Episode 85: 6 Elements of a High Converting Ad Creative


How do you create compelling visuals for your ads?

Listen as Molly details the six foundational elements of ad creatives that convert — including even one of these elements in every creative you make will help your ad succeed. Then, Molly goes over the Ad Design Checklist (« that you can swipe for free in the resource section) DigitalMarketer uses to create the concepts for all their marketing visuals.


  • The element your ad creative must contain to have a successful campaign.
  • What to do if you’re not a visual person or overly creative and the free research tool you can use to overcome that so you can convey your marketing message through visuals.
  • The 6-Step checklist DigitalMarketer uses to design powerful Facebook ads (« Find it in the resource section below).
  • Tips and tools you can use to create strong visuals, even if you don’t have a graphic designer.


Big Magic
Episode 41: 9 Ways to Increase Landing Page Conversion Rate
Episode 43: Ryan Deiss Shares 4 Steps to Crafting and Optimizing the Perfect Offer
Episode 84: Ryan Deiss: 7 Questions I Ask Myself Before I Finish Writing Ad Copy
Facebook Ad Example Slide Deck
Molly’s example document she gives to DM’s graphic designer
[DOWNLOAD] Use This 6-Point Facebook Ad Design Checklist Before Launching Your Next Campaign (…and draw inspiration from 20 critiqued ads!)
Facebook Ad Design Checklist
iPhone Battery Ad (Scarcity Ad):

traffic-and-conversion-summit-facebook-ad copy-ep85

Episode 85 Transcript (swipe the PDF version here):

Keith Krance: Hello and welcome back to Episode Number 85 of Perpetual Traffic. And the band is back together, it’s just us three on this one today.



Ralph Burns: Yep.



Keith Krance: We’ve got some great stuff for you. How you guys doing?



Ralph Burns: Good.



Molly Pittman: Awesome!



Ralph Burns: Yeah.



Molly Pittman: I’m happy to be here!



Keith Krance: Traffic & Conversion’s just a few weeks away! So, hopefully we’ll see you there. Ralph and I are also doing a pre-event workshop so hopefully we’ll see you there as well. Today, we’re going to be talking about some good stuff. This is something that people ask about quite a bit. This is something that I think Molly just has a natural ability, just a natural inclination, to be good at this.



  And it’s funny, on Episode 84, where Ryan talks about the seven questions he asks himself before he finishes any piece of ad copy and he talked about how Molly does one of these naturally. She talked about some of this stuff when she talked at our event a couple weeks ago in Austin, and people just absolutely loved it so you’re going to love this stuff. We got some great resources for you that you can go to the Show Notes and download as well. So get ready for some good stuff coming your way.



  Molly’s going to be going over the six elements of a high converting ad creative, as well as the ad creative checklist that DigitalMarketer’s designer, Britney, has created. So she’s going to be going through all of those elements with examples, with some amazing resources that you can get access to. So listen up, let’s get right into it.



  What do you got for us?



Molly Pittman: Yeah, thanks Keith! I’m excited about this episode. It’s something that we’ve touched on, you know, a few times in different trainings, in different podcast episodes, but other than at your all’s event a few weeks ago, it’s not something that we’ve really dedicated a whole session or episode to. So I’m really excited. I think what’s interesting about this, the creative process, the design process. It’s something that’s hard to teach step-by-step.



  Step 1. Come up with a really good idea.



  Step 2. Give it to a really good designer.



  It’s hard to really explain how this process works sequentially, but I think we figured out a good way to teach you guys at least the foundational elements of a really solid marketing design.



Ralph Burns: Well, yeah, I love this too because I love the way you talk about this too. Because people, a lot of times they’ll be like, “Well why don’t you just outsource your design or hire a designer or find one of those companies that you can hire for the month, or Youlance and have them design?” But the only problem is, like if you want your ads to perform well, you’ve got to be able to give them some sort of direction. An idea, right? And that’s what this is all about.



Molly Pittman: And you also need some consistency between your design. And we’ll get into that later, but just so we’re all on the same page. Really today, I’m going to be talking about, how do we create the concepts for all of our marketing vigils. Right? I’m not going to talk about how to go into Photoshop and all of that. Maybe we can have Britney Arkin, our awesome designer at DigitalMarketer, come on some time and explain exactly what she does to create the image. But I’m going to explain, as a marketer, how do we go about creating concepts and ideas for images that actually convert? Images that actually convey the marketing message, and this could be a billboard, an ad in a magazine, a Facebook ad, display network. Any time you’re trying to visually represent your marketing message or whatever your brand is saying, this really comes into play. So, if you go over to digitalmarketer.com/podcast, this is Episode 85. There’s a design checklist that Britney, our designer, actually created. So this should be really helpful. I’m going to touch on this a bit throughout the episode, but also you’ll find a slide deck of ads that I think have really awesome images. So we’ll also walk through a few of those as we go through the presentation.



