An offer is a content piece that helps solve a website visitor’s problem. It can be anything from a free demo or coupon to an ebook or guide. Your offers should be of use to most website visitors—what matters is that visitors, leads, prospects and customers receive information they can use to help solve a problem.
For inbound marketers, the first offer conversion is a critical step in the marketing relationship with the lead. It represents a brand’s currency in the quid pro quo transaction of a conversion. The right offer at the right time can give a website visitor exactly what they need—and send them over the moon!
Creating Irresistible Offers
Yes. It’s one of the most powerful words in the human language. And if you think about all the things we do as marketers, it’s ultimately to get people to say “yes” to our offers.
When an offer is exclusive, scarce, or in high demand, it becomes more desirable. Whether they are whitepapers, free trials, memberships, sales promotions, or downloads, these irresistible elements can overcome a lead’s typical friction, doubt, or concern.
Why do these elements work? Because they trigger a physiological reaction that makes an offer more valuable. People need to perceive the value of your offer to be greater than what you’re asking for in return. The higher the perception of value, the more irresistible the offer. So how do you create irresistible offers? Glad you asked...
Use the Element of Scarcity
If you look at the principle of supply and demand, you’ll notice that when supply is limited, demand goes up. Scarcity has a psychological influence on us, making us want something even more if there isn’t enough to go around. Scarcity is great because it creates a fear of shortage, and thus a sense of urgency.
Limited Time Offers
Limited time offers are among the most popular in the scarcity category. Just think about your average car dealership. Practically every commercial is a limited time deal. “Get 0% financing before it’s gone!”
Limited Quantity Offers
When something is of limited quantity, it suddenly becomes more unique or exclusive. In some studies, limited quantity or supply offers have outperformed limited-time offers. Why? Because it’s hard to tell when an offer of limited quantity will suddenly become unavailable, while a time-based offer has a known end time. Limited quantity offers are great for not only getting people to say “yes” to your offer, but to avoid procrastination completely.
Limited Time and Limited Quantity
Groupon is the perfect example of using both tactics. All Groupon deals end within a certain time frame, and they limit the number of people who can buy a Groupon. That’s a powerful combination. The site also packages these scarcity tactics with discounting, which is another great value-add, especially for ecommerce businesses.
The Bandwagon Effect
It’s a natural tendency for humans to copy one another, even without realizing it — we like to be a part of tribes and social communities. So when we notice our social circle is doing one thing, we tend to follow suit. One great way to make an offer more valuable is to show that other people are participating in that offer.
Proof in Numbers
When possible, a great way to indicate how awesome an offer is to mention the number of people who have purchased, downloaded, signed up, or donated.
Some examples include:
Just make sure your claims are not only true, but believable.
Webinars: On this page promoting our webinar with Facebook, we’ve stated that more than 40,000 have signed up.
Blog Subscription: Similarly, on our blog under our “subscribe” module, it indicates over 130,000 people have subscribed. This is proof that it’s a highly trustworthy and popular blog people should follow.
Conferences: Events like SXSW and INBOUND are some of the hottest events because tons of people flock to them every year.
After Prince William and Kate Middleton got married in April of 2011, no one could stop talking about Kate’s wedding dress. Within hours after the wedding, vendors began making near-identical copies or similar styles of the Stella McCartney-designed dress. Even vendors such as David’s Bridal now have a “Royal” category so you can dress “just like Kate.”
When something is buzz-worthy, it creates high demand. In situations like this, you can align offers with “what’s hot.” Companies will often leverage newsjacking for this type of technique and it works very well for offers, too.
As an example, earlier this year people couldn’t stop talking about Pinterest. HubSpot capitalized on this craze by creating the first Pinterest ebook for business owners and marketers, How to Use Pinterest for Business. It quickly became one of HubSpot’s most successful ebooks with more than 125,000 downloads to date. Because it was the first and only ebook available on Pinterest (and we made sure people knew that), and learning how to use Pinterest for marketing was in high demand, it made the offer more unique and thus more irresistible — that’s the power of leveraging both timing and popularity!
