5 Simple Creative Changes That Will Turbocharge Your CTR
This guest post is by Ilya Lichtenstein. After spending years running a performance marketing business, Ilya cofounded MixRank, a competitive intelligence tool that makes it easy for advertisers to build profitable display campaigns.
You’ve crafted great landing pages, done careful research on relevant publishers, and launched a new campaign that you’re sure is going to do well. But, for some reason, your campaign is just not performing as well as you’d like. It’s just not making money.
The default state of a new campaign is failure. Most campaigns start off failing and are eventually optimized into profitability by persistent marketers. And, once you’ve launched a well-targeted campaign, the biggest driver of growth in ROI will usually come from your creatives. Think about it…CTRs for banner ads have been plummeting for the past 15 years, and are now sitting somewhere around 0.1%. If you can design a creative that catches the eye of just one out of every one thousand people who see your ad and gets a click, you’ve effectively doubled your CTR, and your profits.
After doing hundreds of media buys, I’ve been able to consistently use these five creative strategies to transform campaigns that were bleeding money into consistently profitable revenue generating machines. Surprisingly, a few simple tweaks to your banners is often all it takes to revitalize a flagging campaign.
Replace Glossy Stock Photos With Royalty-Free Images
Designers frequently turn towards professionally shot, beautifully composited images for their creatives. Consumers are sick of these airbrushed images. They hate them. In every split test I’ve done, photos that appear authentic and, dare I say, imperfect have consistently outperformed fake stock photos.
When looking for stock images on Google or Flickr, you can limit your search to only show images with a Creative Commons license that allows commercial use. You can either use these images immediately or contact the photographer to purchase the rights.
Make A Larger Call To Action
A universal truth of design in advertising: Your CTR grows in proportion to the size of your call to action. Even if your button is already big, make it bigger. You’ll get more clicks. Seriously. I’ve seen banners that consisted entirely of one giant button that completely destroyed every other creative they were competing with.
If this were an ad it would probably outperform everything out there.
Commit To A Clashing Or Blending Strategy
The ad on the left is blending. The ad on the right is clashing.
There are two basic strategies used in creative design:
- Clashing – Designing your ad to clash with the rest of the page and stand out by using wildly different colors, fonts, and UI elements.
- Blending – Designing your ad to blend in with the rest of the page and appear to be part of the content using the same colors, fonts, and UI elements as the page the ad is running on.
Many advertisers make the mistake of trying to use both strategies at the same time within a single creative. For example, they’ll use the same fonts and background color as the page they’re on, but make the call to action jump out with a completely different color scheme.
This will usually hurt performance, because it instantly flags your creative as an annoying ad in the consumer’s mind, and makes your blending strategy appear deceptive at best. Either blend your ad with content completely, or make it stand out.
Use Complementary Colors
The science of color theory is fascinating. Specific colors can make us happy or sad, angry or scared. Designers have always known that using complementary colors on landing pages and banners, such as an orange button on a blue background makes the design look more aesthetically pleasing.
Colors across from each other on the color wheel are complementary.
The magic happens when you extrapolate this theory further and think about the context of your media buy as a whole and consider the design of the site you’re doing the buy on. Using colors that complement the design of the page your ad is appearing on can significantly boost your CTR. For example, if I were placing a banner on BuyAds, which primarily has cool, blue colors, I would create banners that use warm, orange or yellow colors.
Websites like ColourLovers are a great resource for browsing color palettes and identifying complementary themes.
When all else fails, it’s best to just throw your hands up, forget everything you learned about design, and just try to make the ugliest, most depraved ad your twisted marketing mind can come up with. The shock factor alone will get you an insane amount of clicks. This is almost always a great deal if you’re paying CPM.
Perhaps the most poignant example of this are the grotesque teeth whitening ads that, until recently, have been the scourge of cheap remnant inventory everywhere.
Rumor has it that the CEO of AOL saw one of these gross whitening ads on the AOL homepage and fell physically ill. All teeth whitening advertising have been banned from AOL properties since.
This tip may not be helpful to our more brand safety conscious readers. But the rest of us are going to use this to make a ton of money.