  But before we get started, I wanted to recommend a book to you guys. And this book really helped me understand what a creative process even was and how it happens. It’s called Big Magic. It’s by Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote Eat, Pray, Love. I read this entire book, it’s over 300 pages, in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. And honestly, I’m not a huge reader so Big Magic really helped me understand, not only how Britney thinks when she’s creating all of these designs for DigitalMarketer, but also how I can think about creativity. Right? How do you actually get a good idea for something, right? How do you actually get a creative idea? Again, this isn’t a step-by-step process so I just wanted to recommend that book to you guys. It’s really helped me understand what we’re about to talk about a lot deeper.



Ralph Burns: Yeah, when you presented this at our program, I thought this was transformative for us and this goes for everyone who thinks that they know everything there is to know about advertising or doesn’t do any sort of education on their own is that, you know, we talk almost every single day and there’s always something that I learn whenever you do a presentation and what was really cool during our program was that we actually had our designer there. We had a lot of people that might be actually part of the agency and this actually made me think conceptually, like, how do I actually do it? I didn’t realize that I did it in this step-by-step way, you know, to get the hook first and then write the ad copy, and then your image should be in relation to your ad copy, which we’re going to get into great detail here on the show. But, actually to put that together in a step-by-step process that we are now implementing inside the agency, like, that is transformative for us.



Molly Pittman: Right.



Ralph Burns: And I think, you know, our ads and our campaigns are going to be that much better because of what you’re going to talk about here. I mean, it’s just so, so killer. Obviously, you’ve got a great designer on staff at DM and that’s just not the only thing. It’s like, it’s how do you visualize your hook and your ad copy in that image? And there is a way to do it. And it’s obvious that if you do it the right way, you can get the result that you want whether it’s Facebook or print advertising or TV or whatever it happens to be. All the same concepts apply.



Molly Pittman: Totally Ralph, and speaking more to the designer. That’s an assumption that people probably make. Oh, DigitalMarketer’s ads are great or oh, these big brands. Of course, they have great visuals because they have all of these designers on staff and they’re incredibly talented. Right? We do have Britney on staff. She is incredibly talented. Britney’s been with us for three years. It was her first design job so it’s not like we acquired, you know, someone who was creating ads for Coca-Cola the past 15 years. Britney’s incredibly talented but the reason she’s incredibly talented in this job is because she’s also starting to understand the marketing side of this whole thing. She understands that her whole job isn’t to just create a pretty picture. Her job is to create an image that makes someone feel a certain way, or make someone do whatever we’re wanting them to do. And she’s willing to give up some of the pretty, or whatever they’re going for, she’s willing to give that up for a good marketing campaign.



  So no matter who you’re working with, no matter whether they’re in-house or they’re a freelancer or it’s a monthly service. Whatever it is, the key is to make sure you are properly educating this person and you are giving detailed instructions on what you want these images or videos to look like. If you aren’t getting what you want, it’s because you as the marketer, you are not explaining exactly what you want. It should not be the designers job for you to send over a product and say, hey, create ads for this. Their job is to make it look visually appealing. Their job is not to make this a marketing asset for your company. So I just wanted to get that out of the way because I think it’s the most important point. Your relationship with whoever’s creating these images is very important.



Ralph Burns: Yeah.



Molly Pittman: You explaining exactly what you want is very important. A good designer helps but it’s not everything so the marketing behind this is incredibly, incredibly essential.



Ralph Burns: Absolutely, and I think the, one of the things that we always have as an issue in the agency is that we’ve got the account managers are like, “Well, I’m not really visual. I can’t really think of ideas”, but the way you’re going to present this today is actually overcome that if you’re not overly creative.



  This actually will help you because it derives from your hook and your ad copy into your image and how it visually represents itself. And the big thing, like what you were just saying, is feedback. It’s, this is not the kind of thing where you just say “Hey, go on to Fiverr and create me ten images” and that’s it. It’s a process of editing back and forth, making sure it actually works. Giving positive feedback. Giving negative feedback. Stuff that you don’t like, you know, and crafting that over time after you give them good initial instructions. So really, it’s a team effort when you’re creating creatives. You know, whether it’s DigitalMarketer, whether it’s us, or whether it’s you out there listening. It’s not a one and done. There’s definitely a process to it and you got to mold it as it goes along to really get the best out of it.



