Every time we set up a campaign, we can face a lingering feeling of uncertainty. Will my audience get the message? How will this message resonate with their needs and interests? Will it turn visitors into your new customers or people will simply ignore it? All these questions really have the same point in their essence so the answers will depend on the same thing - campaign effectiveness.

One of the most simple and obvious ways to get answers is to count the number of interactions between the users and a particular ad. If a website visitor clicks on an ad, it means that the message is noticeable, attractive, and engaging - which is exactly what every marketer wants it to be. Therefore, such metrics should be closely measured and improved, if the results are not satisfying enough. In this article, we are going to talk about one of the most widely used metrics - CTR and the ways to improve it.

What is CTR?

CTR stands for “click-through rate”, it is one of the main indicators of campaign effectiveness. It can be defined by the number of clicks on an ad, which are compared to the overall number of times it was shown. Click-through rate is calculated as a ratio between clicks and impressions which is then shown as a percentage.

For example, if your ad gets 1000 impressions and the users clicked on it 100 times, your CTR will be 10%. Therefore, the more attractive your offer is, the higher the click-through rate it will get. We’ll discuss the most effective ways of improving CTR in the next sessions, and in the meantime let us discover why this metric is important and how you can combine it with other metrics to get a full picture of your campaigns’ success.

What does this metric reflect?

If you’re working with advertising for some time already, you might have noticed that CTR is considered one of the most classic performance metrics and is widely used within every business vertical. When the users turn their attention to the ad, they usually show it by clicking on it. An engaged user can be delighted by your offer and even proceed to your call-to-action. So it seems quite natural that a campaign with higher CTR will also get higher conversion rates.

Having a good click-through rate can give you a lot of benefits. In terms of SEO, better rates will give you more credibility for search engines and, thus, better rankings. Moreover, in some cases, if an ad gets a high CTR it also gets lower cost-per-click, so the perks of getting good rates are even more appealing. But before we dive into investigating how to increase click-through rate, let’s make it clear that this metric shouldn’t be used alone to define the performance of your campaigns.

CTR reflects how appealing your message is, but to get a full picture of your campaign performance you should also pay close attention to other metrics, more focused around conversions. It can be a number of people who contacted you or completed the form - the actual measurements will depend on your specific business goals. Now, having that in mind, let's finally move to the main question - how to improve the click-through rate?

How to improve CTR?

There are lots of different practices and advice regarding improving click-through rate for any specific business needs, but the most important step on reaching your goals is clearly setting it.

Know your goals

In the case of CTR, you should, first of all, define what is your “good” CTR. This value can be defined by many factors, such as type of advertising, used platforms, your business vertical,median facebook ads ctr and others. For instance, in FacebookAds legal industry has the highest CTR which reaches 1.6% compared to the average of 0.9%, while at Google Adwords the average click-through rate of display ads across industries is 0.46%.

Then, focus on your business goals as it will determine every step of your advertising campaign creation. If your main aim is to boost brand awareness, your ads should be designed to catch the attention. The call-to-action is also defined by your goals - for example, it can urge users to contact you or learn more. You can also try offering free trials or demos depending on your industry. For secondary conversion make sure you’ve created a separate set of ads that will be dedicated to a specific action. The offer should be clear and appealing so that the prospective client could make an immediate decision.

Know your target audience

As with many other types of programmatic advertising, the first and foremost step to increase the click-through rate is to get to know your target audience. This group of people shouldn’t be too broad so that the message you are trying to communicate could be easily aligned with it. Sometimes other metrics can help - take a look at your most active website users or revisit your typical buyer personas to get a better insight into what your potential customers might like the most. To reach these groups, use targeting and retargeting options - you can segment users by devices, geolocation, age, and gender, as well as their customer journey stage.

It is often a small detail that defines the success of the whole campaign, and picking the right keys directly reflects your understanding of the audience. How would they describe what they are searching for? What is most important for them? Where could they be looking for it? The use of specific language, the design of your creatives, its style - ideally, all these little things should align with your audience’s interests and preferences.

