Zain Bahrain Ad Campaigns: Landing Page Analysis and Comparison
If you live in Bahrain, chances are at some point you’ve clicked on a link, either from social media or online ads, for one of Bahrain’s three major telecoms companies. These links all arrive, (or at least should arrive), at dedicated landing pages on the company’s websites.
Landing pages are crucial for any company because if you’ve got users to visit your site but can’t keep them there or get them to take action – you’ve lost a potential customer. Successful landing pages are a mix of design, copywriting, relevance and problem solving that often take extensive testing and optimization. Get them right and you can boost your online marketing ROI by hundreds of percent.
If you’re paying for traffic through social or PPC ads then the page you send people to can be the difference between making and losing money.
In this post, I’ll give a detailed look at a recent Google Display Network ad campaign from one of Bahrain’s telecoms providers, Zain. The post will focus on the web pages Zain is sending people to if they click on the ad. It’ll be a fairly long post so before I get started here’s why I’m writing it in the first place…
Why Analyse Zain’s Landing Page?
It’s easy to think that large, technology-focused companies such as Zain have highly optimised marketing and sales funnels, but this is often not the case. There are so many pieces to the marketing puzzle and with every company, large and small, there is room for improvement.
According to Bahrain’s 2014 TRA report (PDF), market share for mobile internet between the three major telecoms companies is Viva – 53%, Batelco – 27%, Zain – 20%.
Bahrain is a small market and competition between all three companies is intense. This post will look at what other channels and techniques, apart from the heavily saturated outdoor media space, Zain can use to try and improve their market share. Properly optimised online ad campaigns are one such example.
Generally the post aims to provide a helpful and non-judgemental analysis, suggest solutions and to highlight the importance of landing pages in attracting new customers and staying ahead of the competition. Often the best way of understanding marketing ideas and tactics is to look closely at examples for key takeaways and learning points.
Before I start, I’d like to point out I have no access to any analytics or contact with Zain. I don’t have any data or insights I can use for the analysis or information about marketing strategy. It will be based solely on looking at what’s publicly available.
I should also make clear that this not an anti-Zain post. I use Zain and (so far) I’ve never had any problems with their service or reason to complain.
Ok, on with the post…
The Campaign and Landing Page
I’ll be looking at a recent Zain campaign for their new ‘Dangerous PrePaid’ service. The ads have been appearing across the Display Network. If you’ve spent any time on YouTube over the last month or so you’ve most likely seen them. The campaign focuses on Zain’s latest prepaid pricing plan and uses the slogan “It should be illegal, breaking all the prepaid rules”
The destination URL for these ads is http://www.bh.zain.com/en/personal/mobile-plans/prepaid/dangerousprepaid. You can see a full image of page here.
Comparison Telecoms Landing Pages
What do other telecoms companies do with their paid traffic landing pages compared to Zain? In order to contextualise this post I’ll be looking at other current telecoms PPC landing pages along the way to see how others are dealing with some of the same conversion challenges as Zain. I’ve chosen pages from the UK and US for search terms ‘mobile phone plan’, ‘cell phone plan’ and ‘phone plan’.
Images of the pages can be found here:
First Impressions (What is a Landing Page Anyway?)
Before we get into the specifics we need to understand what we’re actually looking at with this page. The actual definition of a landing page is up for debate with lots of different, and valid, interpretations. For our purposes, I think the following from Unbounce is a good start:
“A landing page is a stand-alone, campaign-specific web page. It’s intent is to get your visitors to complete a single action. It’s not your website, and it’s most certainly not your homepage.”
The majority of digital marketers most likely wouldn’t consider Zain’s page to be an advertising directed landing page. Whilst it isn’t the homepage, it also isn’t a stand-alone campaign specific web page. It’s the offer page inside of Zain’s website that people visit either though organic search, the homepage or some other part of the site.
Just from a quick glance we can see that the page doesn’t address the unique campaign proposition. The header section for instance has no mention at all of the offer or the content of the ads. At Gulf Broadcast we don’t begin online ad campaigns before thinking carefully about where we’re sending the traffic. If you can’t make a page that is laser focused on the purpose of your campaign then it’s likely the campaign is not optimised to meet your goals.
header of the Zain Page
With the exception of ID Mobile, the comparison pages don’t fall into the trap of using a regular website page as a landing page and each page is created with the ad in mind.
The Sprint page is laser focused on the unique campaign proposition. Navigation is moved to the side and the headline introduces the offer
Headline introduces offer and there is some basic, relevant navigation. Could use some clear benefits in the headline.
