Making Your Call-To-Action Work: Defining Goals For Optimal CRO
Lowering the barrier to conversion, or cheapening your goal?
Here’s a familiar scene—you’re sitting in front of your computer, staring at another monthly report of your website’s performance, and you’re asking yourself the question:
“What it’s going to take to get my goal completion rate up?”
Come to think of it, your conversion rate on your PPC campaigns could use some help as well.
The problem: you’ve done everything you can to drive traffic to your website.
You’ve even gone back and done everything you can to make sure that the traffic you are generating is comprised of the right audience for your business.
But the goal completions and conversions still aren’t there.
That’s when it’s time to go with the CRO.
CTA Optimization: The Shining Star of CRO
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is essential for any website to achieve its goals, whether that’s getting sales onsite, generating leads for your sales team to close, or getting consumers/visitors to sign up for whatever you may be offering.
One major key to quality CRO: optimizing any call-to-action (CTA) you have on your website and defining your goals (Google Analytics) and conversions (Google Ads).
When it comes to making sure your CTAs are working as they should, there are a few basic strategies to keep top of mind:
- Make sure you’re counting the right goals as “conversions”
- Use the right language for the right phase in the journey
- Keep the value of your conversions at the right level
- Think about exchanging quantity for quality
Setting The Right Thresholds for Conversion
Let’s do a quick exercise: find the nearest table or desk (or even better yet, a countertop). Now, try to jump up to stand on it from the floor.
(Or maybe don’t… we don’t want to be liable for any harm that comes from this. But you know where we’re going here.)
The point is, that’s probably pretty difficult to do in one go. It’d be a lot easier to get up onto that desk, table or countertop if there were a step up along the way… or if it were just a little lower to start with.
This is how you need to think when your conversion rate is low or has fallen off a cliff. Is the threshold for completion too high? Do I need to add a step along the way, or lower the threshold entirely?
Make The Options Match Expectations
This is the most important question to answer when developing your website:
What do I need my visitors/customers to do or achieve on this website?
Sometimes it may be one, singular action —make a purchase, subscribe, etc. Sometimes it’s not that simple.
At Altos we deal with a wide array of clients, many of whom deal in B2B industries, and some who offer products that are either 1) set at a high price point, or 2) require a high level of commitment from the customer.
In cases like this, the purpose of the site is often to generate a lead from the user—but also to engage the visitor, build brand awareness and loyalty, and keep them engaged long enough to convert the lead. For sites like these, there may be multiple goals or actions you need a visitor to complete.
As you optimize your site for conversion, think about these actions that you need the user to complete, and ask yourself what the threshold for completion is.
With an expensive product or service, the consumer may be highly unlikely to convert on their first visit to your site because the threshold for completion is too high. If the only CTA you have on the site—the only option you give the consumer—is “Buy Now!”... well, my friend, that’s how low conversion rates happen.
(Consumer) Fear of Commitment
Whenever you deal with an industry that revolves around leads (and possibly an extended sales cycle), you know you’ll run into consumers’ aversion to being sold to.
What’s more, with those high-priced or big-commitment products and services, you have to deal with the consumer’s fear of commitment as well, which can stem from lack of adequate information, fear of getting a bad deal, or any number of other factors.
Let’s look at three commonly-used CTAs for a website that’s purpose is to generate leads for a SaaS company.
- Schedule a Demo
- Contact a Sales Representative
- Request More Information
Which of these is most likely to convert?
Honestly, this is a bit of a trick question. When we’re thinking about leads, some have more value than others; some are of a higher quality based on the source and the intent of the user.
“Schedule a Demo”
This tells the user exactly what they’re getting into - they’re going to select a time to actually speak with someone from your company and take the time to see what you have to offer. Probably a great lead, but it also can seem like much more of a commitment for the user.
“Contact a Sales Representative”
When someone fills out this form, you know you’re in business. No one wants to contact a sales rep unless they are looking to buy. Most consumers know that after they hit this button they can expect emails, phone calls, and all that goes with a salesperson trying to make their quota.
