I came across an interesting blog post recently that really nailed down why testing your calls to action is so important, and how much of a difference it can make to sales. In a single experiment, a website boosted its conversions by 43% by changing just three words on their calls to action. It was a simple change, too, taking the words "learn more!" and replacing them with "open an account."
Three words nearly doubled the effectiveness of their CTAs. From that, it doesn't seem at all absurd to say that if you aren't testing your calls to action, you're probably throwing half your profits away.
Online Marketing Means Scientific Marketing
Perhaps the biggest single revolution the Internet has brought to marketing lies in the amount of data available for you to harness. These aren't the Mad Men (a TV series on AMC depicting traditional advertising agencies in the 1960s)days of putting up a campaign, crossing your fingers, and hoping it leads to increased sales. You can't directly track the response rate to a billboard, or a magazine ad, but you can absolutely track the effectiveness of inbound marketing tactics, such as a landing page.
Every time a customer clicks on one of your calls to action, you know it. More vitally, you also know it every time a customer doesn't click. A simple review of your marketing analytics data or server data can tell you how many visitors you've gotten, how many of them click on your call to action, and how many of those go on to convert on the landing page.
This knowledge makes it simple for you to try out new strategies and have legitimate, quantifiable results that tell you whether the change has worked.
The Scientific Marketing Method
The most effective way to use of this knowledge is to analyze it in a structured, organized way. Here are a few tips:
Only make one change at a time. Just like in any scientific study, you should have a control - which is usually the previous version of the CTA - and an experiment, which is the new version. Changing multiple elements at one time might bring positive results, but you won't know how you got those results. And so you would not be able to apply that knowledge in future campaigns.
Play around with everything. Any element of a CTA is open for testing. Page placement, font size or color, button size, copy, and more. Perhaps embedding a tiny video or animated GIF would be more effective than a static image. Give it a try! Don't hold onto any established ideas unless you've got data showing they're the most effective method you can try.
This actual customer example shows how changing only one element led to more clicks (results): by testing the image of a lone guidebook vs. the image of 3 stacked guidebooks using a customized CTA with the same text and color scheme and size a - a winning design emerged. The single guidebook version achieved 18% more clicks.
Give it time to work. There's no unified consensus on the "best" amount of time to test a new campaign, but in general, you should give it at least a week to eliminate the chances of the day of the week affecting your results. In numerical terms - get 30 or more responses to your various CTA versions to determine success. Exceptions might be made if a new strategy absolutely craters your conversions, but aside from that, be patient.
Pause and evaluate. Don't just keep making tweaks without any higher goals, or else the exercise can become self-defeating. Whenever you hit a significant milestone, reflect on what led to it. This allows you to learn from these experiments, and find strategies that can be employed throughout your site.
Track your results. Keep copies of all your old calls to action, along with the results you got from them. This can allow you to revisit old ideas, or borrow elements from them, to try to create a "best of both worlds" CTA. If it doesn't work, revert.
The Value of Good Analytics
This sort of analysis can be done by hand, but it's tedious and difficult. You should consider investing in a marketing platform such as Hubspot to aid you in your work. Hubspot allows for direct A/B comparisons between different versions of campaigns, making the data-gathering aspect far easier.
A good analytics package frees you to focus on the creative aspect of your marketing, rather than spending time crunching numbers by hand. It also gives you plenty of options for reporting and graphing, to make sure you understand the numbers.
Shoot for 100%
When it comes to your calls to action, unless literally every single person visiting your site is converting, the CTAs could be doing better. This level of perfection may not actually be achievable, but there's no reason not to strive for it anyway. Keep pushing your limits and seeing just how high you can get your conversion rate.
What strategies for Calls to Action have worked for you?