I recently got an email from a reader who was struggling with their digital display ads. They were underperforming and the business owner was considering pulling the ads.
Here’s what I said back to her.
Thanks for your email and the stats on your digital ads. You’re right, based on industry standards, your click-through rate of less than .1% is not within the gold standard of an effective campaign.
Before I dig into some of the reasons why your ads may be underperforming, remember that click-through is just one metric used to measure the effectiveness of a digital ad campaign.
With any rich media that includes brand creative, engagement rates are just one aspect of the ad’s success or failure. Many companies view their digital display ads as being a tool to drive brand awareness as well as a direct response vehicle. Unfortunately, it’s tough to measure that sort of uptick in brand awareness, which is why most people default to their click-through rates.
You also need to recognize that there are lots of ways a person can find your business without clicking on your display ad at that given moment. Think about your own behavior. I’m sure there was a time you saw a banner ad that caught your interest but instead of clicking on the ad, you did a search for the company or product in your favorite search engine, or just typed the company’s URL directly into your web browser. The ad you saw made an impression on you and got you to take an action. You might have seen that ad on the same day but probably not. When it was convenient for you or your need escalated and you were ready to buy, you found the company and became a customer.
The importance of seeing your ads becomes even greater when we start talking about retargeting. If someone has already been to your site and then they start seeing your ads, the likelihood of them returning to your site is greatly increased.
But I do want to address your question. Assuming the main reason you’re running digital display ads is to trigger an immediate action, here are some reasons why your campaign is underperforming.
Bad creative: Regardless of the medium, creative matters. If your ads are not visually arresting, if your message is not attention grabbing or if your visuals are boring – you’ve got trouble.
Too many words: Many people cram too much into a digital ad. You need to think of it like an outdoor board. Depending on the size — seven to ten words at the most is a good rule of thumb.
Wrong websites/audience: It’s easy to place digital ads. It’s not always easy to place them in the right spots. If you can afford it – let a professional help you.
Bad offer: Keep in mind, your ad needs to offer the viewer something so compelling that I am going to stop whatever I am on the web/mobile to do and click. So it can’t be subtle, boring or unimpressive. You are trying to literally stop me in my tracks and get me to change direction. That takes oomph.
No call to action: Give me a reason to click. Offer me a free ebook, free trial, 20% off or something. If your ad doesn’t tell me what my reward is for clicking on it, odds are I’m not going to unless I was already actively looking for whatever you sell.
Digital display ads are often a very cost effective tool in your marketing arsenal. But like most tactics – there are some best practices you need to follow if you want to enjoy a healthy ROI on your investment.