Let’s shoot from the hip here: if any part of your job or business uses the Internet for marketing purposes and you don’t include a Call To Action (or CTA for short), then you’re wasting your time online. You can create the pithiest tweet, the most compelling blog post, the most awesome article, but if you’re trying to win over customers, all of that content is incomplete and ultimately ineffective without a CTA.
If CTAs are so important, then clearly there has to be a knack to creating them that will increase the chances of a successful conversion. So what are the characteristics of a good CTA? Good question; here are the answers.
An effective call to action gets people motivated and moving
The CTA Demands Immediate Action
The worst response someone can give to a sales pitch is “I’ll think about it”. That brand of wussy response basically tables the question to some vague, undefinable future time. That’s why words like “Now” and “Right away” must figure prominently. You need to create a sense of urgency, not a sense of “I’ll get around to it eventually”.
Maximum Benefit, Minimal Work
We’re not saying Internet audiences are lazy, but, well, let’s just say the prospect of getting stuff in return for doing little to nothing is awfully attractive. The CTA should imply that the sender is doing all of the heavy lifting, and the reader only need to do a simple action. Maybe it’s clicking on an embedded link, or maybe your blog post or email has a nice red button to click. Consider embedding a QR code for non-Tweeted content. If the CTA is telling the reader to visit your physical location, insert a Google map as well as any contact information necessary.
In other words, you’re doing everything short of giving the prospective customer a ride to your place of business.
Make It Worth It
This tip compliments the above point. No one wants to take up a CTA in order to gain a useless perk. For instance, “Click here to sign up for our email subscription, and get all the latest news!” isn’t very good. You’re actually telling people that if they follow through with this CTA, they’ll get more email clogging their Inbox. Yippee. No, people want things like a free sample, a free trial subscription, a discount, or the ever-popular free shipping benefit. In fact, shipping is one of those things that are near and dear to a customer’s heart, as the article “Setting Proper Delivery and Shipping Expectations” shows. In any case, make the offer an irresistible one, not a badly disguised email address gathering exercise.
Use Action Words
Verbs are action words, and thus are mandatory in a good CTA. But not just any verbs will do; they need to be actionable verbs. “Click here for a surprise!” is a good example; it’s an imperative, it’s literal, and it’s giving a clear action. “Check us out by giving us a click” is a bad example. No one can hand you a click. It’s a more passive, indirect action. Other actionable phrases include “Start now”, “Try It Free”, and “Join Now”.
Keep It Simple
If putting a CTA in your content is a good thing, then obviously, putting in multiple CTAs means a lot of good things, right? Wrong. The Call To Action should be simple and straightforward, asking the reader to do just one thing, not multiple things. Asking your audience to do several things may result in confusion or loss of interest in the face of what looks like a multi-step process.
And there you have it: a quintet of pointers for creating a good Call To Action. Remember that CTAs belong in all of your content, and that includes text messaging. If you need further convincing, read up on “Why Your Text Messages Need a Call to Action”.
A good CTA inspires the audience to interact further with you, rather than just leaving them with an attitude of “So what?”. Those readers who act on your call are more likely to become customers, and that’s a win all the way around.
About the Author
John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He has come to understand that shameless self-promotion is the key to Internet success.