10 Ways To Color Your Way to More Click-Throughs on Your Digital Ads

In 2016, the average click-through rate for standard image ads in the software industry is 0.03%, according to Google Rich Media Gallery data. This means that 99.7% of online ads never see engagement.

At the same time, marketers are facing greater pressure to show return on investment from their ad spend. This situation is mind-blowing and stressful, which is why we’ve created this list of ten ways to improve your advertising creative. Simply put, your ad campaign success is important and we want to make you look like a hero in your company.

[Tweet “In 2016, over 99% of online ads in the software industry saw no engagement.”]

Now that I’ve shocked your system a bit… I would like to share how paying attention to the color in your creative can help you increase your click-through rate — and beat the odds.

Most marketers, including me, did not major in psychology in college. But the reality is, psychological reactions to colors play a huge role in how people interact with online ads. The average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013, which is now less than that of a goldfish, according to Statistic Brain. Color helps you quickly catch the attention of your buyer and subconsciously conveys messages that help them decide if they should click on your ad.

What Do All These Colors Mean Anyway?


Red is one of the most extreme hues on the color wheel. The color shows passion, energy, and adventure and ranks in the top two favorite colors, according to Color Matters. Some famous brands that use this color in their branding are Oracle, Adobe, and Delta. It is a very powerful color that grabs attention quickly. If you’re looking to excite your buyer with your ad, then you may want to consider using red.

[Tweet “Red is one of the most extreme hues on the color wheel. Use it to excite your #B2B buyer.”]


Blue brings a bit of complexity to the color mix because there are many different shades. Darker shades can show trust, dignity, and intelligence, while brighter shades convey strength and dependability. And even still, light blue shows peace and serenity. GE, Dell, IBM, Salesforce, and even Terminus all use blue. One commonality here is that these are all tech companies, where trust and dependability are most important, either from a hardware or software perspective.

[Tweet “Blue can send different messages depending on the shade. Choose wisely in your #ad creative.”]


Yellow stands out like no other color. You can see it from a mile away. Yellow brings feelings of warmth, happiness, and optimism. It makes for a great contrast color against a more muted backdrop within your ad. This could help draw your buyer to your ad when it is presented among a sea of other advertisements on a site. Some famous companies that use yellow are DHL, Nikon, and YP.

[Tweet “Want to grab attention with your #ads? Try using yellow to stand out among your competitors.”]


Green gives feelings of peace, growth, luck and safety. This color is also associated with nature and the environment. I’ve found that there are not too many tech companies that use green, but a couple exceptions are Acer and HTC. You could consider using this color in your ad to convey reassurance that clicking your ad will lead to a positive experience on the other side.

[Tweet “Use green in your #ad creative to create trust with your #B2B buyer.”]


Purple is the most powerful wavelength in the rainbow. Use of the color sends messages of nobility and loyalty in addition to intelligence, creativity, and magic. Yahoo, Marketo, and Sun Microsystems are all companies that use purple in their branding. If your aim is to create mystery around your product and intrigue the buyer to learn more, you may consider including purple in your ad creative.

[Tweet “Use purple in your online #advertising to create mystery and intrigue your #B2B buyer.”]


Orange is has a split personality within the color spectrum. On one hand, the color provokes energy and excitement. On the other hand, it can be abrasive. This is one hue that you will want to consider using sparingly, perhaps on a call to action text or button. This color does not appear often within the tech space, but two notable brands that use it are Mozilla and FedEx.

[Tweet “Orange is a great color to use for a call-to-action in #ad creative.”]


Black shows strength, authority and sophistication. Like its cousin Orange, it can be overwhelming and is probably best used in small doses. One interesting fact is that shades of any other color require black to provide depth and variation. You would likely use black for text within your ad copy. Some prominent brands that use black are Sony and Apple.

[Tweet “Black is best used sparingly in #ad creative. While it grabs attention, it can be overwhelming.”]

How Can You Use Colors To Increase Click-Through Rates?

The key to figuring out which colors will work best is to deeply know your audience. When you plan an account-based marketing campaign, you likely already know which group of companies you want to target and the roles within those companies as well. The next step is to develop a persona with the target roles’ needs, wants, and desires.

Once you have your buyer personas locked down, you can use the color guide above to think about which colors might prompt your target audience to click your ads. After that, the next step is to A/B test your creative. You should be testing new designs, copy, and ideas constantly to learn what your target buyers best respond to.

A Color Toolbox

While colors in an ad are important, you likely have branding standards that you must stick to as well. You will want to find colors that contrast with — yet align with — your style guide.

Here are a few of my favorite tools when it comes to selecting colors:

  • Adobe Color CC – This interactive color wheel allows you to enter your brand’s hex codes and will return the hex codes of complementary colors.
  • Paletton – This interactive color tool is similar to Adobe Color but returns the colors in the form of a palette so you can visualize how all the colors look together
  • Pictaculous – Let’s say you already have the background image, but you can’t decide on a call-to-action color. You can upload that image to this site and it will return suggested colors that go with your color scheme.

[Tweet “Check out these color tools when you plan your next #ad creative.”]

There is a lot of complexity around the use of colors, so it’s easy to understand why this is a common challenge among marketers. Have you had any particular color combo that has worked especially well for you? Tell us in the comments below.