Over the past year, Twitter has enhanced its ads platform with new targeting options, creative ad units, and measurement tools to help you better achieve your direct response marketing goals. Features like tailored audiences, Lead Generation Cards, and conversion tracking have all delivered strong ROIs to advertisers.

As an advertiser, you’re always looking for new ways to drive relevant traffic back to your website, product page, or blog post. Tweets offer one of the most convenient ways of doing this. However, sometimes you need more than 140 characters to get your message across, which is why Twitter Cards have become such a valuable tool in your arsenal.

Here are a couple examples of Twitter Cards that can be used to increase traffic and conversions, as well as some tips on how you can get started.

Twitter Website Cards

Recently, a powerful new ad unit began rolling out to Twitter’s mobile and desktop advertisers. Called the Website Card, it offers you a new way of not only surfacing website content within a tweet, but also of driving relevant traffic back to any page of your website.

With the Website Card, consumers are able to preview an image, related context, and a clear call-to-action in their timelines before clicking through the tweet. This enables easy discovery of interesting content while giving advertisers the ability to drive a higher volume of URL clicks. The Card can also be used in conjunction with conversion tracking to measure end-to-end conversions.

Twitter has tested the card with a handful of brands like Citrix and Betabrand, both of which saw significant decreases in cost-per-click (CPC) compared to campaigns that used an image and URL to drive website traffic. Betabrand’s CPCs were reduced by up to 85 percent while Citrix saw a 92 percent decrease. Additionally, the mobile company Three saw a 26 percent higher engagement rate as well as a 64 percent increase in URL clicks when using Website Cards.

Twitter Lead Generation Cards

Lead Generation Cards make it easy for advertiser to find and connect off-Twitter with consumers. It allows people to express interest in what your brand offers, while enabling them to easily and securely share their contact information without leaving Twitter or having to fill out a cumbersome form.

Outdoor gear and apparel company Rock/Creek used the card in a Promoted Tweet campaign to collect email addresses of people who wanted to enter to win a free pair of sandals. The campaign saw a 4.6 percent engagement rate and generated more than 1,700 new email contacts in less than one week.

Mount Washington College, which is part of the Kaplan Higher Education group, worked closely with Adobe to increase awareness, create engagement, and generate leads for enrollment. Adobe created a Promoted Tweet campaign with Lead Generation Cards for @MW_College. This method increased the school’s conversion rate by 101 percent while decreasing the cost-per-lead by 55 percent.

Twitter Product Cards

Product Cards let you feature retail items on Twitter and help drive sales. This card is designed to showcase your products with an image, description, two item-specific details (like price and availability) and most importantly, a call-to-action. It’s a great way to promote new products as well as showcase your top-sellers.

UK-based Harveys Furniture was one of the first major retailers in the country to adopt Product Cards and it paid off. According to reports, doing so enabled the company to triple its clickthrough rates within a month.

Best Practices for Twitter Cards

When given the opportunity to customize your call-to-action, always opt for a strong one. Think about what it is you want consumers to do and choose the strongest and clearest variation using the least amount of words possible. For example, “sign up here” or “download the whitepaper” are two very solid options.

Regardless of which Twitter Card you’re using, make sure that you create a compelling one. Choose an image that best represents your offer or product and make sure that the description is relevant and adds value. Remember, you still have to get people interested in your tweets in order for them to see your call-to-action.

When using Lead Generation Cards, don’t stop when the sign-ups do. Send a follow-up email to ensure the recipient is engaged with your brand. It goes without saying that this email should provide something of value to avoid coming across as spam.

And finally, always test and re-test. Create variations with different images and calls-to-action. Choose the one that’s resonating the most, and later revisit it to ensure it’s still working for newer audiences. Never stop improving.

[Image credit: Keith Ellwood, Tadson Bussey, JM Abania, Raffi Asdourian]