10 Tips to Improve Your Banner Ad Design and Click-thru Rate

Banner ad advertising is hot! And according to Comscore (a media giant that tracks advertising trends for business and e-commerce) market trends show that banner ad advertising in the future is even going to get hotter as more and more businesses go online. But as a small business owner, how do you know what type of banner ad design is more effective than another?

Although there are many elements that go into banner ad design, there are some general rules and guidelines that even as a small business marketer you should know and can use to increase the effectiveness of your banner ad campaign.

The following guidelines should help you to make those decisions . These rules apply whether you will be designing a banner ad yourself or whether you will be outsourcing your design to a professional graphic designer. You want to make sure that you effectively use every tool that you can in order to impact your click-thru rate and customer response.

1. Define the Purpose of Your Banner Ad

Are you designing this ad so that you can get more traffic to your website? Do you want to get more leads? Are you designing an affiliate ad? Are you offering a free ebook or report? Too many small business marketers go off willy-nilly without thinking through the purpose or objective of why they want a banner ad in the first place.

You need to think through what is the “most wanted response” (or MWR) you want from your prospective lead. Answering “click-thru” is obvious; but the question is why do you want them to click-thru…in order to do what? For example, If you want them to click-thru in order to download your e-book, how do you intend to deliver this ebook to them? Do you have a well designed landing page in order to capture this interested audience? This is the question you need to determine even before designing your banner ad.

2. Know the Message You Want to Convey

While banner ad design is important and well designed graphic elements do matter, the message you are conveying is even more important! There are plenty of ugly banner ads on the internet with the right message that pull in traffic for their website owners. Of course, those banner ads might be more effective with great graphic design. But when you weigh both options, the priority of good copy wins over graphic design 99% of the time! Of course, it’s like pulling teeth to get a graphic designer to admit such a thing could be true but I have worked with enough professional marketers to know, that even if the design is stellar…the copy better be even more so!

3. Keep Your Message Brief and to the Point

Remember to stick to brief, concise content for your banner ads every time. This is not the place to brag about your company or cram a lot of data into your banner ad, it’s better if you use the banner ad to lead them to your website in order to get this information. Keep the message short and make sure you provide a strong call-to-action. Follow the rule of emphasizing one benefit and one call-to-action per banner ad. Include too many call- to-actions and very likely, you will confuse your prospective lead and your click-thru rate will suffer.

Attractive graphic design is secondary to the message of your banner ad. If you can get a good professional copywriter, to write your ad that is even better. Try to hire someone who has written good PPC (Pay Per Click) Ads and knows how to use or pack a powerful message in a few words.

Remember that while the graphic design may attract their attention, it’s the strong message that is communicated that will improve your banner ad’s effectiveness. However, as stated earlier a strong compelling message coupled with great graphic design can be like a two-punch blow in effective ad design.

4. Choose the Right Color or Colors

Choose colors for your banner ad that get attention and will contrast to the background color of your website or landing page. But don’t go overboard, and throw a kaleidoscope of color in your ad. A few colors that can be associated with your brand or a few colors that will emphasize the type of ad you are creating will do the job. Several studies have shown that people respond to certain colors over others and the right color or color combination increases ad effectiveness. This does not apply in call cases but is a general rule of thumb. This is where testing two different ads will pay off.

5. Keep the Design Simple

Save the fancy and intricate designs for your website or print media advertising. Train your eye to see or observe the ads of major corporations or companies such as Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Ford and Adobe. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their ad campaigns and graphic design in order to market their products; so, you better believe they keep an eye on their budgets and on what works. They, and other companies like them, are a good model of best practices in banner ad design. Train your eye to pay attention to attractive ad design.

Sample of Relevant Picture on Real Estate Ad | Source

6. Use Relevant Pictures or Images

Make sure that you use relevant and compelling pictures or graphics associated with either the message in your banner ad campaign or your small business’ product or service. While you may not be able to afford professional product photography at this time, there are several stock photography websites that have high quality photos available for a low fee. For example, if you sell crafts, include a high quality picture of your crafts and your message. If you are a lawyer, include a graphic that immediately associates your business with your profession. Remember you have about two seconds to grab the attention of the typical internet surfer! Make those two seconds work in your favor!

Sample of New Coca-Cola Banner Ads

Example of Simple Message, Legible Text | Source

7. Use Legible Text or Fonts

Since the surface area of most standard banner ads is small, make sure that you use legible text or fonts. You would think this is obvious but even major manufacturers have made this error. Verdana and Arial are very popular fonts for the web because they are easy to read. I’m not suggesting that these are the only fonts to use, but what I am saying is that they were created for the web and therefore are examples of simple, legible fonts. Try to stay away from script fonts unless you are designing a larger banner ad and even then, you should be cautious. Keep in mind you want your prospective lead to read your message and ideally act on it. Don’t make this process difficult for your prospective lead by using hard to read fonts.

