If you’ve been in advertising for any length of time, you’ve likely created ads for both print and online. Developing ads for digital spaces is quite a bit different than designing a print ad. For one thing, you’re competing with a million other things vying for the consumer’s attention.
People view most digital ads today on mobile devices, which makes designing even more of a challenge. Companies spent about 51 percent of the total budget for digital ads on mobile advertising in 2016. That number will likely continue to increase.
Creating advertisements for the digital space requires a bit of specialized knowledge and an eye to digital detail. Here are eight tips to help you design your next digital ad.
1. Add Creative Elements
Every brand has distinctive elements that make it more recognizable. Starbucks has their mermaid logo. AT&T has a globe that appears to be in motion. Whether you use a specific color palette, a mascot or a logo, be sure you consistently use these elements in your digital advertising just as you would in your brick-and-mortar store or on your website.
2. Know Your Market
You can throw a lot of money at digital advertising without seeing any results. Before you pay for an ad on social media or decide how to create the ad, make sure you know the audience you want to reach and where they spend most of their time online. For example, if you want to reach women who enjoy cooking, Pinterest is a good choice for you to pay for advertising or spend money on content creation to add to the social networking site.
Peapod is a grocery delivery service. It makes sense Pinterest would be a good place to market their brand. However, how do you make the connection between food delivery and homemaking? Some of their pins include content, such as slow-cooker Hawaiian chicken tacos, a recipe for chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting and spring cleaning tips.
3. Tell a Story
When creating a digital ad, you have the opportunity to present beautiful images and videos, but don’t just post any old image because it’s pretty. Instead, make sure the images you use tell a story to the viewer. They should be relevant to your business and the product you’d like to sell, and they should create a strong emotional connection between the image and the viewer.
4. Study Return on Investment
Track different campaigns, and make sure you understand what the return on investment is for each type of campaign. Creating an ad is about so much more than just getting the word out. You have a message to share, which needs to connect with the viewer on a personal level. However, that’s much easier said than done.
One of the best ways to ensure this happens is to study internal metrics. If you place an ad on social media, you’ll be able to see who clicked on the ad. That allows you to determine if you need to do something different or keep doing what is successful.
5. Take the Customer on a Journey
Customers want to be entertained. You’re competing with dozens of other things trying to grab the consumer’s attention. Her kids are arguing in the next room, she needs to get dinner started, her husband is texting her to ask if she needs anything from the store and she’s distracted with the ad she saw for a new jacket she just has to own.
If you don’t grab the customer’s attention amid all the noise and pull them in, you risk losing them to all these other distractions. Take the customer on a unique journey by sharing a story with them.
Mouth Foods does a great job of telling short stories on their Twitter feed. Note how they tie the above post to Mother’s Day. They use an interesting photo that makes you wonder how they got up to that peak to set a jar of pickles and take the shot. Once they have your attention, they then remind you about everything your mom has done for you. It’s brilliant advertising that tells a story quickly.
6. Make an Offer
Truly great ads have something to offer to the consumer. That is especially the case with digital ads, because they can inspire a consumer to take immediate action. Ads created for a digital space should clearly present the offer and explain the advantage to the consumer. Sometimes you can accomplish this by sharing an image or statistic, or just coming out and stating the offer. Often, the focus is on pricing, but you can also focus on things such as special packages or a limited-time offer.
7. Add a Clear Call to Action
Just as you need to state the offer to consumers, you should also present a clear call to action (CTA) to entice the consumer to take action. A CTA can be as simple as “Get this deal,” or something more complex, but either way, it should be eye-catching and easy to recognize.
Even though you might have heard you should use blue or red buttons for your CTA, the truth is no single color converts best. There are many variables involved, so the best thing is to try different colors and wording until you find the one that converts best with your target audience.
Simplisafe knows people who land on their website are looking for a home security system. While they provide several options, such as a video you can watch, they also create a clear CTA button in the upper right that says, “Shop Now.” The button is easy to locate and takes the user right to the correct page to begin shopping.
8. Designate Specific Landing Pages
One way to track how well your ads are doing and to funnel site visitors to the areas you most want them to visit is to create specific landing pages for different advertisements. If you create an ad for Facebook, you can designate a landing page for just that ad. This practice allows you to track traffic and to funnel those visitors based on the audience you were targeting with your ad.
Landing pages also allow you to test different marketing strategies to see which ones work best for conversions. You can easily change elements on the page that aren’t working, while still keeping the page tied to that particular ad.
Designing Ads for the Digital Space
Designing ads for a digital world requires a bit of research and extra thought. Online consumers don’t always behave the way you think they will, so invest in learning their habits and creating user personas to figure out which ad elements work with the people you most want to reach. Digital advertising tends to be a cheaper marketing medium than print, so you should be able to try different tactics until you find the one that works best for your business.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.