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Use YouTube Video Calls-to-Action for Better Results

YouTube Video CTAs-megaphone

You have developed a great video strategy, but are you using calls-to-action (CTAs) in them like you do elsewhere? Adding CTAs to YouTube is a easy process than can yield great benefits, including conversions, subscriptions, likes and shares.

While we would all like to think people will take action on their own, the reality is people need to be told what to do next and preferably why. (Collective sigh.) Luckily, YouTube provides multiple easy ways to do it along with standard production ones you may use.

Before jumping into calls-to-action, you need to do two steps first. First, you need to determine the goal of the specific video and how the CTA can help support that goal. What are you trying to accomplish? If you want more subscribers, does the CTA encourage it? Do you want someone to make a purchase? Does the CTA allow them to click through to make the purchase? Presumably you know the first part since you have a video strategy, but you need to make sure the second part ties into it.

Next, with so many possible types of CTAs available, decide on the style and type(s) that will best support your goal. You want the style of your CTAs to complement your video. Otherwise, it is a jarring experience for the viewer who will quickly exit the video and not take any action. You also want a call-to-action that will bring the desired action and have it placed appropriately in the video. An exaggerated example would be to make a subscription request when you want viewers to purchase a product or service.

Now, let’s discuss some possible calls-to-action to use in your YouTube videos:


Annotations are pop-up messages, not ads, which appear in the video. People can immediately interact with them. Unfortunately, they often cause people to leave the video and can only be linked to other YouTube content. Therefore, do not place them during a vital part of the video. Waiting to use them in an end card may be a better option. However, you must weigh that placement with people’s short attention span. One-third don’t get past the first 30 seconds. YouTube provides more information on creating different annotations and best practices.

Most annotations are self-explanatory, but the spotlight one is a bit different. Spotlight annotations allow you to create subtle clickable areas within a video. The text appears when a viewer hovers over the it but only a light outline appears otherwise.

Call-to-Action Overlay

With an AdWords for TrueView ad, you can create CTA overlays. The overlay appears at the bottom of the player when the video starts and can be closed by the viewer. Share information about the video; promote other videos and websites, etc. When viewers click on the overlay, they are directed to the designated website. The overlays remain on the video until you remove them. They are, however, subject to review via the Google AdWords program.


Descriptions allow you to provide more information about the video and include CTA links. People will not be distracted from the video and naturally want to read more about the video’s content. However, be  very careful with the first couple lines of the description. Keep the YouTube SEO intact because that is what shows up in a YouTube search. YouTube is the second largest search engine so you don’t want to mess that up. For example, you can link to a related blog post, YouTube channel, email subscription. 

End Cards

For the end of the video, create an end card with a call-to-action. You can do something as simple as a screen with a text message or make it interactive with annotations. Use a template to maintain consistent branding. As mentioned earlier, some viewers will have already stopped viewing the video. However, those remaining are more likely to be willing to act on your CTA.

Host / Narrator Mentions

The host or speaker talks directly to the camera to request a specific action. Voiceover can also be done. The downside for this method is you need to stick with one action and the cost of changing it is high. Therefore, choose your CTA carefully.

In-video graphics

You can also include other graphics at key points in the video. For example, have a graphic with a URL landing page URL after your standard opening and then have it appear later.

The types and combinations of YouTube video calls-to-action are numerous. You will need to experiment and test to see what types of CTAs resonate with your audience. Get creative. Make it interactive. Check out brands that are known for great videos for inspiration. Use whatever combination of tactics that will help you further reach your goal but no more. Goals for engagement, subscriptions, purchases, etc. will be reached once you find the find the right combination and balance.


photo credit: floeschie via photopincc

Why You Should Use Secondary Calls-to-Action

Marketing experts advise companies to use prominent calls-to-action (CTAs) for their websites, social media, emails and any other communication. We are to tell people exactly what we want them to do – a single action. But what if they aren’t ready for it or interested? That’s where secondary calls-to-action come into play.

What is a Secondary CTA?

A secondary CTA is a call-to-action that provides an alternative action to the primary action you want people to take whether they are website visitors, prospects or leads so you don’t lose them altogether. They let you further engage and potentially capture people who are not interested in your primary CTA or may need additional information before taking the desired action. Your secondary CTA is typically less prominent than your primary CTA and requires less commitment. For example, your primary call-to-action may be to start a free trial period for new software with a secondary CTA to take a tour of the software’s features.

This example is from Moz, where it is promoting its new marketing analytics software, Moz Pro. If you are like me, you want to get more information to maximize your 30-day free trial experience, or you may prefer to just jump in. Moz kindly provides you with both options.