Molly Pittman: So I’m just going to run through the six things that I think images should be; marketing images should be. And this is kind of like Ryan’s list from last week’s episode. You’re not going to be able to include each of these in every image, but if you can include two or three, you will be good to go.



  But the first one is something you must always do. Images should convey the hook or the marketing message and we’ve been talking about hooks and marketing messages a lot on the podcast recently because, if you do not have a good marketing message, if there isn’t a reason that someone should take action, this isn’t going to work. The entire campaign will fail. So number 1, you must make sure that your creative conveys whatever hook or marketing message you have set for this campaign.



  Number two. They should tell a story. Images that tell a story, especially video ads or carousel ads on Facebook, it allows the end user to be able to see themselves inside of this story that you’re telling. And surprisingly, you can tell a pretty long story in a simple image, so if you can do so, that’s very effective.



  Number three. Display the product. Especially if you’re selling a physical product and you can show it in action, again, in a video carousel or image, that’s going to be very effective. Even if you’re asking people to click over to a blog post or to download some sort of Lead Magnet. Being able to convey and actually show what they’re going to get on the other side, it’s very effective. You’re not relying on their imagination to create what this is going to be on the other side. You can actually show them.



  Number four. Stand out in the newsfeed, or stand out in whatever arena you’re putting this particular creative in. So, I’m really wanting to take a hard stance against creating images that have puppies, or cats, or pretty women just for the sake of getting the click. Right? So when I say stand out in the newsfeed, I’m not saying create a totally irrelevant image that has nothing to do with your marketing message just so you get clicks. If you do that, people are going to click, but they’re not going to give a crap about whatever page they’re landing on the other side. So, there are other ways to stand out in the newsfeed that Britney has included in the checklist that we talked about earlier that I will go over, but I’m not advocating for any sort of click-bait images or videos. Frankly, those really piss me off. They have nothing to do with your product or the message.



Ralph Burns: There’s tons of data too, behind it, that they just don’t work in general.



Molly Pittman: Yeah, you want to stand out but don’t be obnoxious and don’t be what is number 5. Don’t be off brand. So even if this is your first ad that you’ve ever created for your company, whether you know it or not, you still have a brand. When you think about your company or your product your selling, you know, what colors come in to mind? You know, what does your company stand for? What are you guys about? And if you can really set that in stone, which Britney has done for DigitalMarketer, right?



  The gears, the green and the reds. A lot of the images and ads that you see from us have a flat cartoon look to them. That is called a brand and if you can start to establish that, it’s only going to help because as people see more and more ads from you they’re going to recognize and say, “Oh, those are those guys over at DigitalMarketer. I immediately remember them because this ad looks kind of similar to one that I saw two years ago.” It doesn’t mean your creatives all have to look the same, but if you can establish some branding guidelines and colors and, you know, maybe a certain look and feel that you’re going to use as long as it continues to convert and work for you, that will only help.



  You know, I was at a class last week at Wizard Academy with Roy Williams. We talked about this in last week’s episode, and Roy does a lot of radio ads, so what’s big for him is repetition. So he’s creating these little brand able chunks, a sentence or two that he includes in every ad. So the message of the ad might be something totally different, but he knows that if he can include these one or two sentences into every ad that repetition will eventually be on his side and that people will start to remember that company.



  The same thing applies to images, so whether it’s a little logo in the left hand corner or a certain color pallet. As I spoke to earlier, being on brand is very important even if you don’t feel like you have a brand today. If you keep doing this, you will have a brand. So it’s something to keep in mind.



  And the number six. Again, this really relates to last week’s episode. Play off of emotions already associated with a certain visual. So, the iPhone battery ad that we talked about last week. It’s an ad that’s included in the Show Notes at digitalmarketer.com/podcast, but we used an image of an iPhone battery that was red. It was about to die and the message that we were trying to get across was, “Hey, we’re about to sell out of tickets to this event. This is your last chance,” right? We were trying to portray scarcity. Well, what is an image or an icon in culture already that people have already associated scarcity with? And that would be, definitely, hey, my iPhone is about to die. So, if you can figure out different icons or images that people already have associated emotions to in the past, you’ve helped to overcome a big barrier, right? They see the image, they automatically have that emotion associated to it. You don’t even have to explain. It’s already been done.



  So really, number one from this list, convey the hook or marketing message and then play off emotions already associated with an image, I think those are the most important. But again, if you can include two or three of these in every creative that you make, you will definitely succeed.



