Optimize Online Marketing with Powerful Digital Ads

Digital ads have their work cut out for them. The sheer volume of information and messaging occupying space online means your digital ad needs to stand out to be an effective marketing platform.

Gabriel Shaoolian, CEO and founder of Blue Fountain Media and Forbes.com contributor, offers some advice on how to design compelling digital advertisements that will generate sales. Here are some highlights.

Get noticed with eye-catching visuals

This should be your starting point. Because even if you nail all of the other features of a strong digital ad—strong CTAs and value propositions, quality landing page experience, and incentives)—without a strong visual element to draw your audience in, chances are your ad will drowned out by all the other digital noise.

Experiment with different types of visuals, ensuring they align with the overall theme of your brand and see which ones perform best. Shaoolian explains: “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 sure your CTAs are concise, specific, and obvious

CTAs are calls-to-action. This is how you guide your audience to initiate the desired action—typically clicking on the ad to redirect them to a landing page—and ultimately convert into a sale. To put it bluntly, if your current banner ads don’t have a CTA, you’re doing it wrong. As Shaoolian explains, “without a CTA, your ad is just window dressing on someone else’s website.”

Specifically, your ads need a good CTA. Two questions you should ask yourself are whether or not your CTAs are concise and specific? Being concise is important because you simply don’t have the luxury of space to be overly wordy or vague in a banner ad.

When you think about being more specific, think about how subtle, yet specific, details might better prompt the reader to take immediate action. Shaoolian suggests you review your current CTAs 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… for example, does a CTA to ‘shop jackets’ perform better in a winter clothing ad than ‘shop now’?”

Ensure that the button or link text of your CTA is easily identifiable and stands out from the rest of the creative in your ad. Your user should never have to search for or guess where the CTA is located in the ad copy. A CTA that is clear, relevant, and easy to navigate will garner the most click-throughs.

Add more value in your value propositions

Quite simply, your value proposition is what convinces your audience to click on your ad, and ultimately buy your product. To do this, your value proposition must inspire “… a sense of need or desire in the user,” says Shaoolian.

Again, you are constrained by space so it’s important to get to the point quickly and clearly. And in this case, the point has less to do with explaining who you are, what you do, and why you’re great—instead you need to focus on communicating what your product can do for the customer. For example, mentioning that you offer great customer service—while valuable to the consumer— probably won’t set you apart from your competition or be compelling enough to engage your audience to act. However, mentioning that you offer online service scheduling or 24/7 customer support that is easy to use and flexible goes a step further and communicates how that customer service positively benefits the user.

“[Y]ou 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,” explains Shaoolian.

Ensure consistency of experience from banner ad to landing page

If you’re noticing that click-through rates on your banner ads are good, but the conversion rate seems to be lagging in comparison, it could be a sign there are issues with your landing page or overall website design instead.

If clicking on a stellar banner ad takes you to a ho hum landing page, “…you run the risk of confusing the user who thought they were clicking on one thing and wound up somewhere that feels totally disconnected,” explains Shaoolian. Consistent messaging, visuals, and branding from banner to landing page and beyond will solidify the user experience you are cultivating and inspire confidence in your product. Review the information and branding on your landing page and check to see if it feels like an extension of the content in your ad.

Sweeten the deal with an offer

This is an oldie but a goodie. Particularly helpful for acquiring new customers, offering an incentive can be as simple as free shipping, a gift with purchase, or a coupon code. Even if it’s a standard business practice, such as free shipping or a free initial consultation, you should still call attention to it in your banner ads.

When all else is equal, an incentive or offer can be the final element that tips the scales in favour of a click-through.

When designed and implemented appropriately, digital ads can be an effective tool in your marketing toolbox. Design them with your user in mind and don’t be afraid to try new things and adjust as you go until you find the right balance of compelling content and appealing visuals for optimal digital ad effectiveness.


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