As marketers, our job in a nutshell is to inspire people to take action. Even if this desired action is to sign up for a webinar, I often imagine that I’m marketing a skydiving excursion, which is to say, that I’m asking people to spend money to jump out of an airplane. After all, at a certain point, each customer must take a leap of faith. We therefore must assure them that not only will they be jumping with a parachute, but that when they reach the ground they will have had the greatest experience of their lives. In other words, we must mitigate any perceived risk with the promise of reward.
Arguably the most important copy on a web page is the call-to-action (CTA), as this is often your final appeal to a customer before he or she leaps from the metaphoric airplane.
Summarized well by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS, “Behind every call-to-action there is a perceived cost for taking that action. By either reducing the perceived cost or increasing the perceived value in the button copy, we can generally observe an improved response.”
Here are three evidence-based techniques to help inspire your customers to strap on their parachutes and jump out the hatch:
Offering personal information to a brand is, at all times, a risk. Marketing copywriters need to understand that consumers are always weighing benefits and costs when browsing the web. Consumers view their time, information, or especially monetary currency as valuable. If a CTA doesn’t properly convey greater value, users are going to bounce.
As a poignant example, Marketingexperiments.com reported that switching from the form on the left to the form on the right improved the conversion rate by 201%. The form on the left does not do an adequate job of mitigating risk, as it’s essentially promising a sales call.
The form on the right offers value by granting the user access into an exclusive network. The value proposition at the top of the form is broken out into easy-to-digest bullet points.
Even the button offers a value proposition instead of the proverbial “Click Here.” Calls to action often accompany buttons on websites, but the buttons themselves can contain powerful CTAs. The words, “Click Here” offer no value: they simply assure a user that a button is indeed a button and command them to click it. When was the last time you clicked a button simply because it told you to?
Be a Leader
Don’t be afraid to direct users down a path. Offering too many options in your CTA inspires unsupervised actions and can confuse users. There’s plenty of room on a site to provide resources for individuals in an exploratory phase, but the CTA should be reserved for points of action.
The first call-to-action offers three choices: “Buy Now”, “Learn More” and “FREE Sample.” But Consumers are not even assured of what they are buying. They are, however, promised that they will need to download software in order to view the electronic version of the newspaper. This CTA has communicated risk without effectively communicating value.
Conversely, the second CTA offers several options for the user, but all communicate value and none are presented in the form of the CTA. The CTA is presented in an authoritative button with the words “Confirm my Subscription.” There is still a diminutive ‘Learn More” option, though not presented as a button. If a user decides to confirm their subscription, they know exactly what they are getting. Sure they still might need to download software in order to read the paper electronically, but that is information that can easily be presented after a user has made their leap, and clicked through.
Not surprisingly, the second CTA resulted in 64% more conversions.
Think Like Your Customers
Though still somewhat controversial, more and more marketers are discussing the value of designing websites around user thought sequences rather than eye path, allowing content to be absorbed as easily and organically as possible. Put more succinctly: think like your customers. But remember that not all visitors to your site will have the same level of motivation. It’s therefore imperative to have content that appeals to visitors in different stages of the buying cycle. It’s also beneficial to direct CTAs toward users who are motivated to take that action, whether it’s watching a webinar, filling out a form or purchasing products or services.
A recent study showed that simply changing the words “Learn More” to “Open an Account” boosted a site’s conversion rate by 43%. It turns out that customers reading the CTA were more motivated to take action then to receive education. By understanding where users are in their thought sequence, it might be possible to have more influence over their behavior.