Header is pretty small in comparison to the navigation. This page does an OK job.
No headline, just breadcrumbs to introduce the page. Header contains very little useful information for the user.
A key part of campaign uniqueness is having a well-defined goal and a landing page that is focused on reaching that goal. Anything on the page that sucks attention away from the goal decreases the likelihood of conversion. Irrelevant links are the biggest factor in attention ratio and Zain’s page has a massive attention ratio of over 100:1 – over 100 links on page compared to 1 or maybe 2 (if you count the live chat widget) action goals Social media buttons on three areas in the page, irrelevant sidebar links, link heavy headers and footers and a live chat widget all distract from the offer. It’s almost inevitable when someone lands on this page from an ad, the next page they visit will be completely unrelated to offer and often have no commercial intent.
I’m not saying the ratio needs to be 1:1 for an awareness campaign like this but just using a regular page from their website gives people who click on the ads plenty of reasons to totally forget about the offer.
Information and Design Hierarchy
To be successful landing pages need have a clear information and design hierarchy. Getting the mix right can be hard and looking at web pages in this way is often a good way of understanding their strengths and weaknesses. The image below shows the relationship between information and design on the Zain page. The design hierarchy is green and the information is red, (I’ve added in some AIDA points as well).
We can see that the design of the page bypasses almost all of the useful and compelling information directly related to the offer. For someone skimming the page this is what they’ll see:
The free giveaway and call to action, for example, are tiny and barely visible. The information that is presented is vague, conflicting and/or hard to decipher. The main bulk of detail is in what is basically an Excel spreadsheet and even after concentrating on it for a while its hard to understand what it is actually saying or how it benefits customers.
Central to effective landing pages is reducing anxiety and not introducing doubt, but the spreadsheet on this page increases anxiety and introduces doubt. Steve Krug’s ‘don’t make me think’ approach to usability design is a way of understanding the problems associated with displaying information in this way. For most people, tables of data are by their nature anxiety inducing because they’re associated with work and deciphering them often requires intense concentration. You need to think pretty hard to understand what Zain is offering on this page.
The information section above the table lays out the benefits of the plan:
All this sounds great but Zain has effectively put the small print right below the benefits with a data table that introduces lots and lots of doubt. Is the green bar at the top a title of the column or a row, why does it say BD 2 then below BD/1 Week, what does (FUP-2GB/Week mean)? Above, the pitch is “free international calls” below it’s “5mins of free international calls a week”.
This is information that the customer needs much further down the decision funnel and provided only when the benefits have been made crystal clear – not directly from an ad.
Looking at the comparison pages we can see that displaying data is a challenge all telecoms companies have with landing pages, and that each has it’s own solution.
Verizon uses a spreadsheet style table similar to Zain. The table is simplified and has better colour coding, but like the Zain page is hard to read and even harder to understand.
The ID Mobile page displays its plan data in clearly defined rows. On the plus side it’s a simple solution that gives the user the minimum required information easily digestible chunks. On the downside, this type of layout isn’t very economical space wise. This page has 14 rows and when you look at the full page it quickly becomes much less digestible.
The Pure Talk page uses interactive elements with simple visual cues to indicate different price plans. Press a rectangle and the pricing information appears on the right. Scroll down the page and pricing information scrolls also. This page deals the problem of information overload by asking the user to select from only 1 variable – minutes – rather than presenting people with choices about data, texts, minutes, networks and handsets etc.
O2 goes for lists inside of columns to display their tariff data. They’ve reduced the amount of information to a bare minimum, included ‘more details’ as links and focused on the ‘data’ variable.
Sprint, like Verison and Zain, uses a table but makes it much easier to understand the benefits and what’s in the offer through a minimal amount text, icons, font size variation and colour.
These pages show there is no one best way to display complicated data such as mobile phone plans. There are however a few elements we can point to in the best examples:
- Less is more – show the absolute minimum information required. Extra info is behind a link or further down the page.
- Use visual queues – icons, colours and shapes make it easy for people to quickly understand the page
- Focus on 1 variable – ask people choose based on one common variable rather than 3 or 4
Clever vs. Clarity
Clear vs. clever is a big debate in landing page, and particularly, headline copywriting. Ultimately the goal of the headline is to keep people engaged and on the page and depending on your product and audience clever or clear might be the one for you. With this campaign, Zain is using the exact same copy formula for their outdoor and online ads, which seems to suggest that this was an outdoor campaign shoehorned into a digital roll out.