Focus on Creating An Amazing Title
Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO and co-founder, once said that “you can have a great offer with a bad title and no one will download it. But if you have an amazing title, suddenly everyone wants it.” Yes – people do judge a book by it’s cover. If your offer is a piece of content, such as a whitepaper, ebook, or presentation, put effort into creating an amazing title.
For an experiment, we changed the title of an ebook and ran an A/B test to see which one would perform better. We took the original title “The Productivity Handbook for Busy Marketers” and changed it to “7 Apps That Will Change the Way You Do Marketing.”
As you can see, the revised version outperformed the original by 776% at generating leads (first time submissions). Not only that, but it resulted in more customers as well. If you’re struggling to come up with the perfect headline, try using the Headline Analyzer Tool by Advanced Marketing Institute or read 7 Proven Headlines that Convert.
Create Offers For Different Buying Stages
The most common offer I see on most websites is “Contact Us.” Sure, you want all your prospects to talk to sales, but not everyone is ready. As you know, buyers are more likely to do their own research before even engaging with a sales rep. And, every prospect is at a different stage of exploration. Some may need more education than others. That’s why it’s important to develop different offers at different buying cycles.
Someone at the top of the buying cycle may be more interested in an informational piece like a guide or ebook, whereas someone more committed at the bottom of the cycle might be more interested in a free trial or demo. You don’t need to pick and choose; create offers for each phase, and include a primary and secondary CTA to these offers on various pages
Avoid Corporate Gobbledygook
A professional image is necessary but you still want to avoid the dreaded corporate gobbledygook. What is gobbledygook you ask? Great question.
These are jargon terms and phrases that have been over-used and abused rendering them meaningless (you’ll find them mostly in the high-tech industry, but everyone is an offender at one point or another). These words are meant to add more emphasis of a particular subject but instead they make your eyes roll.
Avoid these words when describing your offers
- Next Generation
- Easy to use
- Cutting edge
- Ground breaking
- Best of breed
- Mission critical
To learn more, download The Gobbledygook Manifesto ebook by David Meerman Scott
Use High-Value Offer Formats
Not all offers are created equal. Some “formats” of offers perform better than others at converting leads. For example, what’s more valuable, a whitepaper or an ebook?
Below are the type of offers, in order of performance, that generate the most amount of leads.
- Ebooks or Guides
- Templates or Presentations
- Research & Reports
- Kits (multiple offers packaged together)
- Live Webinars
- On-demand Videos
- Blog (including offers in the nav or sidebar)
- Blog posts (if there is a CTA in the post)
- Middle-of-the-funnel offers: Demo Requests, Contact Sales, RFP, Etc (more sales-ready offers).
It’s important to test different types of offers with your audience to determine what works for you. While ebooks score high on our list, you may find that reports, videos or other formats do better.
A call-to-action (CTA) is an image or text that prompts visitors to take action, such as subscribe to a newsletter, view a webinar or request a product demo. CTAs should direct people to landing pages, where you can collect visitors’ contact information in exchange for a valuable marketing offer. In that sense, an effective CTA results in more leads and conversions for your website.
This path–from a click on a CTA to a landing page–illustrates the much desired process of lead generation. In order to increase visitor-to-lead conversion opportunities, you need to create a lot of calls-to-action, distribute them across your web presence and optimize them.
By now you have probably become a firm believer in the value of calls-to-action. They are definitely going to be important triggers for your success with internet marketing. But where do you start? Most importantly, how do you determine what CTAs to create?
You should maintain a mix of CTAs that spans across different stages of the sales cycle. The more CTAs you build, the more opportunities you create to convert visitors into leads. What is more, the sheer quantity of calls-to-action provides you with valuable data around their performance. Collect these insights and optimize your strategies for maximum lead generation. Let’s start with the fundamentals!
Create CTAs for Well-Performing Offers
First, look at your analytics and find the offers that have traditionally performed well for your company. One good indicator of your offers’ success is the landing page visitor-to-lead conversion rate. It tells you how many of the people who have seen the page decided that it’s worth filling out the form to get access to the resources it provides. This metric illustrates both the appeal of your offer and the demand for it. If the historical conversion rate is high, then the chances are it will keep performing well in the future. So pick your top marketing offers and start creating CTAs based on them.
