Blog 5 tips to make your web banners sing

5 tips to make your web banners sing

We've come up with five practical tips to improve your audience's experience and boost your click-through rates.

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How many people actually click on banners? Not many. Do you? I mean, I hardly ever do.

In fact, the average is between 1.91% and 0.35%. For reference, that’s about the same percentage of people that voted for Jedward to win The X Factor.

But why so low? Is it the messaging that’s lacking, or the relevance? Or both?

We’ve been in the lab recently trying to crack this particular conundrum and have come up with five practical tips to improve your audience’s experience and boost your click-through rates.

1. Pictures > words

It’s official: a picture is now worth 60,000 words. Yes, recent research at M3 Corporation proved that the human brain actually processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. That means that, chances are, by the time your audience even glances at your headline, they’ve already made most their mind up.

It gets worse though. An eye-tracking study by NNgroup showed that web users don’t look at 65% of banners while scrolling. Why? Well, quite understandably, they don’t consider the banners to be relevant to their main reason for browsing.

So, the trick is to select imagery that’s relevant to what you’re advertising, in a way that’s sympathetic to its placement. In short: quickly communicate who you are and what you want.

2. Headlines that hit the mark

Bad news for copywriters. CoSchedule research states that users only tend to absorb the first three words and the last three words of a headline. Or maybe that’s good news? We can take the rest of the week off…

No, what it means is that every word counts. And the less space you have, the more crafting your words need. Assume you have no body copy, and get to the point simply and quickly.

3. Space to stretch your legs

If you do have space for body copy, it should always be secondary to the headline. Furnish the user with more info, more facts and more reasons to engage. But still, be direct and concise. Tell them what you want them to do and how they can benefit.

4. Clear call to actions (CTAs)

These days, a call to action is a fancy way of saying ‘a button.’ On a web banner, it’s the bit we want you to click or tap. It’s how we measure audience engagement.

If the banner has a competition, it’s how you enter. If it’s a promo, then it’s how you get the deal. It’s normally a click-through to another, richer experience.

Being clear about what the user will get from their interaction will ultimately increase the conversion rate. That means the messaging has to be linked. If you’re offering a user a Free Trial, then the first message they see on the click-through page should relate to a Free Trial. If not, you risk confusing the user and losing them altogether.

5. Imagery that connects with the destination

In the same way that messaging should tell the user what to expect on the click-through page, imagery should offer a signpost too.

Using similar photography or illustration and graphics on the web banner and landing page will help the flow and keep the user’s attention. If the primary information, colour, style or imagery are too dissimilar, the user might feel like they’ve made a mistake. The experience might even feel like pop-up spam and then you’ve lost them for good.

Keep your brand imagery consistent across all points of contact and it’ll help reaffirm your brand values and build trust with the user.

Great, but what does that all mean for me?

  • Use every element of the banner real estate to maximise efficiency for your brand and keep your audience engaged
  • Web banners are often the first point of contact a user will have with your brand, campaign or service, so always use strong visuals to make an impact
  • Always start with the most applicable information to the user. Communicate it quickly, and make it easy for them to understand what you’re asking them to do
  • Web banners are only one part of a user’s experience and may not always lead to a purchase there and then. But seeing a strong ad may be enough to trigger further interaction the brand - now or in the future - which isn’t a direct click-through

William Warr,


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