8. Provide Interactivity if Your Budget Allows

Provide interactivity to improve customer interaction and click-thru rate. Have your banner ad ask your prospective lead to fill out a survey, answer a question, or participate in a poll or offer a contest. Studies have shown that some type of interaction in your banner ads will improve click-thru rate. However, keep the interaction relevant to its purpose. Motion graphics added to banner ads usually increases overall graphic design costs.

9. Use Animation to Enhance Your Banner Design

Use animation only if it enhances your message. Make sure that you do not include animation for animation’s sake. Using animation without a purpose in the design of your banner ad will only diminish its click-thru rate and will ruin the overall appeal or message you are trying to make. I’m sure we all remember those early animated gif banner ads back in the 90s that became annoying irritations to internet users over time and the click thru rate dropped dramatically. Banner ad design still suffers from the bad reputation created by these types of animated ads.

Facebook – Image Ad

Google – Image Ad

10. Test Your Results and Tweak the Design

Make small tweaks to your design and message to see what works and test your results. Use free software like Google Analytics which will give you great information on the traffic to your website and click thru rate of any banner ad located on your website. This tool will help you track the metrics and overall effectiveness of your banner ad campaign. Of course, you will have to use other means of tracking for ads on other sites.

Use a simple procedure called A/B testing to test your banner ads, Google ads or Facebook ads. The following article takes an in depth look at A/B testing for Facebook ads and explains the process in full detail. There is a website called Crazy Egg which offers tracking software that enables you to see how your web traffic navigates your website. These are just a few examples of software available to help you track your ads and make sure they are effective.

article source : http://hubpages.com/business/10-Banner-Ad-Design-Tips-to-Improve-Your-Click-thru-Rate

History of Blue and Gold Star Banners

Service Banners have been a tradition since World War I and are for display by families who have sons and daughters in uniform in an armed conflict which lead to the formation of God Star Mothers. The banners are red and white with blue or gold stars, or sometimes both colors. The flags may have one or more stars. The blue star service flag came first in 1917, after America entered World War I. A United State Army Captain, Robert L. Queissner, of Ohio created the banner to honor his two sons where were serving in the Army in France. It was immediately so popular the Governor of Ohio adopted the flag as a symbol of service. Then they the banners spread quickly to numerous communities.

A group of Indiana women with sons in the service organized the American War Mothers on September 27, 1917. Members displayed the blue star banners in their windows of their homes. As soldiers were killed in action they decided to sew a gold star over the blue star. In May 1918, President Woodrow Wilson officially endorsed the gold star to reflect a child that died in wartime service. Also, the Council of national Defense suggested that woman who had lost a son wear a black armband with a gold star. President Wilson agreed and referred to these women as “Gold Star Mothers.” Many families hung the American Flag, then the blue or gold star flag in their window as patriotism was very high.

Blue Star Banner

Gold Star Mother’s Day

In 1925, American War Mothers obtained a national charter from Congress. Then in 1936, Congress recognized God Star Mothers and proclaimed that the last Sunday of every September was “Gold Start Mothers Day.” During Work War II, the display of these blue star and gold star banners reached an all time high. Theodore Roosevelt’s family had a banner with a gold star in honor of their son who was shot down over France in 1918.

This was a wonderful tribute to the fallen soldier and it recognizes the worse grief a parent will ever have to endure.

Rob Raubeson, Banner Maker

Rob Raubeson- A Banner Making Day

Today, service flags are black. In Soldiers Magazine Elizabeth Cole wrote an article called “Honoring service members one stitch at a time.” She wrote of Rod Raubeson’s dedication as he has sewn 3,500 flags on an old Singer sewing machine and plans to continue working. He was inspired four years ago when he couldn’t find the banner he wanted to purchase in honor or a friend that was about to deploy. The flags can be symbols of patience, hope and worry, or of honor, grief and ultimate sacrifice. Raubeson is a 70 year old Marine Vietnam Vet and has been recognized by the Army’s Institute of Heraldry as an official service flag maker. Any one who wants a flag may contact him at his email address: grunt_cp160@yahoo.com.

The banners are 12” by 17” and on a busy 12 hour day Raubeson can make 10-12 banners which include painting the wooden hangers which come from small flags used to decorate veteran’s graves. He doesn’t accept donations but is in talks with Singer for supplies. He is not in a partnership for help with the cost of shipping, and the banners are gifts to families. Raubeson has declined to say how much banner making costs him. He is a non-profit corporation and working on a website. He treasures the Thank You notes and comments from families. Churches, schools, fraternities, sororities, society groups and businesses that have members service can also hang the banners. He is truly a hero! He helps those coping with a lost of a family member, which is one of the worst things that can happen for a parent, or a spouse.

