Online display advertising is highly effective for targeting and reaching specific audiences, but its success is not always a sure thing. The creative message must be highly appealing to the target audience. That’s obvious, right? Here are some additional tips for improving the performance and results of your online advertising creative:

1. Define your personas: Describe the personality of your ideal customer and speak directly to him or her. Make sure both your visual graphics and tone (wording) appeal to your target. Naturally, multiple personas require multiple different versions of your creative.

2. The destination is just as important as the ad itself: Your ad is just a part of your message. Where is the ad leading your potential customer? Is it to a website or landing page the potential customer expects to see? Extending the visual connection from your ad creative to your landing page creative reinforces your message. Ensuring that it’s easy for the potential customer to act once they’ve arrived will improve your results.

3. Design your online display ad like you would design an outdoor billboard: An effective online display ad needs to convey only as much information as is necessary to gain a quality click-through. Like an outdoor ad, there’s only about two seconds to capture a prospective customer, so limit readable elements to just seven items. That includes logos, words, graphics and buttons.

4. Optimize your load time: You can use numerous interactive rich media elements to make an online display ad more engaging, but make sure you don’t slow down the load time of your ad. Slow load times reduce the likelihood of potential customers ever seeing your ad. Consider simple GIF animations—if any—to ensure fast load times.

5. Consider the buying stages of your customer: One single ad rarely meets all needs. Be mindful of whether the persona you’re targeting is familiar with your brand and products, and where in their purchase consideration journey they are likely to be when they see your ad. Different messages will appeal to different prospects at different stages throughout your funnel.

6. Use a professional: An experienced professional designer (or agency) will know how to clearly communicate your message through the principled use of space, fonts, graphics and colors. An unprincipled design will limit an ad’s effectiveness and could negatively impact your reputation.

7. Your work is never done: Take advantage of the flexibility and measurability that digital advertising enables. If you’re not achieving the needed results with your current advertising creative, revisit tips 1 through 6 above, and change it!

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