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If you read our recent post Updating A Website: 23 Detailed Ideas, you noticed one great way to increase conversions on your site is to add “Calls To Action” (#19).
A Call-To-Action (CTA) is a link in the form of a prominent visual with action words. They usually come in the form of a button.
It is a good idea to go through your website periodically and add CTAs. You want to make it very obvious to the viewer what it is that you want her to do.
OK, that sounds like it might work, but does it really get more “conversions”? Do more people actually click on CTAs than regular hypertext links?
Measuring The Impact Of Calls To Action
We recently made some changes to one of our most popular blog posts outlining HubSpot alternatives.
We measured the clicks on the links to Hatchbuck and combined that with the actual traffic the page got over a month and a half to get the Click-Thru-Rate for each type of link.
The first three weeks we just used a regular old hyperlink — “Hatcbuck”– in the body text of the blog post. The second three weeks we removed the regular link and added two hyperlinks with action text — “Check Out Hatchbuck Now”. The last three weeks we changed the two hyperlinks to CTAs.
Here is the final version of the CTA . . .
And the results.
This post is about growing your subscriber base and making the world a better place at the same time. I promise. But I’m going to start off in a weird place and bring you around to it.
Bare (spelling intentional) with me.
Did you know that Winston Churchill slept naked? If you have an active imagination, I suggest keeping the covers on him.
Did you know that he started off his day by reading newspapers for two hours in his bed? Don’t worry. By now, he’s had a bath and is wearing a blue velvet dressing gown. Feel free to remove the covers.
You can pull both of those tidbits out at the next office party, but only one is relevant to this post. Five gold stars if you guess which is which.
I think the world would be a better place if there were more Churchills in it. I’m referring to his active, prioritized content consumption, not his sleeping habits. Hope you’re reading this, Dad.
As content creators, we want people to be able to consume our content efficiently and regularly. I’ve noticed a lot of big brands and inbound marketing firms are pushing email subscriptions hard. But is that the best thing for the subscriber? Most inboxes are out of control and we’re just adding to that craziness when we presume that our content needs to be there right next to the urgent email from the boss.
Did you know that Churchill handled correspondence AFTER he poured through the newspapers? Yep. After his two hours with the papers, he started replying to mail.
He had separation between content consumption and correspondence. He put content consumption first and that’s not a bad idea. We’re not doing our readers any favors by mixing the two. They’ll eventually get tired of it.
On Inefficiency & Inbox Pit Bulls
“But social media is volatile and tricky, so email is the best option, right?”
This is how it usually goes for me: I tend to get excited about a site and I subscribe by email. I read the first few emails, then lose interest or they misfire with something that doesn’t interest me. I bail.
I guard my inbox like a pit bull. I am a ruthless unsubscriber, an accomplished opt-out-er.
Facebook jerks companies around and Twitter may be the most inefficient tool ever hatched from the bespeckled shell of the human mind. See what I did with Twitter’s bird and the shell analogy? Didn’t want that to fly by without you noticing. Winston would be so proud he’d have goose bumps all over his (thankfully) velvet-robed body.
So, we’re stuck, aren’t we? Not quite.
I happen to know these regrettably unforgettable facts about Churchill because of Feedly, an elegant RSS reader. When Google Reader went down a couple of years ago, I switched to Feedly to subscribe to marketing blogs, Johnson City news, lifestyle & worldview sites, Georgia Bulldogs news, and more. The Churchill trivia was included in a post on The Art Of Manliness which is in my lifestyle section on Feedly. Check out The Churchill School Of Adulthood – Lesson 2: Establish A Daily Routine.
I add to my Feedly feed and edit it regularly. It is now my favorite place on the web. It’s a thing of beauty. It really is a pleasing presentation with useful controls. My morning routine includes a few minutes with Feedly as soon as I get to the office.
Giving RSS CPR
So how do you go about promoting RSS subscriptions through a site like Feedly?
You provide it as an option right beside email and social media subscriptions. Create a Landing Page which explains a little about Feedly with a link to the site, add a Call To Action to your sidebar with a link to the landing page, and you’re in business.
And you can go a step further. We recently posted an infographic featuring writing style stats from some great marketing bloggers. In the post, we created a downloadable OPML file that included subscriptions to those bloggers and our blog, and suggested that readers upload it to Feedly.
