A call-to-action (CTA) is a term as old as marketing itself. They are images, text, or a combination of both that help direct someone to pursue an action, such as "read more," "buy now," or "learn more." While many of these CTAs have been common since the heyday of print, including newspapers and magazines, the modern CTA has shifted to the digital age, including things like images, gifs, videos, and more.
If you are looking for advice on how to write the perfect CTA to help with your online content strategy, we can help. Below, we'll explore what a CTA is and tips to writing a CTA that will turn your audience into loyal customers. Keep reading to learn more.
In marketing, a call-to-action helps prompt a response from the reader, viewer, or listener. These kinds of CTAs can be heard on podcasts, read online or in print, and seen on videos of all types. They're meant to encourage action from their audience, usually in the form of subscribing, purchasing a product or service, or submitting their information to learn more.
In online marketing, different CTAs can appear throughout a sales funnel or marketing campaign. These common CTA types include:
Landing page buttons
Registration & sign up buttons
Anchor text links
Email buttons & anchor text
Copy on social media posts
While these various buttons may seem trivial at first, don't underestimate the power of a well-written and powerfully designed CTA. Here are just a few actions you could encourage with your CTA to help increase all sorts of growth for your business, including:
Purchasing a product
Downloading sales information
Signing up for a newsletter
Making an appointment
Scheduling a sales call
Reading more content
Sharing your business on social media
Now that you know what a CTA is and how they help with your business's bottom line, let's look at how to write a killer CTA. Below, you'll find seven tips to drive conversions on a CTA.
A small character count often limits a CTA, so you will need to choose each word wisely. To have an impact on readers, always start with a commanding verb. For example, if you run an online store, your CTA should begin with "Shop," "Buy," "Book," "Schedule," or "Shop."
How this might look in a real-world example would be when creating a CTA for a new product, you would not want to say something passive like, "Our new product is available now." Instead, start with a strong, commanding verb, such as, "Shop this year's hottest swimwear."
Your customers should be as excited as you are about the products or services you are offering. Ideally, you can convey that excitement with your CTA. There are several ways you can appeal to emotion, from adding exclamation points at the end of a limited-time offer to appealing to the desire to be smarter, cooler, or better-dressed.
Another way is playing to FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Modifying our last example, this may look something like, "Save 50% on swimwear — sale ends Monday!"
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what helps set your product or service apart from the competitors. Anytime you can incorporate a USP with your CTA, you should. It will help drive action and build value for your brand.
Examples of a USP could be your product has a lifetime warranty, is organic, or includes a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. Continuing with our swimsuits example, this is what it may look like in practice: "Shop All-New Suits — Now Echo-Friendly, Vegan Fabrics."
While a strong CTA usually starts with copy, don't overlook the importance of good design to make your CTA produce incredible results. Make sure your imagery is on-brand, and pay close attention to colors. Many online marketers believe colors can drive emotion and clicks, so be sure to research which colors you can use to increase conversions. Some of the most used CTA button colors include red, yellow, green, and orange because of their ability to stand out and capture viewers' attention.
While it may sound obvious, do not lose sight of your audience when creating a CTA. Do your research and identify who your potential customers are, what they like and dislike, and when writing, put yourself in their shoes. This approach can go a long way to empathize with your audience and meet them at their level.
Let's pretend you are selling those same swimsuits to outdoor enthusiasts. In that case, your CTA might sound something like, "Hiking Season is Here. Shop Rip-Resistant Swimwear."
Part of placing yourself in your customer's shoes is finding out the actual pain points they are experiencing and communicating quickly how your product or service will help.
Here is how that might look. Let's say you know that parents get annoyed at their children staining their new swimsuits, so your brand created a line of stain-resistant swimwear. Here is what that CTA may look like — "Stay fresh all summer long. Shop stain-resistant swimwear for kids."
When writing short, punchy CTAs, it may be difficult to know which one will ultimately bring the results you are after. Luckily, if you are selling online, you can A/B test multiple options. This is where you take different ad copy and segment your audience to view one or the other. Whichever gets the most clicks is the one you run with. You can do this multiple times until your CTA is exactly what your audience is looking for.
If your small business website has a blog, and it should, be sure to always include a CTA at the end of each blog post. If a reader gets all the way to the end of your blog without clicking away, they must be interested in your content. Don't waste that interest. Let them know about other articles they may want to read or products and services they may want to check out.
Oh hey, speaking of ending your article with a call to action…
Wow, this is a little meta, but now that you know how to write a killer CTA, you may want to learn more tips and tricks for marketing your product and services. Check out our articles "How to Create a Marketing Foundation for Your New Small Business" to help plan your small business content strategy.
And if you're a freelance writer looking to improve your skills and dominate your niche, check out "Should Freelancers Start an LLC?" to learn how to protect your assets and grow your writerly reputation.
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