The call to action (CTA) is key in marketing - the Content Marketing Institute recommends that one be added to every piece of content you produce. A CTA gives your audience a next step to take, for example; subscribing to a newsletter, buying something, or signing up for a service. The CTA is most important in online marketing, where your audience can take that extra step at the click of a button. Older media such as print, radio and TV rely on the consumer either picking up a mobile device to take immediate action, or otherwise remembering the content and allowing it to influence their behaviour at a later point in time.
How, then, can your CTAs generate business and further engagement? And how can they stand out amongst the competition?
It almost goes without saying, but the design of your CTA must focus on clarity. There are a number of ways you can make sure your CTA is clear - this Hubspot article goes into more detail about size, placement, and contrast, amongst other considerations.
Use of colour is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help your CTA stand out; the below image from Three Deep Marketing is a particularly good explanation of how to decide on a colour that contrasts while still remaining complementary to the general scheme of the page.
As well as a clear design, a successful CTA also needs to use language that is easy to understand.. In “An Introduction to Effective Calls-to-Action”, Inbound Marketing Manager Magdalena Georgieva states that using clear, specific language that lets users know what to expect after clicking is highly effective; citing the example that Firefox improved its conversions by 3.6% after changing its button text from “Try Firefox 3” to “Download Now - Free”.
Georgieva also notes the ineffectiveness of overly vague, commonplace CTAs, for example, “Contact Us” - which offers the reader no reason to actually do so.
When trying to hook an audience with your CTA; the temptation may be to sensationalise what you’re offering, or perhaps to make what you’re offering seem simpler or cheaper than it really is.
If you aren’t honest with your audience though, they’ll obviously notice when they get to the landing page. As much as “clickbait” may work to attract clicks (that is - if it manages to get past the filters), the failure to actually deliver on your promises will almost certainly ensure that visitors don’t go any further than that - and the worst case scenario is that they’ll be left with the lasting impression that your brand is dishonest and untrustworthy.
Personalised marketing is extremely effective, and CTAs are no exception. A Hubspot study of over 330,000 CTAs even found that personalised CTAs converted 202% better than standard versions.If personalised marketing is something you want to pursue, you don’t necessarily need a complex data gathering solution which might rub people up the wrong way - developing a CTA that syncs with a visitor’s needs can be as simple as adapting the wording depending on what it is they’re viewing. You can reasonably assume, for example, that a visitor viewing your site’s “About Us” page is interested in your brand; or that a visitor viewing product listings is more actively interested in making a purchase.
Relative to the content itself, a call-to-action can seem like quite a small piece of the overall content marketing puzzle. However, it’s something you must never forget if you want your content to achieve your chosen goal.
As long as your call to action speaks directly - and, of course, honestly - to the wants and needs of your core audience, it can make your content more effective and help your audience take that next step.