There are plenty of places to put a banner advertising your blog these days, from Entrecard to Project Wonderful.

But what makes an effective banner? One school of thought seems to be that any banner that gets a click is best. This gives rise to the recent rash of banners featuring sexy young women, advertising blogs that have nothing to do with sexy young women. But isn’t that effective, if it gets someone to click through?

Not really. I’ve written before on this topic, such as the post “How Good Is Your Traffic?“, and “Qualifying Your Visitors“.

The basic concept is that traffic alone is useless (except in a certain situation I’ll discuss below). What’s useful is traffic that will convert (e.g. take some action that makes you money). You’ll make more profit with less traffic if that traffic is very likely to convert. Traffic also has a cost associated with it, in terms of server resources used, bandwidth, CPU allocation, etc.

So what you want is highly qualified traffic, not junk traffic.

An effective banner is one that gets clicks from people who are likely to convert, and convinces people who are not likely to convert to not click. That’s right, half the purpose of a banner is to convince people not to click on it. For example, if “converting” for your site means buying an ebook at $19.95, then put the price on your banner. That will convince people who think $19.95 is too expensive for an ebook to not click. The people who do click are more likely to buy, because they don’t see $19.95 as too expensive.

Effective banners are not misleading. They communicate exactly what the site is about, including using appropriate images. Using sexy young women (or men) on your banner is only effective if that’s what you’re selling (well, pictures at least…selling the real thing is illegal).

When you’re having a banner designed for your site, think in terms of both communicating what your site is about, and discouraging visitors who aren’t going to convert. You may have to do some work to think about what your typical customer is like. A survey of your existing customers, if you have some, might help.

As far as traffic goes, think Quality, not Quantity.

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