As an affiliate manager, I’m often asked, “Which convert better: text links or banners?” At first glance, the most obvious answer it text links. Glancing at a report or statistics will reveal that most of the time text links do convert better than banner ads.
However, there’s more to the story than just that. I believe it has to do with how text links are used as opposed to banners that contribute greatly to the higher conversion / success rate. Consider for a moment how text links are employed as opposed to banners.
Let’s first take a look at how text links are commonly used. The greatest use of text links comes from product data feeds. These product data feeds employ the specific product name as the text link. Of course, any shopper who is looking for a specific product, sees the product name, and then clicks the link will have the highest possible conversion chance. If a visitor knows what they want, and has already made up their mind that they WILL be making a purchase, then closing the sale becomes a far less challenging task. I discussed this a bit further when examining effective affiliate landing pages.
Another common use of text link: they are placed into the body of a webpage. Content is built around the text link. It much easier to built a value proposition, or tell a story when you have content build around a link then it is to tell that same story with just a banner/picture with a short tag line.
In comparison, consider how banners are commonly placed. Either at the top of a web page, or along the sidebar. Experienced web surfers have already trained themselves to know, banners placed in these spots (especially the leaderboard banner across the top of a page) are trying to sell them something, It’s quite easy to automatically tune out to those messages.
The common perception: text links lead to information, banners lead to a sale pitch. Now, this is not to say that banner cannot be an effective tool in promotion. Just don’t expect to put up a page and slap a bunch of banners up and expect to have any success. Build up some content, tell a story through that content that appeals to your visitors wants.