6 Ways You Are Doing Online Advertising Wrong

The following is a guest post from Cher Zavala of Seek Visibility.

In this digital day and age, online advertising should be your first and best bet for attracting customers. However, no matter how much experience you have in other forms of advertising, your gut instincts are likely to lead you astray when it comes to generating prospects and converting sales. Worse, the Web is filled with bad advice that only makes success harder to achieve. As a result, your current online advertising strategy is almost certainly woefully inadequate.

Fortunately, the Web is relatively forgiving, and one you right your wrongs, you should start seeing sales convert like crazy. Based on research and results from some of the best online marketing firms, here are six major mistakes that ruin online advertisements.

1. You Overestimate Your Customers

You might think complimenting your customers by treating them like intelligent, intuitive adults will win you sales, but you’re wrong. Your customers aren’t dumb, but they are lazy. The idea of doing any serious thought while they enjoy an online shopping spree is supremely off-putting to most Web users, and forcing them to do math or understand complex vocabulary isn’t the right way to increase conversions.

Instead, you should keep any numbers you post simple and whole — 25 percent off rather than 42.9 percent off — and any ad-based text short and sweet (and ideally action-based, as you’ll read later).

2. You Buy Individual Banner Ads

Banner ads might have been the height of online advertising in 2000, but today, few people ever even see them. Not only do browser app ad blockers effectively eliminate all banner advertisements, those Web users who allow them to display are essentially inured to them. In fact “banner blindness” is a real phenomenon that is the focal point of hundreds of academic studies.

Instead of trying to force your advertisements through the banner blindness, you should avoid purchasing banner space entirely. Native advertising, or ads that blend seamlessly into a publisher website’s design and style, are much more effective at generating interest as they show up as content recommendation targeting particular users.

3. You Have Only One Landing Page

Where do your advertisements lead users? If unwaveringly answered “my homepage,” you are making a serious mistake. Ideally, your advertisements are unique, selling particular products or services, but when a user in pursuit of those products or services meets your homepage, he or she is going to get out of there fast. Though it may take more work, developing specific landing pages for each advertisement is a better way to convert sales when you finally snag a prospect. Similarly, it is critical that you never lie about the content on the other side of your ad, as that will not only bounce users away, it will make them angry.

4. You Misuse the Call to Action

If you were doing online advertising right, your ads and your website would have a variety of exciting, effective call to action (CTA) buttons — but you’re not, and they don’t. Unfortunately, the majority of call-to-action buttons are decorated with dull and tired text: “click here,” “learn more,” “sign up,” etc. Instead, you need to inspire your potential customers with intriguing CTAs. Experts have a handful of digestible tips to make crafting winning CTAs easier:

  • Use action-oriented words
  • Give the action value
  • Make the tone urgent
  • Tell the truth

5. You Clutter the Call to Action

People are busy, and they are only getting busier. Your customers don’t have time to manually comb through your pages for information, especially the links they need to complete a sale. If it takes a customer more than a few seconds to locate your CTA button, you better believe they are giving up and heading to your competitor’s site.

Therefore, your CTA should be easy to find (usually above the fold) and exceedingly simple. That means no pictures of people, no background images, no subheadings — just a catchy CTA that keeps your customers clicking.

6. You Overcomplicate the Process

The conversion process should look like this:

  1. User sees advertisement
  2. User clicks on advertisement
  3. User sees product
  4. User buys product

It’s that simple. However, you probably have found a way to make it complicated, usually by adding a number of confusing parts after Step 4. Worse, many businesses hide the complexity of the process from their prospects until customers are deep into it, which is just frustrating enough to cancel the transaction.

If your conversion process requires more than the usual amount of payment information, you should clue your prospects in beforehand. Then, they won’t be terribly annoyed and will likely be willing to complete the purchase.

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