In the realm of digital advertising, it would not be unreasonable to call banner ads the flashy socialites of the group...
Banner ads like to make appearances at all the top sites, yearn for attention with colorful imagery, pull off the most visually imaginative techniques and make enticing offers in exchange for a click.
Yet, like all partygoers, banner ads can easily become “out of control” or conversely, just become lost in the crowd.
Their customizable range and ability to use showy animation can ultimately become deterrents for effective marketing; aggressively energetic motion graphics or splashy imagery might seem fun at first, but to a viewer trying to focus on website content, they quickly become gaudy annoyances that never see the light of a lead.
Fortunately, a tasteful middle ground in design and verbiage is possible and best practices can be applied to create the perfect banner ad. This article focuses on the bread and butter of digital advertising: static banner ads.
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Static Banner Ads: Keep it Relevant, Unique and Clear
Static banner ads are easily scalable, non-animated ads. With all content on the table at once, these images need to be impactful at first glance. Below are some tips that will help boost their effectiveness:
- Include an Action-Oriented CTA
Prompt the viewer to follow their interest with a CTA that is short and promises an actionable result, i.e. if they “Download Now” they’ll receive the informative whitepaper or “Learn More” brings them straight to your lead generating contact page. When it comes to design, keep your CTA as the second most important verbiage element behind your headline and incentive. You want it to stand out but your ad doesn’t need to be one huge CTA button.
- Make Your Headline Stand Out
This is the text that needs to be the most noticeable; it is the copy that will partner with your hero image and explain the relevancy of your ad. Like the CTA, brevity is something to be desired. This allows you to make the text larger without overwhelming the entire ad space and legible enough to be scaled on all banner ad size formats.
- Include a Promotional Incentive
You’ve got their attention with a bold headline. Follow through your headline’s claim with a promotional incentive such as free content or a discount. According to Moz.com, 40% of “respondents took an action from seeing an ad for a more purchase related reason that simply being interested…” In other words, the ad was relevant to them and addressed a need they sought to fulfill. Higher click-through rates (CTRs) are certainly the ultimate goal and to spice up the incentive, include a sense of urgency by setting a promotional deadline, e.g. “Limited Time Offer” or “Last Chance.”
- Have an Eye-Catching Hero Image
It is likely that your banner ad will be competing with others on a noisy website; stand above the crowd with an image that is unique (be wary of generic stock images) and has good resolution. Studies have shown that high-contrast, lifestyle imagery performs the best; it makes sense that people naturally gravitate towards other people. That being said, pick the photograph of an attractive, happy couple driving their new SUV along a beach over boring clip art.
- Present Your Company Logo
This might seem obvious but make sure your brand logo makes an appearance; according to SwellPath, logos work best when placed in the corners of your ad.
- Maintain Consistent Branding
Your banner ad is an extension of your company; make sure it confirms to the design established by your digital brand guidelines and apply this to the rest of your banner ads. Consistently paired fonts, colors, imagery and voice is essential to establishing yourself as a recognizable brand. A good rule of thumb is to closely pair it with the look of your website.
These guidelines are, of course, just the tip of the digital marketing iceberg. But if you abide by some common ground rules, creating static banner ads can become significantly easier and yield better performance.