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5 Golden Rules You Really Ought To Break

When it comes to design, there aren’t many rules that can be applied to every brand or across every website or campaign. Here are five examples of golden rules that are actually made to be broken.

1. Photos of people always boost performance

It’s a commonly held belief that using photos of people will automatically make your ad perform better than those without. Whilst it’s certainly true that a really good, appropriately targeted photo will catch visitors’ attention and consequently improve the performance of your ad, the wrong photo is just as guaranteed to prove detrimental.

The secret is to use the right photo in the right ad. For example, if you are selling a product or item of clothing, it’s certainly very effective to show someone actually using or wearing it. If your service is more abstract however, advertising it is not as straightforward. Some B2B brands for example use images of real customers placed beside a testimonial and this is a very effective way of incorporating a photo to establish engagement and a connection with people.

The knack is to make sure that the photo is genuinely relatable to the product, and if not, try a different tactic.

2. Green increases clicks, red attracts attention, orange encourages action; etcetera

It’s widely believed and accepted without question that colour buttons influence visitors’ psyche and many webpages and campaigns are designed with this in mind. In the majority of cases, this can be true as colours certainly do help your ad to stand out from the background and draws attention which may be converted into action. However, test results show that colours don’t actually influence decisions consistently; red outperforms green sometimes and other times it’s vice versa. There is no magic colour that always works one way or the other.

The most important thing is to make sure that you stick to your brand guidelines, especially if you are running a retargeting campaign. You want your brand to be instantly recognisable and continually changing colour schemes in the mistaken belief that this will somehow influence your customers is only likely to detract from the campaign and confuse people.

3. Always employ an urgent call-to-action

Obviously, calls to action (CTAs) are crucial and you must include them if you want anyone to click on your ads! Urgent calls to action however should be used with caution. Sometimes, particularly if you’re selling a product or service, “offer ends today!” or “book now or be disappointed!” can work and encourage immediate action but larger purchases require softer CTAs. “Learn more”, for example will perform much better than a more urgent CTA especially if the customer wants to think about investing a large amount of money before committing to a purchase.

4. Rely exclusively on CTR as a performance metric

CTR is a valuable tool for measuring the strength of your ads but there is evidence that clicks don’t necessarily relate to conversions. For example, if establishing your brand is the main aim of your campaign, clicks are probably not really worth recording. Think about other metrics instead, like share of conversion and branded search for impact measurement.

For direct response campaigns too, revenue is your ultimate goal rather than page visits. CTR is a great success measure if you’re just looking to drive traffic but a re-engagement campaign is more about conversion, not clicks. Remember that success should be measured on your ultimate goal, so don’t become obsessed with measuring clicks if sales are what you’re really looking for.

5. Flash is always more effective than static

When looking at the performance difference between static and Flash ads, most studies will say that Flash ads outperform their static counterparts; the metric used however, is usually CTR. There is actually no definitive evidence that a Flash banner drives greater sales performance than a static one and this should be remembered when choosing your ad types.

In conclusion

When it comes to designing banners, don’t just blindly follow the accepted golden rules. It’s best to use A/B testing on variations of banners to see what resonates best with your target audience.

Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at http://www.theladywriter.co.uk

Alison Page

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