People won’t use Feedly if they don’t get a good base of subscriptions to look through, right from the start. By creating a subscription file which includes ours and lots of other blogs, we get folks off on the right foot.
Let’s be honest. Email is intrusive and social media is inefficient. Feedly is a better option for long-term content consumption. Let’s get folks who already use Feedly to subscribe to us, and get new folks hooked on it. Your fans will love you for the content you create and for getting them hooked on a great tool. The world will be a better place.
If Churchill were still alive (and clothed, you’re welcome), he would add one more word to his famous quote.
“Never, never, never give up Feedly.”
A Hobbit Hole built 20 minutes from our office in Flag Pond, TN.
It’s time for the final installment of The Hobbit films. The Battle Of The Five Armies opens tomorrow.
As Yext certified partners, we’re always keeping an eye on local search marketing and online reviews.
So I did a little digging and found these reviews of Places To Stay In Middle-Earth. Should you find yourself on an adventure in those parts, this may be helpful.
The Prancing Pony
“The ale is good — supernaturally good. But you may have to remind the proprietor, Butterbur, to bring it to you a couple of times. Quite forgetful.” – Meriadoc Brandybuck, 4 Stars
“Finding a guest at The Prancing Pony is about as easy as crossing the Ford of Bruinen at high tide. Won’t be back.” – Black Rider, 1 Star
“Someone call an exterminator.” – Bombur, 2 Stars
“I asked for a wake-up call at 7:30. Jumping dragons, I’ve never heard a horn like that. I had the shakes all day and Gandalf had to use sign language til we got to the Gap of Rohan. (And boy does he know some sign langauage.)” – Pippin, 2 Stars
“Great view. Rough neighborhood.” – Strider, 2 Stars
The Paths Of The Dead
“As advertised.” – Gimli, 1 Star
“Be warned that if you leave a bad review of this place or the lady who resides here, you will rue the day. Aragorn can track IP addresses, Legolas has the eyes of an eagle, and my axe is hungry. Forth, the three hunters!” – Gimli, 5 Stars
“Bombur, you got the number for the exterminator?” – Frodo, 1 Star
“Host is less than hospitable.” – Gandalf, 1 Star
“Gandalf, don’t be hasty. We are now under new management. Please visit again and stay a while. horuummm borrruuummm snorruuuummmm” – Treebeard, 4 Stars
“The place could use a reno.” – Faramir, 2 Stars
“Grandfathered in before elevator codes took effect. Get in shape before you come.” – Pippin, 3 Stars
“Wonderful library for bookworms.” – Gandalf, 5 Stars
“Excellent infirmary.” – Faramir, 5 Stars
The Dead Marshes
“They advertise it as a historical landmark with thrilling haunted tours. True, but it’s not worth the money.” – Frodo, 1 Star
“I think there’s a Peeping Tom.” – Frodo, 1 Star
“The bathrobes are itchy.” – Samwise, 1 Star
“Nice break on a lonely stretch of road. Chilly in these parts, but there’s a lot of good firewood here. Hey, is the wind blowing that tree? Wait a min…” – Ugluk, 3 Stars
“The courtesy of this hall is somewhat lessened of late.” – Gandalf, 2 Stars
“I don’t know who does the hiring here, but putting that Worm-tongue guy behind the front desk? Mistake.” – Gimli, 2 Stars
“The silverware is exquisite.” – Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, 5 Stars
“Sweet conference room.” – Gandalf, 5 Stars
“Sharp knives.” – Boromir, 1 Star
The Old Forest
“Wonderful place to take a nap, but the old man who runs the place is a few mushrooms short of a full basket.” – Samwise Gamgee, 4 Stars
The Lonely Mountain
“Swanky!” – Smaug, 5 Stars
“This facility is no longer available for public use.” – Thorin Oakenshield, 5 Stars
The Misty Mountains
“Careful, there’s a trap door. But there are some great finds here.” – Bilbo, 1 Star
“Keep your valuables locked in the safe in your room. Thievesses about.” – Gollum, 4 Stars
Mines Of Moria
“Frequent power outages and a weak foundation. Bring your own linens and a change of underwear.” – Gandalf, 1 Star
“If anyone sees one of the Entwives, please email email@example.com.” – Treebeard, 4 Stars
“I haven’t had pipe-weed this good in an age. Longbottom Leaf! Longbottom Leaf! Longbottom Leaf!” – Gandalf, 5 Stars
The Grey Havens
“The ferry ride was nice. Superb retirement community.” – Frodo, 5 Stars
ALSO SEE: Your Website Is Like Bilbo’s Ring
Marketing Blog Writing Styles: 12 Pros By The Numbers
Were you surprised by any of these results? Let us know in the comments.