Keith Krance: When you started talking about this a couple of months ago, we changed actually a couple of accounts where we were doing a message that had email as part of the creative so, we had been using sort of standard kind of stuff that you get from a stock photo and a bunch of sort of email looking things. As soon as I listened to what you were saying, I was like, you know what? We need to start using iPhone icons as the actual email cause it’s something familiar. There’s an actual emotion attached to it just like the battery example, and all of the sudden, all of the other ads that we thought were doing well were no longer our best performers. It’s all the ones that have the little Gmail icon that you see every day on your iPhone, in my case, or like that blue sort of email icon if you’re an iPhone user. And immediately, the ads just resonated with people because it related to the hook and it related to the ad copy and it was just so genius. It was just so simple, but it totally makes sense. Like, I’m going to click that because I see that. I understand it. I see it every day, it’s part of my life. Y’know, it’s like the iPhone battery being depleted. It’s like that provides urgency when it’s in the red and it’s about to go out.



  What’s another way you could do that, like in a nontech world. You could look for an image of, it’s somebody’s car, of their gauges going on E. Right?



Ralph Burns: Yeah, totally.



Molly Pittman: Absolutely, and I’ll go through some examples right now if that works for you guys, just to show how other people are doing this. And again, these will be included in the slides, in the Show Notes. And you guys have probably seen these before. I love these examples but that’s because they’re so darn good. And then we can roll through the checklist that Britney made that hits some more technical points for you guys. But if you’re going through the slides, you’ll see the first set of examples that I have, the ad on the left. And again, I know we’ve talked about this but it’s so good and it speaks to what Keith just said.



  So it’s an ad from Hired, and you should go like Hired. Go visit their website just so you can see their ads. They’re absolutely incredible. So, this ad says, “If you’re counting down the hours until you get to leave the office it might be time for a change. With over 3500 companies on Hired, find one that you’re passionate about.” So the hook here, and they’ve actually included this line of text on the image, is get more out of your work-life balance. Below the text, it has a gauge. Like Keith just said, it almost looks like your gas gauge on your car, and on one side it says life and one side it says work. Well, the gauge is moving over towards life, right?



  Which is the desired outcome that all of us, as humans want, is to have more of a life and less work. To have a solid work-life balance. So, they perfectly and simply portrayed, get more out of your work-life balance, in a simple image because it’s a gauge. One side says work, one side says life, and the gauge is moving towards life. They also did a great job in this image. In the bottom right-hand corner it just says “Hired”, right? It’s not distracting, but it’s a great little piece of branding in the bottom right-hand corner and you’ll see that in most of their ads.



  So, you know, to a not tech audience, anyone understands a gauge so this was a great use of that. To the right-hand side of that ad, this is from an e-counseling company and the hook is, don’t bottle up your emotions. Well, they simply included two bottles. So a key word from that hook is bottle. They included two bottles and both of the bottles are sad. They’re sad because they’re bottling up their emotions. So they perfectly portrayed their marketing message in this image. You can look at this and say, don’t bottle up your emotions, oh there’s bottles, they’re sad, that’s me, I need this e-counseling service. So great, great example here.



  Then, just to go through a few more, on the left this is from the same e-counseling company and it says, “Not all wounds are visible,” and then they have two band-aids. Wounds, band-aids, cover up wounds, not all wounds are visible. They’re covered by band-aids, great. That’s a perfect representation of the marketing message and I know you guys are probably thinking this might be a little silly or it sounds too good to be true, but it is. Once you’ve created your marketing message, go back to Episode 43, Ryan walks through his process for creating great hooks and marketing messages. Your ad can very literally portray that marketing message. This isn’t brain science. This doesn’t take a lot of work. If you take the pressure off of yourself and say, what am I actually trying to get the end user to visualize?



  And then the next ad guys, this is from us. It’s a 60-second blog plan, so you can create a blog content plan in 60 seconds or less by filling in these five simple blanks. So, we were trying to portray a few things.



  Number one. We knew we were speaking to an audience of bloggers so we took that a step further. What tools do bloggers use? Well, most of them are familiar with WordPress because that’s where they’re uploading these beautiful blog posts that they’re writing. So we simply recreated the back end of WordPress for this image so that we knew it would immediately resonate with the audience. Oh, that’s WordPress, why are they talking to me about WordPress, right?



