by Michael T. Glaspie

Banner advertising unquestionably has become the industry's most reliable, predictable, and measurable method for attracting new visitors.  With 60-70% online ad expenditures being allocated to  banner advertisements, there is little room for question as to  the effectiveness of a well managed banner ad campaign.  I have   therefore assembled for your review the 14 principles of successful  banner advertising.

You are encouraged to incorporate these concepts into your online marketing strategies, to not only boost traffic to your site, but  to leverage it as well.

1.  Join two, three, or four quality exchange organizations.   A typical exchange organization will offer you usually one-half  to .7 or .8 credits, each time you host another member's banner  at your site, and a full credit will earn you the displaying of  your banner on another exchange members site.  Some exchanges   offer multiple page coding so you may host members banners on  numerous pages throughout your site.  Thus membership in multiple  exchange organizations allows you to leverage visitors not only  as a result of each unique visitor producing multiple credits for  you, but also as a result of visitors who go beyond your home  page, explore your web site, and earn you additional exchange credits through the impressions they are exposed to on any or  all of the pages you host banners on.  It's highly possible to  earn, with a ten page web site, and a visitor who sees all ten  pages, ten or more credits, meaning impressions due you just for  belonging to two exchanges.  Now that's leverage.  My personal   favorites are http://www.linkexchange.com, and my number one  favorite http://www.bannerco-op.com.   The co-op offers a full  one to one exchange plus a unique program paying cash for click  throughs.  And you can exclude specific categories of competitors   banners appearing on your pages.

2.  When dealing with seconds, and sometimes fractions of a  second, to grab the attention of the viewer, it's vital that your  ad screams LOOK AT ME NOW.  You accomplish this goal primarily  through and in this order, your copy, color, graphics.  Therefore  spend as much time on the five to ten words that little box has  space enough for as you did practicing to ask for that first date.

3.  Bright colors almost always out perform the reds and the blacks which are less effective.  Use yellow, orange, blue and green.

4.  Animated banners have multiple advantages over static or  single screen banners.  Use them to layer in additional copy.  A  three screen animated banner easily provides enough room for five  to seven words per screen.  Just make certain the copy that you  choose for the first screen is compelling and attention getting.   Focus on your web site's premium benefit.  Why do people visit  your site?  What's in it for them?  Build your headline, ie: the  first screen, or your static banner, based upon your single most   prominent, compelling benefit.

5.  Banner size, should be maintained at 3-5K which is ideal if  you can accomplish your copy and creative objectives.  If not,  up to 7 is OK. Never more than 10 as it takes much longer to load  and you run the risk of the visitor not seeing your banner at all. 

6.  I can't stress this enough.  There is no reason not to brand  every banner you ever create.  Branding your banner can be  accomplished by doing nothing more that placing your product or  company logo on one of the screens in the animation process, or  simply giving the name of your company, or domain name, or a   picture of your product.  With average click through responses  in the 1-2% range, why waste 98% of the impressions by not telling  the viewer who you are or what your product is?  Off line  advertisers have known for decades the power of branding, and  with properly designed banners you can accomplish both direct   response advertising and branding simultaneously.  With branding  you can get your name, your product name, continually in front  of your prospects, even if they don't "click" on.

7.  Don't get hung up on hosting banners on your site for fear  that you'll lose a visitor.  Listen, they're going to leave  anyways.  If they're interested in your site they'll stick with  it until their interest is totally satisfied.   If not, you're  going to lose them in any event, so you may as well get some   mileage out of those visits.

8.  Do not try to qualify your visitor.  In other words, let  the site do the qualifying and selling job for you.  After all  the name of the game is to get each and every unique new visitor  to your site as possible, thus leveraging credits due you should  you belong to a banner exchange.

9.  When building your five to ten word static banner, or five  to seven words first screen animated banner copy, rely on these  themes.  Fear, curiosity, humor, the big promise.  Example,  Warning, you must see this before you purchase xxx; never worry  about losing xxx again, learn the secrets of cashing in on xxx,  do you know how to xxx?   As an aside, a warning banner is an   enormously powerful approach.  Many off line yellow pages  publishers will not even allow them because the other advertisers complain about the unfair advantage such an ad delivers.  Try one.

10.  The number one drawing card in banner advertising is the  use of the word FREE.  Put your creative talents to task here.   Write a free report that solves a problem, and post it at your  site.  Offer a free drawing, free subscription to a e-zine.  Free advertising, free trial offer, free download for software,  etc., etc.

11.  Never assume your viewer knows what to do next.  Always,  in one or more places, insert the words click here, or, click  here now, or show a drop down box with a click arrow prominently  displayed.

12.  When appropriate to your marketing campaign, buy click  throughs and not impressions.  With click through purchases you  can lock in on the cost of each unique new visitor.  Purchasing  click throughs helps to eliminate concern over rigorous and  ongoing testing and new banner design and creation concerns, as   well as the arduous task of ongoing meaning daily, monitoring of  each of your banner's effectiveness.  When purchasing click  throughs and paying only for those new visitors, all of those  issues become someone else's problem. Http://www.Bannerco-op.com  offers an excellent click through program.

13.  Targeting.  If you are a niche market advertiser, or a  local or regional advertiser, targeting is vital to the success  of your banner campaign.   You'll want to very carefully select  sites or work with an ad agency that offers the opportunity to  reach those prospects who are the most likely to be interested  in your product or service.  On the surface, purchasing targeted   impressions is more costly, however, it represents the best way  to reach your audience.  If you're selling automobiles in  southeast Florida, it makes no sense to place your banner into  a national network where only a fraction of the audience would  have any interest.  Instead you'll want to target web sites   serving the community you service, including Chamber of Commerces,   newspapers, radio stations, television stations, and other local  and regional businesses serving the same geography.

14.  Test, test, and test some more.  Once you've got the perfect banner working, design another one because sooner or later even  the best banner runs out of steam.  It's generally accepted that  after a prospect sees a banner for the third or fourth time, the  likelihood of a click through plummets.  When testing, always  test the next new design on the same site or on the same network,   so you are indeed comparing apples to apples.  Testing is a  continual ongoing, dynamic process.  Review your stat pages on  a daily basis and be prepared to act quickly when results begin  to lag.  Remember the three most critical elements of your  banner.  First the copy, next the color, and next the graphics. Once a successful banner has been created, tweaking and modifying  these elements can keep it alive and producing strong click- throughs for many months.

Michael T. Glaspie is the founding director of  http://www.Bannerco-op.com and as a seasoned Direct Marketer publishes "How to Sell Anything to  Anyone, Anytime" a free e-zine available at   http://www.mysiteinc.com/mglaspie and he may  be reached at mtg@bannerco-op.com
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Pam Jones specializes in offering quality information and services that will keep you on the right track with your online marketing to help you increase your profits. Visit the Internet Marketing Resource Center at http://www.i-m-r-c.com, for tips, tools, resources and helpful articles. Or find out about web hosting, website design or redesign, domain name research & registration, online marketing & promotion and website maintenance services at affordable prices for small to medium sized businesses at Clearwater Web Solutions at http://www.clearwaterwebsolutions.com.

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