Your CTA Tool Is... Dumb

By Brennan Dunn

You don't need to be convinced that call-to-action widgets (those popups that exist on virtually every content site that ask for your email address) are a good idea.

Nor do you need to be convinced that you should build an email list.

In 2019, every marketer worth their salt knows "the money is in the list", and this has created a flood of widgets of every shape and size that – you guessed it – try to get people's email addresses.

For better or worse, we're now accustomed to seeing sticky bars, slide up toaster widgets, and "wait! before you go..." exit popup modals whenever we're consuming content online.

And the proliferation of tools that make these widgets one-click easy has enabled an explosion of calls-to-action, almost all of which are trying to get your email address.

At RightMessage, we're not convinced that this is the right approach.

And in a few days, beta testers are going to be getting their hands on RightCTA, which is our take on a modern and relevant method for both building your list and giving people what they want – exactly when they need it.

(Almost all) CTA tools are... dumb

Before introducing RightCTA, I want to start with the basics.

Most of the content you create on your site is meant to do one of three things:

  1. Get new people to think you're legit enough to give you their email address
  2. Reinforce your legitimacy and expertise, moving people closer toward being ready to buy.
  3. Convince somebody to buy from you.

For most of you, the first two are done by "content marketing" (blog posts, etc.) and the third is the job of a sales page.

Content marketing, like the latest blog post, isn't just for people who aren't yet on your list. Most of us are using our email marketing software to announce new content to our subscribers, driving them en masse to our latest article.

But 99% of the time, the calls-to-action – the thing you're offering someone reading your website – are static. So that loyal customer who loves your content, got your email about this crazy cool marketing tactic you've discovered, and then clicks over to your blog to read your latest and greatest... is probably going to be asked for their email address.

What's needed is a way to present the right offer to exactly the right person.

Because a returning customer shouldn't be asked for their email address. This has zero value for them. And it's a bit insulting. Imagine walking into your favorite corner shop – that place you've been frequenting for years – and ordering from your favorite barista – you both love each other's posts on Instagram – and being asked "what's the name for your order?"

The real problem is that while the available call-to-action tools make it easy design a flashy exit popup and add it to your site, they're all a bit... dumb.

Dumb in that your CTA tool doesn't know that the person visiting your website has already given you their email address.

Dumb in that even if your CTA tool does know that the person visiting has been here before, it doesn't know what they've already bought from you.

Dumb in that even if your CTA tool somehow knows who someone is, what they've purchased, and what this returning customer should probably do next with you (mastermind retreat in Cabo, anyone?!) it doesn't know enough about what this person needs most from you to best describe and pitch your next product.

What you need is an Offer Funnel

If you want to do CTAs right, you need to have mapped out and created an Offer Funnel.

While not every customer's buying journey is completely linear, for the most part you have an order that your typical customer moves through.

For example, take a food blogger who posts recipes to her blog every few days. Besides her blog, she also sells a cookbook and has a membership site.

Her Offer Funnel probably looks like this:

What's happening today:

So someone comes to her site – either via a Google search ("easy paleo recipe chicken") or from a Facebook post.

They read a few recipes and maybe check out her homepage.

On the homepage and included with every recipe is a "Join my 5 day free email course" with an email opt-in.

Now they're delivered this email course over the next few days. At the end of the course, they're pitched on her book but they pass.

From then on out, a few times a week they're emailed a new recipe. And, most of the time, they click through to check it out. (And every new recipe is asking to enter in an email address and join the 5 day email course – duh!)

Eventually, they realize they really like the recipes and decide to head over to the products page and buy the cookbook.

A few months later, the "few new recipes a week" emails are halted in favor of doing a giant list-wide launch promoting access to the membership site.

Urgency! Buy now! They decide to buy.

What SHOULD be happening:

What led the person in the above story to buy both the cookbook and access to the membership site?

  1. Luck. "I remember there's some sort of cookbook..." and then finding the sales page for the cookbook and deciding to buy.
  2. Launches. When a creator switches from sending educational emails and instead starts sending hard-sell pitch emails.

The above example illustrates a home run. Somebody shows up, enters in their email address, buys Product #1 and then "upgrades" to Product #2.

But for every home run, there are significantly more singles and a metric ton of strike outs.

Let's look at how we could fix that.

Because the relationship started by searching for a Paleo recipe, imagine how much more effective seeing the following pitched would be?

"Struggling to make Paleo work for you? Join my 5 day free email course"

...on the homepage.

...on the footer of every recipe (until their behavior proves that there's something more interesting that they want.)

...literally everywhere.

And once they've gone through the email course, been pitched over email (and didn't buy), shouldn't the call-to-action at the end of every new recipe emailed to them be something like:

"Loved the email course? Then you're going to love my cookbook – it's full of great Paleo recipes!"

And once the cookbook's been purchased, doesn't it make logical sense that future interactions should say the following?

"Get the community and support you need to keep making delicious and healthy Paleo meals for your family. Learn more here."

(Over time, RightAsk has learned that this subscriber-slash-customer, who started out as just an email address, is actually a stay-at-home mom who primarily wants to help her family stay in shape through better eating.)

Ask yourself: with your current CTA tool, can you easily do what I just described?

...And do you see how much more powerful and relevant putting the right offer in front of someone is?

RightCTA, available in a few days to beta testers, is a new addition to RightMessage that gives you CTA superpowers:

  1. Define your offer funnel. Depending on who someone is, what they need, and their past interactions with you (e.g. purchases), promote a relevant offer – like an email course, a webinar, a product, or an "apply to work with me" application form.
  2. Determine where you want offers to show. Maybe on your blog, you want a sticky bar at the top, a toaster popup when they've read most of the page, and an inline offer at the end of an article. And on the rest of your site, you just want to show a sticky bar and maybe an exit popup.

...and then we handle the rest.

We've created a suite of beautifully designed, conversion optimized, and easily brandable widgets that we'll tailor based on both the current offer and who someone is or what they need from you.

You won't need to worry about creating dozens of CTAs and setting up arcane rules to figure out how and why they end up getting displayed.

Just load in your offers. Create your placements. And click "Publish."

And behind the scenes, RightCTA is built off our powerful RightAsk surveying technology and our behavioral segmentation engine.

Rather than just displaying pitches, you'll be able to ask questions first that will give you a better idea of who somebody is and what they need most from you.

Our integration with your email marketing database means that when we learn more about somebody, that information will be sent directly to their subscriber record – allowing you to have both your emails and your website in total synchronization.

How great is that?!

Stay tuned for more details about RightCTA, including a first look at the technology in action. And if you haven't yet joined our Facebook group, be sure to join others like you who are obsessed with personalized marketing.