Like it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes more than one marketing element for a marketer to achieve their mission: conversions.
But, turning passive viewers into red hot customers doesn’t have to be a huge, scary task.
So we’re here to help you master one very essential part of a highly profitable marketing campaign:
The humble call to action (CTA).
What is a CTA?
A CTA is an interactive part of a marketing campaign that encourages your audience to take immediate action.
Calls to action (or CTAs) are incredibly important digital marketing tools that allow your audience to tell you they are ready for the next step of your marketing relationship.
Once your brand has made their case and won over their audience – your CTA will appear as the next natural step to get your audience on board.
It is the tipping point for conversions – your CTA must reel your audience in.
We’ll show you just how.
CTAs can come in the form of sign up forms, subscription boxes, eBook downloads, lead generation, social sharing, or even a ‘buy now’ button.
They can appear in email campaigns, social media posts, webpages, radio jingles, billboards or video copy.
Basically, you can include a CTA with any and all forms of communication with your audience.
Let’s get down to it.
Why is a call to action important?
CTAs allow users to engage their audience and demand immediate action, for the risk of missing out (ROMO).
It is a request for the audience to take the next step to know about or purchasing a product or service.
Creating a good CTA will mean more engagement, and therefore sales and strong customer relationships. Think of it as the line between bouncing and converting.
In fact, more than 90% of people who read your headline also read your CTA copy!
This is why CTAs are so important to reel your audience in with action words and relevant next steps.
What are examples of a great call to action?
Let’s consider this landing page from Trello.
It’s simple, bold and effective, and what stands out the most is the CTA as it’s positioned right where your eyes fall – the middle of the page.
Notice how it’s also a starkly different colour to the rest of the page?
The copy is also split into two parts, which follow the train of thought your audience is likely to have.
After reading the description, 90% of your audience will divert their attention back to the CTA, where they will receive the option to ‘Sign Up’ – i.e. get involved with the product.
Though a lot of businesses offer free services, this CTA has jumped the gun with the audiences’ possible next question: the financial commitment to this service. Once they know they can sign up and it is free, they are likely to feel more empowered in making their decision to do so.
Notice how the CTA doesn’t request a username or password at first glance (when you click on the sign up button, you are directed to another page where Trello asks these details)?
This is a deliberate choice in order to make the CTA as simple and ease as possible – and it works!
How do you write a CTA?
So, how do you write an effective call to action? Well, before you jump to action, there are a few steps you need to consider.
It all starts with following these simple steps:
Ask for minimal information
Don’t ask for information that a potential client might not want to share (like their private email address)
Ensure the CTA offers you some way to contact the client (email or phone number)
Keep it short. Nobody wants to spend too long filling out a form.
Use the CTA to tell the client what they get in return
Alright, let’s expand!
Who are you trying to attract? Consider this: your call to action is perfect – it is witty, enticing, to the point and aesthetically appealing...but much of your target audience has ignored it.
Well, it may be missing the target part of your target audience.
(....not that kind of target)
Calls to action are influenced by many things which make them appeal to the audience you want to attract, and make it important that they are not generic. These things include:
Product or service offered
Website design and tone
Whether the site visitor has a previous relationship with your company
However, before you can answer the above, it’s important to understand your personas. Who IS your target audience?
Let’s create a hypothetical persona for example.
Let’s say you’re looking to market your car repair service to David, a father in his mid-40s who lives on the North Shore.
It’s important to consider the following things when marketing to David:
What he would care about
We know David is a father and thus cares about the safety of his children. He also cares about his car being well maintained to avoid bigger repair costs in the future.
To drive a well-maintained car that is safe for his children without paying a huge upfront cost.
His pain points
His car being unsafe.
Now, we understand a little more about our target audience and can amend our CTA to best suit him.
Would a CTA on Instagram with a Ferrari and rock music in the background with ad copy reading ‘Need for speed? We’ve got your maintenance covered’ and the CTA button ‘click here’ appeal to him? Hmm, probably not.
Would a funny yet snappy ad copy on Facebook reading ‘Make your children feel as safe in your car as they do in your arms’, with a CTA reading ‘book a safety test today’ catch his eye? Yep, much more likely.
