Tips on Improving Your Calls to Action [2nd Edition]

A lot of time and effort is used to attract a user to your website - we talk about it in many of our posts. Organic traffic, paid ads, link building, SEO campaigns and other efforts are required to get the traffic.  That's a lot of work, and nothing has even happened (from the visitor's standpoint) yet!

So once someone is actually on your website, do they know what to do?

Of course, the challenge then is to get them to spend time consuming and engaging with your content. If they just leave, all that work was for nothing.

In the end, none of your previous actions matter if the users do not take action after the fact. This in and of itself can be a challenge, but creating a compelling call to action can have persuasive effect on your audience, not to mention your pocketbook!

What is a Call to Action?

A call to action, as defined, is

Words that urge the reader, listener, or viewer of a sales promotion message to take an immediate action, such as "Write Now," "Call Now," or (on Internet) "Click Here." A retail advertisement or commercial without a call-to-action is considered incomplete and ineffective.

When it comes to digital marketing, many people believe you should never create content without some sort of call to action - whether in the text, on the page (perhaps in the sidebar), or as a obvious ad (such as a popup).

I'm with those people, too.

What's the point in creating something that promotes your business and brand and then not giving someone the next step? None, that's what.

Where Does a Call to Action Belong?

There is no cut and dry answer to this question. However, there are guidelines that need to be taken into consideration. If your content’s first goal is to create a need for a product or service or explain the benefits and advantages of your product or service, the call to action is usually placed at the end of the writing.

Yet there is not always a definite structure of a call to action following a lengthy piece of content. Landing pages are a whole different animal. If your goal is to build up subscribers for a mailing list or to register a username and password for your website, a call to action may very well be one of the first things you want your audience to see. You need to ask yourself why your website traffic chooses to click on your link in the first place and then determine where the best place is for a CTA.

Your Call to Action Should Be Easy to Find

There are several tools at your disposal that will make your CTA easier to locate. Firstly, utilize font tools such as making the text bold. This will help it stand out from the rest of content. Additionally, if your call to action takes the form of a button, you can use colors to attract your audience’s attention. Some people even choose to make CTA’s text a different color than the body of the content. Utilizing conversion optimization will allow you to discover which color will perform the best. The CTA should stand out from the rest of the content without distracting your readers.

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Your Call to Action Should Be Clear and Succinct

While you have the freedom to use longer sentences to describe complex ideas while you lay the groundwork, your call to action should avoid lengthy sentences. Your CTA should be clear, short, and sweet. One reason for these criteria is to avoid miscommunications that would otherwise confuse your audience. Also, you don’t want to use jargon or other language that would cause your reader to lose interest just when they are about to take action.

Your Call to Action Should Create a Sense of Urgency

Linking a verb with a timeframe can help persuade users to take action, especially if you are running a time-sensitive promotion.

For example, asking users to subscribe within the promotion’s timeframe will make a reader feel like they are missing out on a great deal if they forgo subscription. If you've tied a particular bonus or freebie to that call to action that 'disappears' at the end, this makes the urgency even higher.

If you aren’t running a promotion, you still need to suggest what the reader should do. Suggestion can be a powerful influencer. This is one reason many calls to action include phrasing similar to ‘call today for a free consultation.’

We use a call to action plugin on this site, which embeds a particular offer inside each blog post.  This plugin lets us create multiple offers to multiple lead magnets, which are then optimized depending on what content that particular article is about.

For instance, an article about blogging is likely to have a call to action for the user to download our free blogging checklist.  It's topic-relevant, we're providing good content above and below the offer.  This makes the opt in very smooth and natural.

Ask not, Receive not

Following these guidelines will help improve the performance of your calls to action. Remember, the CTA is critical because the ultimate goal of building a website, marketing, and advertising is getting the reader to take action!

Get them to the next step!

About 

Will Hanke owns Saint Louis' top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis' most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

One Comment

  1. […] challenge is how to drive the message home without annoying your reader. There is no need to shout your CTA, or use manipulation or tricks. As long as you give value, people will […]

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