Secondary Call-to-Action - Moz Pro Software

Benefits of Secondary Calls-to-Action

Using a secondary call-to-action has many benefits than using a primary CTA alone:

Increased Time on Website
People today are spending more and more time checking out your business and researching the solutions to their needs. This is especially true in the complex B2B environment where the conversion process can be quite long or any large personal purchase like a car. Sending people to an online demo, related articles, etc. will keep them exploring your website instead of jumping to your competitor’s.

Incremental Conversions
Ideally, primary CTAs match where a person is in the conversion process.  However, a lead may have already downloaded multiple e-books or articles but still may not be ready to move ahead. If you are using tools like progressive profiling, then you can gather more information on a leads as they continue to convert on the secondary CTAs to create better personalized lead nurturing campaigns.

Move Leads to Next Stage
Despite sophisticated technology, we can never truly know when someone is ready to move forward in the sales process. Secondary CTAs at least keep people moving incrementally along, which is better than not at all. You may also have people who have only converted on a couple offers so you don’t feel comfortable for the big score just yet. However, what if you provided a lesser option as a primary CTA and the big one as your secondary? Some people may be ready to make the big commitment. They don’t need any more nurturing. This way you’ll get both groups.

Support Other Company Goals
Not every call-to-action has to be focused on the “ideal” sales action. Other actions may be just as important to your company. These actions can be used as either primary or secondary calls-to-action based on your current goals. You can have the CTA involve social sharing and connection, email newsletter subscriptions, promoting a company-sponsored event, fundraising or any number of other business goals.

So don’t just create primary CTAs and walk away. Instead, make sure you are capturing and converting as many people as possible with the addition of quality secondary CTAs. You may be surprised how many people will take the ultimate action with just a bit more nurturing.


70% of Mobile Searchers Use the Click to Call Function

Shopping, researching, and searching for products or services online using multiple devices is becoming more and more common, but phone calls are still an important part of the buying process.

In fact, Google reports that paid search ads send over 40 million calls each month, and 70% of mobile searchers report that they click to call directly from the results making it the most used feature on a mobile search results page.

To understand the role of click to call in the buying process, Google teamed with Ipsos Research and surveyed 3,000 mobile searchers who had recently made a purchase from one of seven business verticals: travel, restaurant, auto, local services, retails, finance and technology.

The research found that click to call is important for all business verticals, but when it came to searching for local services, 76% of the group would use the click to call function to schedule an appointment.

Not only is the click to call function an easy way for searchers to connect with a business, AdWords advertisers that use click to call in a paid ad see an increase of 8% in click through rates.

Additionally, three out of four calls sent from mobile paid search ads lasted longer than 30 seconds, and on average longer than 6 minutes. This means that calls from paid ads were not quick informational calls, but longer conversations to gather information or make a transaction. And 61% of participants found it “extremely important” to be able to call the business during the decision making phase of the buying process.

The research also found that the lack of a phone number in search results, either paid or organic, also effects brand perception. Half of research participants said that the lack of a call option makes them frustrated and more likely to find another option. On top of that, 33% of participants noted that they would be less likely to use the brand, or refer a friend to it without the click to call option.

Is click to call part of your mobile marketing strategy? If not, it should be! Contact us; let’s increase the volume of valuable calls to your business starting today.

Google’s Carousel Style Display – Coming to a Local Result Near You

Google has reshaped the format of what was referred to as the “7 Pack” of local map search results for a Carousal format at the top of the search results page.

Officially launched last month, the new Google Local Carousel format appears for a handful business verticals in several markets, with more being rolled out over time. Some of the top businesses that users have reported seeing in the new format include restaurants, hotels, bars, and local services.

One of the advantages of the Google Local Carousel is that businesses who rank below the fold, or don’t rank well at all, have an opportunity rank at the top, even if it is horizontally. With this format, the result listed forth or fifth has as much of a chance of reviving an impression as those ranked first.

While there is no guarantee that your local result will show up in the Carousel, the listing still needs to stand out. Since the most prominent feature of the listing is the photo, make it a great one! High-quality, eye-catching, attractive images and logos will get more clicks.

Here is an example of the Local Carousel of results, which would you click first? (I added my thought about the result below in red, in case that’s not obvious.)

Currently both Map and Carousel results are showing up in most markets, and early testing shows that 48% of searchers click on the Carousel, while 14.5% click on the Map. (That test stat is via the friendly folks at Search Engine Land.) However, searchers may be clicking on the Carousel more than Maps because it’s a fun new feature.

The not-so-great news about the Local Carousel is that the results don’t link directly to the businesses website, and instead go to a page of branded results. This requires the searcher to choose from websites that also rank for the branded term including review websites (like Yelp, TripAdvisor), Facebook, or directories that have the opportunity to grab the customer.

