Humans are highly visual creatures. We make snap judgments of everything we see. We can’t help it.
So, whatever we create needs to send the right message — fast.
In digital marketing, relevance is how relevant your offer is to the wants and needs of your visitors.
Does it connect to their needs? Does it make an impact? Or is it forgettable?
Your website is one of the most important places to show your relevance.
The first impression people get of your website is the crucial factor in whether or not visitors will buy from you.
And these impressions happen in only 50 milliseconds.
You have less than a second to send the right message.
How Relevance and Visuals Work Together
Let’s play a game…
Look at this image for five seconds.
What do you think this website is about?
Here’s the same website again in English.
Did you guess it was for Patagonia’s Nano-Puff jacket?
This is an example of how your brain is using System 1 (intuition & instinct) to quickly try to understand what the site is about.
You see the dry, chilly landscape behind the person in the photo.
You skim the headline.
You subconsciously attempt to emphasize with them.
They look cold.
But you perceive warmth.
Patagonia has successfully delivered its message in mere milliseconds: the benefit of this product is warmth in a cold environment.
To increase sales, you need to improve relevance by speaking to System 1.
That’s what’s making fast assumptions about your brand, so you need to get in before higher thought processes come in.
If your audience has to examine your photo and copy and think about what you’re offering, you’ve already lost them.
What Is Relevance?
Relevance is, quite simply, a measure of how relevant your offer, product or service is to the wants and needs of a visitor.
This doesn’t mean “essential” or “necessary.” And it doesn’t mean obvious, either.
Your target audience may not even have words for what they need and want.
It’s your job to make an emotional connection that resonates with them.
This is especially important for outdoor brands where the benefits are more intangible, e.g. adventure, inspiration, challenge.
Remember that your visitors’ attention spans are lower than ever.
They’re constantly inundated by imagery and text, so their System 1 brain is making quick impressions to help them.
That means your offer has to communicate relevance immediately.
How To Improve Your Website’s Relevance
Here’s the tricky part: your product’s benefits are clear to you.
But they may not be obvious to your audience.
They’re not knee-deep in your brand; it’s like you’re a street vendor in a crowded market and they’re wandering by your booth.
So, if you want to capture their attention and increase your sales, ask yourself these four questions:
1. Does the headline match the page content?
Don’t get too artsy or abstract. Human-centered photographs with clear, value-driven headlines perform best.
2. Do the call-to-action buttons match the value they’re going to get?
Clicking on any button on the internet is like opening an unmarked door in a strange building. No one will do it unless they can clearly see the value behind it.
3. Are the images on the page relevant to the content?
There are so, so many images in the world — and many of them are simply too abstract to make an impact. (Hello, generic stock images). Think of your visuals as a way to instantly show your core benefits.
4. If the user came from an ad, email, or Google, will they recognize that it’s a continuation of their journey?
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve clicked on a link only to land on a page that had no relationship to the content I was just reading. Don’t make that mistake: be your audience’s guide!
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Now, let’s dive into some examples…
Here’s a good example of relevance from Outdoor Research.
On the left side of the image is a Facebook ad for their Zip Sack and their landing page on the right.
The message of “free shipping”, “easy returns”, and “buy now, pay later” is continued from the ad to the landing page.
Plus, the image and product name clearly match across the properties as well.
When you have high relevance like this on digital ads, you can bet there’s also higher return on ad spend (ROAS).
Here, NEMO’s original ad is certainly compelling. It speaks to the audience’s desire for comfort, luxury, and good experiences during their outdoor adventures.
But it all falls apart on the product landing page.
Relevance is low because 90% of the words used in the ad are not translated onto the product landing page. The name of the product is different from the name implied by the ad headline. There is little copy on the landing page that follows the benefits listed in the ad.
Also, everything has been rephrased, e.g. “free shipping” vs. “ships free.” Psychologically, people are looking for continuity. The buyer journey should lead them further down the funnel, not make them question what they’re looking at.
NEMO could improve sales and lower ad costs by including benefits such as “award-winning design” and “lifetime warranty” on their landing page in a prominent place when visitors first land on their site.
When people click on your ads, where are they redirected to?
If the answer is your homepage, you’re losing money.
In this example from Cotopaxi, the ad is for their Teca Cotton Face Mask.
The benefits are clearly expressed and the picture is engaging and colorful.
But the destination of the ad is Cotopaxi’s homepage.
Yes, maybe some people will see the small banner promoting the the masks.
But you never want to send paid traffic to your homepage and force them to find what they’re looking for.
You always want to send people to a dedicated landing page.
The best landing pages focus on a single call to action, have no distracting links or navigation, and sell the one thing people clicked on your ad for.
The content on the landing page should repeat the same message from your ad.
Run This 5-Second Test To Increase Sales and Relevance
- Print out a high-traffic landing page on your site
- Show it to 10 people who don’t know what it’s about. Let them look for only 5 seconds.
- Ask them these two questions:
- What do you think this website is about?
- What kind of people is it for?
- Write down their answers
- Think about what improvements you can make
Now It’s Your Turn
I hope this marketing tip gave you some ideas for your outdoor brand.
If you found it useful, please share it with your friends so we can all grow our impact and build a better future for our planet. 🙂
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See you out there!