Understanding the Anatomy of an MSP Display Ad

November 15th, 2017
Elaine WangDesign Lead

There was a time when companies vying for business sent out brochures, letters, and catalogs hoping that something would draw customers to their business. Things have changed and the world of marketing has become crowded and loud. For this reason, marketing tools that allow you, as a managed service provider, to stand out among your competition are vital. One such tool is display advertising.

We know your first language is likely tech, not marketing. But before you mentally check out, don’t be afraid, we’ll break it down for you.

First off… What the heck are display ads?

Display ads are the banner ads seen on the top of web pages, billboards along each side, and smaller boxes found between text and can be static or contain videos. They can be simple text ads, which include a headline, a couple of lines of text, and a URL. They can even be in-app ads that appear on mobile devices or custom ads in Gmail so people can forward or save ads in their inbox.

There are countless sizes, styles, and formats so you can mix it up to find one or a few that best resonate with your audience. According to Google, AdWords display ads appear in more than 650,000 applications and on more than 2 million websites, which means that wherever your audience is, you can be there as well.

banner ad

Best practices for display ads

Display ads allow business owners, or MSPs like you, to reach their customers through highly targeted campaigns based on customers’ demographics or interests. Although display ads often only yield nominal click-through rates and sometimes even lower conversion rates, it is possible to design highly creative display ads that captivate viewers and score clicks. However, keep a couple of essential points in mind.

  1. Speak to your target demographic but don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. As an MSP, you may be inclined to create display ads that speak to all customers: low or high budget, break/fix issues, end users, or businesses of all shapes and sizes. However, it is nearly impossible to effectively target your specific market segment unless you design your display ads with purpose and intent.

2. Choose the platform where you will display your ads prior to designing your display ad. If you’re designing an ad to appear on social media, such as Facebook, remember that you’re not only competing with other ads, but also a person’s entire social network. In this venue, your ad must stand out but also blend in. It should be contextually relevant – meaning that it doesn’t look like an ad – and still grab the person’s attention with images, a great headline, or text (or all of the above).

attention getting ads

To drive your social content, Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital suggests using “real pictures, of real things, taken by real people.” For example, when Michael Kors posted an ad for the first time on Instagram and used a photo, he saw a 370 percent increase in new followers. That’s not to say you’ll get the same results, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re not currently achieving the results you desire.

Writing your ad copy

As an MSP, you probably already think outside the proverbial box. There’s no disputing that doing so when designing display ads also works wonders. Add some humor or write an eye-catching headline that tugs at the heartstrings. A little creativity can go a long way even if your product isn’t exciting or new. And hey, if you aren’t the best copywriter, you can outsource this to a professional or even someone on your staff who has a knack for it.

Include a call to action. A CTA is a highly effective ingredient to most any display ad. After all, conversions, business, revenue, and profit all depend on CTAs. These are appeals to your customers or clients to take action, make a choice, and essentially become a part of your ad. It usually involves a tap or click on a button and can be the tipping point between conversion (clicking through) and bounce (peacing out).

Designing your ads

According to Google, wider banner ads generally perform better than tall or narrow ads, with the most effective display ads measuring 336×280 or 300×250 pixels; 300×600 pixels for half-page ads and 728×90 or 320×110 pixels for banners.

wide display ad

Of course, you must consider your budget when purchasing display ads. You don’t have to break the bank to design a display ad and gain customers, but you will have to set aside some of your marketing budget to reach your target audience and the people who will be most receptive to your IT services.

A few other things to keep in mind when designing your ads:

  • Your company logo must be included to build brand awareness
  • Choose colors wisely
  • Keep it simple
  • Include that all-important call to action and use buttons appropriately
  • Make sure your text is readable easily and instantly (not too long or cluttered)
  • Consider using animation, if possible
  • Make sure you are consistent with your brand
  • Try to instill a sense of urgency
  • Keep JPG, PNG, GIF and HTML files small-ish

If you’re too busy (highly likely – we totally get it) running your business to stop and design the best display ad to reach your customers, then fear not; there are experts who can help. Consider turning to a professional, whether that be bring a graphic designer on-staff (if budget allows) or outsourcing to a small marketing firm- or maybe even a local design student. Such professionals can create ads based on your voice and brand to convert customers and score clicks.

Ads are everywhere and most companies are taking advantage of the various platforms to display their wares. In fact, Forbes recounts that most marketers believe that display ads are one of the best ways to increase branding for your MSP company as it’s vitally important to reach consumers where they spend most of their time: on the Internet.

Interested in learning more about marketing for MSPs? Give us a ring.