CTR increase

Increase CTR with these Ad Design Tips

Click-Through Rate or CTR is a metric that measures the people who clicked on your ad divided by the number of times that your ad was shown, also known as impression. For easier reference, check out the formula below.   

Clicks ÷ Impression = CTR 

CTR is a key metric commonly associated with having higher conversion rates. Logically, when people click your ads, chances are, they perceive them as engaging or interesting. Because of that, they are likely to click your call-to-action button. And if the rest of the sales funnel tactics are done right, you can generate sales.  

Here’s the challenging part though. On average, an internet user is peppered with 1,700 banner ads each month. That could be overwhelming for most people. So it’s natural if they will just scroll through your ads, leaving all your efforts futile. However, you can make them pause to give your ad banner a second look. That is if you use the principles of a good design.  

This article will give you an in-depth look at how you can create an ad design that increases CTR. Whether you are a designer, business owner, or marketer, these tips can help.  

Create a Persona

Before you even brainstorm on your ad design’s look and feel, make sure that you already have a persona. When we speak about persona, it’s a semi-fictional representation of your market or audience.  

This helps in identifying the best visual strategies for your target audience. With this, you can also answer questions such as, to which age group does your persona belong? What type of language or slang do they commonly use? What colors could best represent them?  

The answers to your questions could be the backbone for your ad designs.

Original and High-Quality Images

We all know that compelling images are necessary for an effective ad design. But one of the common mistakes of both small and medium-sized business owners is that they resort to stock images. 

Let’s be clear here. In terms of quality, we’ve seen thousands of good stock images. But, others did too. Most likely, if they do not have their own media library, they would use these as well. 

The question now is, how can people differentiate your product if the images on your ads are not original? And if your competitors are using the same, then winning the market will be twice as hard. 

mad person

The sample above is a nice stock photo. While it looks good, we bet that hundreds or even thousands of websites have already used it. You might want to stay away from it if you are to create an ad. 

It’s always a great idea to use your own photos for ads. For services, in particular, take pictures that will show emotions when they transact with you. Show faces of real people since this is an effective way to connect with the audience. 

If you ask marketing experts, they would say that hiring professional photographers should be included in your budget. It’s easy to determine if an image was captured by an amateur or a pro. However, if you or someone you know could do the photoshoot, and you have the right tools, then go ahead and fill your media library with original shots. Take as much as you can because you’ll never know when you are going to need them. 

Customized Illustrations

Another element that could increase your ad’s CTR is a customized illustration. Here’s an example from the Penji team. 

custom illustration

While real images are nice, creating your own illustrations can level up your game in the competition. You can be more playful, and you can express ideas that actual photos couldn’t. It’s because you can easily stretch the reality with customized illustrations.  

When done right, your audience can quickly identify what you are offering. Plus, they will be interested to learn more, thus clicking your ad.    

Use the Right Colors

For some, you might think that using shocking and bold colors on your ads will do the trick. Well, it’s not always the case. There’s no guarantee that the right market will appreciate your ad if you use that technique. 

Here’s what you have to do. 

Use Age-Appropriate Colors

We already mentioned that you have to anchor your design based on the persona. Go back and find vital information about your market. 

Our color preference changes over time. As we grow older, we tend to appreciate darker tones. The younger ones are said to appreciate brighter and lighter hues. 

From there, you can already narrow down your color selection according to the age group or demographics. Again, it’s not about using striking and popping colors all the time.

Understand Color Psychology

Another consideration when choosing colors for your ads is color psychology. Scientific studies have backed this up, which is why marketers and designers use it for their visual assets.  

Our emotions and thoughts could be affected by colors. For example, using white shows innocence and purity. Black could emphasize death or mourning. On the other hand, red highlights love and romance. Green is commonly associated with wealth and harmony.  

Use color psychology if you want to send a strong message through your ad.

