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For many online marketers, it's enough to include their URL in PR and traditional advertising, register with the major search engines and perhaps establish links to a few of the more obvious complementary sites. But that's not online advertising.
When you're really serious about bringing people to your site, you'll create a suite of banner ads, contact one of those Internet media buying services and get out your checkbook. A well-targeted online campaign -- where your ad is seen online by just the demographic you want to reach -- can lead to a dramatic rise in the hit rate on your site...if you do it right. Here are a few tips:
Tell 'em where to click. Adding the words "Click Here" can make a big difference in "click-through," the number of times your banner is hit. Also make sure to include visual and text clues that suggest the banner leads to more information.
First, catch their attention. All things being equal, animated banners generate more clicks than static ones. But what really makes the difference is if the banner is creative, eye-catching, intriguing, involving.
Change creative frequently. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, creative wears out quickly, especially on those sites with low reach and high frequency. Although each site's experience is different, research indicates banner ads are pretty well worn out after 200,000 to 400,000 impressions.
Target your audience. Targeting in this sense means both selecting sites that attract your demographic and tailoring your message to capture that audience. Because the Internet is so vast, this will require some real fine-tuning to get the best response.
Get on-screen fast. A lot of surfers don't wait for an image to fully load -- your banner ad, let's say -- before clicking on to another destination. It's in your best interest to choose sites and creative executions for your banner ad that load quickly. Simple graphics with minimal numbers of colors work best.
Better clear than clever. At best, your prospect is only going to spend a few seconds with your banner before he or she decides whether or not to click on it. Make sure your company name/brand name is seen whether or not the browser decides to click. Don't make your message overly complex or needlessly clever at this point. Keep it involving and benefit-oriented for the best response.
If you're thinking about getting into banner ads to promote your Web site, it's smart to seek professional advice on placement from a reputable Internet media buying service, as well as advice on developing effective content from strategic marketing communications firms such as Ripley-Woodbury.
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