Of all the parts of an ad, email, or other marketing piece, the call-to-action is arguably the most important. Sure, you need to hook them with a compelling headline and draw them in with an interesting visual and engaging copy. But then what? The CTA is where you seal the deal—where you get your reader to actually DO something. Which is usually the whole point of the communication in the first place.
Sometimes your CTA urges customers to make a purchase. Other times, it invites users to sign up for a newsletter, join an email list, contact you with questions, learn more, leave a review, comment on a post, follow you on social media—you get the idea. The trick is to make sure your CTA is compelling enough to get your customer to take the action or do the thing.
Here’s how it’s done:
Map out the steps. It probably goes without saying, but before you do anything, you need to know exactly what you want your customer to do. What’s the goal of the marketing? And what are the steps along the way? Say you want to make a sale. Is asking for the sale the next step in the process? If your product is expensive or complicated, what’s next may be to invite your customer to learn more. Or it might be to have them sign up for your newsletter. For your CTA to be effective, you need to know your customer journey and the steps that will lead them to your ultimate marketing goal.
Keep it simple and direct. Your customer shouldn’t have to wonder what they’re being asked to do. The action should be simple, direct, and easy to understand. That said, not all CTAs have to be singular. You can provide options (call us or visit our website, for example). But even so, every action must be clearly defined. Keep your CTA as short as possible and use straightforward active verbs.
Tell the customer what they’ll get. Whether it’s a free white paper, a monthly newsletter, or a call from a salesperson, be clear about what the consumer will get when they respond. Convince them that by taking action, they’ll receive something worth their effort.
Tease with a benefit. On a relate note, you can strengthen your CTA by communicating not just WHAT your customer will get but HOW it will benefit them. For example, “Contact us to start increasing your sales today.” Or, “Sign up for our newsletter and learn how to grow your ROI.” By tapping into your customer’s emotions, you can pique their interest even more and make your CTA more compelling.
Make it easy. To encourage your customers to act, don’t ask them for too much. This goes back to knowing your customer journey. Would somebody see an ad for a $50,000 piece of machinery and click a button that says “Buy now”? Probably not. For many products and services, there’s a longer path to the sale. In that case, you want your CTA to lead your customer to take the next easy step. From there, you can ask them to take another step. And from there, another step. By encouraging your customer to take small, simple actions, you can set them along the sales path without making them feel nervous, uncomfortable, or defensive.
Tailor your CTA for the platform. Your CTA should also reflect your marketing platform. For example, if it’s a banner ad, you’ll want to keep your CTA as short as possible—maybe just a “Learn more” button. An email or a landing page gives you a little more room to include not just an action but a benefit. On top of that, you need to balance the platform with what’s the next logical step (hello again to our friend the customer journey). For example, if you want to capture a prospect’s personal information to build your database, the place to ask for it is on a landing page, not a banner ad. Certain CTAs work better for certain platforms. It’s important to consider what makes the most sense for the platform you’re using.
If you can, create a sense of urgency. Last but not least, it never hurts to light a fire under their butt. Instilling customers with a sense of urgency can be a great way to motivate them to act. The ideal time to get them to click, email, call, or whatever is right then in the moment—when your marketing message has the most impact and emotions are highest. Putting a time limit on your CTA gives it a little extra oomph and can encourage customers to act fast. Once they set your ad or email aside, it’s harder to rekindle their interest.
In short, no matter the marketing piece, your CTA can mean the difference between success and failure. So give it the time and attention it deserves. Start with a well-defined goal. Follow it up with clear, active language. Consider the context and make it easy for your customer to take the next step. Include an emotional benefit and a sense of urgency.
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*See what we did there?