

Research.

Research is an integral part of any creative project. When you employ a marketing agency, the two factors which should be considered are beauty and empathy. A good marketing team should study your customer data as well as look into campaigns that have worked well in the past for both yourselves and your competitors. We can use these learnings to help drive a successful campaign.

Research is an integral part of any creative process. There will be a competitor or a company within similar markets to your business that are doing it right: study their assets & user journeys and learn from them.

Start by making the following notes during the research period:

  • The language used in the advert: formality, audience, keywords, etc.
  • The imagery used in the advert: style, quality, personas, etc.
  • The colours used in the advert: what the theory behind each colour means.
  • The colours used in the advert: what the theory behind each colour means.

Concept creation.

The concept is what drives a campaign, it’s a movement. It’s Carlsberg’s “probably the best beer in the world” or Specsavers’ “should’ve gone to Specsavers”. It’s the big idea that influences and is referenced throughout the campaign.

Here are some examples of some well-known campaign concepts:

  • Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign. (lasting 15 years and creating $800 million of revenue).

  • Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign.

  • Obama’s “Change” campaign.

No matter how big or small a campaign is, concept creation is essential. If your campaign is going to be consistently successful, it needs that driving force behind it.

Here are some questions to get you thinking, try to answer each one in a simple singular sentence:

  • What do we do?
  • Who do we want to work with/sell to?
  • Why would they want it?
  • Is there any short and snappy language that sums up the above?

Example: Clicky Media.

  • We offer multi-disciplined digital marketing services.
  • We work with partners who rely on our digital marketing experts to drive results.
  • Our partners want to grow their businesses.
  • We sum this up as “Your digital growth partner.”

Split testing.

Split testing, sometimes referred to as A/B split testing, is the process of running two creative variants simultaneously in order to work out which one performs better. By using tools like Facebook Ads Manager or Google Analytics, you can study the data and learn which route was more successful.

Here are some examples of what could be split tested:

  • The design style of an ad
  • Photography used in an ad
  • The language used in an ad
  • The webpage the user lands on

Once you have three or four concepts, whittle them down to two and test them. Remember, split testing allows you to send your customers down different journeys, use this as an opportunity to learn about your audience and what converts them into customers.

Best practices for creating social ads and consistent user journeys.

  • Consumers trust brands that they recognise, remember and are visually consistent. 

  • A brand guidelines document is essential to ensure visual consistency every time.

  • Your brand assets should directly communicate with your target audience.

  • Storyboarding, research, and testing are integral steps of achieving a visually successful user journey.

Summary.

To summarise Social Advertising should be an integral part of your overall digital strategy, but make sure that your ads are heightening and not hindering your customer’s experience. Consistency is key, where all visual elements are uniform from your advertisement to your landing page. In turn, you will create a brand that your customers, trust and recognize through an array of different touchpoints.  No matter your budget you can succeed with social ads, whether you choose to use lead generation forms within social platforms or excel your customer’s journey further and take them to landing pages or microsite filled with content and call to actions to increase conversions.

We hope this blog has enlightened you to some of the best practices and techniques that ensure user journey consistency from ads to landing pages

We’re able to help with all of the above, so if you’d like some assistance then get in touch!

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Written by Andy Pink

Digital Designer