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Are banner ads effective? [Dear Ginny WTH?]



dear ginny series

Dear Ginny,

After months of paying for banner ads on and seeing no return, I am at a loss as to what to do. The folks at say that we’re not getting clicks because we’ve got the wrong banner ads. Our banner ads promote our web site and our listings. What’s “wrong” with that? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to advertise? Should we be doing banner ads and if so, what should we be advertising?

Inspired by Trish Muench, BrianDavid Realtors, Northern New Jersey

Dear Trish,

I love this question, because I had a client who was making big purchases on multiple online real estate sites with little return and couldn’t figure out why. It was immediately obvious to me. They were advertising listings on a listing site similar to what you’ve described. If you are going to spend money on banner advertising, which can be an effective marketing vehicle as part of a 360-degree strategy, you need to analyze and then target the site audience and understand why they are there in the first place. And you need to clearly understand what you want as a desired outcome.

Let’s set the scenario: I’m a or visitor. Why am I on either of those sites? To view listings. Why did I go specifically to one of those sites? Because I perceived the site to have a full compendium of listings. Ok, so I’m browsing the site for listings and I see your banner ad. It says, come to my site to see all the listings. Duh! I’m already on a site that has all the listings. What could you possibly have that I don’t see right now? Well, the answer might be plenty, but that’s not what is being displayed on the banner ad.

If you are advertising on a listing site you need to provide that visitor with a darn good reason to leave the site they are on to come to your site. What is that? Maybe it’s deeper content in a specific geographic area. Maybe you offer free moving supplies to sellers, or in depth market reports. My client had environmental data reports on every house in the United States. Might that be a reason to draw visitors away from one site to another? You get the idea? You need to lure the traffic from the preferred site they are on, to yours with a carrot. It can’t just be about listings.

With that said, what is your desired outcome? You want a different sort of banner depending on whether your goal is branding, building Web traffic or generating leads. With branding ads, you won’t expect as many clicks because you are simply attempting to position yourself in that market as the area expert professional through impressions. Web clicks and lead generation take a different approach.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Instead take a deeper look at what you want as a result and strategically design your banner around that goal. And don’t forget to test messages constantly for effectiveness against your desired result.


Who wants free marketing advice? Write Dear Ginny WTH with one of your marketing or other questions. I know you have questions and you know I have all the answers. Now write why don’t you?

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  1. Lani Rosales

    May 6, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Ginny, some banner ads on are also hideous, so I hope they’ll take your advice and look at all angles, including graphic design- it might be worth spending a little extra for a professional polish and a unique message. Your advice (as always) is spot on!

  2. Fred Romano

    May 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I get called from about 2 times a month trying to sell me on those banner ads! They say I need to use the “foreclosure” ads because they will generate the most traffic to my site, but the problem is I don’t get involved with foreclosures! UGGG – can’t win.

  3. Colin Egbert

    May 6, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I think the ads on are pretty effective because they are making a pretty nice profit off of advertising and they have a large amount of residual customers

  4. Missy Caulk

    May 6, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Banner ad’s are not effective in my opinion. At least they have not been for me.

    I agree when a consumer is on a big vendor site looking at a listing, they need a HUGE REASON to leave and go to your banner ad.

    I just don’t get ROI on them.

  5. Doug Francis

    May 6, 2009 at 8:04 pm makes an excellent pitch that they are the #1 site for traffic… and I almost bought the zip-code package too. It was so tempting but a little voice in my head told me to wait and do a little research.

    Look at what you have spent, look at the results, and don’t be afraid to make a decision to allocate your money toward the valuable database you already have in your client base. I bet those relationships will produce a far better ROI with a simple, low key strategy like Facebook.

  6. Mark Eckenrode

    May 7, 2009 at 10:11 am

    great advice, ginny. it’s important to get a full grasp on where the ad will be shown, who will be seeing it, under what context they’re seeing it, and why should they make with the clicky … only then can you start creating a good ad.

  7. Doug Buenz

    July 2, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    After countless calls from, I finally bought a banner add with the purpose of driving traffic to my web site. The banner add was well done, and focused on LOCAL in-depth content such as neighborhood descriptions, etc.

    Well, it did drive traffic to my web site. Exactly one visit. And that was me making sure the link worked. Otherwise nothing. nada. zilch. nyet. It has been 2 months now.

    If banner ads worked, it would be difficult or impossible to purchase one because the agents would never give them up. Is it possible that a visitor might click on it or contact you and buy a house? Absolutely. It is also possible that Julia Roberts would call me to meet for coffee. Yes. Both are theoretically possible. And just as unlikely in my humble opinion.

    Let other agents spend their money on banner ads, and instead keep your money and call 20 people you know and see if they or someone they knows would like to buy a house. I’m willing to bet your return would be far better. And Julia if you are out there, Tues and Thurs mornings work best for me!

  8. Derek Taylor

    February 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I had a foreclosure banner ad for over a year and did get 31 leads from it. What I have discovered is that you need at least 50 leads to get one closing. I have not closed any of those leads as of yet. I do have one still active. I really don’t think that I got a good ROI from it.

  9. Gordon Corsie

    December 17, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Good article.
    I guess the bottom line is that if one banner worked, or one concept alone worked completely, the way we are being led to believe by or other vendors, then we would see one agent or one company who had cornered that market, and dominate eachj locality. I have not see that yet. Each new vendor seems to come up with what looks like a ‘holy grail’ of internet marketing and exposure, perhaps a more complete and holistic approach to marketing (a little bit of everything) still seems to work the best.

  10. Jana Candanedo

    August 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I went to a seminar where all the stuff was being sold, and I was suckered into buying a banner and a zip code (buyers assist) One is $159/month and the other was $76/month. I am a new realtor (1 yr) and I am just SICK about it. I don't have the money to just waste, and I thought if I could just get one deal it would pay for itself, but I have done nothing but waste my money. I have called and tried to cancel it but they said it can't be cancelled. I am going to contact the attourney general in my state as well as the better business bureau. There has to be a way that if someone promises something and it doesn't deliver you can cancel the service. I was hoping to find some success stories that people have been able to cancel the service, but I don't see any. I still have 6 months of this and I just can't afford it.

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Business Marketing

Hiring managers keep you on your toes – make them take the 1st step

(MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – or it could backfire.



hiring managers interview

According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6% of them – that’s less than 1/3. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.

Most notably, the survey found that over 63% of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2% saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.

Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resumes over and over until they got a response. One or two follow-up emails after your initial application aren’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.

While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by bringing them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.

Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.

It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9% of applicants who said they have risked an unusual strategy, 67.7% of those actually landed the job.

Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?

Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resumes, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.

In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.

It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?




Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.



Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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