“Request More Information”
The person who fills this out may never get past the consideration phase in your sales funnel. They may just be a curious person, or they’re seeking a particular bit of information that wasn’t readily available on the landing page. But when you think about it, this option infers the least amount of commitment for the user and seems fairly innocuous.
Here’s the thing: all three of those CTAs could lead to the same web form. It’s the CTAs that infer a greater commitment—“Schedule a Demo” and “Contact a Sales Representative”—that will likely yield more qualified, higher-quality leads. But if the volume isn’t there, “Request More Information” could bring more people into your pipeline.
These are all considerations to make when optimizing your site for conversion. And sometimes, you don’t have to pick just one.
Let’s use that example of a SaaS company again. Their website could easily accommodate two CTAs, either in direct proximity with each other or graphically separate in some manner. By having both, you present the user the option to take the baby step first, rather than requiring them to leap onto the table in one go.
The CTAs can take them to separate forms requesting differing levels of information, or they can even go to the same form. The end result is that you’ve given the consumer a more comfortable option for them to select.
Beware of Cheapening Your Conversion
We all learned a long time ago that when you increase the amount of a valuable commodity, the value for that commodity goes down—basically, inflation. And that applies to more than just money.
For all the good that lowering the threshold for conversion can do for your conversion rate, it’s important to remember to account for potentially diminishing or cheapening the value of that conversion. The quality of the lead may not be as good, or the purchase intent of the user not as high.
When it comes time to reporting, it’s important to make note of such changes when you see an influx of goal completions or conversions.
If your business is already getting a great volume of leads, lowering the threshold in pursuit of more lead volume may not actually be the best optimization for you. But if you find yourself scrounging for leads, lowering the threshold of commitment can help fill the pipeline.
Along the way, you can use even those (initially) lower-quality leads to employ content marketing and build a relationship that develops them into a higher-quality lead down the road.
Who Wants Fewer Conversions?! (Hint: You Might)
This may seem counter-intuitive, but there are actually cases where you may want to raise the threshold for conversion and cut down on conversion rate or volume.
If you’re inundated with irrelevant leads coming in through the website, raising the threshold will cull the herd and limit conversions to only those with higher intent. You may also want to raise (or move) the threshold to minimize cost.
Here’s an example: at Altos, we have a client that operates a private school. Our goal is to generate interest in enrollment to the school and collect leads for potential students. These leads can be phone calls to the school itself or a form on the website.
Within our Google Ads campaign, we ran a branded campaign bidding on the school’s name. (If you’re looking for a good explanation of why branded campaigns are valuable, here’s a great article on the topic.)
Following Google’s best practices, we enabled as many ad extensions as we could for their account and each campaign, and saw great results. We got tons of impressions, clicks, and conversions, including a high volume of phone calls.
Let me ask you a question though: imagine a parent, driving on their way to work, and they need to call their child’s school but don’t know the number… what are they going to do?
Probably open Google and look up the school.
When the paid ad shows up first with a nice handy call button, we all know what happens next. The parent hits the call button, and we just paid for a click from an existing customer that has no chance of resulting in new enrollment.
In this case, we turned off the call extension for the branded campaign. We lost a decent volume of call conversions, but we were able to say with a higher degree of certainty that the conversions we were generating were more likely to be genuine leads with a good chance of leading to enrollment. The parent can still easily find the phone number down in the organic results.
Weighing Conversion Volume Vs. Conversion Quality—The Eternal CRO Question
The examples above are just a couple of instances where the threshold for conversion can affect our goal conversion rate, but also have a significant impact on the quality of those conversions.
For companies struggling to generate conversions and goal completions on their website, it’s important to consider if the threshold for completion is too high for a consumer culture reluctant to commit.
For those generating strong conversion volume, it can be equally valuable to consider the quality and cost of the conversion that is being generated and look for opportunities to maximize efficiency.