Ultimately, a strong CTA hyper-targeted to your audience boosts your chance of success.
What is it that you actually want to achieve? Do you want your audience to….
Download a tips and tricks eBook
Subscribe to a weekly newsletter
Share your posts and products on social
Be directed to other pages on your site
Buy something, or,
Fill out a form so they can receive industry updates?
Most companies want to achieve all these things.
And you can achieve these successes by creating CTA buttons.
Here’s a great example from Unbounce:
Notice how these CTAs are action oriented, first person and verb centric?
There’s no ‘buy’ or ‘claim’ in these CTAs, which takes the pressure off the customer to fulfil your needs as a provider.
Rather, the buttons promise a gain for the customer - talking to you to get more information, or starting their free trial to get immediate access to your services.
That’s pretty nice, huh?
So, when do you actually use CTAs?
Well, it depends.
You should always have a CTA on your landing page, such as ‘Find out more’, ‘Shop for X’ or ‘Subscribe here’.
We recommend you create one great CTA per page or piece of content.
The more a piece of content focuses on a specific persona + point in their journey, the more likely it's going to resonate with your audience.
Once you pinpoint your objective and target, it is easier to mould your CTA. And not just mould it to suit your audience, but also to deliver results for you, too!
Consider how many CTA buttons you’ll have, and where you’ll place them. Placing your CTA in the right place is important.
Organisations that are good at driving sales have incredibly precise CTAs in incredibly noticeable areas.
Apart from landing pages, website pages may have more than one CTA.
However, what’s important to determine is when multiple CTAs are appropriate and when single CTAs will make more of an impact.
For example, let’s say you have a short blog and you’re pitching your free downloadable eBook to visitors.
You would likely only have one CTA at the bottom of your post once your audience has ready (or skimmed) your page with the CTA button to download your eBook.
Any more, and it can overwhelm your reader and come across as too pushy.
However, for a longer blog post, let’s say 1500 words or more, having a CTA midway and then again at the bottom of the blog to download the eBook will serve you, as your potential customers will be reminded to take action.
In fact, designing your CTA in the middle of your webpage is a unique and effective way to drive action.
Here’s a little more you can read to understand the psychology behind better writing.
Trial and error is an important function of any successful project.
One of the most conclusive tests with CTAs a business can do is the A/B test.
An A/B test or multivariate test allows you to run different versions of your CTA.
This tool allows you to modify your copy and design to analyse what works best. Combined with smart content, you will be able to find your CTA sweet spot, and hit the right size, colour, copy, style and tone for the service or product you’re offering.
For social media, Facebook allows you to split test your ads through the Facebook Ads Manager. The split tests have three basic functions you can choose, depending on your level of expertise.
Here are the ways you can create a split test:
Setting up identical ads with different CTAs can isolate and identify which CTA garners the most success.
In fact, adding calls to action on Facebook can increase click through rate by 285%.
Google also offers split testing tools with the Google Analytics 360 suite. If you don’t want to pay to sign up, you can also access a range of their services for free!
Multivariate testing is the last stage of refining your CTA and an incredibly important step in the process. Ultimately, it’s up to you what tool best suits your campaign and company.
Now, on to the fun stuff!
It’s time to write your CTA!
Your copy should tell your audience why they need to take action. This is what takes a CTA from click-maybe to click-worthy.
Have a look at this CTA from Grey Goose:
The CTA copy reads: Discover a cocktail tailored to your taste.
It gives the audience a sense of excitement, because the copy is personalised (tailored to your taste) and there is a promise of something to be uncovered (discover).
A person reading this is much more likely to click on it, than a copy reading something generic like ‘Check out our wide range of cocktails’.
Whether CTA phrases or singular words, your copy also needs to persuade your audience at the appropriate time.
For example, you wouldn’t create an immediate pop up requesting subscription when your audience clicks on the ‘about’ page of your website.
Isn’t it annoying when you have to close a pop-up to a website asking you to sign up even before you know what their services are about?
