Imagine receiving an invitation to a party without an address. The details sound great. The card looks pretty cool, but where are you supposed to go? And what are you supposed to do?
What Is a CTA?
A CTA (call-to-action) is like your RSVP. It’s the section on the page or media broadcast where you tell the audience what they need to do in order to receive the service you provide. CTA’s come in, but are not limited to, the following forms:
- “Call us at … ” (telephone number)
- “Visit us at … ” (website)
- “Come to … ” (address)
- “Watch this … ” (promo video)
- “Click here … ” (for a special offer)
- Subscription to a newsletter
- Request an estimation or quote
- Download a white paper
Not having a CTA is an amateur mistake. The lack of one will damage your lead conversions, click-through rates, and overall sales figures. According to a study reported on Small Business Trends, which looked at 200 U.S. small business websites, 70% had no clear CTA’s on their home-pages, while 72% had no CTA on their interior pages.
It’s important to remember that an advertisement including a clever CTA is like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to your product. Without a CTA, customers will have no direction on how to buy from you.
When you place a CTA on your marketing material, you need to ensure it’s successful at getting customers to follow through. Its success is often determined by its quality.
Here are a few things to remember to help you craft your own effective, lead-converting CTA.
Understand Your Audience’s Needs
It’s one thing to know what you’re trying to sell, but it’s another thing to know what the audience needs.
Once you create marketing material that exemplifies all of the important details of your product, you need to craft an effective CTA that understands what the audience wants.
For example, if you’re marketing a Mother’s Day-themed service, you’d be targeting an audience that has intentions of buying for someone else, rather than selling directly to a consumer.
For example, a wonderfully crafted copy will explain the emotion the mother would experience when receiving your product. You would also want to include a personal action you want your audience to take, like encouraging them to send in a photo of their mom. This will communicate that you understand the emotions connected to the occasion and the added personal touch of what sending in a photo truly means..
A bad example of an ad would be: Buy this product for your mother this Mother’s Day”. Not only is this too demanding, but it fails to capture the appropriateness of the occasion and the audience’s emotions related to Mother’s Day
Include Vibrant Verbs
As we learned earlier on in school, verbs can be defined as “doing words.” For example, “run,” “play,” and “jump” are all verbs. They’re an absolute necessity when it comes to writing an effective CTA.
Rather than telling your audiences to “run” or “jump,” you need to include the all-important “visit” or “call” verbs that transform your descriptive copy into an actionable piece.
If your brand has a specific way of communicating to its audience, then you could include vibrant verbs to replace the traditional “Call us …” or “Visit us at …” in order to engage the reader into taking action.
For instance, if you sell urban wear to a target audience of 16 to 21 year-olds, you could try using, “Holla at us on 0077-99 … ” Your target audience will easily identify with the terminology and feel like you are personally communicating with them to take action.
Many companies fail to include the most standard verbs in their CTA in fear of “untidying” their ad or webpage. An ad taken from the New York Times’ online Arts section, omits a verb at the top of the page.
Although there is a “Click here to buy tickets” option at the bottom, audiences would be more enticed by something like, “Dive into the world of DEAD SEA SCROLLS.” This vibrant verb inclusion would create the desired “trail of breadcrumbs” effect toward the “Click to buy tickets” option as it tells the audience to take action to learn more about the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Moreover, verbs are found to be the part of speech that generates the most shares on social media sites like Twitter. As reported in his Science of Social Media Research, HubSpot social media scientist, Dan Zarella, found that verbs are more effective than adjectives and nouns in attracting Twitter shares.
So rather than writing “Here’s our wonderful [adjective] website … ,” you should put “Visit [verb] our wonderful website … ”
Make It Sound Urgent!
In addition to using a clever verb in your CTA, you should use specific text that creates a sense of urgency. For example:
- “Call today” can be modified to, “Call NOW”
- “Visit us at … ” can be altered to, “HURRY! Visit us at … ”
The alterations in the above examples make it appear as if the audience will miss out on certain privileges if they do not act fast.
Be Clear with Your Details
Audiences should be able to fulfil your CTA request instantly. Don’t instruct them to pick up the phone and call your customer service number by “clicking on this section” which will only navigate them to another webpage. You should include the number on the page itself.
Keep the CTA simple and straightforward so that the audience has to do the least amount of work possible to do what you’ve told them to do.
Think of it this way: if you own a brick and mortar business, you’re relying heavily on attracting customers in order to sell your products. If a person asks for directions to the building, you’ll want to give them the clearest and fastest route to your location so that you can make a sale as quickly as possible.
Keep Them Short
Much like this point, keep your CTA’s concise. Your main priority is to notify them of where they can purchase a product or connect with your brand. It only requires a few words. The surrounding copy is where they can get details about your product/service in more than a few words. Your CTA should be waffle-free.
Tell the Audience What They’ll Get
If your ad is simple and you’ve placed the onus on the visual element to peak the audience’s interest, your CTA copy must tell them what they’ll “gain” when they follow through on your instructions. For example, if you have an ad with a picture of a beautifully decked garden and nothing else, your CTA should not just read “Call us today.” It should read something like: “Call us today for the most professional landscape service at affordable prices.”
Include an Offer
Including an offer in your CTA can be a very effective way of convincing the more uncertain audience to follow your call to action. Your offer might be a special discount, limited product, a guarantee, or a free gift.
You have probably read car dealership ads where you were promised a special offer if you pick a vehicle as if in a showroom. It’s clear, specific, and provides an incentive.
A Point to Remember
You can’t always solely rely on your CTA to do the work in winning a customer. If the surrounding copy is flat and un-enticing, there’s little hope of the audience following your instructions no matter how much you urge them to click, visit, or call.
Practice writing all of your company’s copy with care and pay attention to its quality. You’ll soon form the habit of producing quality copy for your CTA’s too, resulting in a higher number of conversions!