Live from Optimization Summit 2012: Optimizing the Message: Learn Strategies to Write High-Impact Copy and CTAs

By Jenny DeGraff | Jun 13, 2012
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Optimization Summit 2012Todd Lebo, Senior Direct of Content and Justin Bridegan, Senior Marketing Manger at MECLABs continue optimizing EVERYTHING by focusing on optimizing the message.

Todd starts out the session speaking to his background of not wanting to be a copywriter, but as time when along he found himself having to rewrite most of the copy anyways. One of the key reasons he could do it better was that he understood the audience and the pain points better than anyone else.

In a MECLABS study, they found that the most impactful elements on a page are copy, headlines, CTA and location, form layout, and finally, navigation logic/complexity.

Justin then starts on the key principles to get the largest possible lift without the least number of changes to your page.

Optimizing Headlines

Principle #1 All marketing messages must be centered primarily on the interests of the customer. Therefore, when it comes to crafting effective headlines, emphasizing what the visitor GETS, rather than what they must DO.

Principle #2 To help us create effective headlines, we can learn to avoid these five common errors:

Error #1: Clever headlines
If you’re trying to be too cleaver you’ll often lose clarity. Think about what the audience wants and needs.

Error #2: A headline that sounds like a title
The headline should be benefits focused, intend of say, just the product name. Use first paragraph to describe the problem. Second paragraph could give the solution. Vary the length of paragraphs.

Error #3: A headline in the form of an empty question
If the question doesn’t present the value, why would you click through? At this point is a question is appropriate? Or is your audience looking for a solution? If you use a question, you have to be very certain.

Error #4: A headline without a sub-headline
The sub-headline should be used to move the customer down the thought process. Frame the headline and sub-headline in the form of a complete sentence or thought.

Error #5: Point-middle headlines
Don’t include value proposition in a hidden location, like the middle of a paragraph or in the middle of a sentence. Weight the headline with most important proposition as the first point of the headline.

Side Note: Use a P.S. on an email to introduce an extra important element.

Crafting an Effective Call to Action (CTA)

Be specific with the CTA. You don’t always have to send people to learn more, sometimes people want to take an action.

Principle #1: Behind every call-to-action there is a perceived cost for taking that action. By either reducing the perceived cost or increasing the perceived value in the button copy, we can generally observe an improved response.

Principle #2: To help us create effective calls-to-action, we can learn to avoid these five common CTA errors:

Error #1: A CTA without implied value
Don’t use “Submit” on your button, what is the action you really want people to take? The real action, “Get Whitepaper” should be used instead.

Error #2: A CTA among several others
Think about your primary, secondary, and tertiary CTAs. Do you really need to make so many asks on one page?

Error #3: Evenly weighted CTAs
“Don’t allow your visitor to have unsupervised thinking”
Too many CTA buttons, confuse the visitor. If you need to give them options do that in the form.

Error #4: A CTA “above the fold”
Don’t make the ask too soon. By moving the CTA below the fold, you give more real-estate for the information the visitor needs to make an informed decision when you are ready to make the ask.

Error #5: A CTA that asks for too much
Sometimes you need to breakup the process or flow so that the CTA isn’t asking too much of the visitor. For example, if its a multi-step process to become a member don’t make the CTA “Become a Member” instead maybe use “Continue”.

Take-aways from this session: devote equal time crafting an exceptional copy and headline, while also taking great consideration with the location of your CTA and flow of the page.

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