When was the last time that you filled out an online contact form? Have you ever called a company from its mobile website? In each of these cases, you were probably responding to a CTA (call to action). A company motivated you to complete an action, and you did it.
In today’s business world, calls to action are as foundational to marketing as websites, emails or search engine terms. In some cases, they’re even more important. Why? A CTA is the closure. It’s the culmination of all your copy and advertising, the element that turns a mere visitor into a potential client. It’s how you capture your prospect before he or she leaves and forgets about you. This is exactly why writing effective CTAs is more than a good idea; it’s a necessity.
How can you write CTAs that get results? What are the most important principles behind motivating visitors to action? To help answer these questions, here’s a look at how to turn your company’s CTAs into powerful tools that generate business.
Start With the Motivator
The underlying principle to CTAs is if you want your prospects to do something, you have to ask them. More than that, you have to tell them why they should do it. So, ask yourself: What’s the motivator for a website visitor to complete your desired action? Why should someone call you, request a consult or fill out a form? What’s the reason to buy your product now? Whatever you’re trying to get your prospect to do, you need a clear motivator leading up to your CTA. Using this persuader is what makes your copy compelling.
5 Tweaks to Make Your CTAs More Effective
Now that you understand the basis of effective CTA is motivation, you’re ready to use that principle to your advantage. How can you take that reason and use it to make a clear and compelling call to action?
Here are five simple tweaks that can help.
1. Be brief
Your CTA is not the time to list all your product’s benefits. You can and should communicate the value of what you’re offering, but do this before you make the clear request. Generally speaking, your CTA should be short. You want to ask the prospect to do something in only a few words — five or fewer, if possible. If you make the CTA longer than that, you risk losing your visitor. Some good examples include:
- “Join free for a month”
- “Subscribe now”
- “Start my free trial”
In each of these phrases, it takes only a handful of words to tell a visitor what he or she should do. The message gets across instantly, while the prospect is still interested.
2. Use an action verb
By its nature, a call to action asks a prospect to do something. So, use that desired behavior — to purchase, download, register, sign up, subscribe, etc. — in the CTA. Skip generic verbs such as “click” or “tap,” which don’t tell the prospect what you want him or her to do. Instead, choose an action verb that describes precisely the task you want a user to complete. Instead of “click here,” for example, you might try:
- “Register today”
- “Learn more”
- “Schedule my free consultation”
The point is you want to clearly communicate what you’re asking so the visitor can quickly decide to agree.
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3. Make it urgent
The name of the game with online marketing is motivating visitors to action now, not later. You don’t want a prospect to move on, forget about you and never return. With this in mind, use words that communicate a sense of urgency to your visitors. Some examples include “now,” “right away” or “today.” Adding a deadline or time element to your CTA can accentuate the motivation for a visitor to complete the task.
4. Set it apart
Here’s a tip that has more to do with design than copy: Make your CTA easy to see. Don’t run the risk of letting it be overlooked as a prospect scans your webpage. Place the CTA in contrasting color from the rest of the content so it stands out. Use a font that’s large enough to see. Make it as easy as possible for someone to know what you want him or her to do.
5. Be repetitive
There’s no law saying you can have only one CTA message or button on a page. If your goal is signups for an upcoming conference, for example, you could have one call to action embedded in the intro text, another set on a button in the middle of the page and one more highlighted at the end. Likewise, testing different versions of CTA copy or different button colors/fonts can be helpful to determine exactly what will work best for your audience. Keep tweaking, and monitoring results.
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When it comes to CTAs online, small tweaks can make a big difference. So, to take your calls to action from good to great, incorporate the five principles above! When you want to encourage your online visitors to complete specific actions, use these tips to make it as easy and desirable as possible for them to say yes.
Author bio: Shanna Mallon is a senior copywriter for Straight North, a professional SEO service agency in Chicago providing PPC, web development and other online marketing services. A freelance writer, Shanna has been creating online content professionally since 2007.