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Optimizing Your Creative for Digital Ads for Conversion

In the fast-paced world of digital advertising, standing out and capturing your audience's attention is key to achieving the ultimate goal: driving conversions. Being too creative, cryptic, or playful, could cost you conversions as users are inundated with messages. Anything that requires too much thought to decipher or anything that doesn’t instantly resonate will be ignored.

To create ads that not only grab attention but also drive action, it's essential to follow a framework of best practices that will guide the creative decisions you make. Here are some tips to help you to create digital ads that are optimized to convert.

Know the Campaign’s Purpose

Understanding what type of campaign your ad is running on will go a long way in how you approach your creative. In a re-marketing campaign, users will already have familiarity with your product or brand. In a prospecting campaign, they will likely have no former knowledge of your brand or product/service. Your approach may need to vary depending on what level of familiarity your audience has with you. 

Keep your Branding Consistent 

Branding is powerful in everything you do. Maintain consistent branding across all your ads to build brand recognition and trust. Use your brand colors, fonts, and logo to create a cohesive look and feel that reinforces your brand identity. For example, if your brand typically uses blue and your ads are primarily using yellow, it could cause users to not identify your brand, and so on.

Make your Message Clear and Readable 

Your headline and messaging should be clear, concise, and as impactful as possible. It should succinctly communicate the main benefit or message of your ad and entice viewers to learn more. If you’re too playful or use too many words, you could confuse or bore users, thus costing you a lead. At any given time, your digital display ads are competing against dozens of other ads, all of which are begging to be clicked. Clear and succinct will go a long way — especially because there is only so much space to be used!

Additionally, you should avoid lengthy copy. Copy that needs to be shrunk down to cram it all in, or copy that is just too small to read in general can deter potential leads from clicking them. You can also use contrast when possible to help with readability. Light gray on white may be hard to read at a glance, and colors such as blue text on red will definitely make someone’s eyes hurt while trying to decipher it.  Nobody will click on your ad if they can’t read what it’s about or see how it’s important. Remember, your ad is worth nothing if it can’t be read!

Don’t Forget About Design & UX

Ads are served on both mobile and desktop, but some sizes are better fit for one vs the other.  It’s best practice to design ads that will accommodate a variety of screen sizes if you want the best odds of your ads getting served. If you only design ads that fit a desktop screen, nobody on a mobile device will see your ads, and vice versa.  Budget-wise, you’ll want to factor in running multiple ad sizes for specific devices, but design-wise, you’ll need to tweak your creative to work well at all sizes.  Some ad spaces are portrait and others are landscape. You may need to adjust your designs to use the space effectively while still ensuring your message is clear and understandable.  

Tailoring your ad creative to size is one thing, but tailoring your creative to the platform you're advertising on is a whole new ball game. For example, ads on Instagram should be visually appealing and fit the platform's aesthetic, while ads on LinkedIn should be more professional and business-focused. You’ll want to match your creative to your audience so that it’s relatable. For instance, products or services geared toward older people won’t sell as well if you use imagery of younger-looking people, and so on. Making sure your ads speak to the market you’re targeting in a way that is meaningful to them is key to piquing their interest!

Make it Compelling 

Include a clear and compelling CTA that tells viewers what action you want them to take. Whether it's "Shop Now," "Learn More," or "Sign Up," your CTA should be actionable and easy to understand. Avoid vague calls to action like “Click Here” or actions that don’t result in what you want a user to do. It’s recommended that you also create a sense of urgency by including limited-time offers or promotions in your ad. This can encourage viewers to take action quickly, knowing that the offer won't last forever.  Use language like “now” or “today” to inspire them to act quickly as well.

Test and Optimize

Test different elements of your ad (headline, visuals, copy, CTA) to see what resonates best with your audience. Use the data from these tests to optimize your ads for better performance.  Remember though: it’s A/B testing, not A/B/C/D testing.  Too many variables will make it hard to determine which one contributed to the success of your ad - so be sure to only test one variable at a time.

By following these best practices and basic frameworks, you can create digital ads that not only grab attention but also drive action and ultimately lead to conversions. Experiment with different approaches, test your ads and refine your strategy to create ads that resonate with your audience and achieve your advertising goals.

Danielle Matthews
About the Author
Danielle is VDG's Senior Art Director. Whenever she gets a minute to herself she enjoys binge-watching Netflix, reading, obnoxiously loud music, fishing, drinking obscene amounts of coffee, and probably being an all-around nerd.
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