  We put 60-second blog plan as the headline in WordPress because that’s what we were offering and then we added the little clock because it really spoke to the 60 seconds, to the speed that’s associated with this Lead Magnet, which is a big hook. So you can see how we were able to take something that’s a PDF online. Something you can’t even really tangibly touch, or hold, or understand, and we were able to visually portray that because we incorporated WordPress which we knew was the place they were going to use to upload these blogs that they wrote. And then we incorporated the aspect of time. That’s one of our highest converting ads of all time and I really think it has a lot to do with the image.



  Also, take into account guys, look at the shares on that ad. Over 5,000 shares. If you create really bad ass images and videos, your relevant score is going to be high because people are going to want to like and share this ad. If it’s visually appealing and it speaks to a pain point or a marketing message that they resonate with, they’re much more likely to interact with the ad aside from just clicking, right? They’re like, this is so cool, I don’t want to just click and buy or opt in, or whatever you want them to do. I’m also going to share and comment because I want my friends to see this.



Keith Krance: Well, I talk about the like-to-share ratio all the time. It’s an early indicator if your ads going to be good or not and the ratio in this one, you got 10,000 reactions and 5,000 shares. Two to one is a number we use a lot. If you’re getting up to that two to one, that’s very, very good. That means you got a killer ad. Usually it’s tough to do that without, like a video ad or something like that. So this is, it says a lot right there.



Molly Pittman: Absolutely. And then to the right of this, it says, “We can’t build Rome in a day, but in less than 24 hours we can find someone to build it for you”. Apps, websites, whatever your empire requires. So essentially, this is a company that builds websites and apps and the image is literally an iPhone with little ninja builder guys coming down from the ceiling and going to work on this app. Again, when you hire them, of course little ninja guys are not going to show up at your house to actually build the app or build the website, but they are creating a literal representation of what their product is. It’s genius. You look at that and you’re like, whoa, what are those guys doing? Oh, they’re building an app.



Keith Krance: It’s so awesome.



Molly Pittman: It’s so awesome. You immediately know what they’re talking about. So, there are more examples in this deck guys. Feel free to scroll through them. I’m sure you’ll be able to see why we love them and how they’re a great representation of the marketing message. But now I want to move over to the checklist that Britney created. I think this will really give you guys the step-by-step, here’s how we actually come up with these ideas and execute.



Ralph Burns: Perfect. Let’s do it.



Molly Pittman: If you go to the checklist again at digitalmarketer.com/podcast, the first item is create a powerful message and conceptualize images. We’ve touched on this a lot, but it’s the first thing we do. So, after we’ve decided to create this campaign, we’ve written the copy, we know who we’re going to target, we take all of those elements and then create the image. Because you have to know what you’re going to say and who you’re going to say it to properly conceptualize these creatives.



  So, Britney says don’t be afraid to get a little creative for this part. Start with lots of research. And just like targeting, I couldn’t agree more. When I sit down to actually come up with the ideas for these images, it takes a lot of research and honestly, I mostly use Google. So, what I will do is pull out the most important keywords from whatever our marketing message is, whatever our copy is saying, and I will start to Google.



  So for example, the “don’t bottle up your emotions,” right? Pulling out the word bottle and then googling, and then clicking the image tab on Google is really effective and the reason it’s so effective is because Google is going to show you what image has been clicked on the most in relation to that keyword. When you Google search anything and click over to the image tab, Google’s job is to show you the image that they think is most related to whatever you typed in to the search engine. Obviously, Google has more data than any of us times one million. So, leveraging Google here is very, very smart. So if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas of, how can I visualize and conceptualize this marketing message, simply type it into Google and let Google tell you what other people have told them.



Ralph Burns: And then just use all their images.



Keith Krance: That’s no problem. You won’t get any cease and desist orders whatsoever if you do that.



Molly Pittman: Yeah, you won’t get into trouble.



Ralph Burns: We’re kidding.



Molly Pittman: What we’re doing is using this as a research mechanism and then I’m looking at the first few images thinking, are these actually related? Can we use them? If so, I simply take a screenshot and I put them into the document that I’m going to send over to Britney. And I’m, of course, like Keith and Ralph just said, I’m not telling her to directly rip them off, but we can recreate it or we can use it as a starting point for an idea.



Ralph Burns: Yeah.



Molly Pittman: So Google is a great place to start. Britney also writes, why are you offering this particular product or service? Again, go back to Episode 43. Why should people care? What are the benefits? Who do you want to target? Who is your audience? What is the end result? You should be thinking about all of these as you conceptualize all of these images. What is the emotion feeling you want to convey? So if you can really take these questions, come up with a solid message, and then use Google to give you some ideas, you’ll be golden. Right? That is a research process. Sometimes we will use Dreamstime, also, which is a stock photo database, just because they have, they’ll have more of a selection. So sometimes if I’m not finding what I want on Google, I will take those keywords over and use Dreamstime. But it’s pretty easy. Once we have the message, we’re sitting down, using Google, using Dreamstime, using our own brains, again, back to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, to come up with these concepts for Britney. Does that make sense guys?