Create CTAs for High-Quality Offers
If you are a company that generates leads, you probably have some differentiation across your marketing offers. Some of them, like whitepapers and videos, are low-commitment, light-touch and highly compelling. Others, like product demonstrates and sales consultations, require higher commitment and are less compelling. The latter, however, are more tightly related to the bottom of your sales funnel and thus considered more valuable in terms of qualifying prospects and driving business results. You want to expose people to these types of offers in order to push them down the sales funnel. So pick a few high-quality offers and start creating CTAs based on them.
Create CTAs Based on Behavior
CTAs based on previous behavior are built by taking the information you know about your prospects and making educated guesses about what they want to see next. In this way, you engage them further with your assets and keep them on your website. Most importantly, such education helps to better qualify prospects and turn them into evangelists.
Let’s take as an example our webinar offer “How to Make the Inc. 500 List.”A visitor has just filled out our form to view this on-demand webinar. On the thank-you page, where we would place the video, we are also featuring a call-to-action, which is relevant to the topic of the webinar. Think about ways in which you can tweak the wording of your CTAs to fit in the context of the offer.
Create CTAs for Upcoming Campaigns
Another type of CTAs you want to start creating are those related to your upcoming campaigns, such as events and contests. For instance, if your annual conference is coming up in a few months, you should drive traffic to the respective registration page from your other assets (blog, social media, paid ads, etc).
For the power that calls-to-action have, they are not that difficult to create. The format of CTAs can vary from simple hyperlinked text and screenshots with some text overlay to elegant banners and pop-up overlay. In this section of the ebook, we will take a look at a few different tools and what options they give you for the creation of calls-to-action.
One of the most critical elements of leveraging the power of calls-to-action is to optimize their placement. Where do you get started? There are so many web pages out there. How do you decide which call-to-action belongs where?
Calls-to-action should be spread across your web pages. Your homepage, which people usually perceive as a very neutral space, should also have a call-to-action. As your most frequently visited page, your homepage presents a huge opportunity to drive traffic to a specific campaign. In fact, some say your homepage should have at least three or more calls-to-action that will target different personas or types of visitors.
The only place you shouldn’t be inserting calls-to-action are your landing pages. On a landing page, people should be able to find out more about your specific offer and convert. In fact, it is a best practice to remove from your landing page distracting elements, such as top and side navigation, information about other resources and, certainly, calls-to-action. They will confuse and distract visitors from completing the form.
For all other website pages, try to align your CTA with the content of the page as well as the stage of the sales cycle the visitor is likely in if they’re visiting that page. So if a visitor is on one of your product pages, they’re likely further along in the sales process to be interested in a free product demonstration than if they are visiting your About Us page.
Your Product/Service pages, About Us page and Contact Us page all need to include calls-to-action or the visitor will be deciding on their own what to do next. You need to help them decide what to do next. In fact, every page on your site should help visitors understand what they should do next; therefore include at least one call to action on every page.
Just because someone already converted into a lead by downloading your ebook or registering for your webinar, doesn’t mean you can’t continue to nurture them with other related content and leveraging more middle-of-the-funnel offers like a free trial or a consultation. Add CTAs for these types of offers within the body and at the end of your ebooks and webinars, too.
Do you speak at industry conferences and events? Depending on the event’s particular guidelines, you may be able to include a CTA for an offer directly within your presentation. Especially with the rapid adoption of QR codes, you can easily refer people to a specific page and give them further information about your company. Don’t forget to archive your presentation slides to your website or a platform like SlideShare.com to get more muscle out of your content.
Make sure to include CTAs both in the sidebar of your blog as well as on every individual article you publish. In addition to image/button CTAs, you can also include text CTAs within the body of your blog content. At the beginning, middle or end of every blog article, you need to place some sort of call-to-action that will encourage people to either:
- Download some content
- Follow the business on social media
- Subscribe to the blog
- Join your newsletter or blog digest email
When designing your CTAs, make sure it resonates with the content you have introduced in the blog post. For instance, if you write about how Google Instant affects SEO, the call-to-action at the end of the post can be related to search engine optimization.
