Select Page is a popular online newspaper serving the Warrenton/Fauquier County Virginia community. It is also a favorite venue for Warrenton/Fauquier businesses to advertise online. What these advertisers don’t realize is that their ads are not well-structured to convert visitors to valuable leads; therefore, they do not provide the best return for their advertising dollar.

This article analyzes a few local business ads on and explains what I would change to bring about a higher conversion rate (i.e., lead generation) and make the ads as effective as possible.

Sales Funnels Explained

Structuring a sales funnel for your business is key to increasing sales and profits. The illustration below provides a simple example of a sales funnel and how it works:

Sales Funnel illustration

Effective online advertising

As you can see from the illustration above, there are 4 key components of a sales funnel:

1. Creating consumer awareness of your business through advertising.
2. Capturing contact information through your ad (“lead capture”)
3. Subsequent follow up communications with prospective customers who have responded to your advertising by providing their contact information.
4. Sales resulting from your follow up communications with people who have indicated an interest in your products or services by providing their contact information to you.

Poorly Structured Ads = Poor Conversion = Low ROI

The ad examples below are typical of local business ads on and most other online advertising venues. Note how the ads click through directly to the advertisers’ websites. The problem is that the ad destinations (advertiser websites) are not structured to convert visitors into genuine leads.

Latitudes Fair Trade Ad

Town Duck Ad

Shops at 5th and Main Warrenstock Ad

How to Structure Ads for Better Conversion and Return on Investment

Latitudes Fair Trade, The Town Duck and other Old Town Warrenton shops have formed a marketing alliance called The Shops at Fifth and Main. If I were in charge of marketing the Shops at Fifth and Main, I would start by making sure that their website(s) as well as all online advertising were structured to (a) provide a powerful call to action / incentive to provide a name and email address; and (b) set up and implement a follow-up marketing strategy using both email and text messaging to stay top of mind with their subscribers every week. Step 1 of the sales funnel might look like this:

Call to Action and Lead Capture Example

Call to Action and Lead Capture Example

A Compelling and Irresistible Offer is Key

In the example above, the irresistible offer is an opportunity to win a $100 gift certificate honored by any of the Fifth and Main Street shops in a monthly drawing. The $100 amount is high enough to generate interest and willingness to provide one’s name and email address for a chance to win the monthly prize. The long-term benefit of developing a highly-targeted list of local consumers who have given these shops permission to email and message them is well worth the short term cost of a monthly $100 gift certificate drawing.