Be Consistent With The Brand’s Colors 

The safest approach when creating designs for your visual assets is to use the brand’s colors. Small businesses could take advantage of it when introducing their offering to the market. Likewise, big corporations are seen to use this technique to establish dominance in the industry. Take for example Coca-Cola and their signature red, as seen in most of their campaigns.  

Coca Cola


Like colors, your choice of fonts or typography can influence your demographics. Here are a few things you must consider if you are to add texts to your visuals. 

It Must Be Clear and Readable 

As a rule of thumb, you must stay away from complex fonts. The simpler, the better, as your audience could easily read it in just milliseconds. 

When doing an ad design, most especially online, take note of the cognitive load. If the fonts you use are hard to decipher, don’t expect the audience to pause to understand them. In reality, they are likely to ignore the entire thing. 

It Should Evoke the Right Emotions and Must Be Consistent to Your Message 

Imagine if you are promoting your store’s Holiday sale but using fonts that match Halloween’s. 

Even if you have the best and most original images or illustrations, it won’t work without the right font style. It should be consistent with your message and the emotions that you want the market to feel. 

Mixing and matching design elements should be fine, as long as they look cohesive and blend well.  

It Should Complement the Brand 

When you add texts to your ads, you must also think of your overall branding. For example, if you are selling premium and luxurious handbags for middle-aged women, using playful fonts might not work. It’s better to choose styles that highlight elegance and sophistication. 

On the other hand, if your target market is kids, then round fonts with a cartoonish appeal should do the trick. 

Visual Contrast

We’ve encountered many clients wanting to add as many elements to their ads. That is possible and can be done. But without proper visual contrast, your ads might not deliver.  

Visual contrast determines the differences between your design elements. You can achieve this by using contrasting colors, different shapes, sizes, textures, or even various lighting. 

This is critical if you want your audience to focus on specific design elements. Without variety, it will be harder to distinguish what is your ad’s primary purpose.

Let’s have a quick example. In your ad, you’ve written all texts in a similar font style and size. How can others determine the header, sub-header, and supporting texts? It’s not going to be easy. 

Simply put, visual contrast helps humans to organize design elements by hierarchy. 

White Space 

We’ve already covered some of the most crucial elements to add to your design. However, as much as it is important to place images, texts, and to choose the right colors, leaving a white space must be a priority too. 

When we say white space, it refers to the distance between design elements. Unfortunately, many people do not see its value and think that the real estate for the ad is wasted when you place a white space.

But that’s far from the truth. In fact, it’s an underrated yet key ingredient to hold all other design elements. Without the right amount of white space, your ads will look heavy and cluttered. 

Take note that white space could be any color or texture. 

Add Social Proof

If your ad design layout allows you to include social proof without looking odd, then we recommend that you do it.  

One of the surefire ways to win your market is if they could see testimonials from your clients or customers. That is why in most ads right now, companies include actual photos of their customers and an excerpt from their reviews or feedback. 

This builds credibility, and whoever sees your ad will be compelled to click it.  

Create Multiple Ad Design Versions 

This last piece of advice might not be a design tip but is equally important if you want to reach your campaign’s maximum CTR.  

When working on designs, it’s best to have multiple versions. Split testing helps your team determine what works and what doesn’t. From there, you can make alterations and improve your CTR using your new ads. 


An ad that has a high CTR entails different design elements. It should be created using both arts and science, and your market research must be the foundation for building a strong design. 

For these reasons, we encourage that you hire the services of professional graphic designers. Their experience has taught them the most effective approach for specific industries and demographics. Sure, you can easily build a visual asset using templates. But the real question is, will it work? 

To get a high CTR, leave the job to experts. 


Author Bio

Bio: Tina Lombardo is an Outreach Specialist for Penji and loves a great book. Her primary focus is in the startup and technology space with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dotpenji
Facebook: https://home/beagleca/public_html.facebook.com/dotpenji/
Website: https://penji.co