Ralph Burns: Totally, and I think that 60-second blog plan is a great example of one where you’re actually weaving in a couple of these in here. Y’know? Like 60 second, you could have done and it would have been a good ad, is just a picture of a timer with 60 seconds. But you overlaid it over something that resonates with the audience, which is, you know, the wizzy wig or whatever the interface inside WordPress.



Molly Pittman: WordPress. Yeah.



Ralph Burns: Makes it even more powerful, so if you can layer these together, I think that’s when you come up with really powerful creatives that just reinforce that hook, reinforce that ad copy, and just make people want to click.



Molly Pittman: Yeah, and you know Ralph, by the time most people get to this step in the campaign process, they’re like, hell, I’m just ready to launch.



Ralph Burns: Yeah.



Molly Pittman: Let’s go grab a stock photo and roll. Right?



Ralph Burns: That is it.



Molly Pittman: And it’s sad because, especially on platforms like Facebook, that image says “Hey, I’m an ad, keep scrolling”. Right? If you use a stock photo, if you get lazy here, it immediately tells the person, no matter how good or bad your copy is, “Keep scrolling, I am an ad.”



Ralph Burns: And I’m not trying either. I mean, it’s just a, you know, you’ve got all those stock photos inside Facebook, which they do give you, which is tempting just to use those, but don’t use those. I mean, the less you look like an ad the better.



Molly Pittman: Exactly.



Keith Krance: Y’know, and obviously, you incorporate branding alongside the stuff that you guys do and we do the same sort of thing. We put a logo of the customer in the lower right hand or lower left-hand corner, keep that branding, keep everything very, very consistent. But yeah, stock photos just on their own, forget it. That’s just, you’re not trying. You know?



Ralph Burns: Quick tip though, on the royalty free thing, on the Google images. Just as a little hack, I actually learned this from my team. If you do go to Google and search for images and you see something, if you’re in the images section of Google and you go to click on settings, to the right a little bit, you can go to advanced search and you can actually change that to the usage rights. And you can change it to royalty free, free to use, modify, share, or even commercially and then you can do that search and you can actually find royalty free images on Google.



Molly Pittman: Yeah, and those are totally fine to send over to your designer and Britney will, if we are allowed to, she will use those images but then overlay her own stuff on top of it. Does that make sense?



Ralph Burns: Yep.



Molly Pittman: It’s a great starting point but you don’t want to launch an ad with a terrible image. Again, it says “I am an ad, keep scrolling”, and people are on these platforms, even display network, to you know, research or to see pictures of family or friends, puppies. They don’t want to engage with your stock photo. So if you can create these really unique images, they will engage with you. So, you can tell I’m passionate about that, but I really think it’s a humongous mistake that people are making and it comes out of, “I’ve done all of this work, I’m just going to throw a stock image in because I don’t have a designer.” But I promise you it’s worth the research and it’s worth the effort.



  So the second step on this checklist is, sketch out ideas before laying out design elements. So, what we do at DigitalMarketer, I have a Word document. I will type in there everything I’m thinking about this image, right? I’m like, it should have WordPress as the background and it should have a timer, and here are screenshots and examples from Google. Oh, and here’s my own terrible sketch that I did. Just so Britney can actually visualize what I’m trying to tell her. So she receives this document for an entire campaign and it’s basically, here are all my ideas, here’s exactly what I’m thinking, here’s as many examples and sketches, as I can provide.



  Again, back to what we said in the beginning, giving them as much information as possible. Simply sending them the landing page that you’re sending traffic to, or, you know, a picture of the product, is not going to cut it. The designer is not the marketer. So we actually have a document that’s specific to this. So, Britney receives this document and she says, “Don’t worry about colors or font choices yet, this is all about planning what you are going to do and where you want things to be. In this step start planning your graphic aesthetic. Photo base, verse illustration, what programs you’ll use to create the image, and most importantly, the layout and placement of your design elements. When design is used strategically and planned out, it will ultimately benefit the company to grow and reach goals.”



  So, what she’s saying, even as a designer, once you receive this document, it’s not time to go and pick out, “Oh I’m going to use pink and yellow, this will be fun.” Right? I’m going to paint this pretty picture. She’s taking the different elements that I have deemed essential to the image and figuring out where they’re going to go, what they’re going to look like, and how she’s going to achieve this end goal that we’ve set out for her.



