One of a marketer’s biggest challenges is to make prospects realize the high extent to which they need your product or service. It’s fatiguing when your audience knows on a conscious level about the specific need you’re going to satisfy, and all the more when they’ve got no idea their lives would be easier with your product.
While facing the challenges is, arguably, the very reason why marketers wake up in the morning, the fact that you only have a few seconds to persuade your prospects doesn’t make the goals any easier.
Writing a powerful Call To Action that converts takes great strategic marketing skills and knowing your prospects inside out. From the number of words you’re using, to the most sensitive difference in wording, there are more ways to get ignored than to provoke your target to press your buttons.
The innate curiosity and the constant need of information-rich, consistent solutions make us pay attention to the idea of Call To Action, in spite of the dramatically increasing number of adverts and commercials that we’re already used to ignore on the web. The fact that everybody seems to advertise something on their websites makes us more critical in our choices. It’s why assembling the Call To Action in a credible manner matters as much as coming up with a powerful idea that represents the core of your business/your customer’s needs or whichever direction you decide to exploit with the Call To action.
Formulate a Powerful Positioning that Speaks for Itself
It’s true that a click on a button is the very start of the conversion process. Without that click, there would be no conversion process at all. In these conditions, that decision of clicking or not divides the outputs into potential success and instant failure.
Brand Mentions is a new tool we are developing, that allows you to find every relevant web mention about anyone or anything in a heartbeat. It was created as an alternative to Google Alerts since everybody was complaining about the incomplete results and we spotted this need within our market. We designed it to monitor real-time fresh mentions on the web in order to keep in touch in terms of brand/content monitoring or reputation management.
While developing it, we realized that there’s a broader audience that may take interest in this tool, so we tried to make it friendly for people who aren’t necessarily high tech oriented.
Our first landing page was the product of intensive brainstormings, lots of ideas tried in and out and a massive amount of coffee.
Because we tried to market a new product, a robust positioning statement was necessary. It’s impossible to convert prospects without a brand promise and a binding USP.
The moment when we decided to take responsibility for a new project of these dimensions was when we saw the market needed something better. How come? Well, we weren’t perfectly happy with any of the other alternatives to Google’s unsatisfactory tool, and it seemed like there’s room for more.
Positioning wasn’t easy. There were businesses expanding in this niche and the market share seemed to be already divided between products that looked promising but ended up failing to meet our expectations.
One of the reasons we got so involved in this project was that we needed it. It was something we were doing primarily for us. So instead of conducting complex researches within a group of carefully picked prospects, we sat in a room (more or less) and thought of our own needs.
Create Copy That Leaves No Choice But Clicking On It
I’m not going to lie to you – creating a product for an audience with the same compelling needs as yours is easier than not knowing your audience at all. You know that you’ll be as strict and picky as your most critical customer-feedback you could possibly be getting.
That was helpful when it came to deciding on our positioning statement. It makes a lot of sense to ask yourself what your competitive advantage should be when you know it will have to be an answer to the question: ‘what do we need most from this product?’
And this was being huge – being the most complete, extensive and comprehensive product on the market – something reliable, something that would report all the fresh mentions we needed for web monitoring and outreach.
After trying some alternatives with ways of putting it so that it wouldn’t sound pretentious, but prompt and stable, we came with the tagline ‘World’s Widest Web Mentions Database’. We decided that our target was going to be formed primarily of people who are interested in being reported on all the new web mentions and growing to be the largest source of fresh topic/brand/keyword specific information was what made us different on the market.
This was the USP that we wanted this product to deliver to our clients. It was powerful and promising and we were enthusiastic for building a product that would safely and stably report the fresh mentions.
After a while, although the conversion rate was good, we decided to try another alternative as well and see how it performs by comparison. Starting with the fact that a Call To Action has to be a click trigger and, therefore, the landing page should interest the prospect enough as to start the conversion process, we thought it could be constructive to investigate whether our customers care more for the accent on the USP or their main advantage.
Knowing that it’s a stringent need we’re seeking to satisfy with our tool, we formulated the tagline according to people’s most relevant use of our product as opposed to the competitive advantage from our previous version. The result was ‘Find All Mentions for Anyone and Anything. In a Heartbeat’.
We got to it by analyzing our personas: generally people interested in their brand or their name and the competitors’ – people with a business, starting with SMBs and climbing up the ladder towards corporations.