The online ads feature the campaign slogan ‘It should be illegal’ and thus as is best practice, the landing page copy matches the ad text. On Zain’s page, because the headline text is so small the sidebar image works as the headline. One of the problems here is that because it’s in a sidebar where everything is a link my first response is to try and click it!
Beyond that the question is ‘is this copy enough to keep me reading?’ It’s definitely attention grabbing but at the same it’s pretty confusing for a person who’s just clicked on an ad and is probably wanting to see quickly what the benefits are.
What you put on your landing page depends largely on the awareness level of the reader. The head and subhead copywriting on this page assumes a higher existing awareness level of the offer than is most likely the case. This makes more sense as an SEO landing page rather than a non-retargeted ad landing page, where awareness level is most likely lower.
The call to action is usually central in all marketing campaigns – as it’s the thing that closes the deal. Even though Zain has an online store, E-commerce hasn’t taken off in Bahrain yet and even the major telecoms companies appear to be focusing on driving people in store to buy. This particular campaign is no different and Zain’s call-to-action appears in tiny font size at the bottom of the page – If you look at whole page image above you’ll see just how tiny it is!
But apart from the font size this CTA is all over the place:
Here’s what’s going though my mind whilst I’m reading it.
- First word spelling mistake. Not a good start.
- ‘call 107’. Presumably this means from a Zain phone? What if I don’t have a Zain phone?
- ‘visit any Zain Experience Shop’. What is an ‘experience’ shop? Is it different to a regular shop?
- Ok so I have to visit a shop, where are the shops?
There not much more this page can do to make it harder for me to get this offer.
This is an issue that goes beyond landing page design and happens with all of Bahrain’s telecoms companies – they don’t make an effective connection between online and offline. Consequently they don’t make it easy for people to buy their products.
Ultimately every interaction with a brand is an experience, including a website, and poorly designed online experiences negatively affect people’s impression of brands. Customer experience is an essential part of effective branding and one of the reasons some companies spend so much on service design.
Very few companies in Bahrain, including all the telecoms companies, pay much attention to user experience as a marketing tool. Conventional wisdom says it’s all about product branding and price, but there’s a huge customer satisfaction hole none these companies are currently filling and consequently there is potential for service design to make a big impact on customer sentiment and approval ratings.
It’s not hard to see how to fix some of the above problems with Zain’s CTA – fix the spelling, make it bigger, give a general phone number and have a link to a store locator are all options. Using a form to register interest is also a good bet.
These solutions address some of the problems with the copy but there are much more creative ways Zain could think about CTA’s, and in the process make it easy and even delightful for their customers, as well as addressing the online/offline aspect of these campaigns. Sign-up forms that email the person with the exact offer they want and nearest store location with a Google Maps link is one basic example.
The comparison pages are for e-commerce so not directly comparable. But, for one of their landing pages T-mobile has placed the ‘visit a store’ call to action in the header along with a clearly defined persona and compelling image and copy. The ‘action’ element here is present in both the image and the CTA.
I’m assuming that Zain has been running this campaign across mobile in which case we need to look at the responsiveness of the page.
I’m shocked to discover that the page isn’t mobile responsive, (neither is the whole website for that matter!) Experiencing this page on my iPhone 5 is a nightmare – I have to zoom and swipe left and right to try and understand the contents of the table and to read the text. The ‘live chat’ dialogue box is minuscule in the bottom right hand corner of the screen and the main image is now small enough I can’t read the text without zoom.
There’s really no excuse for this. If you’re running ad campaigns on mobile without a mobile ready landing page there’s a high likely hood you’re losing money.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways:
There’s a lot more Zain could do to optimise this campaign beyond getting ad impressions. It’s crucial to get the most out of the traffic you are generating, especially if you are paying for it, for better conversions and more effective ROI tracking.
My key takeaways from taking a close look at Zain’s page are things everyone can implement and experiment with in their own pages.
1. Don’t start a campaign without a landing page. In order to understand the goal of the campaign you should have a page 100% designed to meet those goals.
2. Create the information hierarchy before designing the page. For the page Zain is trying to fit the information into it’s existing webpage template, when they should be doing it other way around. The use of an existing webpage as a template has meant a lot of the best information on the page is barely visible to skim- readers.
3. Highlight the benefits not the features. This page is screaming out for a major shift in emphasis away from tables of features and prices and towards some clear and compelling benefits of this offer.
4. What stage of awareness is the reader in? This page looks like a page much further down the sales funnel with the campaign copy shoehorned into it.
5. If your campaign is running on mobile then you need a mobile responsive page.