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Newbie Growth Hacker Series: Calls to Action that Convert [Part 3 of 3]

by Chelsea Baldwin

In the first two parts of our newbie growth hacker series, we helped you set up ads and landing pages to move more traffic successfully through your online sales funnel.

A killer ad strategy and the perfect landing page are great, but a lot of hard work can be undone if you growth-hack these first two elements and then create lackluster calls to action with mediocre design, text and coloring.

So that’s what we’re going to talk about today: how to design great CTA forms that almost guarantee better conversion rates.

newbie growth hacker guide calls to action

Following the advice in the second part of this series on landing pages, pay attention to the placement of your CTAs. A basic review:

  • Make sure they follow the general “F” eye pattern: placed along the top, bottom of the top fold, and down the left side of the page.
  • Use multiple CTAs, especially above the fold.
  • Make sure all CTAs have & explicitly state the same goal, to avoid confusing readers and leading them off the page.

But beyond basic rules of landing page placement, there are tricks experienced growth hackers use with their CTAs that almost guarantee higher conversions—so we’ll discuss them in detail below.

Reader Motivation

This article by KissMetrics points out that the rule of thumb for placing CTAs above the fold shouldn’t be a hard-and-fast rule with no exceptions.

Instead, they point out that motivation of the viewer is a far more important factor, and that a CTA should be present where the motivation to subscribe or purchase is highest. That’s a key point, and it’s perfectly illustrated in the example of Content Verve increasing conversion rates by 304% by moving their CTA form from above the fold to the very bottom of the page.

call to action conversion optimization

In this example the Kissmetrics article mentioned above, moving the CTA below the fold increased conversions by 304%, pointing out the importance of user motivation over the above-the-fold common practices.

But, in the spirit of helping out newbie growth hackers who probably don’t have time to run a proper A/B test before growing their bottom line, we’ll suggest floating CTAs. (Though this isn’t to suggest one floating CTA should replace permanently placed ones.)

Putting one of these in the bottom corner of your screen or as a bar across the top or bottom of the screen ensures there’s a CTA for someone to go to the instant the motivation overwhelms them to take action: whether it’s above the fold, below the fold, or all the way at the very bottom of the page. It’s also in the corner, so it doesn’t annoy them while their motivation is building.

floating call to action bar

Chupamobile keeps their main action choices in front of their visitors while they scroll through their homepage to learn more about the company. The moment inspiration strikes, they can find an app, sell their code, or resin something.

floating cta button

HupSpot keeps a floating question action button on their Knowledge Base pages for users with motivation to find out more.

Colors to Awaken Natural Instincts

In this popular Copyblogger post, Joanna Wiebe discusses the phenomenon of a human’s inherent “lizard brain” and how essential it is for growth hackers to take advantage of it.

The idea is that our brains automatically notice things that are different (like colors that stand out) due to our fight-or-flight instinct that helps ensure our survival when the status quo of the environment around us changes.

So, if your CTA form buttons look exactly like the rest of your web page, they won’t stick out to your visitors’ lizard brains, and they won’t produce the growth-hacking results you’re looking for.

But let’s say you make them a different color: one that’s beyond your core brand but is still within your color palette. This is going to instantly get more attention from the primitive part of their brains, increasing their likelihood of paying attention to it and acting on it.

call to action color choices

Marketo varies from their core brand colors with their orange “Free Trial” CTA button that floats at the bottom of their screen.

Digging a little deeper, this is also a tactic growth hackers use when they’re selling more than one product side-by-side.

Let’s say you’ve got four versions of one service. If you want to try to boost conversions of one particular version, you can make that CTA button a different color, keeping the other three the same.

call to action color choices

Crazy Egg highlights their Plus plan by making it a different color from their other three plans.

No CAPTCHA Codes

Personally, I love using CAPTCHA codes to ward off spam commenters on the blogs I manage. They cut out so much unnecessary work and help me focus on what’s actually important: the content and comments from genuine readers.