At the end of the day, regardless of being interested in keyword-centric media monitoring, branded topics or influencers, these people were interested in covering the entire mentions on the web. This second person approach seemed to be more personal.
After another session of brainstorming, we added another market demand on our list, and it turned out that what our new tagline had to cover was:
- being exhaustive and returning all the fresh web mentions;
- being persona-focused: brands/topics or influencers;
- returning the results in real time, delivering the fresh web content instantly.
Because it was a newer version, so different than what we had thought of at first, we believed it will perform better – although the alternative we decided to use for A/B testing was something we had come up with during our first brainstorming sessions.
The tagline ‘World’s Widest Web Mentions Database’ was tested along with ‘Find All Mentions For Anyone and Anything. In a Heartbeat’ for a period of 30 days, which is a period of time long enough to be considered relevant for our overall traffic scores.
There are many professionals out there who will say that their intuition works better than most of the A/B testing platforms and will weigh their experience against the data. This approach can rarely work, and it’s nothing else but hazard.
This was our case with BrandMentions – so it happened that our initial assumptions were correct. However, data driven approaches always convert better than your natural intuition.
After testing the alternatives by directing 50% of the traffic to each of them, we observed that the general score for conversion was better for our first alternative by over 6%.
The smallest change reflected in conversion rates is worth being pursued. In the context of BrandMention’s constant growth and increasing exposure, a change like this is quite significant. Although the numbers may not seem particularly distinct, a 6% difference in conversion means a lot for a tool that’s under development process, as it gives us a direction.
Because the tool is currently free and we’re still working on some features, it only made sense to follow what people like more – apart from anything, it’s good feedback. Extrapolating, it means that our users are primarily interested in our complete database and, generally, the USP matters more in this case than the immediate benefit of the client.
Adjust Your Call to Action to Correspond to Your Audience’s Needs & Expectations
CognitiveSEO, our other tool, is a SEO suite that helps digital professionals boost their traffic and run link audits in order to make the best of their website profile. When choosing the color scheme, we took into consideration that the Call To Action has to be very powerful and distinct from the website, to integrate well in order not to create a disruption on a visual level – it just guides the viewer’s’ point of interest on the page.
Unlike BrandMentions, cognitiveSEO is a paid tool, designed for professionals and webmasters who are highly knowledgeable and very familiar with the marketing strategies and the general subtle strategies websites use to increase their conversion rates. Naturally, before thinking of the actual copy, the first idea to take into consideration was addressing professionals in a respectful and honest manner.
You’ve seen in the previous example that out of the two possible Calls to Actions (customer-centric and USP-centric) the USP-centric one was more successful. We intuitively used it like this. However, testing alternatives is always worth it. For cognitiveSEO, the same two approaches had completely different results.
We wanted to be convincing and stimulate an incentive for our prospects to try out our tool, starting from the premise that it probably isn’t the first SEO tool they have been in contact with.
This made things challenging: they knew what the tool was supposed to be about and they already had some expectations, and we had to come up with something different and more appealing than whichever-tool-of-our-competition they knew.
During the brainstorming sessions, we decided upon the following:
- we wanted to emphasize an advantage of using our tool;
- we had to offer something free – a sneak peek, a preview, something to attract their attention;
- we had to be fair and give the possibility to cancel whenever, so they wouldn’t feel obligated to jump to business immediately;
- we had to limit either the period of time or the functionalities of our tool; since we wanted to build trust, we decided that limiting the functionalities would lose us engagement;
The first tagline we chose for our site was ‘Start Your 14-Day Free Trial’ with a subtitle reading ‘No Obligations. Cancel Anytime’.
We used this yellow button to visually guide the visitors on our website and convert the page views into trials. Unlike BrandMentions, this tool is paid (as you can see from the copy) and the incentive of creating a trial account (credit card validated) has to be all the more powerful, as not all of the users who check out our trial version switch to paid.
The type of the button was the same in both cases and we decided only to change the copy to see which converts better, as the button already fit the general layout of our website.
Concerning the copy on the button, we went through the following thought process:
- we could change it from advantage-oriented to persona-oriented – we would focus more on what the main use of our tool would be instead of the advantages;
- we wanted to underline the most used feature of our product, figuring that it may be the most effective way to get to our audience;
- we wanted to be more dynamic and compelling, to convert.
The second alternative was focused on the needs of our possible future customers more than our pitching needs. Plus, aside from being more selfless, this approach seemed to be relevant to the audience.
