To a marketer trying to maximize an organization’s budget, the statistics about banner advertising can be scary. By some accounts, you have a greater likelihood of being struck by lightning or giving birth to twins than of getting someone to click on your banner ad. In many cases, such statements stem from research conducted by companies eager to get you to spend your marketing dollars elsewhere.
Despite that, there is some merit to the notion that getting people to click on your ads takes a bit more effort than, say, sending emails or using social media. Statistics show that the average consumer is exposed to thousands of messages per day, and on average, that includes as many as 60 banner ads. This onslaught of marketing is largely responsible for the phenomenon known as “banner blindness,” in which customers essentially don’t even see your banner ads, never mind click on them.
Does all of this mean that you should give up on online banner advertising and divert your advertising dollars elsewhere? No way. In fact, a well-designed, well-thought-out banner advertising campaign with eye-catching ads can boost brand awareness just as effectively, if not more so, than any other marketing tactic.
Focus on Design
Some marketers try to catch users’ attention by incorporating flash animation, GIFs, and salacious headlines involving celebrities or trending news stories. While in theory, the movement or eye-popping headlines should grab attention, they often do so in the wrong way. Users often deem the motion obnoxious or distracting, or assume that clicking on the link will lead them to spam or a site that will infect their computer with malicious software. Relying on such tactics damages your brand, as your customers may feel misled if they click on a link purporting to provide insider secrets to solve a specific problem, only to discover that the “secrets” aren’t really that.
Instead, when designing your banner ad, focus on the elements of good design rather than using elements of “shock and awe.” Use attractive images, complementary colors, and easy to read fonts. Avoid flash animation unless it serves a distinct purpose. Don’t be afraid to play with design elements; users expect to see boxes and rectangles on the screen, so adding curves can grab their attention. If you aren’t sure that a design element will work, perform A/B tests focused on a single element, like a color or image, to see which resonates better with your target audience.
Focus on the Value Proposition
With so many ads competing for your audience’s attention, you need to give them a reason to click on your banner. They need to know what’s in it for them — what they will gain by clicking on the link. For that reason, your banner ad copy should focus on clearly defining the consumer value proposition.
What does this look like in practice? Instead of using your banner to tell customers about the features of your product or service, you would tell the customer what they gain, such as whether they save money, save time, or win a prize. The first rule of banner ad copy is that it’s not about you; it’s about your customers. When they know what they will get by clicking, they are more likely to click.
Include a Strong Call to Action
Are you asking people to click on your link? Or just assuming that because they see it, they will know what to do, and click the link.
While some people might click on the link because they are interested in your value proposition, you will see greater results when you include a strong call to action, defining exactly what you want people to do. Do you want them to shop, sign up, or request more information? Spell it out explicitly in your ad — and make sure that the link in the ad leads directly to the page where they can complete the desired action.
When it comes to marketing, you will always face competition from other companies — and there will always be newer, flashier tactics to compete for audience attention and advertising dollars. Just because something requires a little more effort to be effective doesn’t mean that you should forgo it altogether, though. By thinking about your strategy and focusing on your customers and what they want, you can develop banner advertisements that not only get clicks, but also real results.