But CAPTCHA codes on CTA forms can harm your conversion rates.

In a 2009 Moz study, marketers experimented with CAPTCHA codes. When the CAPTCHA was off, 91 out of 2,134 conversions were spam, a little less than 4.3%.

When the CAPTCHA was on, 11 out of 2,156 conversions were spam (0.5%), but there were 159 failed conversions that could have translated into some significant bottom-line income if the CAPTCHA hadn’t gotten in the way.

captcha codes on call to action forms

CAPTCHA codes ward off hackers, but since some can be difficult to read, they’re also a turn-off for potential conversions.

It’s true that a few spam emails might come through, but internet spammers are far more interested in blog commenting for back links than getting a response email from you in their own inboxes.

Short Form Length

As a rule of thumb, it’s much easier for a visitor to fill a short form than a long form.

So to growth hack the conversions from your CTA forms, keep the information fields to a minimum. Only start adding fields when you realize that you’ve got a problem of too many low-quality leads that are actually eating into your ROI from the time spent on them. Otherwise, dealing with a few more spam leads in exchange for an increased number of legitimate leads will grow your business quickly.

For example, Imagescape increased their conversions by 120% by reducing their form’s data fields from 11 questions to four.

call to action form length

With seven fields, HubSpot seems to be weeding out non-serious business prospects by requiring information beyond a name and email address.

Clear Offer & Urgency

We’ve discussed how important it is to only have one goal with your CTAs on a landing page, but you’d be surprised how easy it is for newbie growth hackers to ignore this when they’re putting up lots of pages quickly.

Use either the headline or the button to communicate what you’re offering in exchange for the user’s email address.

For an additional push, add a deadline to your CTA form.

Will the offer expire after a few days or will the first number of signups get an extra gift? Tell them directly on the CTA form to ensure more people hand over their information.

urgency in calls to action

During this 72-hour sale, the site managers of the Paradise Pack made sure you knew how quickly time was running out before you could get in on the deal.

Popups

And finally, a note on popups. They’re far from the annoyances they used to be, and can be like a godsend to newbie growth hackers who want to raise conversions fast.

With overlays increasing opt-ins by up to 400%, popups are clearly no longer the annoyances they were 20 years ago.

In an Unbounce interview with Chris Goward of WiderFunnel, Chris brings out 3 key things in using popups to increase conversions like a growth hacker:

Relevance: Giving the example of the New York Times’ slide-in popup at the bottom of articles that prompt readers to click to a new article so they stay on the site longer. “It’s almost an irresistible prompt to click to another related article,” he said. “But as a reader, I don’t mind at all.”

If your popups are relevant and serve a purpose geared towards the audience intent of visiting your site, rather than as a last-ditch desperate effort, you’ll get more conversions.

Ease of close: He points out that you can actually hurt your brand with the kind of popups that aren’t easy to get rid of and are too persistent—like more than one per page visit.

Audience segmentation: If you track your visitors, apply their browsing and purchase history with you to only show them relevant messages. Offering value increases conversions, but annoying people turns them off.

Your CTA Experiments

CTA forms are one of the easiest things to A/B test and change on a landing page. Have you run any CTA A/B tests that have given you surprising results you’d like to share with newbie growth hackers?

If you enjoyed this article, check out more by Crazy Egg on user experience, or read other articles by Chelsea Baldwin, including the first two installments of this newbie growth hacker series. 

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Chelsea Baldwin

Chelsea Baldwin is a web marketing consultant and business writer. She specializes in creating strategy-based content and marketing plans for better ROI and more sales. You can get in touch with her at chelsea@carolinafreelancewriter.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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  1. Brian says:
    December 5, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Took more notes than planned! Very good stuff…also very encouraging. Thanks for the post!

    Brian

    • Chelsea Baldwin says:
      December 5, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks again Brian, very happy to be of help! Good luck with your CTAs! 🙂

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