  At digitalmarketer.com/podcast is also an example document that I’ve used to send to designers.



  You know, you can see how informal, yet how detailed I get and how specific I get. So these next few are pretty specific to the designer but they’re pretty important. So, use complimentary and contrasting colors. Ads have to pop. Using only a few color choices will help attain this goal. You don’t have to add ten different colors to your ad. Avoid colors that are harsh on the eye. How can you get people to stop on your ad? How can you set your ad apart? How can you create a pattern interrupt? So basically, Britney’s saying, you know, there’s no need to create this giant image of tie-dyed colors just to catch people’s attention. Use two to three complimentary or contrasting colors that pop, but are still on brand.



  The next one is, choose your fonts. Britney says, “Only use one or two different font families for your image. Too many font choices will be distracting from your message. Pick legible, clear fonts, especially if it’s going to be a small ad. An abstract complex image that is hard to define will only deter readers.” So I see people, a lot of times, using too many different fonts in their ad because they think they’re going to catch the end user’s attention, but really, it makes it too hard to read. Or they’re using font colors that make it too hard to read. So, back to that 60 second blog plan example, 60 second blog plan is red, bold, and you cannot miss that line of text in the image. So, make sure you’re not getting too fancy, is essentially what Britney is saying, and make sure that it’s easy to read.



  The next is, add text and CTA to your image. The perfect place to add a short description of the offer or your CTA is on the image. And, basically, what she’s saying is, put your marketing message on the image. If possible. Some people won’t read the ad copy as they scroll through your newsfeed, but the image and the text on it is more likely to grab their attention. Keep in mind, by having a really strong image graphic, you may not always have to rely on a CTA to get the job done.



Ralph Burns: And the CTA is—



Molly Pittman: The call-to-action.



Ralph Burns: Yep.



Molly Pittman: Yeah, so basically what Britney is saying is, use your image, put text on your image if you see fit. Right? Either put that little brand able chunk marketing message that you really want people to remember or put a button, put a CTA on there. Tell people what to do. I’m not saying that there should be text on every image, but don’t forget that there is an opportunity to put some text on your image because, like Britney said, not everyone is going to read your ad copy.



  And then the last one, and I think this really sums up everything that we’ve been talking about. Is your image congruent with your brand? Make sure the image or graphic not only make sense with the ad, in terms of the marketing message, but also make sure that it makes sense with your overall brand. Be consistent with styles throughout your ads and your website. You want to keep people hooked and to maintain Ad Scent. By staying consistent, you will ultimately help your users achieve their desired end result, which I think is the goal of everybody here.



Ralph Burns: I have one question for ya. So how do you integrate all of this into Ad Scent? Which we’ve talked about, which maybe you can explain a little bit.



Molly Pittman: That’s so good. So making sure that your image isn’t so different from the landing page that when people click, they’re not like, “Ooh, this isn’t what I was promised, you know, I need to run away”. So we teach people that you need to be consistent in Ad Scent in terms of design. So you want your ad to look and feel very similar to the landing page. You also want the copy to be similar, and of course, you want the offer to be similar. I can’t tell you how many times I see someone promising, you know, 50% off in the ad and then the landing page doesn’t say 50% off, right? That’s confusing for the end user. But here, of course, we’re talking about design. The way to maintain Ad Scent is in this last piece of the checklist that Britney added.



  So, when you’re creating these different concepts, you’re going to use different colors, right? With the 60 second blog plan, we don’t have that WordPress image on the landing page, but we are using a similar look and feel. So if you were to look at that ad and then go and look at the landing page, it’s still that flat kind of cartoony design, the branding is the same. So basically what I’m saying is, making sure the image is congruent with the brand, and if your brand is present on the landing page, your image will totally be congruent even if you’re trying something wild and crazy and new. Like, you know, a cartoon image of WordPress.



Keith Krance: A big part of this is like, if you’re doing this for a lot of different companies, if you’re a consultant or you’re an agency, is to send the landing page you’re sending traffic to your designer and really have them look at that because it’s not necessarily, you know maybe you can comment on this, it’s not necessarily Ad Scent isn’t, hey if I have a green based ad but my landing page is blue, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ad Scent is off. As long as it’s consistent with the message, with the wording, with the hook, with the overall brand feel, it does actually convey Ad Scent, but I know you guys do lots of different images with lots of different landing pages, not all the same colors and everything else, so how would you sort of address those concerns specifically for a designer?



