Get great buys on banner ads and make them produce results
By Kevin Nunley
Banner ads are down but not out. The billboard-like Internet ads that appear on web sites everywhere don't pull the response they once did. Yet, today's much lower ad prices are giving many businesses an affordable and effective way to spread the word online.
Back in 1994 when the Web was new, as many as 40 percent of people who saw a banner ad clicked on it. As time passed and banners became commonplace, response rates dropped to 1 to 2 percent. Those figures are comparable to what other media--radio, TV, newspapers, and direct mail--can deliver.
Banner ad rates have dropped from $20 to reach 1,000 people a year ago to just five or six dollars today. Even though the trendy luster of the Web has passed, there are still millions of interested prospects to be found online. This could be the best time ever for small and medium-sized businesses to stock up on banner ads.
The Internet ad industry isn't taking response rates lying down. Recently the Internet Advertising Bureau approved standards for new, larger banners. The new "wide skyscraper" size has already appeared on top sites and is three times larger than what we are used to. Advertisers hope the larger size will get reader attention, converting more sales.
Experts warn not to get caught up in the flash of new banner technology. The quality of your offer and the clarity of your message are still the main factors in getting results. Here are five ways to make sure you banner gets attention and pulls response:
* Your banner should ask the reader to take action. Something as simple as putting "Click Now!" on your banner can increase response.
* Use words that attract interest and create emotion. Free and Special Offer are favorites. I like to start each line with an action word. Buy, Save, Profit, and Rush work well.
* Push the main benefit your product or service provides. Most advertisers forget this point and promote their product's features. Show readers how a feature leads to something that benefits their situation. The chrome fender on the Gizmo 2000 saves time and reduces costs.
Animated banners pull better response than static ads. Sites and banner networks usually have guidelines that help keep your animated banners from becoming a turnoff. Keep your ad size under 12k. Anything larger takes forever to load for anyone using a slow dial-up line as almost 80 percent of North Americans do.
If you use photos in your banner, keep them low resolution so they load quickly. In many cases you can reduce the standard 256 web-safe colors to just 16 for an even “lighter" banner.
Animated banners step readers through two or three successive panels. Put your most important message on the first panel so those with slow connections don't miss out if the second panel doesn't pop up before they click away. I like to put the main offer on the first panel with a few delicious details on the second.
If you banner is light and loads fast, feel free to have the most important part of your message on the third panel. For example: (1) Tired? (2) Feel better fast (3) Get Energizomine...Click here!
Before you commit big money to your banner ad campaign, test your ad or ads with a 30 day trial run. Most banner networks provide reliable statistics on how many people have seen your ad (impressions) and how many clicked on it to go to your site (click-throughs). You can also check the server logs your web host provides to see where hits are coming from.
Pay close attention to the web page visitors are taken to after they click on your banner. One of the biggest complaints is users can't find information about the offer they saw on the banner. Tailor a special page to correspond with your banner. Make sure you give plenty of information, ways for prospects to contact you, how to buy, and what your product or service costs. Too many sites are leaving these points out of their sales page, making this one of the chief causes of lagging banner response.
Banner ads are the Internet's main advertising vehicle. Over the next few years, as more and more people get fast broadband Internet connections, we will see "rich media" banners that look more like television.
Low ad prices and less competition makes this a great time to promote your offer or name online. By following these simple tips you can make banners a reliable part of your marketing arsenal.
Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copy writing for businesses and organizations. Read all his money-saving marketing tips at http://DrNunley.com/. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801)253-4536.
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