Hanging out at SES Chicago last week, I spent some time with Stewart Quealy, VP of content development for SES, who told me that he enjoyed my last column about the power of a great unique value proposition. He suggested that as more new faces begin to adopt conversion rate optimization, some may not be as familiar with the fundamentals as many of us are.
And of course, the end of the year is always a good time to talk the fundamentals. This week, I want to discuss another conversion rate optimization basic: the call to action (CTA).
Two Types of Call to Actions
The most common thing that jumps to mind when we think about CTAs is the big CTA button. The less obvious, less famous is the textual CTA.
CTA buttons are those in-your-face buttons that excitedly point the way to your visitors taking a profitable action on your site. Their subtler sister, the textual CTA, usually shows up in the body of active window copy. Often it's simply a standalone hyperlink; sometimes they show up as part of headers. Other times, they're snuggled up against a product picture or a hero image, even in navigation.
Improving Call-to-Action Buttons
Improving Textual Call to Actions
A ClickZ column I wrote in 2003 offers a quick guide to get you started:
The clearer the explicit benefit of clicking on a hyperlink, the more likely a visitor will click.
[CTA links] should be constructed with an imperative, an implied benefit of what visitors can expect when they click, and a clear sense of the information on the landing page. Which link best conveys what the visitor will find after the click?
The first link implies the landing page lists programs. The second tells you the landing page probably lists after-school programs. The third tells you the landing page contains content that will help you decide which after-school program is best for your child.
While textual CTAs are all about the copy and the words, that doesn't mean you don't have to consider the copy on your buttons. Effective button copy and effective textual link copy have the same characteristics. So don't forget to apply these CTA copy tips to your button copy as well.
Do You Have an Eye for Good Call to Actions?
Let's see how you fare. Take a look at this page on IconFactory.com. These guys aren't clients of ours, but we can safely deduce that the two primary CTAs are "buy now" and "download." How well are these guys doing with their CTAs? What would you do differently? What would you like to test? Would you lay out the page differently? If so, how?
Send me your thoughts, then get to work on your own call to actions.
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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