Every email you send should include a call-to-action. In fact, the subject line itself should serve as a call-to-action. Once recipients open your email, they should see a link in the first one to two sentences of the message, at least one link in the middle and one link at the end. These links can go to the exact same page, thus reinforcing the consistency of your language. In this way, if recipients take action on any link, they have essentially clicked on the call-to-action.
Include a call-to-action within all videos you produce. It’s important to make your CTA simple and include a shortened, easy-to-remember URL. In this way, if someone embedded your video on their website or blog and others viewed it outside the context of YouTube, your CTA would remain intact and still make sense.
In Paid Media
Paid media encompasses a range of formats, including banner ads, Groupon emails and even press releases. An example of that would be Google AdWords: you pay for ads that show up next to specific search results. Every paid search ad should include a call-to-action that is consistent with the landing page the visitor will go to after they click on the paid ad. In this sense optimizing the language and design of your paid ads is the same as crafting CTAs.
In Email Signatures
Every little effort helps. Include a CTA in your personal email signature and encourage other employees, especially members of your sales and marketing teams, to do the same. For example, some email signature of Fritz and Andre employees encourage people to subscribe to our award-winning blog, check out our customer case studies or grade their website using Website Grader.
Facebook offers several opportunities to get your CTA out there: via a custom business page tab, through Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories, and simply through wall posts on your page.
You can also publish Facebook photos that introduce CTAs. For example, you can create an album that tells a compelling story and also invites connections to take some action.
Consider customizing your Twitter background to include a simple CTA. While Twitter backgrounds aren’t clickable, you can place a short URL, mission statements or a branding message in your background design. For instance, Fritz and Andre’s Twitter background includes branding.
Furthermore, you can use your Twitter bio and link as CTA real estate. Most importantly though, leverage your tweets as individual CTAs for your offers. Each of your tweets should include a link. In fact, in his Science of Social Media research, Dan Zarrella discovered that verbs are the part of speech that generate the most shares. Twitter updates that include verbs have a 2% higher shareability than the average tweet.
When giving industry-specific advice on LinkedIn Answers include text CTAs for downloadable content like webinars and ebooks when applicable. You can also go into the DirectAd function and create an ad for your offer. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn Groups–these are engaged communities of people looking to have discussions with fellow industry thought leaders. Make announcements in these discussions about your upcoming events or newly published resources.
How to Optimize a Call-to-Action
In this section we seek to help you create compelling and relevant calls to action. We’ve seen single changes in buttons that can improve conversions by well over 30%. A button sounds like a simple decision, but there are a number of variables that quickly make the decision feel complicated. How big should the button be? What color? What should the text of the button say? Here are a few tips to make your buttons more successful.
Make It Clear What the Offer Is
Your CTA should clearly describe what the offer is. If you’re giving away a whitepaper about getting more Twitter followers, you may want to say something like “Download the Free Whitepaper on How to Get More Twitter Followers.” It’s a best practice to make your call-to-action specific, revealing some details that will encourage visitors to take action.
Make It Stand Out
If your CTA blends in with the rest of your page, you won’t get much traffic to your landing page. Make it contrast with your website’s color scheme so that it stands out on the page.
Color matters. Strong, contrasting, colors generally perform better than colors that blend in with the theme of your landing page. Take this example from Carelogger, who increased their conversions by 34% with a red button instead of a green one.
A big button gets noticed. It doesn’t have to be huge, but if your button is too small, it can be ignored. We’ve found that a good button size is around 225px wide and 45px high.
Make It Action-Oriented
Begin with an action verb like “download” or “register” that makes it very clear what action visitors will be taking on the subsequent landing page. Your button text should tell people what to expect.
Firefox improved their conversions by 3.6% (over 500 more downloads per test) when they changed their button text from “Try Firefox 3” to “Download Now – Free.” “Download Now,” “Get Started Today,” and “Start Your Free Trial Now” are all good examples of strong calls-to-action. Try out different verbs and see which one resonates with your audience best.
Keep It Above the Fold
Make sure your website visitors can see your CTA without having to scroll down the page, another best practice to increase click-through rates. When deciding where to put your button, think about the ﬂow of your page. Does it follow the path of your eye? Does it ﬁt the average browser size? Browsersize from Google Labs is a great tool to ﬁnd out what portion of your page most visitors can see without scrolling.
