What is a Call-to-Action?
A call-to-action (CTA) is the bridge between a stranger and a prospective customer.
It’s commonly a link or button that sits on your website or landing page, with copy that encourages visitors to take a specific action to turn them into leads – download a whitepaper, fill in a contact form, download an ebook, or get a free consultation.
The CTA sits between the front door and that higher value offer or content.
So what makes it fail – or fly?
Buy now! Act now, get one free! Click here! <–And the worst offender… Submit! These are common, and honestly, pretty ineffectual CTA’s. There are a few problems with them, but the main issue is the lack of a value proposition. Why should I buy, let alone now? What exactly am I clicking on? Submit… to what?!
With spammers and scammers everywhere, you need to work extra hard to prove you’re an authentic human, representing a genuine business, with something of actual value at the end of the chain. Want to trigger emotion? Excitement? Curiosity? Get the value right.
Experts argue about whether your CTA should sit above the fold, below the fold, or whether the fold even exists. What we do know is that your CTA should be close to relevant, compelling content. A common mistake is to cram multiple messages into a website or to give the overall design aesthetic greater attention than the desired user actions.
Good design and user experience drive desired action, but floating icons and beautiful pictures shouldn’t get in the way of why you show up. If people don’t know where to click, they won’t. Offset your CTA and make sure it’s not competing with other CTAs in the same spot! Also, don’t be afraid to use contextual CTAs creatively and inside content. They can be embedded within content in an article, blog post, a YouTube clip, a tweet, or even a menu at an event!
A staggering amount of CTAs don’t tell people what to do, or how to buy. Trying to be clever, they end up being confusing and sending people away in frustration. Once you’ve established value, and sized up the prime location, spell out what people need to do.
People are pretty happy to follows about clear directions that get them something of benefit. The copy and language you use should incorporate the value proposition, the urgency and the action required.
A sense of urgency, even competition, may help motivate your users. Make the offer available for a limited time only, or include an incentive for early birds. You might even reward people who share the CTA with their network by offering further discount or access. This works for certain audiences, so you have to know your customer. If they’re naturally competitive, or exclusivity or efficiency are behavioural triggers for them, consider testing a time-sensitive CTA.
Which leads us to…
Test. Everything. Regular iteration and optimisation is key for a winning CTA. Adopt an agile approach. If it’s not delivering to satisfaction, change something – the copy, the positioning, the design, the value proposition – and try again. Use the data and evidence you gain to improve each time.
Do what you say
The reality of your CTA must deliver on the promise. Don’t send your prospects to a webpage where they have to search for ages to find what they came for.
Make it quick, make it easy and make it matter.
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