PPC Banner Design Best Practices
How do successful businesses keep generating new leads, day after day? They do it by capturing people’s interest with well-crafted marketing campaigns. Even though it may seem like there is some well-hidden industry known secret, anyone can create a stellar campaign that people will notice (you just need a little insider knowledge).
To begin, it’s important to understand what’s at the heart of a marketing campaign. HubSpot sums it up like this:
“Organized, strategized efforts to promote a specific company goal, such as raising awareness of a new product or capturing customer feedback. They typically aim to reach consumers in a variety of ways and involve a combination of media, including but not limited to email, print advertising, television or radio advertising, pay-per-click, and social media.”
The most successful of these strategized efforts will include 3 main components:
- Banners that persuade people to click, through to…
- Landing pages that convince people to convert, based on…
- CTAs that offer a piece of content (like an eBook or white paper), an interactive tool (like a calculator or checklist), or a sign up (for a webinar or demo)
All of these campaign elements must be designed to work in harmony to drive effective lead generation. In this post, we’ll focus on the first element: best practices for B2B banner design.
To discover the best practices for other campaign elements, check out these articles:
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Choosing the Best Banner Platforms
Before we dive into B2B banner best practices, you need to know where you’ll be promoting your campaigns. This will determine what specs you need to follow. As a B2B marketing agency, we’ve found that certain B2B platforms work better for our customers than others. With that in mind, our banner best practices have been specifically refined for:
- Retargeting using the AdRoll platform
- Paid social media focused on LinkedIn, but also effective on Twitter and Facebook
Designing a B2B Banner that Stands Out
The #1 principle to remember when designing banners is that banners are your gateway – prospects will either be drawn in, or they will walk right on by. And keep in mind that your banners will be on webpages full of distractions, constantly competing with social feeds, article content, and other ads.
Best Practices for Animated Banners
Animated banners focus on visual elements to get your prospect’s attention; however, they are typically used for retargeting so you’re directly competing with the website content your prospect is trying to view. This consideration should drive your design with colors that pop and eye-catching animations. Be careful though, while it may be tempting to include strobing or flashing elements – this tactic could get your ad disapproved.
When thinking about how to write copy for your ads, you have to think about how prospects will interact with these ads. Typically, retargeting ads receive passive engagement, which is why they are the perfect low-cost branding exercise. You must consider this passive engagement when writing ad copy:
- Prospects may not see all the frames of the ad as they scroll past on a page.
- It’s likely they will scroll past and then come back to it after the animation has ended.
- They may only see the ad out of the corner of their eye as they read something else.
Here a few best practices to keep in mind, considering these conditions. First, treat each frame as a single ad. This means that the copy should capture their attention and make sense – even if they only see one frame. This also means including a CTA button on every frame and ensuring your ad continuously conveys the right message – even a quick glance should make an impression.
Second, think about where the ad ends. Animation banners don’t loop continuously – they (usually) loop twice and then end on the final frame. While you’re thinking about how to treat each frame as a single ad, it will end on that final frame. So, that lingering final frame must highlight your main message and provide a matching CTA.
Third, consider frame speed and amount of copy. Your messaging needs to be short and to the point to fit on banners. Most of the platforms have frame speed parameters that you need to follow, but even with those – don’t put too many words on each frame. Think about how much text someone can read and digest at once. We try to limit each frame to no more than 4 lines of text that are 1-2 words each.
Lastly, as we mentioned, retargeting banners tend to be a more passive branding exercise. So, if no one clicks the ad or even reads the frames, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to remind them of your brand. Don’t steer away from your branding just to get prospect attention. Ads that don’t match your branding will be confusing and won’t help with brand recognition. So, keep your design consistent, and at the very least include your logo on every frame.
Best Practices for Static Banners
Static banners (generally) have the benefit of more supporting copy elements – but don’t get carried away with more wordy and complex messaging just because you can. You must balance the copy and visual elements carefully to drive results.
First, the platform where these banners are going must inform design. Just like animated banners, they need to be eye-catching to be effective. Platform placement will influence choices such as colors, the amount of copy in the ad image, and whether or not to include your logo. This placement will also impact how people interact with your ads. In the cases of social media, people often view ads while scrolling through a feed. The interaction typically goes like this:
- Attention captured by the banner image
- Read the bolded text directly below the banner
- Go back and read the headline above (or this might be ignored completed)
Understanding this interaction pattern, put your most important message and CTA in the image. Although this is typical, the trick here is you can’t assume it will happen – the copy still needs to make sense if it is read from top to bottom. And, just because the image gets the most attention doesn’t mean you can neglect that other copy. If your clear, concise banner image got a prospect’s attention, you have to support that message with the copy around it. Most platforms allow a lot of characters – but don’t go crazy with the content. Most people will ignore any message hidden by a “see more” button. Write your banner copy so the entire message is displayed.
When it comes to banner imagery – less is more, but don’t be boring. Add some imagery to your ad banners that support your message. We find that banners with eBook cover thumbnails convert at a higher rate than banners with more abstract imagery. Also, don’t forget a CTA button – even if the platform includes one in the surrounding copy. An in-image button will give you the freedom to use whatever copy and design you want.
Launch! Then Measure, Analyze, and Optimize
Once your banners are designed and quality checked – an especially important step for animated ads that use the same copy in different sizes – you’re ready to launch! Your unique product or solution will determine the platforms you choose and the tactics you implement. After your campaigns have been up and running for a while, you’ll want to take a step back and evaluate how they are performing. Armed with the knowledge of which tactics are effective, you can simply iterate to ensure a steady flow of leads while you continue to innovate to find the next win for your marketing strategies.