Craft the CTA Based on Context
The CTA should match the information on the page where it’s located. By tweaking your call-to-action to reflect the messaging of its context, you increase the click-through chances of that CTA. For instance, the verbiage of a CTA on your About Us page will be different from the verbiage of a CTA located in one of your product pages.
Place on the Most Relevant Blog Posts
Place the most relevant CTAs on each of your blog posts. For example, HubSpot has created blog posts about Facebook and SEO. On the Facebook blog posts, you’ll see a CTA advertising a Facebook whitepaper. On the SEO blog posts, you’ll see a CTA advertising a SEO whitepaper.
Create Alignment between CTAs and Landing Pages
Testing has proven that the more consistent you can keep your calls-to-action and landing pages, the higher your conversion rate will be. If the language you use on that page is too different from the CTA, it might confuse visitors and result in their leaving the page. The connection between these two lead conversion tools should be seamless.
Optimize Your Landing Page, Too
A call-to-action drives traffic to a landing page–so in order to successfully convert this traffic into leads, you’ll need to optimize your landing pages. You can do that by experimenting with different page layout, images and form length. There is a range of opportunities for optimizing the conversion rate of your landing pages, which could affect how your calls-to-action perform.
Include CTAs for Different Stages of the Buying Cycle
Different offers appeal to different segments of the traffic visiting your site. A whitepaper might appeal to an early sales cycle visitor while a free consultation might appeal to a later sales cycle visitor. In order to capture the maximum amount of traffic hitting your site, you need to cast a wide net. We recommend having at least three CTAs on your homepage: one for early, one for mid, and one for late sales cycle visitors.
You should implement the above-mentioned best practices as you can, but you must test your CTAs to see what will resonate with your audience. Test different messaging, colors, and placement on your pages, and see if you can get more page views on your landing pages. Here we revealed some standard best practices, but it’s up to you to see what works best for your business.
Forms are the key to a landing page. Without them, there is no way to “convert” a visitor into a lead. Forms come in handy when it’s time for people to sign-up, subscribe to your site or download an offer.
The Right Form Length
You might be wondering how much or how little information you should require with a form. There is no magic answer when it comes to how many fields your form should contain but the best balance would be to collect only the information you really need.
The fewer fields you have in a form, the more likely you will receive more conversions. This is because with each new field you add to a form, it creates friction (more work for the visitor) and fewer conversions. A longer form looks like more work and sometimes it will be avoided all together. But on the other hand, the more fields you require, the better quality those leads might be. The best way to determine what works best is to test it.
To Submit or Not to Submit
That is the question most of your visitors are asking. One of the best ways to increase form conversion rates is to simply NOT use default word on your button: “SUBMIT.”
If you think about it, no one wants to “submit” to anything. Instead, turn the statement into a benefit that relates to what they are getting in return.
For example, if the form is to download a brochure kit, the submit button should say, “Get Your Brochure Kit.” Other examples include “Download whitepaper,” “Get your free ebook,” or “Join our Newsletter.”
Another helpful tip, make the button big, bold and colorful. Make sure it looks like a button (usually beveled and appears “clickable”).
Reduce Anxiety With Proof-Elements
People are more resistant to give up their information these days, especially because of the increase in spam. There are a few different elements you can add to the form or landing page to help reduce a visitor’s anxiety to complete the form:
- If your form requires sensitive information, include security seals, a BBB rating, or certifications so that visitors know their information is safe and secure.
- Adding testimonials or customer logos is another great to indicate social proof. For example, if your offer was for a Free Trial, you may want to include a few customer testimonials about your product or service.
Make the Form Appear Shorter
Sometimes people won’t fill out a form just because it “looks” long and time-consuming. If your form requires a lot of fields, try making the form look shorter by adjusting the styling.
For example, reduce the spacing in between fields or align the titles to the left of each field instead of above it so that the form appears shorter. If the form covers less space on the page, it may seem as if you’re asking for less.
In order for you list to be useful you need to be able to manage it – this means segmentation.
