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5 Takeaways from CTAConf 2015

5 Takeaways from CTAConf 2015

It is official, conference season is in full swing: SMX, ClickZ, PubCon, Share15…Call To Action Conference?

I’m sorry, but if you weren’t aware of Call To Action Conference, or it wasn’t on your schedule this year, you’ve missed out. Not only was it jam-packed with impactful insights, but it’s in the beautiful city of Vancouver.

The expert speakers focused on strategies and ideas based around one thing – conversion improvement. With no shortage of great content, the presentations ranged from creating a culture around optimization to psychology to landing page fights and tug of war – yes tug of war.

It’s been two weeks since I got back and I’m still finding ways I can strategically roll out everything I learned to Forthea’s clients. So what the heck did I learn at CTAConf? Obviously I can’t give everything away, but I can and will let you know my top 5 takeaways.

1. Simplicity is key and distraction is a threat

Day 1, Presentation 1 started off with the always-entertaining and always foul-mouthed Oli Gardner. He spoke about Understanding the Intersection of Copy, Design, Interaction & Psychology and how each impacts conversions.

  • The secret to the clarity of your value proposition lies in the information hierarchy of your headlines. In other words, Gardner’s secret to simplicity and clarity is in the organization of your copy.
  • Organize your copy the way that’s best for your customer, not you. Ask yourself what your headline and sub-header says about what you do and how it can help them. Often, reversing the order of your headline and subhead uncovers extra clarity in your value proposition.

If you need more feedback on what your headline says about what you do, try a 5-second test with Usability Hub. Still stumped? Ask your customers to write your headline for you – this will help you speak with the voice of the customer.

  • Understanding attention-driven design principles makes design more fun and more effective

What’s an easy way to have a user visit your site without converting? Having too many distractions.

In Oli’s words, “Distraction is the enemy of conversions”. As your landing page “Attention Ratio” goes down (closer to 1:1) your conversion rates go up. Fewer links (distractions) on your site can help increase conversions. According to tests, 4 links seems to be the median for high conversion rates. Gardner summed this up with the staggering reality that 7,923 of the companies who participated in the survey could increase their conversion rates by over 50 percent simply by removing three links from their landing pages.

Always protect your CTA. Anything placed in close proximity to your call to action can be a threat to your conversion rates.

  • NSAMCWADLP – NEVER. START. A. MARKETING. CAMPAIGN. WITHOUT. A. DEDICATED. LANDING. PAGE. It may be a bit to long for an acronym, but it makes complete sense!
  • Influencing, persuading and manipulating. All three have to do with psychology and are used by marketers, but there are key differences in each one. Influence and persuasion can be used for good, while manipulation takes advantage of users’ minds in order to with the intention of deceiving them.
  • Should a form be short or long? Well, it’s a toss-up. It may be confusing, but data showed that conversion rate goes down with more form fields… until you get to seven of them. Then conversions start to climb with more fields, up to 10 of them. If you’re going to have them, use seven. You’ll get more info and more conversions.

2. Sell a feeling, not a product.

Talia Wolfe started with this line: “Consumers don’t remember what you said, but how you made them feel.” Marketers should explore consumer’s emotions instead of their behaviors when developing a CRO plan.

Marketers should target 3 emotional triggers: Confidence, Superiority, and Inspiration.

Most companies talk about their product or service non-stop and completely miss out on showing how it can improve the user’s life and make them feel. Think like the consumer here, “What’s in it for me?”

Don’t test things just to make money. Test to learn more about customers. Use that data to make your business better. “Test concepts, not elements.”

3. If you’re going to be lazy, at least be lazy and effective – Landing page tips galore

Copyhackers’ Joanna Wiebe had one of the best presentations of the week. I wrote down as much as I could and immediately started putting things into action on the flight home.

Wiebe began by calling us all lazy (which we are) – we fill in words rather than have copy lead design, default to easy wins, like incentives and discounts to get numbers up and we say what our competitors say. After grilling the audience, she offered several tools and tricks to help us remain lazy, but become more effective.

  • Use your AdWords quality score to help with message matching.
  • Utilizing the Hemingway App can help with message clarity and strength. Used it on this blog post.
  • Get help with idea and title development with Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Additional great tips from her presentation include:

  • Once they get to your landing page, get people nodding along first before offering a solution.
  • Let copy lead design.
  • Don’t be afraid to break the mold and do the opposite of your competitors
  • Headlines and CTAs (calls to action) should work together.
  • CTA and button copy should complete the sentence “I want to ______”.
  • View the CTA as a CTV – Call To Value.

4. Optimize Every Touchpoint

I had heard great things about Will Reynolds of Seer Interactive and how great of a speaker he was, but I wasn’t prepared for how motivating this dude would be!

Reynolds began by claiming Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is the best CRO around. With the data to back it up, Amazon Prime’s 74% conversion rate, nobody could disagree.

He urged the audience to think beyond landing pages and remove frictions from every conversion funnel touch point

Every point in the funnel is critical to closing a deal. From PPC campaigns and organic listings to email drip campaigns to remarketing ads and even the call center (Tim Ash even claims that call centers will be the landing page of the future) should be optimized.

5. Good Nudges & Bad Nudges

What the heck is a nudge? CEO of The Web Psychologist, Nathalie Nahai, explains that a nudge is as “an aspect of choice that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way.”

Nahai shared ideas about two types of nudges: good nudges (influence & persuasion) and bad nudges (manipulation). Good nudges help customers. Bad nudges often referred to as dark patterns, undermine customers for your benefit. These “dark patterns” exploit our cognitive biases using manipulation. In conversion rate optimization, bad nudges trick users into doing something. Many marketers do this for an easy win or short term gains. In doing so, they weaken trust and eventually create negative brand associations. Lack of trust is the biggest friction to block successful ecommerce.

Bonus Takeaway!
Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs and down by 3 with the bases loaded. You’re up to bat. That’s a ton of pressure, huh? You better come through here there will be a lot of people upset with you.

Karl Gillis would be the greatest clutch hitter of all time. To be tasked with delivering the final presentation of an amazing conference has got to be a huge challenge and filled with pressure. Gillis delivered, though. Lots of energy with that guy!

With the title “Don’t Do Anything on Your Landing Page You Wouldn’t Do on a First Date”, Gillis let us know that he’s been married for 27 years and knows absolutely nothing about dating, but did a ton of research about what not to do on a first date.

He had a solid list of 11 “don’t do’s”, on both a first date and a landing page but the top 4 were:

  • Don’t start with a French kiss. Hitting someone with an overlay immediately after landing on the page is like French kissing someone after meeting them.
  • Be on time. Fast loading times are important. Increasing load time by just 2.2 seconds resulted in a 15.5% increase in conversions.
  • Show interest in your date. Don’t talk about your business. Talk about your user and what you can do for them. Find out the goals and needs of your visitors.
  • Initiate the next step. Optimize your call to action!

If you have the slightest bit of interest in refining your clients business or your own business, I highly suggest adding Call to Action Conference to your mix in 2016, it was worth every penny. Anything and everything you want to know about conversion, design, branding, testing, psychology, and copywriting is discussed with one goal – improving conversions.


Davis Baker
Davis is the PPC Team Lead at Forthea and a digital advertising veteran of six years. Outside of the office, you can find Davis running, riding his dirt bike, or searching for the perfect cup of coffee (freshly ground and brewed with a French press. Anything less just won't cut it).

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