I’ll relay some of my observations, then tell you how I got the numbers below, if you’re feeling nerdy.
Before we go any further, here are links to the bloggers: Seth Godin, Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan, David Meerman Scott, Marcus Sheridan, John Jantsch, Brian Clark, Derek Halpern, Darren Rowse, Rand Fishkin, Spencer Haws, and Pat Flynn.
Want to subscribe to all of these blogs? Download this file and upload it to Feedly.
Words Per Sentence
This is the most evenly distributed of the data sets. The takeaway: there is no common or “right” style. Darren, Rand, and John use longer sentences with more phrases and Seth and Derek keep the thoughts short and digestible.
Words Per Post
One thing jumps out quickly. Pat Flynn pours a lot of time into his posts (a lot more than he used to, see below).
“Epic Posts” are considered to be 1000 words minimum and the median of 838 is getting pretty close. Experts like Yoast (WordPress SEO Guru) say you need at least 300 words to rank well on Google. Only one of the bloggers I analyzed averages under 300 and only three average under twice that (600).
How long is the median 838 words? This post is exactly 838 words long (because I wrote these seven words here).
The two guys who write the most words per post are very concerned with search traffic. Spencer and Pat write on SEO topics quite often, so if you are looking to get more traffic, you may want to follow their lead and spend more time on each topic.
Sentences Per Paragraph
This is the statistic that spurred this entire study. I had been reading a lot of guys who hit the enter key an awful lot. The result is more white space and the reading seems to go faster. So I wondered if this was a trend industry-wide and decided to do some calculations.
I did count bullet points as paragraphs, so if the blogger used
their sentences per paragraph went down.
This is the most bunched up of the data set, so you may push toward the center on this one yourself. Most of the top marketing bloggers are breaking up their content — less than two sentences per paragraph on average.
If you are going to read Pat Flynn’s blog, be prepared to scroll. He’s writing monstrously long posts and his pinkie is sore from hitting the enter key so much.
Words Per Post Change Over 3 Years
I compared five blog posts from the Fall of 2014 to the Fall of 2011.
The median is pretty close to no change at all, but you can see that the guys who are writing more are writing A LOT MORE. The guys who are writing less per post are writing A LITTLE LESS.
Overall, words per post are trending up at 31%.
Sentences Per Paragraph Change Over 3 Years
My initial guess was that this set would trend negative — guys are hitting the enter key more than they used to. But I was wrong. Some are and some aren’t.
A Note On Rand Fishkin
Rand from Moz has changed roles at the company and his blog purpose has changed so significantly that I didn’t think it was worth putting him in the 3 year comparison. 3 years ago he actually wasn’t writing many straight-up blog posts. He produced a lot of White Board Friday videos, but didn’t often sit down just to write text content.
Why did I include him in the 2014 data? Besides the fact that Rand is just awesome, it is no-shave November and I couldn’t not have that beard in the infographic!
How I Got The Numbers
Several of the numbers depended on character and word count. I used Word Count Plugin For Chrome – simply highlight text on a page and you get an instant calculation of the words and characters in the selection.
For sentences per paragraph, I used the find tool in Chrome to highlight periods. I visually checked for the highlighted periods, question marks, exclamations, elipses, etc.
Did headings count as paragraphs? Depends. Some guys used full sentences as headings and some used a couple of words. If they used full sentences, the headings counted as paragraphs.
Did every blog post count? Some of the bloggers produce other types of content like videos, podcasts, and interviews. I only counted normal writing blog posts, not text that accompanied videos and podcasts. I did not count interviews because the interviewee was the one doing the writing/talking and not the blog author.
If you want to see the raw numbers, check out the spreadsheet.
What Surprised You?
Let us know in the comments.
One more thing that surprised me: the z and the y are switched on this stock image of an old typewriter. What’s up with that?
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