‘Talk’ to your audience

If we are going to get really serious about improving CTR, it is not enough just to briefly encounter your audience and learn a couple of facts about their interests. The most engaging ads are ‘talking’ to the target audience persona - use the words and phrases your ideal customers would use, dive into their jargon, answer the questions they would ask. Think about things they would consider the most appealing or review your previous best-performing ads for inspiration. Working on your ad copy can significantly increase CTR of your ads, especially if it’s backed up by in-depth audience research.

The key to improve CTR is in keywords?

Apart from targeting your audience with personalized content, it is essential to adjust your keywords on your web pages as well. This will help users to navigate around your offers and can even increase your website visibility for search engines. Remember that for your customers a specific product or service is easier to be found by specific keywords. Narrow down their search to the exact offer you are going to present - this will save time and money both for you and your customers. While this may lead to a reduction of an overall number of impressions or clicks - the CTR is actually getting higher, as your offers are now going to be targeted much more precisely.

Get around ad blindness

Banner blindness or ad blindness is a typical phenomenon when a user's brain learns to ignore advertisements, especially banner-like. It’s quite logical - after all, website visitors usually aren’t primarily interested in advertising, but this factor can significantly affect your CTR and, consequently, revenue. What can be done to improve click-through rate considering this phenomenon?

Well, some advertisers believe that the more vivid the ad is, the more clicks it will get. The reality, however, proves that things are not so simple as in many cases ads are too colorful and are immediately labeled as ‘banner noise’ by our brains. The answer here lies in merging your message with the content of the website. For example, native ad formats are often getting higher CTRs specifically because they easily adjust to the environment they’re posted in. Try experimenting with different formats and sizes, change color schemes, and, most importantly, pay attention to the context.

Test and experiment

Probably one of the exciting things about the digital advertising industry is that there is no universal set of rules that would equally work for everyone. So, never underestimate ad campaign testing. Each business owner sooner or later establishes their own approach and even then their strategy remains subject to constant changes. The only way to decide which practices are worth investing in is to constantly experiment and improve your advertising.

Start with making several different creatives and have a look at general patterns, notice and analyze which of them performed best and why. If you have some time, you can also make your own research on different formats and how they work for your business. After choosing the most successful creatives, try using A/B testing to figure out what impacts your CTR the most. Wording and punctuation, using symbols or numbers, the color scheme of your creative - this can be something you wouldn’t even expect. Implement the changes, test the results, and continue experimenting until you get what you want.

Closely monitor the statistics of your advertising campaign after launch. If some of the ads get fewer clicks, then try changing different details in accordance with your findings. If this does not help, stop this ad so that it does not spoil the overall CTR.

Optimize for mobile

If your ads aren’t optimized for mobile ad formats, chances are that many users simply cannot see them. Not only should they fit the format and work properly, but it is also crucial to consider what your ad will look like on mobile devices. Check your titles and descriptions, creatives sizes, and the general appearance of your ads. They should be as accessible and appealing on mobile as they are on the desktop if you don’t want to lose your potential customers.

Review your competitors' strategies

If you’ve already tried and tested most of your hypotheses, but still want to increase CTR even more, it is time to take a look at your competitors. Their marketing efforts can have different success rates, but taking a look from a users’ perspective can give you lots of insights. Study search results on your most relevant keywords and analyze which ads are performing best or get inspired by new unusual solutions. Not only can you come up with something new for your campaigns, but also you will be able to learn from others’ mistakes, which is always smarter than making them on your own.


As we can see, there is no clear and inclusive strategy to increase click-through rate for any company, but with some effort, it is not so hard to find out what works for your specific business needs. Take some time to analyze your existing campaigns and improve them. If you haven’t set up any campaign yet, use these practices to avoid common mistakes and apply them to your marketing efforts. At our DSP you can have plenty of space for experimenting and picking up the best strategies which will eventually lead your business to success and prosperity.

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Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
April 2020