10 Tips to Improve Your Banner Ad Design and Click-thru Rate

Banner ad advertising is hot! And according to Comscore (a media giant that tracks advertising trends for business and ecommerce) market trends show that banner ad advertising in the future is even going to get hotter as more and more businesses go online. But as a small business owner, how do you know what type of banner ad design is more effective than another?

Although there are many elements that go into banner ad design, there are some general rules and guidelines that even as a small business marketer you should know and can use to increase the effectiveness of your banner ad campaign.

The following guidelines should help you to make those decisions . These rules apply whether you will be designing a banner ad yourself or whether you will be outsourcing your design to a professional graphic designer. You want to make sure that you effectively use every tool that you can in order to impact your click-thru rate and customer response.

1. Define the Purpose of Your Banner Ad

Are you designing this ad so that you can get more traffic to your website? Do you want to get more leads? Are you designing an affiliate ad? Are you offering a free ebook or report? Too many small business marketers go off willy-nilly without thinking through the purpose or objective of why they want a banner ad in the first place.

You need to think through what is the "most wanted response" (or MWR) you want from your prospective lead. Answering "click-thru" is obvious; but the question is why do you want them to click-thru...in order to do what? For example, If you want them to click-thru in order to download your e-book, how do you intend to deliver this ebook to them? Do you have a well designed landing page in order to capture this interested audience? This is the question you need to determine even before designing your banner ad.

2. Know the Message You Want to Convey

While banner ad design is important and well designed graphic elements do matter, the message you are conveying is even more important! There are plenty of ugly banner ads on the internet with the right message that pull in traffic for their website owners. Of course, those banner ads might be more effective with great graphic design. But when you weigh both options, the priority of good copy wins over graphic design 99% of the time! Of course, it's like pulling teeth to get a graphic designer to admit such a thing could be true but I have worked with enough professional marketers to know, that even if the design is stellar...the copy better be even more so!

3. Keep Your Message Brief and to the Point

Remember to stick to brief, concise content for your banner ads every time. This is not the place to brag about your company or cram a lot of data into your banner ad, it’s better if you use the banner ad to lead them to your website in order to get this information. Keep the message short and make sure you provide a strong call-to-action. Follow the rule of emphasizing one benefit and one call-to-action per banner ad. Include too many call- to-actions and very likely, you will confuse your prospective lead and your click-thru rate will suffer.

Attractive graphic design is secondary to the message of your banner ad. If you can get a good professional copywriter, to write your ad that is even better. Try to hire someone who has written good PPC (Pay Per Click) Ads and knows how to use or pack a powerful message in a few words.

Remember that while the graphic design may attract their attention, it’s the strong message that is communicated that will improve your banner ad’s effectiveness. However, as stated earlier a strong compelling message coupled with great graphic design can be like a two punch blow in effective ad design.

4. Choose the Right Color or Colors

Choose colors for your banner ad that get attention and will contrast to the background color of your website or landing page. But don't go overboard, and throw a kaleidoscope of color in your ad. A few colors that can be associated with your brand or a few colors that will emphasize the type of ad you are creating will do the job. Several studies have shown that people respond to certain colors over others and the right color or color combination increases ad effectiveness. This does not apply in call cases but is a general rule of thumb. This is where testing two different ads will pay off.

5. Keep the Design Simple

Save the fancy and intricate designs for your website or print media advertising. Train your eye to see or observe the ads of major corporations or companies such as Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Ford and Adobe. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their ad campaigns and graphic design in order to market their products; so, you better believe they keep an eye on their budgets and on what works. They, and other companies like them, are a good model of best practices in banner ad design. Train your eye to pay attention to attractive ad design.

Sample of Relevant Picture on Real Estate Ad
Sample of Relevant Picture on Real Estate Ad | Source

6. Use Relevant Pictures or Images

Make sure that you use relevant and compelling pictures or graphics associated with either the message in your banner ad campaign or your small business' product or service. While you may not be able to afford professional product photography at this time, there are several stock photography websites that have high quality photos available for a low fee. For example, if you sell crafts, include a high quality picture of your crafts and your message. If you are a lawyer, include a graphic that immediately associates your business with your profession. Remember you have about two seconds to grab the attention of the typical internet surfer! Make those two seconds work in your favor!

Sample of New Coca-Cola Banner Ads

Example of Simple Message, Legible Text
Example of Simple Message, Legible Text | Source

7. Use Legible Text or Fonts

Since the surface area of most standard banner ads is small, make sure that you use legible text or fonts. You would think this is obvious but even major manufacturers have made this error. Verdana and Arial are very popular fonts for the web because they are easy to read. I'm not suggesting that these are the only fonts to use, but what I am saying is that they were created for the web and therefore are examples of simple, legible fonts. Try to stay away from script fonts unless you are designing a larger banner ad and even then, you should be cautious. Keep in mind you want your prospective lead to read your message and ideally act on it. Don’t make this process difficult for your prospective lead by using hard to read fonts.

