Every day more than two billion people click their way around the Internet. That’s a full 34% of the world’s population, and each and every one of those people is a potential source of online revenue for the affiliate marketer. But the World Wide Web is every bit as competitive as the brick and mortar world when it comes to pushing product. It’s virtually exploding with affiliate sites, all trying to entice the surfer to click through and spend. With the glut of online competition, it’s no longer enough to throw up a few banners and wait for the consumer to bite. If your sites aren’t specifically designed to capture attention and elicit the click, you’re getting lost in the crowd. Here are a few simple design tips to help you command that coveted click-through.
Color has a profound psychological effect on humans. We make choices and take action based on our perceptions and feelings, which are markedly influenced by the brain’s reaction to different hues. This fact makes color utilization a powerful tool in the marketing arena. Red is an energetic, happy color, for example. It fosters excitement and tends to push us toward action, so if you want to trigger the impulse to click, red is the optimal color. Use it to best advantage in your calls to action. Blue connotes trust and engenders feelings of security, making it a good choice for page borders and contextual links, while using white for your background will give your site an aura of credibility and professionalism. White instills a feeling of confidence, which allows the surfer to relax and engage.
While color can enhance the surfer’s experience and increase the bottom line, indiscriminate use of it can have adverse effects on click-through rates. For instance, when it comes to backgrounds, colors other than white can produce a negative response by making it difficult to discern the textual content. You don’t want surfers to have to work to read your sales copy. The same can be said for patterned backgrounds, as they will make your page too busy, which can send your visitors off site in a hurry. It’s wise to limit your use of color, as well. Using too many colors will confuse the surfer and detract from your sales copy. Choose three colors at the most, and make sure they’re complementary. You want to catch the eye, not abuse it.
Potential buyers won’t give you the click if you don’t ask for it, and they need to hear you askóor in this case, see you askóloud and clear. Placing a call to action well above the fold on your site caters to impulse buyers and those who already have some idea about the product or service. But don’t stop there. Give your surfers several opportunities to click as they read. You never know at what point in your sales pitch they will be ready to buy, and you don’t want to make them wait too long. Don’t be afraid to make your closing call to action stand out, either. Create it in red or blue (color matters, remember?) and make the font reasonably large to ensure it doesn’t get passed over easily. Also, be sure the latter is easy to read. If surfers can’t pick it out at a glance, they won’t click on it, and you don’t want to give them any reason not to follow your link. Fancy fonts have their uses, but a call to action isn’t one of them.
Banners that Bite
Banners make the affiliate marketing world go round, but to be effective they must be used judiciously. Animated banners can be eye catching, but beware: filling your pages with blinking text and moving pictures can overwhelm visitors and leave them not knowing where to point their mouse. Or worse, the surfer will become annoyed at the visual assault. If that happens, you won’t get a click-through, and you certainly won’t get a return visit. You’ve not only just lost a sale, but you’ve lost any residual sales that may have resulted from it. Well placed static banners will grab the surfer’s attention without driving them away. It’s also good practice to place a line of creative text above or below each banner to help draw the click. Banners by themselves are not nearly as effective as those that include unique copy designed to encourage the surfer to become a buyer. And if you’re able to create your own bannersósponsor permittingóall the better. An original creation will garner more attention than those banners provided by sponsors, as surfers are more likely to be unaffected by ads that they’ve been exposed to a million times on a million other sites. Unique sells.
Location, Location, Location
Strategic placement is a crucial element of marketing design. We are conditioned to take in information on a web page the same way we read a printed page, from left to right and from top to bottom. Visitors will initially scan your site from top left to top right and then continue down the left side, taking in the content across the center portion of the page as they continue downward. The last spot to get viewed is the bottom right corner. This conditioning means that marketing materialótext ads, banners, linksóbecomes more or less valuable depending on where it’s placed, and your page should be laid out in a manner that takes advantage of this.
Surfer scanning habits indicate that the area across the top of the page is prime real estate when it comes to getting the click, if it’s occupied by anything other than ads containing your affiliate link, you’re hobbling its potential. Never mind the large, graphical site header. It might look awesome, but this space would be better filled, and your purpose better met, with something eye-catching that clicks through to the sponsor. Likewise, site elements of less importance, such as outbound reciprocal links, are better relegated to the lower right corner where they’ll have the least impact. You don’t want surfers to leave your site unless they’re going somewhere that’s going to make you money.
It’s a competitive virtual world out there, and every edge is valuable in achieving affiliate success. In the quest for the click-through, site design can make all the difference. Keeping these simple tips in mind will help you stand out from the crowd and make the surfer’s experience both a pleasant and profitable one.