All good search engine marketers (SEMs) know that call to action words (CTAs) play an integral role in developing compelling ads. They also know it’s difficult to determine which CTAs to use.
To make the task even more challenging, CTAs tend to perform differently across verticals, so there is not a one-size fits-all approach for selecting the highest performers. For example, the best performing CTAs for a financial services advertiser ("analyze," "trade," "sign up for," "open an account,” etc.) might be completely different than those for a clothing retailer ("buy now," "order,” “purchase,” etc.).
To help determine which CTAs to use in your various campaigns, you need to know how to properly analyze the performance of your CTAs.
The Value of CTAs
CTAs allow advertisers to clearly state what they want consumers to do — buy, shop, review, etc. They also present advertisers with the opportunity to engage with consumers. With the abundance of online advertising today, effective use of CTAs is a great way to make your ads stand out and appeal to potential customers.
To figure out how CTAs best perform, we spent some time analyzing their performance. Here is what we found.
Data Collection and Methodology
For our analysis, we collected data on seven common CTAs in the retail vertical:
To ensure the data represented various types of retail markets, we extracted it from multiple live campaigns representing various categories, including handbags, bedding, car suspensions, and electric appliances.
While the data shown is statistically significant, it should by no means be seen as comprehensive. Instead, the data and findings should be seen as a call to action in and of itself.
You should regularly test your CTA performance starting with impressions and ending with return on advertising spend (ROAS). Then use the findings to inform your business strategies.
We tested a simple hypothesis: CTAs with the highest click-through rates (CTRs) also have the highest conversion rates and conversions per 1,000 impressions.
Impressions, Clicks & Conversion Rates
Let’s start by analyzing how much traffic specific CTAs drive and how that traffic leads to conversions. The chart below illustrates that high CTRs sometimes result in high conversion rates, but not always.
In this analysis, “Buy” has the best CTR, but produced the fourth best conversion rate. “Order” has the best conversion rate, but its CTR was nearly three points lower than “Buy.”
Conversions per 1,000 Impressions
Now let’s examine which CTAs produced the greatest number of conversions per 1,000 impressions. To do this, we need to examine conversions per 1,000 impressions by simply multiplying CTR by conversions by 1,000.
It's clear that our hypothesis was wrong – while CTRs may be an indication of conversion rates, they cannot be considered predictors of a successful campaign. As a result, viewing CTA data in isolation can be misleading and potentially costly.
There are three key takeaways from this analysis that can help inform your future CTA strategies:
- When analyzing CTAs, CTR is not the end-all, be-all. CTR and conversion rate are equally important. You need to consider both (multiplied together) to determine conversions per 1,000 impressions and the true effectiveness of a CTA.
- Test your own CTAs. While not shown in the analysis above, there were definitely differences in CTAs across the different categories. Recognize that some CTAs may work better than others for your category.
- CTAs can make an enormous difference to your campaign performance. The difference between a good CTA and a bad CTA can create as much as a hundred-fold difference in performance.
By keeping an eye on CTAs and analyzing their performance, you can maximize the effectiveness and ROAS of your campaigns.