It seems pretty obvious when you ask the question, What's a Call To Action or CTA, but it's often a missed opportunity or abused opportunity to drive readers, listeners, and followers deeper into engagement with your brand.
What is a Call To Action?
A call to action is typically as a region of the screen that drives the reader to click-through to engage furthor with a brand. Sometimes it's an image, sometimes just a button, other times a reserved section of the digital asset. It's not just sites that can have a call to action, virtually every type of content can (and most should).
In the last speech I gave at a local networking event, I offered people to sign up for our free newsletter by texting marketing to 71813 – an effective call to action since the topic was relevant and everyone had their mobile phones handy during the speech. We've seen a better response on these than asking people to go to the site and subscribe.
Webinars can (and should) have a call to action, infographics should have an effective call to action (ironic given the example below that missed the opportunity for the author!), and presentations should as well. A colleague of mine always offered a free giveaway in exchange for trading business cards at the end of his presentations – worked fantastically. Pushing someone to a download, registration, a phone call, or even another relevant article can be great CTAs.
Should Everything Have a Call To Action?
You won't find too many pieces of content that we produce not have a call to action, but we do share a ton of content without it. Not everything you do should be trying to sell, some of it should be trying to build both trust and authority with leads and customers. Always be selling may be a mantra in most sales and marketing strategies, but selling can also be a turnoff in some conversations. My rule of thumb is to always have a Call To Action when your goal is to motivate the person into a deeper engagement.
How to Create Effective Calls To Action
There are proven methods for deploying effective calls to action strategy. Here are some of them:
- Keep your calls to action highly visible – Placement for CTAs should be adjacent or in line with the reader's focus. We often put CTAs to the right of the content we're writing so that the viewers natural eye movement captures it. We may make push them a bit more into the content stream to take it up a notch in the future. Some sites float the CTA so that as the reader scrolls, the CTA stays with them.
- Keep your calls to action simple – Whether it's an image or an offer in your speech, ensuring the instructions are simple, and the path to engagement is easy will ensure a higher number of your audience will call, or click-through on the action you ask them to. An image-based CTA typically has a
- Keep the action clear on your CTA. Utilize action words like call, download, click, register, start, etc. should be utilized. If it's an image-based CTA, you'll often find these on a highly contrasted button. Web users have been educated to click on buttons, so the image automatically registers as an activity for them to take.
- Add a Sense of Urgency – Is time running out? Does the offer expire? Are there a limited number of seats? Anything to help persuade the reader to take action now instead of later will increase your conversion rate. Adding a sense of urgency is a critical component of every CTA.
- Push Benefits over Features – Too many companies are proud of what they do instead of the benefits they achieve for their customers. It's not what you do that sells; it's the benefit that entices a customer to buy. Are you offering an opportunity to simplify things? To get instant results? To get free advice?
- Plan the Path to Conversion – For blog posts, the path is often read, see a CTA, register on a landing page, and convert. Your path to conversion may be different but visualizing and planning the path that you wish people to take with your content will help you design better and convert more with your Call To Action strategy.
- Test your CTAs – Design multiple versions of your CTAs to identify which one drives better business results. One simply isn't enough – too many companies don't take the time to provide alternate designs, verbiage, colors, and sizes. Sometimes a simple sentence is perfect, other times it might be an animated gif.
- Test your Offers – Free trial, free shipping, 100% satisfaction guarantee, discount… you should try a selection of different offers to entice an increase in conversions. Be sure to measure the overall effectiveness of those offers with respect to customer retention, too, though! Many companies offer a steep discount up front only to lose the customer at the end of their contract.
Check out another infographic we shared for more Do's and Don'ts of Effective Calls-to-Action.