8 ways to improve your click-through rate

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Although there are a lot of different metrics surrounding online display advertising, it seems that click-through rates (CTRs) have become the one metric that defines an advertising campaign. Every advertiser has a different end goal, but the true test of whether a campaign ends up as a success or a failure oftentimes depends on the percentage of people who actually click on a banner creative. It goes without saying that the higher number of visitors that you can get to your site, the greater the chance of them converting.

In general, web users have become numb to the way that advertising reaches them online. When banner ads first appeared on the scene, it was considered common to have CTRs above 5 percent, while 2-3 percent was thought to be average.

With all the banners that have flooded the web in recent years, most display advertising campaigns now generally fall into a CTR average of just 0.2 to 0.3 percent. That means only two to three consumers out of every 1,000 who see your banner ad click through to your website.

There is good news, however. With the following eight strategies, you can easily and intelligently increase the CTRs for your display advertising campaigns.

1. Set goals and expectations with your advertiser prior to launching a campaign
The most important things to keep in mind are the advertiser and the specific goals of the campaign. Remember the old adage: The customer is always right. By being honest up front you can save yourself a lot of trouble, and most likely keep the advertiser around for a longer period of time if the campaign does not perform initially. 

Many advertisers do not know what a good click-through rate is, and some do not have realistic goals for a campaign. By clearing up uncertainties from the start and setting realistic and attainable goals, you are setting yourself up for success. You also need to identify clear CPA goals, ensure that top quality graphics and copy are used, and that the landing pages have a direct call to action.  

2. Know your target audience and be specific in your web placements
Targeting is half the battle for a quality CTR.  After you've established clear goals for the campaign, figuring out the proper audience for the campaign is vital to achieving an above-average CTR. It's not that web users hate advertisements -- they just hate advertisements that are not relevant to them. For too many years, useless ads have been put in front of them, and they are tired of it. Does a man shopping for a new car really want beauty skin care products? Or does a woman shopping for new clothes need a pill to increase her libido? 

With targeting, not only can you reach the type of customer your advertiser is after, but you can also design creative that is specific to a certain demographic, which will thereby improve results. Targeted ads outperform run-of-network campaigns two to one.

A few additional points to note: When targeting an ad campaign, run small tests on multiple sites and networks to get a clear view of what works and what doesn't. Some ad content works well with certain sites, and some works better across an entire network.

3. Create an interesting banner
Basic, static banners that only change when you refresh a page do not work anymore. We have to be more creative now and give web users something that is visually stimulating. Animated banners stimulate the eyes and can provide a needed escape from that dreaded research paper or old TPS report. Expandable and rich media graphical banners can perform up to 400 percent better than a standard static banner. The more interactive it is, the better. 

I do not mean the old whack-a-mole or "shoot the president" interactivity, but a way for the user to really see the service and product you are offering within the framework of that particular ad size. The first action does not necessarily need to be a click. It could be rotating a product, pulling a lever, or pushing a button -- all of which provide a second step into the product advertised.

Video banners also work very well and can outperform a typical television spot at a fraction of the cost. It is essential, however, not to overinflate the actual value of the product or mislead the user in any way with super-creative banners. If you get a 5 percent click-through rate but fail to sell a product, the advertiser is still going to be displeased. 

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PSMDigital 2010
PSMDigital 2010 February 17, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Thanks for sharing your views.I think customizing the campaign based on regions can help to get a better CTR.

sandra bullock
sandra bullock December 16, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Well found your site very interesting, and the info given here is also very useful for people like me who are new in this business. well still i have question how to determine the ctr for finance and investments topics. i have a site on finance http://www.financeninvestments.com can you tell me how can i find the ctr for this.

With regards,

sanjan regmi
sanjan regmi December 3, 2010 at 7:01 AM

i am searching this types of doman from long time but didn't foung , at last i get it.
i will waiting for the response.

Jason Spievak
Jason Spievak February 2, 2010 at 9:07 AM

Great post. Another thought to consider: research shows that providing a phone number in an ad improves clicks and conversion whether people call the number or not. The reason? Phone numbers lend instant credibility to the ad, and to the advertiser.
--Jason Spievak, CEO, RingRevenue