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Conversion Van: Being an optimization geek makes your marketing smarter


As employees of a data-driven, test-heavy direct online agency, we’re always thinking about conversions and optimization. And that thinking is not limited to online.

When you’re working in this business, every marketing message is subject to scrutiny. How can it be better? How can it work harder? Is that message really getting the value proposition across?

Our healthy obsession became truly apparent the other day when we noticed a van parked outside the office. The majority of the van’s real estate was taken up by messaging, including the side and back windows. At first, we speculated that this was a government van watching our every move. But after going on a reconnaissance mission, we saw that it was simply a case of bad marketing.

We took some pictures and came back with some quick optimization fixes. Yes, we audited a conversion van for better conversion. Yes, it’s true.

We are optimization geeks.

Our Optimization Advice

  • You’ve got limited time to get people’s attention. So get in first and fast with the value prop. The largest message on there should be “Get better indoor cell phone reception.”
  • Take out the fluff and leave the important stuff. When you have limited time and real estate to get your message across, all you need is the value prop, phone number, website address and logo. The back of the van has similar issues. Instead of wasting time on superfluous messaging like “stop going outside to talk,” the messaging should clear and to the point.
  • Have a clear and visible call to action. The site address is hidden, down at the bottom of the van. Yet so many people are online, and more likely to remember that than the phone number, especially when on the road.
  • Be willing to identify your blind spots. Like the ridiculous idea of painting over 80% of the van windows, we sometimes are blind to our own bad ideas. Step away from your marketing tactics to gain a different perspective, and don’t be afraid to ask for outside opinions. Hearing how your brand is being perceived could give you great insight into how you should be communicating.
  • Don’t detract from your credibility. The “I can hear you now!” on the front fender lends an air of cheesiness and brings into question the professionalism of the company. Ditto for the smiley face guy on the back bumper.
  • Keep brand consistency. While the Superman hubcap details are kitschy, they have nothing to do with the company or its brand. It’s another potential detractor from professionalism.

Something they did right

The one thing that was smart marketing on this van was the “Grab-a-Card” feature on the side windows. It allows people to take a card with them. Of course, this isn’t advisable if you see the van while speeding down a highway.

You might not think that a van merits optimization. But bad marketing is everywhere. Play the game of Optimize This next time you’re out. As you start to identify the potentials for marketing optimization out in the world, you’ll easily be able to see them in your own business.