Instead, you give them 30 seconds or so to read your content, so they can make an informed decision once the CTA appears.
This way, they know what they’re subscribing to.
What makes a good CTA?
Good calls to action attract audiences in a way so that they feel they need to take action.
Imagine you’ve been hit by a website teaser, offering more information if you would juuuust click the button. The promise of more information is appealing, which is what tips you over to the edge.
Check out this ad campaign from t. c. pharma
You have enough information to know that the product is an energy drink, and it’s also quite popular.
There are also two CTA options available to you - giving the audience the freedom of choice to know more about the products in the way they want to.
The best calls to action are the ones your reader can look at after being introduced to your brand and service or product and say, ‘yep, I want to be more engaged.’ They appear at just the right time in just the right place and are a natural sequential step for your reader in discovering more about your brand.
In essence, these CTAs are the ones that will get your audience to jump into action!
B. Smart content
What is smart content and how do you make a CTA applicable for that?
Smart content allows you to create CTAs specific to your audience. Marketing tools such as Hubspot are great for this.
Smart content, or smart CTAs, allows your website to target audience based on:
Previous visits and downloads
Why is this important? Well, personalised requests are far more effective than generic suggestions. This allows you to also build a relationship with each bracket of your audience.
In fact, smart CTAs convert 202% better than generic CTAs (HubSpot)
Simple is effective. Simplicity drives results.
It is important to keep your CTAs simple so your audience knows what they are getting when they click on them.
After all, you want your target audience to understand you – not be turned off by flowery language.
And when your audience knows what they are being offered through clear messages, their sense of trust and respect in you also increases, as it shows consideration for them.
Though jargon and long explanations can be useful, there’s a time and place for them. CTAs work when they are concise and written to the point.
Simple language can be just as, if not more persuasive than flowery language.
Consider this: you’re a tech company creating a campaign to go into the running to win free flights to Japan with every mobile purchase.
Rather than writing something like ‘Japan awaits you if you step into our store and buy the latest mobile’,
your CTA could simply read something more like ‘Enter the draw now!’.
By clearly stating your intentions, your audience is able to make an informed decision. This in turn will give you a greater scope to boost your conversion rate.
Think of CTAs such as ‘download PDF’, ‘subscribe’ or ‘check out more here’. All of these are concluding statements that also work as calls to action.
D. Urgency and relevance
How do you entice your audience to click your CTA? You use language relevant to your brand. It’s important to convey a sense of no- obligation, but a sense of urgency.
There’s nothing more off-putting than nagging, but also nothing more frustrating than missing out on a good deal. Creating a sense of risk of missing out (ROMO) will encourage your audience to take that next step.
CTAs that promise ease and speed of service are also great examples that appeal to every audience.
Check out this CTA from IKEA below:
It’s small, yet eye-catching because of the placement and simplicity of the copy.
It has two parts to the CTA:
The action (Order today)
The benefit (for next day Click & Collect*)
Notice how it’s put a timeframe (next day) in the copy? This gives your audience a sense that there is a day to look forward to when they will receive their product or service. The audience gets the sense your brand is concrete and reliable.
Placing your CTA below your headline and description is the most optimal positioning for conversions.
However, Neil Patel actually found that when his blog, KISSmetrics, placed the CTA above the fold, his conversions decreased by 17%.
For brands that aren’t as well known as household names like IKEA, placing your CTA below your description will mean your audience is more likely to take action – as they have been introduced to you.
So, we hope you’ve come away from this article feeling more empowered to write that perfect CTA.
Remember, simple language and testing is key.
Understand what it is you want to achieve, who you want to attract and how many CTAs you’ll place on your page. This is what drives them to be click-worthy.
Have fun and experiment with the CTAs, be smart about them and remember to engage and entice your audience.
Still want more to sink your teeth into?
We’ve got you covered.
Our Digital Marketing Game Plan will revolutionise the way you understand marketing. Instead of focusing on fluff metrics and guesswork, we give you the steps to engineering evidence-based campaigns from the get go.
The guide has 70+ pages of proven strategies for generating serious revenue growth for the long haul. Get started by clicking below and grabbing your copy!