Banner advertising is becoming increasingly competitive as netizens are overloaded with advertising messages. Each banner is louder, brighter and more annoying than the last one. But many businesses are losing customers because their banner advertising is not as relevant and effective as it could be.
In this article, I cover five easy-to-use strategies to lift the performance of your online banner advertising. But first, you need to know why you are advertising. We start by defining the banner advertising goals.
Define your Advertising Goal
Banners advertising can generate new leads from the ‘click-through’, but it can also be a marketing tool which enables you to present your business online and drive indirect sales.
The traditional role of a banner ad is to encourage a person to click-through to a website. The actual goal may be to complete an online purchase, subscribe to a newsletter or to simply informed. After a click-through, a lot of tracking data becomes available, for example we know which site the viewer came from (referrer), how long they were on your site, which pages they looked at and whether they ‘converted’ by completing one or more of the predefined goals. Tracking provides the opportunity to calculate the return on investment (ROI) and to make improvements to increase the click-through-rates (CTRs) and conversion rates.
Coca Cola are a brand well known for their saturation marketing. Although a consumer may not purchase a coke immediately when they see the television advertising or billboard, when it is time for a brown fizzy soft-drink, Coca Cola is at the top of the list.
The “Coca Cola Effect” creates customers that can convert months or even years later. In this context, a banner campaign can complement a television, radio and print campaign to create multiple ‘touch-points’ for the target audience or it can be solely an online advertising campaign aimed to build the reputation and visibility of a brand. When the goal is marketing, it becomes harder to know exactly how each customer was referred. For example, a customer may have seen the banner though never clicked-through although the banner was the trigger which led to the conversion.
What are your goals?
There is always overlap in creating direct conversions and long term prospects and a campaign designed specifically to drive click-throughs and sales will raise the profile of the brand amongst the target audience.
Begin by defining your criteria for measuring performance; how will you track the traffic, what are the goals and what is the measure (or benchmark) for success? Don’t forget that while Click-Throughs are good, conversions are far more important. The important calculation is the CPA, Cost per Acquisition (or Cost per Conversion) which is your cost to attract each new customer.
This article cover five strategies to increase banner click-throughs and direct conversions by increasing the relevance.
Strategy 1 – Split Testing
Split testing is testing two or more banners against one-another should be a continuous practice to continually improve performance. This can be done in live campaigns, under-performing banners are simply deactivated (removed) once a trend is established.
An example of a good split-test is are two banners which are identical except for different coloured backgrounds. A simple change to the background colour alone can lead to performance differences of up to 300%. The reasons for such a dramatic difference in performance are varied, for example certain colours can be more appealing to the target audience or the website displaying the banners has a colour scheme that means certain colours have a better contrast and are more noticeable.
Everything in a banner can be split-tested however it is more effective to create competing banners which only have one change. If the banners are completely different, it then becomes difficult to identify the trigger-points which make your audience react.
Changes can be made to:
• Headline / Copy
• Background Colour
• Photo / Graphic
• Call To Action
Once a trend is identified, the best performing banner can become the benchmark and new banners are created with variations on this. Split-testing can run the life of a campaign.
Strategy 2 – One Message at a Time
Most designers have experienced clients who want the logo even bigger, far too much text and every bit of space needs to be filled. In banner advertising, this is counterproductive as the banner will appear busy. A busy banner requires more attention from a viewer to understand each bit of information and then to decide whether to react- it is easy for the viewer to then ignore.
Instead, banners usually work best when they focus on a single message. This message needs to be delivered as soon as possible to the viewer. This means removing anything which is not crucial to funnel the viewer towards the ‘goal’. For example, the URL (web address) is usually irrelevant as a viewer will click-through to visit the site if they are interested.
As visitor will expect to find more information and details when they click-through, the landing page is the location where additional and descriptive information can be supplied.
Strategy 3 – A Compelling Reason to Click
A banner has very limited space, it competes against other page content and the limited attention span of the viewer. Within these limitations, the banner has to be compelling for the viewer and give them a reason to click through.
To get results, keep the banner text should be as short as possible and deliver a message that encourages the viewer to react and click. The ‘Compelling Reason’ is something which serves your audience needs. Think of the benefits of your product or service which make it interesting, desirable, cheaper or better for your customer.
For example, a 50W energy saving light is practical but can be boring:
“60W Energy Saving Light Bulb – $5.99”
When an accompany photo already explains the product, the message can describe two irresistable benefits:
“Super Bright, Super Cheap, Only $5.99”
This adds a sense of urgency
“Limited Time, save $1.99. Now Only $5.99”
Different messages can be tested by split testing.
Strategy 4 – Target your Advertising
In retail, you need to be where your customers are, for example, on television, gambling ads appear during sporting coverage and advertisements for hardware stores appear when there are home improvement and gardening programs. The same approach goes for online advertising.
In online advertising you can limit advertising to websites and web-services that match your audience, but also limit the display of advertisements on those websites to match viewers from specific geographic locations and (when available) that match other demographics of your customers.
If you have an online shop and already know that the majority of your buyers come from the United Kingdom, limit the banner advertising to display to viewers from the UK. This will save you the cost of advertising to viewers from the rest of the world who may be less likely to purchase.
Similarly, if you sell automative accessories, your advertising will be far more relevant on car websites and communities than on general interest websites.
Strategy 5 – Convert your Traffic
Don’t send visitors to your homepage. When someone clicks on your banner, they need to arrive on a Landing Page that guides them to convert. Landing pages are created and designed specifically to receive advertising traffic and numerous landing pages can be created. These page are typically streamlined and focussed solely around the product or theme which was advertised in the banner. The page provides the necessary information and very clear “Call To Action” so that the visitors can easily ‘convert’.