In my Conversion Rockstars segment, I showed the best example I’d seen yet of maintaining a strong scent from display ad to landing page, thanks to 37signals. The point I made was that it’s better to be simple, and to echo your graphics and offers exactly in both places, than it is to get too creative. Getting too creative, it turns out, can actually hurt you.

As this week’s Conversion Blooper shows, sometimes creativity doesn’t pay off.

Take a look at this display ad, courtesy of xactly.

The ad is super compelling. Bright colors. Exciting. Casual. Cartoon font. Strong understanding of what the target market wants. Decent call to action. It’s a great ad. So, I click through.

Now, take a look at the landing page:

Whoa. Is these even the same company? The landing page is downright boring by comparison. Subdued colors. Business. Professional.

A classic example of losing the scent … and, ultimately, the conversion.

Remember, maintaining scent and avoiding the “bait and switch” isn’t just a matter of having the same messaging, or product, in each place. Rather, the whole gestalt of the ad must carry through to the landing page and, ideally, to the entire website. It’s not just about the words in the ad. It’s also about the colors. The themes. The fonts. The scene it calls to mind and the feelings it inspires. They all must come through.