Thursday, November 29, 2007

Creating Effective Ads

Online advertising leaves a lot to be desired. There are ads that emulate Windows-warning boxes, pop-ups and pop-unders and a whole variety of “interruption” style ads. All of these ad mediums are developed with the intent to make people notice them. However, most of them only end up irritating people. Advertisers, especially those with small budgets, can't afford to waste money on ineffective advertising. In order to optimize your advertising purchases, consider the following steps:

Step 1: Define your target market and specify clear goals of your advertising campaign.

The most important aspect of any advertising campaign is to have a clear objective in mind. You need to know what group of people you are targeting with your ad campaign and what specific results you want to achieve from your advertising. Do you want to make 1 sale per day or 100? It may seem silly, but defining your outcome in advance will make a dramatic impact on what you actually achieve.

Step 2: Identify the most effective sites for reaching your target market.

Sites that are most relevant to your product or service will, more than likely, be your best bet, but also consider larger sites or networks that can target the audience you're trying to reach. They can be very cost-effective. If you have multiple products or services that appeal to various target markets, you'll have to consider sites that reach all those various segments.

Step 3: Craft your message to fit the needs of the audience you're targeting.

This comes down to understanding the audience of the sites you're advertising on. The message you use on a technology site to appeal to technologically savvy customers won't have the same appeal for visitors on a small-business site. Focus your campaign accordingly.

Step 4: Develop the content of your ad.

Pay particular attention to the content of the ad. The content should be such that it clearly distinguishes your product or service from your competitor’s. Have a catchy headline. The headline is probably the most important part of the ad – It is the attention getter.

Step 5: Formulate the specific promotional messages that correspond to your goals.

The promotional messages should concentrate on the major selling points of your product or service and have a strong call-toaction. Example: “Lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks and add years to your life by taking the new breakthrough Healthy Life Vitamin. Click here to get your free bottle today while supplies last!”

Step 6: Make the desired action clearly visible.

This certainly doesn't mean the desired action should necessarily blink, bounce or do flips, but it should be visible within an accepted format for the media you're using. In the case of the Internet, underlined text links, "click here" text entry boxes, and pull-down menus are all ways you can make the desired action clearly visible.

Step 7: Design the ad so it looks like it belongs on the sites where you're advertising.

For instance, you may want to use the site's font faces in your text, color schemes in your background, font color choices overall, and emulate images where appropriate. Try to conform to the environment you’re in so potential customers feel at home when they see your ad.

Step 8: Produce multiple versions of each ad.

Create three or four versions of each ad, changing the promotional message, call-to-action, font faces and color schemes. This is especially important if you're doing price testing or gauging reaction to specific promotions. By splitting your advertising buy among the various versions of your ad, you can then start to optimize your results based on the message that works best.

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