Calls-to-Action: What REALLY Counts?
Basic Web Metrics for B2B Marketers
According to a 2016 study by Doubleclick (the display advertising arm of Google), the average user click through rate across all online advertising formats and placements is 0.17%—meaning that users execute less than 2 clicks per 1000 impressions.
These statistics would leave most marketers (especially those that represent traditionally non-digital B2B organizations) seriously questioning the effectiveness of display advertising. However, by understanding the correct metrics to track and adjusting your web content accordingly, display ads and other on-page design elements can become a consistent source of click through’s and, ultimately, customer leads.
What is a Call-to-Action?
A call-to-action (usually abbreviated as CTA) is an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, prospects, and customers to take action from one of your web pages. It is, quite literally, a “call” to take an “action.” A call-to-action is executed based on a mechanical action by a website visitor.
The action you want visitors to take could be anything: download an ebook, sign up for a webinar, get a coupon, attend an event, etc. A CTA can be placed anywhere within your marketing content—your website, an ebook, an email, or even at the end of a blog post.
Mouse- overs Versus Click-based CTAs
The mechanical action of both mouse- overs and click-based calls-to-action do not differentiate the motive of a user as he/she searches for information. In fact, each of these calls-to-action may provide a second level call-to-action using the other (example: mouse-over then click to view a landing page).
Whether or not your website visitors engage with mouse-overs or click-based calls-to-action, your bottom line effectiveness is based on a Google Analytics evaluation of number of visitors, time on site, bounce rate, and pages viewed. Also, keep in mind that some websites receive over 40% of their visitors from overseas. You may want to filter out these results if you market to domestic customers only.
Confusing the value of any call-to-action without such metrics serves as a strawman argument that diminishes the real opportunities behind understanding the value of your visitors. For a more detailed plan to defining and leveraging web metrics, consider the following suggestions.
1. Develop a Proactive Plan for Tracking.
The first step in gathering website metrics is to install and begin leveraging tracking tools on your website. Google Analytics is arguably the most popular analytics package available for individual site owners and it is offered at no charge. Google Analytics will provide key metrics such as bounce rate, time on site, and pages viewed on your site.
Below is a sample report generated by Google Analytics:
Once you select an appropriate website analytics tool, the next challenge is knowing what information to track. Trying to sift through all the data you can collect from your website, especially a B2B site, can be an overwhelming process. What matters? What’s worth knowing?
As you develop your tracking criteria, keep in mind the corresponding approach to effective content development is to publish based on specific actions you want to track. Therefore, marketers should lead their organizations in the following activities as they develop a tracking plan:
a. Collecting baseline data for a specific content posting period.
b. Translating the data collected into actionable steps.
c. Making business decisions based on the data you collect—do you want to increase traffic, boost sales, or improve social sharing?
d. Determining which data points you are not collecting data on and adjusting the tool settings to accommodate the future collection of this data.
2. Start With Tracking the Basics.
Any website analytics tool will offer a wide range of user settings and potential data collection categories, However, in some cases, simplicity can be key—especially when the resulting analytic reports will be viewed by a wide range of people with varying knowledge of the web development process.
By starting small and capturing the following basic data points, your B2B marketing organization can grow to offer more insightful reports, align web content with overall business objectives, and explain analytic results according to the lead and revenue factors they affect.
- User Demographics: Demographic information offers insight into what business environment your users share, what type of computers they use, and what internet browsers they use to access the web. Once you understand the opportunities and challenges associated with marketing to your specific customer base, you can modify your web content and layout to suit their needs and effect responses.
- Click & Scroll Locations: Across all the pages that comprise your website, you want to know which pages your visitors click on the most, how far down the pages users read, and how much time they spend looking at each page. In addition to tracking these data points with an analytics tool, marketers can leverage focus groups of web users to understand which content users view first, where they linger, and where they get stuck in performing a process. Heat mapping tools like CrazyEgg and Mouseflow also provide insightful data not readily measurable with standard analytics software.
- Call-to-Action Clicks: Call-to-action button clicks are like gold to B2B marketers. Once a user takes the time to click a CTA, the action represents proactive interest in the content or other offer being advertised. As you measure CTA’s within web content, a change in CTA copy can lead to huge changes in sign-ups and sales. Therefore, it is important to track and test traffic from different versions of copy on links, sign-up buttons, and other call-to-action areas. Popular web tracking tools enable you to track different CTA’s based on specific events such as mouse-overs, mouse up/down movements, and menu adjustments.
- Website Conversions: How many people who visit your website actually achieve your intended conversion goal? Your conversion goal might be to have visitors sign-up for a service, buy a product or service, or to visit a certain destination on your site—whatever you consider success. Define what your organization accepts as effective conversion and track how many visitors make it to that point. If your conversion numbers are low, you may be attracting the wrong type of visitors or your message/offer may be unclear or difficult to locate.
- Bounce Rates: Once a visitor enters your site and immediately leaves, web tracking tools consider that visitor session a “bounce.” Usually, these visitors did not find the content they were looking for or simply found your site by accident. However, knowing why someone is leaving your site can be extremely valuable—after all, everyone who even peeks at your site is a potential customer. Additionally, since Google AdWords no longer displays search terms with high bounce rates, by tracking them for your own site, you can avoid running campaigns in Google that produce a large amount of bounces.
3. Continue Tracking and Reporting Results.
Compared to the baseline statistics you viewed when first developing a tracking plan, your organization should start to realize areas for improvement and increased conversions within a short period of time. However, marketers must remain consistent in collecting web usage data in order to prove the value of their efforts over months and even years.
The good news is control panels from most web analytics tools are designed for ease of use. Once you choose and implement a tool, quickly become familiar with how to track your key conversion indicators. Knowing who accesses your website, what they intend to do upon visiting, and why they eventually leave your site are data points that enable you to meet the needs of and evolve with your constantly changing customer base.
Clearly, collecting website metrics allows you to more precisely target customers and prospects by understanding their demographic background, their content preferences, their intentions in visiting your website, and other factors. The suggestions above serve as a guide for leveraging these metrics to save time and budget in your attempts to capture customer awareness and, ultimately, drive revenue online.