People like following clear and logical paths, especially in marketing. If your website isn’t structured to answer your audience’s questions and keep them engaged, they will bounce before you have the opportunity to capture that lead.
One element that can help is an engaging and effective call to action (CTA).
What are CTAs, and how can you use them to take your marketing to the next level? Let’s find out.
What is a CTA?
A call to action is a line of text that inspires and encourages visitors to take a specific action. Most are clickable links that lead your audience to take the next step in their engagement with you.
Do you see the big green “Schedule a call” button on the top right-hand corner of your screen? That is an example of a CTA.
CTAs are meant to be short, actionable, valuable, and descriptive. That might sound like a tall order for 3-5 words, but it’s not as tricky as you might think.
Why your content needs CTAs.
Ideally, CTAs are present throughout each phase of the buying process. Each page a visitor views should have a corresponding action tied to it. Perhaps it’s setting up a call or downloading a free resource or enrolling in a complementary course or webinar.
Your blog content should also have a CTA. While CTAs can pop-up (figuratively and literally) anywhere on the page, most are in the conclusion where you encourage readers to schedule an appointment, download your customizable calculator, or start their free trial of your service.
Some people shy away from CTAs because they veer into the sale-zy side of marketing but CTAs don’t have to be unnatural or gimmicky. Instead, they should lead your customer to the next step of your process.
Think about a CTA as an invitation to a party (or Zoom details in the age of COVID-19). It helps you move forward should you choose to do so. You want to make it as simple to interact with your brand as possible, and proper CTAs are a great way to accomplish that goal.
Now that you’re completely convinced that your marketing materials need CTAs, how can you make them more intriguing? Let’s take a look at four ways to bring new life to your CTAs.
1. Use actionable, descriptive language.
CTAs are not the place for vague metaphors or veiled euphemisms. Instead, your CTAs should be brief and precise. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist or savvy wordsmith to be able to understand what you’re saying. You want your message to be as direct and actionable as possible.
While CTAs require candor and openness, it’s also important to use them to further communicate your value proposition. A CTA for a financial planner, for example, could be “Take the next step to financial freedom,” which leads viewers to a landing page to book their first appointment.
You can get creative with your CTAs, just make sure that they clearly state the action you want your customer to take. You wouldn’t want a button that says “subscribe now,” to take you to a free e-book. That description doesn’t give the customer a straightforward path. Make your CTAs as intuitive as possible.
Here are a few other language best-practices.
- Use punchy verbs. Remember writing your resume and starting each sentence with an action verb? That’s a good rule of thumb for writing CTAs.
- Keep it brief. Your entire pitch shouldn’t be shoved into a tiny CTA box, just encourage people to continue the conversation.
- Demonstrate the value. Your audience won’t take the next step if it doesn’t offer them added value. One way to do that is to remind them that your resource is free, complimentary, extra, etc. That way, you eliminate the pressure.
- Put your customer first. Yes, this even applies to your CTAs. Don’t shy away from the first and second person. These points of view put the customer in the driver’s seat—where they should be.
Not sure if your CTA is doing its job? Hop on over to your Google Analytics to see if one style works better than another. Perhaps visitors are more engaged with “download your free guide” as opposed to “book a call.” What’s so different about these statements?
“Download your free guide” does the following things right.
- Terse word choice (under 5 words).
- Demonstrates actionable language.
- Puts the client at the center.
- Re-states that the resource is free.
If this structure works better for your audience, you can update your “book a call” to “schedule your complimentary appointment,” for example. The language you choose should be specific to your brand and your audience.
2. Play with eye-catching visuals.
It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so make your CTAs something nice to look at. You don’t need to overdesign these, just make them intentional so that they stand out.
Let’s take another look at our “Schedule a call” button at the top of your screen. What makes it different from the other pages?
- Both the text and scale are larger than the other headings.
- The words are encased in a rectangle.
- It features a coordinating secondary brand color (light mossy green, which is also found throughout the website).
These elements are all different ways to make your CTA stand out. Let’s take a look at some other ways to add design elements to your CTAs.
- Make use of different shapes and sizes. Does your website have a flowy organic feel? Mix up your CTAs with straight lines like a square or rectangle. Play with shapes to see what works and how to make the words stand out.
- Get creative with fonts and lettering (bold, italics, underline, etc.). Perhaps your CTA is the same font but all capital letters, or maybe it’s the same font but in a larger size and bold. There are so many ways to get creative with your design.
- Don’t shy away from a contrasting color. This doesn’t mean that your colors shouldn’t match, just that the CTA stands out from the background. If you have a light background, consider a darker CTA, for example. Use your brand colors as a guide.
3. Double-check your placement.
You don’t want to make your audience scan for CTAs like a word search (because trust us, they won’t), so your placement is particularly important.
While there are no hard and fast rules for placing your CTAs, make sure they are intuitive and straightforward. You might put a CTA on the top and bottom of each page on your website, for example.
Remember, CTAs don’t just inspire action—they inspire a specific action. This means that you’ll likely have multiple in place depending on what you’d like your audience to do. Perhaps you always have a “book a call” button at the top of your screen and you also intersperse others throughout your site.
Your blog could have a CTA that asks readers to sign up for your monthly newsletter. Your services page could lead them to a free trial or lead magnet. There are several ways to create intentional CTAs.
The bottom line? Don’t bury your CTAs in a block of text. Let them stand out so you can help your customer continue their engagement with you.
4. Optimize for mobile devices
New research found that 63% of Google searches are done on mobile devices. The trend toward mobile optimization isn’t slowing down, it’s speeding up. This signals a crucial need for mobile-friendly marketing.
Optimize your website design, copy, blog, and yes, your CTAs for mobile use. If your mobile experience is sub-par, it’s unlikely you’ll have the opportunity to capture many leads. How can your CTAs adapt to the small screen?
- Ensure your website is optimized for mobile use.
- Ditch intrusive pop-ups that make it difficult to navigate on mobile devices (these could hurt your SEO).
You want to make it as simple as possible to interact with your brand, so make sure your audience can access your online materials from any device.
Embrace CTAs as part of your marketing strategy
As you can see, CTAs are pretty important. CTAs are small but mighty, helping to facilitate your customers’ experience with your brand.
Is it time for a CTA refresh? We’d love to talk to you about intentional ways to incorporate CTAs in your marketing copy.