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A Call To Action For Calls To Action

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call-to-action-red-megaphoneEvery single tome on the subject of copywriting will tell you that your ad copy requires a singular call to action – the idea that in order to make your copy more successful, you should tell the consumer exactly how and when you want them to interact with your offer. We all blindly attribute a portion of our copywriting success to this idea and never look back. As it turns out, we may be falling prey to the classic “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra.

Is the traditional call to action really as effective as we think it is? Are consumers really as simple-minded as we think they are? Is there a better, more data-driven way to validate (or invalidate) our blind faith in the Call to Action?

In an age of character constrained ad messages (95 for Google/Bing, 140 for Twitter, even fewer for Facebook), something as simple as “Buy Now!” still requires 8 characters, while something longer and nearly as meaningless such as ‘Shop and Save at Target.com’ requires more than 20!

You know what else requires just 8 characters? Flexible, Boot Cut, Near LAX, 0.9% APR, or 1 Day Sale. These are all the things you could be saying about your products and services to provide relevant information and to better qualify your customer.

Do your consumers relate better to points of interest? Are they more concerned about the cut of the jean vs. the color? Is APR a driving factor in whether they’ll submit a lead?

These are all questions you could answer instead of “Does ‘buy’ work better than ‘shop’?” If that is indeed the question, this is a great piece on how to get to the heart of that matter.

As search marketers we need to be able to succinctly highlight to consumers what we have that deserves their attention. If you give consumers the right reasons to buy now or shop today, they’ll arrive at that conclusion themselves.

Collecting data about which reasons are the right reason should be the focus of ad tests. Calls to action in PPC ads can often seem spammy, lazy – desperate even.

Now that our data collection and processing abilities enable very granular analysis on how nuances in ad construction impacts results, our focus should be on improving the overall message we’re delivering. We have an opportunity to relate, rather than just advertise, to consumers.

The following example seeks to demonstrate the difference between an ad with a textbook CTA and one that is informative.

Ad A

2.7 percent CTR, 0.5 percent conversion rate

louis-vuitton-handbags-ad-a

Ad B

4.6 percent CTR, 1.0 percent conversion rate

louis-vuitton-handbags-ad-b

Ad A checks the box in that it includes the keyword and has a distinct call to action. The ad asks the consumer to buy the product and gives them an incentive to do so.

However, this is an ad for a $1,000+ item. You aren't pushing someone closer to purchase with a CTA and an offer of free shipping. If I am buying a $1,000 purse I am going to assume its going to ship free and would rather have more pertinent information to my decision making process.

This is not to say that you should all go out and remove all the CTAs from your ad copy to improve performance. Try to be more measured and strategic about it than simply using those precious characters to fill space.

If you want customers to take a test drive of the Honda Accord, don’t just say, “See a Dealer for an Accord Test Drive” – consider telling them to “Experience the All-New 2013 Accord.”

All the while, be testing those new CTAs to ensure that the ones that are driving the most desired actions on the site are being leveraged in the right spots. Listen to what aspects of your offer resonate with the consumer rather than telling them to just buy your product. You will ultimately get more informative data about which elements of what you have to offer resonate, and the consumer gets exactly what they want.


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