There are other flag stores and the American Legion where banners may be purchased as well.

Blue Star Flag

Follow along below to see how to make banners.

Banner Making Step 1

Banner Making Step 2

Directions for Making a Banner

Making the banners is fairly easy for anyone with a some sewing experience and a sewing machine, so you are interested in making a banner the directions are below..  You can add gold fringe and the number of stars necessary for your situation. .   These directions came from the following quilting website and I give them full credit. http://with-heart-and-hands.blogspot.com/2008/03/directions-for-making-blue-or-gold-star.html.

1.To Make a Blue or Gold Star Service Banner you need basic sewing supplies and fabrics of red ( for (4) 2 1/2″ strips), white ( for a 9″ x 14″ center panel) and blue ( for a star that is about 7″ x 7″) I chose to make mine a quilted banner, so I also used a thin batting.

2. The 2 1/2″ red borders are attached to both of the sides and then both the upper and lower edges. Trim evenly to size. By using a machined zigzag stitch or turning under and hand sewing, the star is then appliquéd to the background (white) fabric and through the batting.

3. Right sides together, seam front and back together, leaving a small side opening for turning right sides out.

4. A narrow ‘quilting rod’ sleeve can either be hand or machine sewn on the backing. I show it here with a cord indicating its location. Fold it under to the back and slip stitch down for the final project.

5. I also added free-motion or meander quilting stitches throughout the center panel’s surface to create a decorative effect and emphasis the quilted banner aspect.

6. To ‘hang’, insert a wooden dowel or curtain rod through the quilt sleeve unit in the back and hang with decorative cording, as desired.

As an alternative hanging method, you can use two narrow hanging loops and insert the rod through them. Make them with two pieces of 2 1/2″ strips stitched down or seamed right sides together. Iron flat, and insert between sandwiched layers while stitching top seam in Step #2.

In Summary

The Blue and Gold Star Banners are a time honored tradition and is especially important to those that have lost a loved one in battle. I found the history of the Gold Star Mothers to be interesting and the service of Rod Raubeson to be inspiring. He is giving his time, his money and talent to serve a special need and giving so much of himself would make him a hero in my book.

Age Of Heroes – 4: Banners And Standards

Dragon drinking horn from the animated ‘Beowulf starring a physically enhanced Ray Winstone as Beowulf and Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother

Hrafnsmerki – the Raven standard as borne by Harald Sigurddson in his fateful Northumbrian campaign supporting Tostig Godwinson’s bid for reinstatement as Earl of Northumbria…

Flapping raven banner of Jarl Sigurd crafted for him by his sorceress mother

As they did into the Napoleonic Wars, early armies went into battle following a standard bearer, and heaven help you if you lost the king’s ‘colours’!.

Early war banners showed fanged, winged monsters. Even the Christian Olaf Tryggvason had a traditional Norse serpent banner. The widest use of animal motifs was that of the raven. Another Christian king, Knut ‘the Great’ had a raven-bedecked white silk banner which was borne ahead of the Danes at Ashingdon in AD 1016.

In the Saxon Chronicles there is a mention of a ‘Reafan’ standard (O.E., O.N. was Hrafn) in AD 878. In the Annals of St. Neots in Huntingdonshire if the Reafan was held aloft it indicated a Danish victory. If the banner drooped the Danes had lost.

Supernatural characteristics were attributed to the Raven Banner of Earl Sigurd of Orkney, made for him by his mother who was thought to be a witch or sorceress. The motif was ingeniously stitched in the manner of a flapping raven which ‘should bring victory to the man who follows it’. (No mention of what would happen to the bearer). It appeared to flap its wings when the wind filled it, but in the first fight it was borne into Earl Sigurd’s standard bearer was killed almost as soon as the fighting began. The earl told another of his followers to take up the standard but the next bearer was also dead before long. Three standard bearers were cut down by the time Sigurd won the battle.

Years later the same banner was borne ahead of Earl Sigurd at Clontarf. In Njal’s Saga we are told of how Kerthjalfad – a foster son of Brian Boru – burst through the Orkneymen’s ranks and slew the standard bearer, repeating his action each time the banner was taken up again. When Earl Sigurd told Thorstein Hallason to carry the raven banner Amundi ‘the White’ told him not to take it, as each bearer had fallen. Sigurd then told Hrafn ‘the Red’ to take his raven banner.

