A big part of the success of website marketing can be measured by how often visitors click on your banner ads. Obviously, you want to squeeze the highest conversions out of ad campaigns.
The most difficult task in designing a banner ad is using the space wisely. If an advertisement is too vague, it is unlikely to convert. On the other hand, if it is crammed with information, it won't attract attention. You must strike a delicate balance between providing sufficient information for prospective customers to be intrigued by the offer, while at the same time avoiding a cluttered appearance.
It is also important to leave some mystery in order to entice people to click on the ad.
Even large banner ads provide limited space and you'll probably want to provide more information than is possible. A simple way to determine what to include on a banner is to answer — with graphics and text — "who, what, why and when" questions:
You won't be able to fit all of this information, but even including a portion of it on a banner ad can be challenging. It is difficult to create an uncluttered design while also maintaining eye appeal and visibility. One way to do this is to separate unrelated text as much as possible. This can be done by sectioning off the banner with an image, or by changing the color of the text and its background.
Let's say that a company operates a website that provides answers to common medical questions. First, consider the demographic, or the "who." For this banner, a good graphic choice might be a picture of a doctor or possibly a patient. The banner could then ask a simple question such as, "Should I get a flu shot?" In this example, envision this as white text on a black background. This headline would attract the attention of a large audience, especially if there is a flu shot shortage in effect.
Just below the headline, a call to action could be placed such as, "To find out if you should receive one, click here." This time, use black text on a white background. The contrast of colors creates separation of the banner, making it easier to read and more likely to capture the attention of visitors.
Banners for this company could also make reference to the overall purpose of the site, such as "Search over 10,000 medical questions and answers." They could also provide an offer related to the headline. In this example, the company could offer a "free guide to conquering the flu" — creating an even greater incentive for visitors to click on the banner.
Banner design may seem simple, but it can quickly become complicated (and impossible) if you try to include all of the pertinent information in one advertisement. The challenge is deciding what information to incorporate on the ad and what to reserve for the landing page.
One way some ads catch visitors' attention is with animation. However, animation has the potential to sabotage click conversion if it is implemented improperly. It should only be used sparingly — to make the banner more noticeable or to provide supporting features and benefits.
At any given time, the visitor should be able to see the "who, what, why and when." Animation can be used to highlight additional benefits that add validity or value to the offer. This ensures that prospective customers understand the offer even when viewing only part of the animation and can still click on the advertisement.
At all times, avoid using rapid animation or continuously looping banners that don't have a pause of four seconds or more between cycles. Not only can these banners be annoying, but visitors are less likely to click on them.
Although these guidelines are simple, they are important for producing advertisements that convert well. Even the most experienced advertising professionals can benefit from considering this advice when working with banners.
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