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Designing digital ads doesn’t have to be incredibly difficult, but it does take skill and strategic thinking in order to do it well. The internet has made us all very capable of tuning out visual distractions. It’s a necessary skill in an era that is defined by the incredible volume of information and marketing messages we’re exposed to on a daily basis.

But this user ability to tune out visual distractions presents a challenge for brands using digital display as part of their marketing strategies. How can you design digital advertisements that get noticed and generate sales? Below are 5 tips.

  1. Use better CTAs

It should be obvious, but all of your banner ads need to have calls-to-action (CTAs). CTAs tell users what to do next by guiding them toward the action you want them to take. They compel the user to act. Without a CTA, your ad is just window dressing on someone else’s website.

So, yes, you need a CTA, but more specifically you need a good CTA. What defines a good CTA? For one thing, it should be as specific as you can make it while still keeping it concise. Take a look at the CTAs you’ve used on previous ads and consider whether they could have been more specific so as to better prime the user for where you’re taking them once they click. Test adding specificity to your CTAs — for example, does a CTA to “shop jackets” perform better in a winter clothing ad than “shop now”?

Another CTA issue that can be detrimental to click-through rates is when buttons or link text is difficult to identify within the ad creative itself. CTAs should be visually distinct so they stand out from the rest of the creative. The user should never have to look for a CTA — it should always be clearly visible and easy to locate without searching.

Image Credit: IBM Bluemix

When it comes to driving engagement and getting users to click on your ads, a compelling CTA is critical.

  1. Write better value propositions

Your ad’s value proposition is the thing that tells the user why she should click on your ad. A good value proposition — one that creates a sense of need or desire in the user — is a major component of a successful banner ad.

Value propositions have to do a lot of work in very little space, so they need to be concise. Ideally they also need to focus on what your company can do for the user. A lot of companies take the approach of trying to tell users how great they are. For example, they’ll say something like “We have over twenty year of experience in the industry,” but they never clarify how that experience benefits the user. If you want to generate better results, you should write your value propositions as though you’re solving a problem the user has. Tell the user what you can do to save them time, money, improve their quality of life, make them look stylish, or whatever other benefit they’ll get from becoming a customer.

  1. Eye-catching visuals

Strong CTAs and effective value propositions are both essential to designing banner ads that perform, but neither of those things are going to get your ad noticed. The first thing users see will almost always be the visual element of your ad, so you want your visuals to be enticing, bold, and lively.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your digital ad performance, try testing different types of visuals. Photos of people using products may perform better than photos of products on their own, for example. Images of your actual platform might very well outperform stock-looking photos of business people looking at a computer screen.

Make a strong image your focal point, and test different kinds of imagery to find the variations that work best for your brand.

  1. Revisit your landing pages

Sometimes what seems like a problem with a banner ad is actually a problem with a landing page and website design strategy. If you’re getting pretty good clickthrough rates on your banners, but users are converting at rates that seem exceptionally low, it could be that your landing page does not meet the expectations you set up in your ad.

There needs to be a consistency of experience between banner ad and landing page, otherwise you run the risk of confusing the user who thought they were clicking on one thing and wound up somewhere that feels totally disconnected. Examine whether the messaging on your banners aligns with the messaging on your landing page. Does the information on your landing page feel like an extension of the idea or information laid out in your ad? Is the branding in your ad consistent with the branding on your landing page?

Image Credit: Grammarly

As shown in this example, Grammarly uses ad content that corresponds with landing page content.

  1. Include an offer

Few things incentivize action quite like a good old fashioned special offer does. It’s usually worth offering the customer something extra if it means getting them in the door, especially for the first time. But an offer doesn’t have to be something major — it can be as simple as a free whitepaper download, a complimentary consultation, or free shipping. It doesn’t even need to be an offer created exclusively for use in your ad campaigns. For example, even if you always offer free shipping on your website, you can still call it out in your banner ads as an offer to users.

Offers can go a long way toward giving users the extra little push they need to feel good about clicking your ad.

Image Credit: Intuit Quickbooks

Offering an incentive, similar to Intuit Quicbooks’ ad, can be a key component to increasing click-through-rate.

Designing effective digital ads requires strategy, planning, and ongoing testing. Always consider who your target users are and what’s most important to them. User needs should form the basis of your messaging and visual strategies. When in doubt, follow the tips above for easy ways to optimize your digital ad performance.

To learn more about digital advertising campaigns, visit Blue Fountain Media online.

Feature Image Credit: IBM, Grammarly, Quickbooks

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