Concerning the category of incentive we tried to trigger, the button was action-oriented in both our alternatives – starting with a verb that stimulates interest and a positive response.
The second version of our message had an increase of 99% in conversion rates compared to the first. The testing was carried out during an entire month, which makes the results relevant for our generic traffic data and our prospect personas as well.
The situation was very different for cognitiveSEO compared to the BrandMentions results. Of course, the products address partly different audiences, and one of them is not paid, but it’s impressive how the types of incentive converted adversely. This proves that each decision concerning our Call To Actions should undergo an A/B testing process.
While both buttons shared common characteristics, such as being large enough to attract the viewers’ eyes, with a clear and easy-to-get message, there was one thing that probably made all the difference: customer-oriented copy.
Since the Call To Action has to be a click trigger and should appeal to the prospect’s most powerful incentive, choosing a contrasting color for the button is poignant, as long as you make it part of your brand recognition – it’s best that the same button type is found on distinct pages of your website.
Combining visual elements that convert is not always a job for Dali, as much as our designers are artists. There’s more to visually appealing integrations than artistic approaches. On the contrary – although we may believe that slim fonts, pastel colors and a breezy background image may convert, it can be the opposite.
Embrace Contrasts as long as they don’t mess up customer confidence. For instance, choosing the very bold yellow color for our Call To Action button was quite a courageous move from us. However, it only worked because we integrated it into our current website interface. Without actually blending it in, we tried to keep the contrast while also positioning the color on distinct pages of our website, to coagulate our brand image.
Even with all these findings from A/B tests it’s still highly important to be consistent not only in design, but in the message you’re sending as well. That’s why having reminders on your webpage is vital.
At the end of the day, there’s a huge difference between a landing page that looks good in a portfolio because it’s so eye-candy you want to paint it on your living room wall and one that converts. And, as unfortunate as it may sound at first, we should always aim for the second version, be that heartbreaking as it may.
Knowing that ‘above the fold’ is a myth as we’ve become more and more used to scrolling, an organic follow-up of your initial call-to-action can do wonders. Anticipating the average time spent on your site and the average fraction of the content that is generally read can help you outline the call-to-action follow-up strategy.
In free translation, this means that your Call To Action can actually be found twice on your page: once above the fold, where everybody can see it, and once above the place where you think the reader is going to close your webpage. Changing our reading habits makes us create cognitive filters to ignore information that we find spammy, which makes the marketer’s job even harder – displaying a message and making the visitors pay attention to it are two distinct things and a solid, data driven Call To Action can make the conversions effective and smooth.
Make Small Adjustments for Giant Conversion Improvements
To underline how important copy is for the Call To Action message, we’re going to address an example that’s self explanatory.
Unbounce had a 90% better click-through rate after changing one word in the copy on the CTA button.
The difference from ‘Start your free 30 day trial’ and ‘Start my free30 day trial’ was responsible for 90% more conversions. The test was run for 3 weeks and it teaches us an important lesson.
As Michael Aagaard underlined, ‘the biggest change on the page doesn’t necessarily result in the biggest lift.’
As it turns out that strategic changes are more impactful than total shifts of perspective, Michael Aagaard gave another example (this time a personal one) on how he increased the download rates of his ebook with over 18% with the variation by putting the data into perspective.
- Control Version: ‘Insights and experience from 4 years of research and over 2350 A/B tests’
- Variation: ‘Read the book in just 25 minutes and get insights from 4 years of research and over 350 A/B tests’.
It’s funny how making strategic changes – not even in the Call To Action per se, but in the bulleted list next to it can increase the conversion rates so much. This puts into perspective the entire psychological mechanism that makes readers click on your documented experience.
The main lesson of this powerful example is that we need to save time and it’s duly appreciated when we’re presented the offers in terms of our most compelling needs.
There’s no successful call-to-action that’s not customer-oriented. From an outside point of view, I wouldn’t click on something that promotes your business either. I would click on something only if the brand promises to satisfy an urgent need. Of course, sometimes you’ll have to walk me through an entire process to make me understand I have that need in the first place – but it’s all worth it when you also offer me a solution at the end of the day.
Thorough targeting and positioning are compulsory when trying to undergo a positive change of your call to action. And, what’s most relevant, even though sometimes it may seem intuitive that a copy version will perform better than other, it’s never sure until you’ve got the data to support your endeavors.