The use of the carousel format in website design isn’t new, and some usability experts think that the functionality is ineffective and causes accessibility issues for screen and keyboard readers. Website usability expert Jared Smith decided to answer the question of using this format, by using a carousel. Yesterday he spoke with about his site,, and the site promoted the article within their own carousel.

Oh the fantastic irony.

What results have you seen, and which have you clicked on? Are you more likely to click the Carousel or on the Map? What do you think about the carousel format on any website, do you like it or not?

Enhanced Campaigns Rolling Out Ad Group Level Mobile Bids

Google’s announcement of the AdWords upgrade to Enhanced Campaigns is one of the bigger changes that has affected PPC campaigns and strategies in awhile.

Enhanced Campaigns are designed to address searching in an increasingly mobile and multi device world by controlling bids and ad targeting based upon segments including search intent, time of day and device.

In February, Google launched Enhanced Campaigns, and by mid-May they are rolling out an additional feature that will provide more control over mobile bids.

Originally, mobile bids adjustments in Enhanced Campaigns were only available at the campaign level making it difficult  to manage. But this recent update allows the ability to set mobile bid adjustment and control on the more granular ad group level.

This is an important AdWords update in response to the ever growing amount of mobile searches on multi devices that happen more and more everyday.

Historically PPC managers had their own work around for bidding on searches done on mobile devices, tablets and computers, so this update also means a shift in management strategies.

ClickZ recently posted results from a Google and Nielsen study about people’s mobile search habits and found that:

  • 77% of mobile searches that happened during the day were preformed from home or from work. 
  • 59% of mobile searches happened after 3 PM, and 22% of those occurred between 8 PM and midnight.
  • 55% of conversions happen within one hour, and 63% of all follow-up actions occur within this timeframe.
  • After that one hour time frame, 81% of conversions happened within five hours of the search and 84% of all follow-up actions occurred.
  • 45% of mobile searches were done with the intent of helping to make a decision.
  • 66% of mobile searches happened while people were in a brick and mortar store.

Clearly mobile search is gaining importance, so the first step to maximizing mobile PPC efforts is to dig into the data. Review past mobile CPCs, time of conversions, and locations, then figure out the formula to optimize PPC bids to capture as much qualified mobile traffic as possible at the right time.


Getting to Know Your New PPC Account

At some point in time as a PPC manager you inherit an account. It may be from another agency or from an independent contractor, and it may be because the client was unhappy with the results, wants to change things up, or it’s an internal switch.

Like any successful relationship, the key is to honestly communicate from the start to establish trust between the yourself and the client. It is worth taking the time to get to know the client and how you can best impact the account and their business.

Ask Questions and Get to Know the Business
Having an in-depth conversation to clearly understand the client’s goals, expected results and expectations is the first step. PPC is just one piece of marketing, so understanding how it fits into their overall business strategy and knowing what factors affect their bottom line is essential.

Get to know the business specifics like:

  • Is there a seasonality to the business?
  • What is the sales cycle? A week, a month, a few hours?
  • What is the average value of a sale?
  • What is the average value of a lead?
  • Who is their target market? Who matters to them?
  • Who is the competition?
  • What is the brand known for?
  • What marketing messaging has been successful in the past?
  • What has been unsuccessful in the past, what have they learned?

Establish Metrics for Success
Understand the KPI’s of the business so together you can develop realistic goals that will enhance the bottom line. What their established KPI measurements are and what they should be aren’t always align, so work together to create practical goals for the short term and long term. I prefer 1 month, 6 month and 12 month goals, which can be update as the campaign moves forward.

Understand the sales process of your client including:  

  • What is considered an online conversion? An online sale, a sign-up, perhaps a phone call?
  • What is the average number of conversions per week, per month? How many of those are driven from PPC vs. other channels?
  • How do you measure success, is it reasonable?
  • What are the benchmarks they want to achieve in the next month, 6 months and year?
  • What reporting do they prefer? Weekly or monthly emails and updates? In-depth reviews?

Jump Into It
Once you know the business, understand their goals and the metrics that the PPC campaign will be measured on, it’s time to jump and review the campaign itself.

Don’t make changes just yet, now is the time to take notes and learn about the account in its current state:

  • Take note of campaign and ad group structures.
  • Run reports on top keywords, look for trends. 
  • Do an audit of both duplicate keywords and negative keywords.
  • Review campaign settings including ad scheduling, geo targeting, device settings, networks, bid types and budgets.
  • Review keywords and match types.
  • Test and take note of landing pages.
  • Check to see what ad extensions are in play.
  • Review dimensions of each campaign and ad group.
  • Check display network audiences, topics, placements and exclusions.

Take notes about the campaigns and write down questions that you have for the client. This is also the time to export reports, and take snapshots of dashboards or KPIs so you can create campaign benchmarks to measure against in the future.

With clear communication, research and planning, you can start off on the right foot to being campaign cleanup and optimization.