‘You take it!’ Hrafn answered tersely. ‘Carry your own devil – a beggar should carry his own bundle!’ So saying he ripped the banner from its staff and tucked it under his shirt. Amundi was slain a little later, and the earl himself was speared through.

As Sigurd’s raven banner was woven by his mother, the ‘Reafan’ standard taken by the West Saxons in AD 878 is said to have been created for Ubbi Ragnarsson by his sisters, thought to have been ‘supernaturally gifted’. Their charms may have been more physical than metaphysical, as the standard fell into the hands of his foes after his downfall in North Devon.

Notwithstanding the raven was thought to have had powers of its own, giving victory to those who bore or followed it. As the bird of Odin – god of kings, nobles and warriors – it was associated with the field of war all around the Germanic world. Even in Christian times, when the kings themselves followed the new faith the raven banner or standard was borne into battle, as with Harald Sigurdsson’s ‘Land-Oda’ (Land-Waster or Land-Ravager). Again although the banner brought him victory over Earl Morkere’s Northumbrians at Gate Fulford near York, it seems to have let him down at Stamford Bridge, further east. Harald was struck down by an arrow through his windpipe.

William, Duke of Normandy – surprisingly? – had his own raven banner when fighting King Harold on Caldbec Hill near Hastings. He was blessed with a victory, and fulfilled its quota of the dead around the kingdom from AD 1066. In AD 1075 King Maelcolm ‘Canmore’ of Scotland was brought to the negotiating table at Abernethy, However, the banner failed him at London Bridge, when he and five hundred knights were repulsed from Southwark by the Middlesex fyrd led by Eadgar ‘the aetheling’ and Ansgar ‘the Staller’. As the inheritor of Norse blood ties, William lived up to his legacy and his raven banner flew – almost – wherever disaster struck at those unlucky enough to fall prey to a new kind of warfare.

The Viking had come of age. Learning new warfaring skills from their Frankish overlords the Normans adopted cavalry warfare – the mediaeval equivalent of ‘Blitzkrieg’. Notwithstanding his Christian piety, Duke William still had a raven banner and it was borne before him into battle on Caldbec Hill on that fateful day, 14th October, AD 1066. When he had his castle built by the Thames, King William had ravens installed to ‘protect’ his kingdom (the story goes, that should the ravens forsake the tower the kingdom will fall. The ravens’ flight feathers are cut to keep them there, and as they mate ‘on the wing’ the raven master has to see to new birds being acquired periodically)..

Next – 4: The Way of the Warrior

Before the Vikings first came to Britain late in the 8th, the Jutes, Angles and Saxons landed in the 5th Century. Ideologies changed, Christianity came. By the 7th Century most were Christian in the Anglian and Saxon kingdoms of the East Angles, Kentishmen, Mercians, Northumbrians, West Saxons and the other Saxon kingdoms that would be swallowed up by Cerdic’s Wessex. The coming of the Norsemen to Lindisfarne was the first shock…

Anglo-Saxons

The Cerne Abbas giant, the design copied by Harold for his personal banner, the figure outlined in precious stones | Source

The Roman ‘draco’ banner,(same idea as a Norse serpent), a windsock that emitted an eerie wail when borne on horseback at a canter, filled with the wind. | Source

When Harold stood his men to at the crest of Caldbec Hill…

When Harold stood his men to on Caldbec Hill, inland of Hastings on the London road, Harold’s own banners flapped close behind him. On one side was his personal banner, ‘the Fighting Man’, the man’s figure lined out in precious stones. William had this banner sent to the Pontiff Alexander in Rome in thanks for his support. The banner is still in the Vatican, perhaps on show. By rights it should be here in England, as William had no right to send it. The banner should have been given to Gytha, or Eadgytha ‘Swan-neck’ as his common-law in wife.

The other banner was more a ‘wind sock’, in the style of the dragons carried by Roman cavalrymen that emitted an eerie noise when filled by the wind.

Next: 5: Call to Arms

The uncanny plays a great part in Norse mythology, not in the way it did in Christian societies. Norse mythology taught men to be wary of witchcraft and witches, but not afraid. Shape-shifting is as much a part of Norse belief – there is a great deal of this in respect of berserkers and other elements that operated outside of society at large – and no-one could be sure the gods did not walk amongst men. Respect of strangers rested on this outlook, and when a warrior was killed in battle he would be amongst the gods with his comrades, forever fighting by day, carousing by night with the Valkyries. It’s a grand life as long as you don’t weaken!

article source : http://hubpages.com/politics/BANNERS-AND-STANDARDS-Supernatural-Qualities-and-Morale-Lifting-Qualities