Campaign DOA? It Could Be Your CTA

Learn how “call to action” selection can make or break a campaign.

Feel like your creative isn’t converting as well as it should? One area worth looking into is whether the call to action (CTA) is the right fit. When developing your next campaign, consider these common missteps below.

Common CTA Missteps

Not appreciating funnel stage. Every now and then I’ll come across a marketer with strong creative that just isn’t working well. On closer examination, I’ll notice Facebook ads or emails are being sent industrywide using a call to action to “schedule an appointment with a rep” or “get pricing.”

The problem with this approach? A high-funnel prospect base isn’t going to be very responsive to a low funnel offer. New prospects likely haven’t heard of the product or perhaps even the company before. Not only would showing them a “connect to begin purchasing” ad be inappropriate at this stage in the game, but it may even scare them off. It’s like that joke about greeting someone by asking them to marry you instead of shaking their hand­­—that’s going to send most folks running!

The better approach is to use these placement opportunities to maximize pipeline and give prospects a chance to get familiar with you first: Set up your CTAs around content-based offers, such as product demo videos or white papers. In this way, you’ll maximize brand and product awareness and grow your following. With a bit of nurturing the connections who engage, you’ll then increase the likelihood of garnering bigger commitments.

Click to learn how to save money, operate more cleanly and improve safety by reading our latest blog post, watching our video and sitting in on this great webinar. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit here—but not much.

It’s easy to want to promote every single capability you have or to throw all of your content options out there to pique varied interests.

However, it’s far better to stay on message in your emails and ads. Prospects are busy and have limited attention spans. The more pain points you say you’ll solve or the more actions you’re encouraging them to take,  the more you end up leaving an impression that’s watered down and, therefore, ineffective. Instead, focus on the most compelling claim that will resonate and ensure all CTAs in your promotion are driving toward one action.

Failure to think like a prospect. This one may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget: When the goal of the CTA is to get the reader to go to your website or download a white paper, then you should tease what someone will learn versus summarizing the information outright. Otherwise, your prospect has little incentive to click. (But do be accurate about what’s on the other side of the click, as click bait will only work against the trust that you’re trying to build around your brand!)

Similarly, keep prospect perspective in mind when choosing how to frame overall content. Your promotion and accompanying CTA should focus on solving the prospect’s pain point rather than simply noting product features. “Discover how you can cut your downtime by 15 percent with the XYZ product” is far more engaging than “Discover the new XYZ product with quick-release rails.”

Overuse of “Learn More.” The ubiquitous “learn more” has its place: It’s a clear directive. It works in a variety of situations, whether encouraging reading more about a solution or viewing similar types of products. And platforms such as Facebook and YouTube easily support its use in paid advertising.

So why try something different?

When you have high-value content on the other side of that click, sometimes being more specific can help boost performance. Consider this: AdEspresso tested the same Facebook ad promoting an ebook with several different CTAs. The ads were given the same budget and then set up for performance-based serving and bidding, so the best call to action button would get more conversions at a lower cost. While “Learn More” garnered 52 clicks and 32 conversions at $9.94 each, “Download” performed much better­­—generating 60 clicks and 49 conversions at about half the cost ($5.10 each).

The researchers surmised that “download” performed better since the ad provided enough information for readers to make a decision, and then “download” gave the indication that they just needed to click through for quick and easy access to the content. “Learn more” could have conveyed to readers that they then need to do more reading, which could be time-consuming. (Source: AdEspresso, “Which Call to Action Button Should You Use: A $1,000 experiment [subscription content].”

This isn’t to say “download” is always the best option to pick; it will depend on the stage of the funnel, the offer and how much information the reader needs before making a decision, as already discussed. But it’s definitely worth trying when putting out high-funnel promotions when there’s a content asset (white paper, e-book or spec sheet) that’s just a click away.

Not having a CTA
. It can be tempting to avoid CTA slogans or buttons altogether. After all, practically anyone using a computer knows how to click on images or text to be taken to a link. Why bother cluttering up your email copy or display ad with more text?

Again, remembering the prospect’s lack of attention is important. Although most readers know what to do when they encounter a potential offsite link, they shouldn’t have to think about it. Having a clickable button removes any doubt, and the viewer’s experience is without friction.

In the same AdEspresso experimented just referenced, ads run on Facebook without a CTA had less than half the clicks of one with “download” and the cost per lead was about  2.5 times higher.

The lesson with all of this? Don’t underestimate the power of your CTA. A few A/B tests can often yield valuable results.

Written by
Sarah Loeffler

Sarah Loeffler is Director of Media Innovation and Marketing Insights at PMMI Media Group (sloeffler@pmmimediagroup.com)

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Written by Sarah Loeffler