The 1st (and Most Overlooked) Step in Marketing Your Website

I do Conversion Rate Optimization, which means people are constantly asking me about the tools I use. Sure, I have a lot of conversion tools in my arsenal, and I depend on them to gather user feedback and run A/B and multivariate tests, but that’s not actually where the magic happens. The mechanics of implementing a survey on your site, collecting heatmaps of mouse clicks, or running tests are meaningless if you skipped the most critical step: understanding your site’s visitors.

Because it’s not about what YOU want people to do on your site; it’s about knowing what THEY want/need, and showing how you can uniquely help them. But you can’t be everything to everyone, so you have to figure out who your audience is. Ideally, you should do this research before building your website so you can build your site with your customer in mind. However, if it’s too late for that, this work will help you improve your marketing messages. Better late than never!

So how do you get inside their head?

Gather Data from Different Sources

You already have plenty of information on what makes your target market tick; you just need to dig it up and organize it. Your primary goal is to get a solid understanding of their attitude, goals, and values. Their demographic information is secondary. You don’t need to break the bank hiring a market research firm. And your goal isn’t to be 100% accurate; in this case, speed of implementation trumps precision.

So here are some fast, easy, and affordable ways to get to know your target market.

Learn how they think:

  • Interview your “typical” customer, not just your favorites (obvious, I know, but this list wouldn’t be complete without recommending you actually talk to your target market)
  • Interview salespeople and customer service reps. You’ll gain a wealth of information from the people working on the front line every day.
  • Look at your site’s analytics for keywords on customer intent
  • Ask Your Target Market their thoughts on This is a useful survey tool that lets you pick the types of respondents you need, such as Audi owners with teenagers who spend 13 – 24 nights in a hotel on vacation a year. Pretty specific! They have over 2000 lifestyle tags like that to choose from, plus the usual demographic information. You pick your target market, create your survey and wait for their panel of respondents who fit your requirements to take your survey. You can get good insight into your target market for about $200.
  • Use social media to see your customers’ own words. Look at your competitors’ social media properties as well as your own. Create a tag cloud using a tool like or to give you a nice visual of your target market’s language


Understand their lifestyle:
Nielsen is best known for its TV ratings. But did you know about their zip code look up? They’ve segmented U.S. households into distinct types based on likes, dislikes, lifestyle, and consumer behavior. So if you know the zip codes of your best customers, use Nielsen’s zip code look up to get a sense of their personality and lifestyle.

This snapshot is free but you have to pay for more details.

Nielsen's lifestyle segmentation

Nielsen’s lifestyle segmentation

This paints a pretty clear picture of your audience, doesn’t it?

Know their demographics:

  • Look at Facebook insights to see the age, gender and geographic location of your audience
  • Sign up for a free account at to see demographic information and related websites your audience visits
  • Look in analytics for the geographic location of your site’s visitors

Now that you’ve gathered a heap of information from a variety of sources, it’s time to create your personas. Look for differences in goals, values, and attitude toward your product or service. As you do this, you’ll see why demographic information is secondary. You could find that people of all different ethnicities are trying to solve a similar problem for a similar reason — and that’s what you need to address in your marketing messages. After all, it’s much more powerful to speak to a person’s needs than his skin color. Even if a product or service lends itself to a specific age group or gender, people still buy because of a need or a want. For example, although lipstick is made for women, we really buy it because we want to look good, not merely because we’re female.

Once you’ve found 3 – 5 distinct segments of your audience based on goals, values and attitude, find a picture that represents each segment. An actual photograph of a random person is better than a cartoon or a sketch because it makes the person seem more real. Name your personas and write a brief profile about them. Here’s a good sample profile.

Run these personas by your sales and customer service people. You’ll know you got them right when they say something like, “yep, that sounds just like someone I talked to this morning”.

Now share these persona profiles with everyone involved in marketing your website: designers, developers, copywriters, and people doing PPC, SEO, Social Media and Conversion Rate Optimization. The goal is to get everyone making decisions based on what the personas want, not what your CEO wants. If you successfully integrate personas into your marketing efforts, you should hear your team saying certain content needs to be created because persona, Jane, will be looking for it.

Understanding your audience is critical to delivering the right marketing messages to the right people. But for some reason, most companies skip this step and just dive into building a website and driving traffic to it. Most likely this is because they’re intimidated by the process and think they’ll have to invest substantial time and/or money with a fancy market research firm. But really knowing your site’s visitors is the foundation for having a website that converts in the double digits, as opposed to the industry average of around 2%.

So if you simply spend an afternoon going through the process I outlined above, you’ll be one giant step ahead of your competitors.

For further reading on a step-by-step process of creating personas, I recommend The User is Always Right by Steve Mulder.