Molly Pittman: Definitely making sure that they see the landing page because they’re going to be better at that than you are, right? They know how to visually create that congruency, that’s why they’re a designer and you’re a marketer, right? But there’s also a little trick in visual website optimizer. If you go back to the episode that we had with Justin Rondeau, he shares a trick that we use with visual website optimizer that actually allows us to change the copy or image on a landing page based off the URL that we’re using, based off the UTM parameters.



  So if we have a really complex campaign where we’re using totally different hooks and images, we will actually use different URLs for that particular ad, and that URL will tell the landing page, hey, okay, change the copy for this one, change the image for this one. So it’s allowing us to maintain consistency and congruency from all of these different ads. But, without having to create 40 different landing pages. So that’s just another little tip or trick, totally not necessary. Do not let it confuse you. But if you are running a giant campaign with, you know, totally different hooks and images and you are worried about that Ad Scent, you can use visual website optimizer to overcome that problem.



Ralph Burns: And it is a very cool tool. But I mean, far more advanced than I think stuff here, but, you know if you want to take it to the next level, definitely go back and listen to that episode, which is a great trick.



Molly Pittman: Episode 41 with Justin Rondeau.



Keith Krance: Okay, so I want to address one thing. For those people that are listening right now that don’t have their own designer. So they’re the ones creating the images, what kind of tips, tools can we give them? I know there are some great resources online that they can create their images on their own very quickly and easily without being a professional designer.



Molly Pittman: Yeah, I mean there’s anything from Canva to Upwork, Design Pickle’s unlimited monthly service, where you can have access to the same designer. You know, you could even use Fiverr or any of the freelancing companies. And to address that, the way to overcome that is to use a document similar to one that you will find in the Show Notes, the Word document and making sure that you are explaining what you need specifically, to this person whether they sit next to you every day or whether they’re a freelancer that you’ve never spoken to online.



Ralph Burns: Yeah, true. And, Canva, that’s a great question, Keith, for people who don’t have a designer, definitely use Canva. It’s so easy to use. I mean I’ve created some of my worst ghetto looking ads in the world, from that service and it worked really well. It’s so easy to use, but also, just to add on, if you are going to go to a designer, like for Design Pickle or Fiverr or Upwork, make sure that when you do submit your job to them, you do have revision ability afterwards. I don’t know how they say it specifically, but if you just submit it, even if you’ve got a great Word document like Molly lays out here, you’re still probably going to make some revisions, or want to make some revisions, make sure that’s part of the deal.



Molly Pittman: And especially after you test, you’re going to want to make revisions.



Keith Krance: Yes, for sure.



Ralph Burns: And one of the other little design hacks is Keynote. Maybe if you’re trying to send something to your designer and if you don’t, I still use it once in a while or all the time. I’ll just create the image in Keynote, it’s really fast and easy. You’re used to all the fonts and that stuff and then you just take a screenshot basically, of that right around the image and you’ve got a quick little image there. That’s another little hack that we use sometimes.



Molly Pittman: To wrap things up, the moral of the story is to care about your creative. You know, it’s not the last step that you can sort of throw in last minute. How can you make sure that this image or video really conveys what you’ve been working so hard on with this campaign? And if you do that, it will only multiply your results.



Keith Krance: Yep, I love it. Love it, love it. All right, so once again, you can head back to the Show Notes at digitalmarketer.com/podcast. It’s Episode 85. You can download the checklist. You can download all the stuff Molly referenced and you’re going to take a look at all the images, examples.



Ralph Burns: Have you done your mic drop yet? Cause this is a mic drop worthy episode.



Keith Krance: This is required listening too, for anybody who has a designer, anyone and their teams. This is good, good stuff.



Molly Pittman: So just to reiterate, creatives should, number one, convey the marketing message. Number two, tell a story. Number three, display the product. Number four, stand out in the crowd. Number five, be on brand. And number six, play off of emotions already associated with an image.



Keith Krance: Love it. Awesome. Good stuff. Once again, hit the Show Notes so you can get access to all of these amazing images, resources, tools, tips, guides. All the stuff that Molly referenced in this episode. And, once again, we love having ya. If you enjoy this podcast, please, please tell your friends about it, share the podcast, go to iTunes, leave an honest review. You know, when you leave reviews for the podcast, it really does help us to get the message out to more people and it also gives us great feedback as well. So do that if you haven’t done that yet. Other than that, we will hopefully see you on social media, in our groups, at Traffic & Conversion, and, Molly, we’ll be talking to you again soon.



Molly Pittman: All right, thanks, everybody.



Keith Krance: Good stuff. Bye-bye.



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