The trusty website advertisement is a mainstay in many of our customers’ marketing packages. With more than one million people visiting woodfloorbusiness.com each year, a banner ad — whether it’s the leaderboard or a block ad — can be an efficient way to gain exposure among wood flooring professionals. Over the years, we’ve seen hundreds of different banner ads on our website and we’ve learned that the most effective ones have several things in common.
Here are five simple steps to an effective website banner ad: (These same tips would also apply to advertisements in Wood Floor Business E-News.)
1. Keep it Simple
You only have so much real estate to work with in this space. (See our exact specs here if you’re curious.) This is not the space to list off every feature and benefit of your new product. Let your website do that. The ad should simply entice the prospect to take your desired action. Choose one clear message or focal point of your ad. A solid background with a clear message and/or graphic is best. Clutter is your enemy in this space.
2. Mimic Your Website Design
When a prospect clicks through to your website, make it clear immediately that they have ended up where they intended — the banner design should have the same color scheme and branding as the landing page. Consistency is the key.
3. Include a Call-to-Action
Some customers use banner ads as nothing more than a digital billboard. They simply want exposure for their brand to keep it on the minds of prospects. However, if you’re seeking click-throughs, adding a button or text with a specific prompt has been proven to increase the click-through rate. For example: “Sign Up Today.” “Click Here to See the Video.” “Click Here to Download.” If the goal is clicks, a call to action should be included.
4. Consider an Incentive
Along the lines of including a call to action, is including an incentive. A special promotion for prospects that is available only through the banner campaign. This allows you to direct sales by offering a unique promo code or phrase, specifically for those prospects who saw your advertisement.
5. Test! Test! Test!
The great thing about digital advertising is the detailed reporting that comes along with it. We can tell you just how effective your ad is. Take advantage of the data by testing different ads to see which ones work best. Run an A and B banner consecutively and monitor which one garnered more clicks. You might be surprised at the results, and this can help guide the design for your future digital marketing materials.
Of course, every marketing campaign is different. Depending on what your goals and objectives are, our team can work with you to make sure they’re achieved.
There are a million books out there on marketing and sales. Some good, some not-so-good. So when I come across one that I find beneficial, I feel compelled to share it.
I recently read David Meerman Scott’s book, “The New Rules of Sales and Service.” Some of you may recognize the author’s name. He also wrote “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” which was an international bestseller and now assigned reading at many colleges around the country. As for “Sales and Service,” it has become required reading for our sales and marketing staff here at Wood Floor Business.
As the book (and Scott himself in the video below) explains, whether you’re in sales or marketing, we’re all in this together. Sales and marketing departments today need to be one cohesive unit, sharing information and working together to zero in on buyers. With the division between sales and marketing eliminated, the book offers a plethora of tangible information for marketers.
Here are three takeaways from the book:
1. The Rules Have Changed
Today, “buyers are in charge of the relationships with companies they choose to do business with,” Scott writes. That’s because today’s buyers have more information at their disposal than ever. They are educating themselves about their buying options before they ever reach out to a specific company to make a purchase.
With that in mind, the more information marketers can provide the buyer, the better. Allow the buyer to educate themselves about your products or services on their own time and do business with you on their terms.
For example, think about the last time you bought a car. Did you simply drive to a dealership and rely on the salesperson to tell you everything you need to know? Or did you do hours of research online, comparing specs, prices and features, reading articles, browsing magazines and reading reviews?
The companies that use their websites, emails, social media and advertising to educate their buyers are the ones finding success. Your sales staff exists to guide the educated buyer over the finish line, putting the finishing touches and recommendations on a sale. But it’s the marketers who need to arm the buyer with solid information first.
2. Know Your Story
“Telling your story” can sound like a bit of a cliche, but Scott breaks it down matter-of-factly. In marketing materials, you’re not creating copy, you’re telling a story. And that story needs to be true to resonate with buyers.
Maybe it’s one of innovation. Or proud tradition. Or excellent customer service. Whatever it is, your story should align with the thinking of your customer. i.e. I’m willing to pay more for a product that is more technologically advanced.
Some of the best stories have villain. Maybe your “villain” is the status quo, a misconception among buyers or a certain player in your industry.
When telling your story, cut the jargon and buzzwords that customers see right through. People want to be spoken to like a real person. Industry buzzwords, vague claims like “industry leading” or “best-in-class” only distract the buyer from the information they want.
“Your customers aren’t looking to satisfy your ego, and they don’t really care what you think about the stuff you sell,” Scott writes. “Your buyers want to solve their problems.”
3. No More “Making Stuff Up”
You can’t market to people you don’t understand. A successful marketer is not just an expert on his or her company’s products and services, but also the company’s buyers.
From the book:
Organizations filled with people who take the time to understand the needs of buyers they wish to reach, and then develop information to educate and inform those buyers, are more successful than organizations that just make stuff up.
I see it again and again. The way most salespeople, marketers, and product managers operate is by making stuff up… The worst part? In these making-stuff-up sessions, everyone in the room works for the company, and therefore there is no representation of the voice of people who will actually buy the products and services.
Get to know your buyers and everything else becomes a lot easier.
This blog just scratches the surface on the ideas in the “The New Rules of Sales and Service.” For the rest, you’ll have to read it yourself. From one marketer to another, I highly recommend it.
As I get more involved in the hardwood flooring industry, there’s one thing I’ve come to learn: This industry is filled with all kinds of personalities. (Just read our online comments if you need proof.) And when it comes to social media, there’s nothing wrong with letting that personality shine through.
Before getting into marketing, I served as the social media manager for Wood Floor Business' parent company, AB Media. I would travel to trade shows and people would often ask me what tone or “voice” they should be using for their business’s social media accounts. The answer to that is simple: your own!
If you’re funny in real life, be funny! if you pride yourself on being professional and straight-laced, take that approach. What is your company’s story? What kind of impression are you trying to make?
Whatever it is, make it authentic. Your social media followers (think, customers or potential customers) will see right through you if you’re trying to be somebody you’re not.
Now, not everyone is a comedian. And a Twitter feed full of jokes, for example, isn’t going to help you grow your business. But a witty remark or creative photo caption related to your business can help put a human face on your business.
This is social media after all. A little personality can go a long way. So next time you’re over-thinking that Facebook post or sweating over your next 140 characters, allow me to be the voice of reason: The only voice you need to worry about is your own.
It’s hard to read the news these days without coming across an article predicting the demise of print publications, whether they are newspapers, magazines or books. But in practice, print publications are still an important part of our lives, whether for business or pleasure. We’ve heard about digital media killing print for so long now that it seems it must be fact, but research doesn’t back that up. In fact, a study by media consultant Martin Akel & Associates discovered some interesting facts about business publications and their readers.
The study showed that 93% of professionals said that they feel print publications are a desirable way to access information. That’s an overwhelming number. The top reasons they gave were:
That’s why, although I always advise clients that digital advertising is an important part of their marketing plan, print is still a vital piece, as well.