8. Provide Interactivity if Your Budget Allows

Provide interactivity to improve customer interaction and click-thru rate. Have your banner ad ask your prospective lead to fill out a survey, answer a question, or participate in a poll or offer a contest. Studies have shown that some type of interaction in your banner ads will improve click-thru rate. However, keep the interaction relevant to its purpose. Motion graphics added to banner ads usually increases overall graphic design costs.

9. Use Animation to Enhance Your Banner Design

Use animation only if it enhances your message. Make sure that you do not include animation for animation’s sake. Using animation without a purpose in the design of your banner ad will only diminish its click-thru rate and will ruin the overall appeal or message you are trying to make. I'm sure we all remember those early animated gif banner ads back in the 90s that became annoying irritations to internet users over time and the click thru rate dropped dramatically. Banner ad design still suffers from the bad reputation created by these types of animated ads.

Facebook - Image Ad
Facebook - Image Ad
Google - Image Ad
Google - Image Ad

10. Test Your Results and Tweak the Design

Make small tweaks to your design and message to see what works and test your results. Use free software like Google Analytics which will give you great information on the traffic to your website and click thru rate of any banner ad located on your website. This tool will help you track the metrics and overall effectiveness of your banner ad campaign. Of course, you will have to use other means of tracking for ads on other sites.

Use a simple procedure called A/B testing to test your banner ads, Google ads or Facebook ads. The following article takes an in depth look at A/B testing for Facebook ads and explains the process in full detail. There is a website called Crazy Egg which offers tracking software that enables you to see how your web traffic navigates your website. These are just a few examples of software available to help you track your ads and make sure they are effective.


Google Product Ads

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Comments 7 comments

DakshaDesign profile image

DakshaDesign 4 years ago from Chandigarh, India

Thanks for sharing such a good knowledge.


richmediadp profile image

richmediadp 4 years ago from Orange County, CA -USA Author

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I have since updated the article in order to provide more pertinent and useful information in order to make some sense in the sometimes crazy world of banner ad design.


ranabana profile image

ranabana 4 years ago

Nice article. Please write something on where can we place banner advts to get good response.


tajb profile image

tajb 3 years ago from Torquay

Nice article, I found it very interesting. I would love to see some examples.

Keep writing.


richmediadp profile image

richmediadp 3 years ago from Orange County, CA -USA Author

I have a full length video on banner ads created with Photoshop on my Youtube Channel "Rich Media Design Pro" but have not included the link so as not to infringe on Hubpages posting rules. You might want to check it out if you like.


Benjamin Nguyen 9 months ago

This is GREAT richmediadp. I completely agree to make your banner ads effective, you need to be intentional.

You need to know what you want to convey, what you want your readers to do and know, then importantly as with point #10 you need to test it and see if it works. Sometimes you may not know until you test because your expectation may be different from the real world experience. That's why split testing is so important.

I especially like the examples you provided.

Another tip, you may be interested in using YouZign 2.0 to create a couple banner ads quickly with different background graphics (pictures are always one of the most critical componant of capturing your audience attention for graphic base ads - text ads are different of course). So it helps to do a split testing of which image or layout gets the user attention best then to run that with a split test of other call to action.

We like YouZign 2 ( http://bit.ly/YouZign20 ) for the ability to create several banners ads quickly and easily that seems to still represent a good quality banner. (you can go with creating similar or duplicates and then editing what we want for split testing using YouZign design software)

The problem is this can be time consuming but if you have an important website that you know you plan on investing into banner ads then it's worth while to ensure your dollar gets you the biggest bang.


Benjamin Nguyen 9 months ago

This is GREAT richmediadp. I completely agree to make your banner ads effective, you need to be intentional.

You need to know what you want to convey, what you want your readers to do and know, then importantly as with point #10 you need to test it and see if it works. Sometimes you may not know until you test because your expectation may be different from the real world experience. That's why split testing is so important.

I especially like the examples you provided.

Another tip, you may be interested in using YouZign 2.0 to create a couple banner ads quickly with different background graphics (pictures are always one of the most critical componant of capturing your audience attention for graphic base ads - text ads are different of course). So it helps to do a split testing of which image or layout gets the user attention best then to run that with a split test of other call to action.

We like YouZign 2 for the ability to create several banners ads quickly and easily that seems to still represent a good quality banner. http://bit.ly/YouZign20 (you can go with creating similar or duplicates and then editing what we want for split testing using YouZign design software)

The problem is this can be time consuming but if you have an important website that you know you plan on investing into banner ads then it's worth while to ensure your dollar gets you the biggest bang.

Ps. resubmitted my comment as the link may have an error in it earlier. How's it in the Orange County? Planning to head to LA soon :)

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    Books on Banner Ad Design

    The Complete Guide to Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale: What You Need to Know Explained Simply
    The Complete Guide to Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale: What You Need to Know Explained Simply

    This book covers the various aspects of writing for the web such as how to reach your target audience, how to structure your web copy, how to write about your unique selling proposition, etc. It also includes information about web advertising trends and categories written in a down to earth, no frills style.

     
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