The concept of “the fold” is probably something you’ve perpetually struggled with, in online marketing, web design, and conversion optimization.
Since the beginning of the Internet, much emphasis has been placed on the fact that valuable content and especially calls to action should be placed “above the fold,” or in the upper part of a web page.
The logic seemed flawless: most people don’t bother to scroll and, therefore, they will not see your CTAs if you place them below the fold.
Does this argument still apply today?
The Myth of the Fold
This idea originated from the early days of the Internet when the layout and design of a web page were vastly different from what we’re able to create today. Back then, most websites consisted of a simple homepage with images and a bunch of links that would redirect you to other pages.
Since everything was new for users, they tended to treat web pages as content lists with all the information readily available. It rarely crossed their minds to scroll and see if there is anything else below the fold. Therefore, afraid that people might not see important information if you placed it further down the web page, designers and digital marketing experts created the rule of “the fold.”
Internet Behavior Has Changed
Nowadays, however, users’ behavior has dramatically changed. Scrolling is not as big a nuisance as it once was. Sure, there still are quite a few people who never scroll because they lack the time and patience to do it. But, most of them have grown accustomed to scrolling, leading to changes in usability concerns and dismantling the myth of the fold.
Don’t be mistaken: too much scrolling can still be frustrating and affect the experience of users. To avoid this situation, you need a well thought and planned design that does not allow users to pass more than three screenfuls of content before they can get to what interests them.
A user is much more likely to engage with your content if he can see all the possibilities in front of him and compare them with one another without constantly scrolling or desperately trying to remember what each of them was.
The Fold Doesn’t Matter Anymore
With users focusing 66% of their attention below the fold, it’s clearly time to rethink your strategy. Most people scroll right past the leaderboard at the top of the page, spending their time where the content is. However, most companies still place their CTA buttons in the places that most people ignore.
What you need to ask yourself isn’t where should you place your CTAs but what drives people to click on the buttons and take action. You’ll discover that it doesn’t have much to do with the fold, but with good copy.
It makes perfect sense if you think about it for a second. You can’t expect people to make a commitment before convincing them of the value of your product or service. Shoving the “buy now” or “subscribe here” buttons in their face before explaining why your products are worth their attention can come across as an aggressive marketing tactic. And, as we all know, people hate that. Essentially, it’s the human version of a very assertive, insistent salesman that just pops out of nowhere. You’d much rather be left alone to scroll through the content and decide for yourself, right?
It’s the Content, Stupid!
That’s why placing your call to action buttons at the very top of the page, in the most common “in your face” way, can have the opposite effect on your customers, stimulating the wrong reaction and reducing your conversion rates. Instead, you need a catchy introduction that stirs the curiosity of your prospects and makes them want to learn more about your products.
Experiment with different types of copy and offerings. Try short but bold copy that communicates the value of your offering right away. Or, experiment with a longer, but a well-written content that will hold their attention and interest all the way to the end until they reach the call to action button.
There is no recipe here because every product is different and so, every offer you make should differ regarding how you approach your customers. Start by putting yourself in their shoes and choose what seems logical, effective and interesting enough for your particular situation. Test, examine the results and make adjustments until you find what works for you and your audience.