Remember from years ago those banner ad days of “Click Here To Win A FREE iPod!” Also remember how you (well, I) never ever ever won. Well, we’ve come to an age now where high click-through rates just aren’t enough. So, if you’re an advertiser constantly fighting the infamous battle of how to achieve the desired response to your ads, don’t worry– you are not alone. There’s a bundle of techniques that go into optimizing your online banner ads and making your display campaign successful.
Purpose of the Ad
The absolute first step that should be taken, yes even before designing, should be to establish the main goal of the ad. That is, do you want your banner to generate awareness of your brand and company OR do you want the ad to generate traffic? Whichever route you choose for your ad to go, be sure your click-through rate is actually translating into conversions. According to ReTargeter, while a banner with compelling calls to action produced an expectedly higher click-through rate, it was outperformed by nearly a 300 percent increase in conversions by the banner that maintained the same message as the landing page it directed clickers to.
Split-testing is an awesome feature that allows you to test the waters, before making a final decision on a banner ad, about which approach will perform better. More easily put, let’s say you can’t decide on which of two words may work best for your ad, split-testing allows you to use both and see which will increase conversions. You can use split-testing to test just about any aspect of your brand/company–E-mails, landing pages, advertising, etc. Be sure while split-testing you are only testing out ONE variable at a time, so you can easily record results– don’t be afraid to do this more than once or make drastic changes!
As you (hopefully) already know, banner ads don’t require a lot of copy. They typically have a couple of words, maybe a sentence, then two or three bulleted points under a headline. What you choose as your ad copy is key to consider the big picture goal of your banner and accomplish it. Your banner ad call-to-action copy really depends on your company/brand. You may be a company that experiences better results with “Buy Now” copy or you may be one that sees better results using something like “Learn More,” either way, make sure it’s to the point and catches your audience’s attention. Some words may work better than others, such as “Easy” versus “Simple,” and you can easily test which generates more conversions by split-testing–however, be sure you keep EVERYTHING ELSE the exact same and just change that word to see which produces better results.
The color, images and backgrounds of banner ads solely rely on personal preference. There is no telling whether your entire audience is going to like a photograph over a plain background or anything else. Personally, I would say try not to make your banner design too busy, you don’t want it to confuse people. You could easily test what works best by using split-testing and keeping all elements the same, just with a different background or color set!