Pay-per-click (PPC) ads seem like a great deal. Digital ads are only shown to your target audience, you only pay when someone interested clicks, and each click isn't too expensive.

Those clicks add up quickly, though.

Companies on average spend 8 percent of their marketing budgets on PPC ads. Yet the latest study by Technology Advice and unbounce found that 79 percent of people almost never click on those ads.

So, how effective can those digital PPC ads really be?

Learn the data-driven do's and don'ts of online advertising — using the data from this new study.

Digital advertising do's

Link to content and product pages: 88 percent of users are more likely to click on ads that go directly to content or product pages. Online ads that focus on educating and nurturing leads work best. Consumers are curious about your brand, but a hard sell pushes them away.

Use digital ads to reach older audiences: Target your online ads to connect with the 45-plus demographic. They're the most likely to click on Internet ads. If your target audience is between 18-44, Internet ads are not going to work. 85 percent of this demographic almost never click on ads presumably because most use ad blockers.

Stick to the facts: 27 percent of users won't engage with an ad if it appears untrustworthy. Also, 10 percent won't click on ads that are too promotional. For your online ads to perform well, stick to the facts. What can you prove your brand does better? Create ads focused on measurable cost savings or educational value. In other words, online ads touting the "best customer service" with no data to back it up will flop.

Play to the strengths: Below is a list of what makes users click on online ads. Make sure your online ad hits at least one of these qualifiers before starting a new campaign.

  • 55 percent of users click on messages relevant to their needs. Focus on long-tail keywords that ask questions. Then, have your ad provide the answer.
  • No surprise here. 32 percent of users click on ads that offer a promotional offer or discount.
  • 7 percent will click on ads with a large or visible placement.

Digital advertising don'ts

Use form submissions: Submission forms help you gain more information about your new consumer. But the majority will flee the landing page as soon as they see the form. Consumers at this point are too new to want to give you all their information.

Use personalized info in ads. You may think the more personalized information you include in your online ads, the more effective they'll be. For instance, showing an ad featuring a product that user has looked at on your website. But the data proves otherwise. 71 percent of online users find ads that use their personal information intrusive or annoying. A mere 7 percent of people found them helpful or relevant.

Rely on online ads for sales. Only 10 percent of users have ever made a purchase or submitted their info after clicking a display ad. Online ads are not the best way to increase your sales. Instead, use online ads to increase your brand exposure. A whopping 36 percent of shoppers found a new brand or product through online ads.