One of the most important things to increase the responses you get to any of your marketing is to have a compelling call to action.
What Is a Call To Action?
A call to action abbreviated to a CTA, is a phrase that’s used to tell the reader or viewer exactly what to do and how to do it. It can be as simple as “Buy Now” or lengthier using a couple of sentences, such as “ Get Sport Briefing delivered free to your inbox by signing up below. Sign up now”. When used in an email, or online it can be simple text with a hyperlink or a clickable button. When used on printed material it can be used to encourage people to call you, visit your website, or buy your products or services.
How do you create compelling calls to action?
1. Focus on One Crystal Clear Objective
This is the most important starting point for any piece of marketing material. Every campaign should focus on one primary objective. Your offer and CTA has one purpose and one purpose only, to get your prospect to take a specific action. And to do this you need a really, really good offer; combined with a compelling call to action.
Your compelling offer needs to be a low, or even better, no-risk way to lead your prospect to take the next step in your sales process.
Every marketing message must finish with a compelling offer and call to action. Whether it’s a postcard, a direct sales letter, a print ad, a television or radio commercial, a live presentation, a web page, a google or social media ad—no matter what form or format you use, every piece needs to close with a compelling offer and CTA.
If you don’t then ninety-nine out of a hundred people who see your marketing piece will simply walk away. Your target customer will not take any action unless you ask them to do so and give them a very good reason why they should do so.
2. Start With a Strong Action Verb
Don’t be vague or shy. You need to quickly tell your audience exactly what you want them to do. Action words are specific and motivating. “Shop,” “Sign up,” “Discover,” “Try,” “Watch,” and “Start” are all examples. They clearly tell customers what to do next – which is the objective of your marketing piece. You want to be really specific with the action words you choose and the instructions that follow them. For example, if you are selling online then you could start your CTA with words like buy, order, shop or get.
Use powerful words to provoke a strong emotional response from your audience, think about creating excitement, with CTAs like: “Get 75% off now!” or “Join to get £25 back instantly”.
3. Create a Reason to Take Action.
Tell your audience precisely what’s in it for them. Customers need to know why it will benefit them so as well as action words use descriptions as to why it will help them, so for example instead of writing “Start your Trial” you could say “Start your 30-day free trial”. Tie in your CTA with your value proposition, give your audience an incentive that motivates them, and focus on the benefits to them, that could be saving money, getting fit, losing weight, sleeping better and many more.
4. Pick the Right CTA for the Right Place.
Sometimes, your CTAs need to be really short, but they should never be more than five or six words on a clickable button as that detracts from the overall visual impact. On a blog post, however, CTAs can be, and often are, longer, as they include a build-up and introduction to the CTA to make them more convincing.
When creating your CTA there are three basic messages that work best:
a. Do This. These CTAs are really simple and work well on clickable CTA buttons used online. These are CTA’s such as: “Sign up today” and “Discover why here.”
b. Get This By Doing This. This type of CTA gives more details of the offer using benefits to the customer, which can increase the likelihood of the customer clicking on it. An example would be. “Get a 10% discount by subscribing to our newsletter”.
c. Do This Because of This. Often this may be the best formula to use because it answers the “why” question, the hot buttons of your customer, and if your answer is compelling enough, your users will click.
5. Do You Want to Be Positive or Negative?
This is an often overlooked aspect of creating your CTA. Your call to action can be either a positive message or a negative message. Both work well. A negative CTA will focus on your customer’s fear, their pain points, and their risk aversions, and offer them a solution. “Frustrated with stains you just can’t shift? Discover our new proven stain remover,” this uses a negative emotion of a pain point to highlight why customers need to click. A positive version of this might say “Remove those suborn stains fast with our new, proven, stain remover, and never have an ink-stained shirt again.” Both are effective.
The problems of not using a product can sometimes resonate with customers even more than how they can benefit.
6. Choose Your Length.
Sometimes the shorter the CTA the more powerful it is. All of the best CTAs prioritise conciseness. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to a specified number of characters, but it does mean that your call to action and accompanying text doesn’t have more words than are necessary. Too many words and things get confused and distracting but bear in mind that some descriptions are also helpful. It can be a difficult balance to strike, just make sure you give your potential customers enough information to encourage them to click, but not too much so they become they are overwhelmed.
It can be a whole sentence, for example in a blog, but they don’t always need to be, it could be just a few words, especially clickable CTA buttons on-line. Whichever you choose it needs to be concise as that means it will focus on what is important. Your call to action should be concise, in general, but that doesn’t have to mean ridiculously short. It means exactly that: concise. The brevity and directness of a well-written call to action will put the focus on what’s important and remove any waffle.
7. Choose a Great Colour for Your CTA.
While there is much written about the psychology of colour in marketing, the simple rule is you should choose your CTA button colours to make them stand out, so prospects know exactly where they need to click to take action. A contrasting coloured CTA button immediately grabs attention, drawing the customer towards it.
In an email message, one of the most effective things to do for your call to action is to put the text on what appears to be a clickable CTA button. And if your copy in your email is compelling enough it can be placed at the end of your email, it doesn’t always have to be at the top.
8. Test and Retest.
As with any marketing material, it’s important to keep your CTAs creative and up to date to be effective. Always run A/B tests to measure which CTAs get clicks and which don’t and then adapt your Calls to Action based on what works best.
There are a plethora of messages you could use, but to give you some guidelines this is a useful list:
a. Make it high reward/low risk, for example, Sign up FREE, Try it now FREE
b. Emphasise the result, not the product
c. If you think people may be reluctant to sign up immediately then ask them to get more information.
d. Make it personal: For example change “Get A Quote” into “Get a quick, personalized quote today.” Alternatively use language like “See why xyz is right for you”.
e. Have confidence in the quality of your product and relate that to your customer using words such as “You deserve more.” “You can experience the difference”
f. Be more descriptive, for example instead of “Search images” for a photo library they could say “Find the perfect image…”
g. Use exclusivity to generate more responses by saying “find out first.”
h. Use Multiple calls to action with different messages. On the same page you could have CTA’s such as “Try for Free” and a “Start My Free Trial”, “Learn more about the xyz.” The last one makes sure your customers still enter your sales process even if they haven’t signed up yet.
i. Try a more inviting approach, instead of using “Try Us” or “Join Now”, use a softer “Get Started” button.
j. Speak to your customers’ pain points with the do this because method “Sign up today and make saving money effortless.”
Ultimately the purpose of your marketing material is to generate qualified leads for you, so make sure your call to action is prominently featured and is explicit so your prospects know what to do and how to do it. Then you will start to get more responses to your marketing material.
If you want any help in crafting your perfect marketing material or calls to action – we are really good at that!