A good call to action is a Siren Song. Your target audience shouldn’t be able to resist its lure. However, many times websites calls to action are a dud. They ask for a lot and provide little in return. Make sure that your call to action is appealing to your website target so that conversions are consistently generated.
The first hurdle to making a good call to action is knowing your audience. If you make “gut calls”, then you don’t know your audience. Instead do some testing on calls to action. Create landing pages for as many as three calls to action. Make the layout and language as similar as possible. Then send it to test audiences that fit your target profile. That will illustrate what calls to action are appealing and which draw little interest.
The second step is to test and track layout and content. Some changes will vastly change visitor’s perception of an offer. For testing purposes it’s best to make small changes and see how that affects the metrics. After the first test is complete, make another small change and see if that improves conversion. This can be a tedious process but it ensures gradual improvement rather than guesses that may or may not help the call to action. A layout and content that clearly communicates the call to action and the benefit to the visitor is the critical to ensure that visitors take advantage of an appealing offer.
Just remember that unlike a siren song we want to serve our visitors needs, not dupe them into dooming themselves. Make sure that your call to action is sustainable for your business and you can deliver on the promise the call to action makes.
HTML based emails with sophisticated layouts and images are great. Generally speaking HTML layouts also improve conversion. However, email marketers always need to pay attention to images and how they are rendered. Recent studies have shown that only 33% of email users have images on by default. That means two of the three people you send emails to are not seeing the images but rather a blank space. You have to take image layout into account because if too much critical information is delivered via images, there’s a good chance that your email campaign will be crippled because people won’t actually see what you are trying to communicate.
I recently received an email that was one large image and then contact information at the bottom. I was dismayed at seeing this email as it shows an absolute worst practice. Essentially this company sent me a message that said nothing. I did enable images to see what the missed opportunity was. It turned out to be a well laid out design promoting a networking event. Of course, I don’t know for sure but I’d bet good money that response rates to this email were very poor because 66% of the recipients likely saw nothing.
Make sure that critical information is delivered as text within your layout. As a general rule, the body of the email should never be an image. Headlines or tag lines can be included in an image as long as they are to make more of a splash rather than inform the reader. If the headline is critical to understanding the content, then it should be delivered as text.
Another critical consideration is image placement. Typically you’ll want to avoid images toward the top of an email as that will be the only thing to display in preview panes. Too many images or one large image can make the email look blank or like it is filled with glitches. If you need to use images at the top of an email make sure they are no taller than 200 pixels. Shorter is better but at 200 pixels most preview panes will at least display the text under the images so that viewers see that there is content if they scroll down.
Finally, include image alt tags. It’s not fool proof as many email programs insert text and the alt tags aren’t always visible but it’s a good step to let people know what the image is.
Pay attention to images and how they may or may not be viewed by recipients. Images have the potential to gain attention through an attractive layout but also have the potential to mask your message. Make sure your email messages perform whether the recipient can see images or not.
Once we get into a system for email and online marketing that works for us we can get lazy and blindly stick with it. As 2011 begins it’s a good idea to challenge what you are doing. If you don’t regularly review your web and email marketing performance, start now. If you are regularly monitoring results, check your trends over a longer period of time, at least into the previous year.
Are your initiatives performing as well as they had?
If so, great, you might tweak some things here or there but at least you confirmed that you are doing well.
If not it’s a good time to reevaluate your initiatives and either revamp them or at least give them a facelift.
It’s a clichéd resolution but make sure that online marketing initiatives are in good shape.