Combining your different marketing lists allows for clear segmentation and ability to better target your customers and prospects with relevant email messages. Once you have access to an integrated marketing system, keep your buyer persona in mind and focus on the opportunity to target the right audience with the right message
Deliverability rate is the percentage of email messages delivered to your recipients’ inboxes versus the total number of messages sent. It tells you how many of the emails bounced back and if that number is high, it’s a sure sign of inactivity. There are soft bounces and hard bounces. The soft bounce is temporary and occurs when an email server rejects an incoming message. For instance, when your recipients’ inboxes are full. A hard bounce, on the other hand, is less benign and represents a permanent error to deliver an email. This generally occurs when the addresses you send to are bad or don’t exist.
Low deliverabilty rate might get you blocked by ISPs (internet service providers). If your list is loaded with inactive emails, you don’t have a sense of your true complaint rate. While many marketers just look at total complaints over total list size, ISPs are actually looking at total complaints over number of active email users.
ISPs can also mark abandoned email addresses as spam traps. This means that, even if you acquired emails in a legitimate manner, the abandoned addresses may have morphed into spam traps. Aside from all the ISP problems, low deliverability rate also means you are wasting money sending messages to nonexistent addresses.
Practice Good List Hygiene
Clean up your email list by removing those addresses that are no longer engaged. You can identify these addresses with metrics such as opens, clicks, or website activity.
More Strict Opt-In Process
If you have a really serious problem with deliverability, you might want to redefine your opt-in process to prevent invalid emails from getting on your list. Either ask people to enter their email twice or experiment with double opt-in.
Make sure your recipients have an opportunity to update their email addresses. Invite them to your preference center from every email you send. That might also help you with segmentation and achieving higher engagement overall.
Growing & Retaining Subscribers
To grow their email database, marketers sometimes purchase lists. This practice will surely get you into trouble: it might add invalid addresses to your list and thus pollute your entire database. Even if the addresses you acquired are valid, the new recipients will most likely not be interested in your content and either unsubscribe or not engage with your emails altogether. Both of these alternatives are undesirable.
To retain subscribers, a lot of companies send fewer emails, thinking that the communication frequency might in some way define engagement. Rarity of emails means they are more special, right? Wrong. Frequency of emailing doesn’t necessarily negatively impact subscriber retention.
Earn your email subscribers
Clear Value Proposition for Email Opt-in
Don’t purchase email lists, but earn your subscribers. Be clear to your target market about what they will get out of subscribing to your emails. Give them a clear description of what the value proposition is. For example, will your emails offer: (1) tips and tools on how to run their business more efficiently, (2) product updates from your company, or (3) special offers via email? Your audience will want to know “why” they should subscribe before they decide to clutter their inbox with even more emails.
Segment Lists to Match your Priorities
Are you concerned that you are emailing your subscribers too often? Give this thought a break and instead ask yourself if you are emailing the right people with the right message. In order to retain your email subscribers, you’ll need to provide them with ongoing value that is targeted to their needs. Make sure you are segmenting based on knowledge you have about your recipients.
Optimize & Test
Don’t limit your email testing to subject lines. Embrace testing of various elements in your email marketing efforts to optimize email performance. For instance, you can do A/B testing of landing pages.
Achieving Measurable ROI
Achieving measurable ROI (return on investment) is another challenge that marketing professionals face in the land of email marketing. In other words, it’s difficult for them to connect the dots between the messages they send out to prospective customers and the moment when these subscribers get further engaged and turn into customers.
Interestingly enough, this problem is tightly connected to challenge number one – integrating email marketing with other data systems. When your marketing channels are not speaking to one another, it’s hard to identify how they affect conversions. For instance, you might see that your email blast got a 3.4% click-through rate (CTR), but can you also see if that communication contributed to generating new leads? What is more, do you see if it resulted in any new customers?
Close the Marketing Loop
The solution to achieving measurable ROI from your email marketing campaigns is to practice closed-loop marketing. Follow a contact from the point of visiting your website through getting further engaged (viewing other web pages, downloading resources, clicking on your emails) to her final conversion into a customer. Implementing closed-loop marketing empowers you to track leads from their initial channel through a first conversion all the way to becoming a customer. Such intelligence, in turn, enables you to identify your most powerful marketing channels and assign clear value to each of them. In this way, you will be able to measure the ROI not only of your emails, but also of your other efforts, which might include social media and blogging.