How to Create An Effective Call-To-Action
The key to content marketing is developing a relationship with your audience that stirs them to take some kind of action. The ultimate reason for creating great content, educating your audience and positioning yourself as a trusted expert is to win business. How can you bridge the gap between valuable and informative content and sales? The answer is the Call-To-Action (CTA).
What Is a Call-To-Action?
You have probably seen a wide variety of CTAs as you've surfed the web. Whether you downloaded a free white paper, signed up for a webinar, started a free trial or made a purchase, you did so because of a Call-To-Action. The CTA is the element of a website that requests a specific action on the part of the audience. It is usually associated with an offer to motivate the action more strongly.
Why You Need a Call-To-Action
The CTA is where the rubber hits the road. It is the difference between someone who visits your website and someone who becomes a customer. If you do not ask your audience to do something, then the likelihood that they will act on their own is small. Further, the CTA focuses your audience on a specific action that you desire. If you want to guide your audience through the stages of the buying process to make a purchase, you need good CTAs to move them gently along.
Dos and Don'ts of CTAs
You need to think strategically about your Call To Action buttons and integrate them into an overall online marketing strategy to be really effective. Here are some examples of a call to action.
CTAs should correspond to the stages of the buying cycle. The visitors to your website will not all be at the same stage in the busying cycle. You will have to design CTAs that correspond to the different stages of this cycle.
Awareness: Some people are just getting started and are looking to get educated about a product or service. These folks respond well to downloading an ebook or subscribing to a newsletter. At this stage, you are just looking to collect contact information so that you can continue to have a relationship with the prospect as they move through the buying cycle.
Evaluation: These more serious visitors are already educated and are looking to evaluate options. They want more "nuts and bolts" so they can see what makes you stand out from your competitors. Evaluators are typically interested in informative webinars, demonstration videos or free samples.
Purchase: At this stage, visitors are ready to make a purchase. They just need a bit of a motivation to push them over the edge. A free trial, consultation or discount offer can do the trick.
- Avoid the hard sell. Offers of free downloads for more information or a free trial offer real value without pushing for the sale right away.
- Have an enticing offer. People are only going to act if they perceive some value in the action. A CTA that simply says, "click here for more information," does not offer real value.
- Use action words that clearly communicate what you want your prospect to do. "Download your free ebook" is a clear direction to the visitor.
- Have a relevant landing page. When your prospect clicks on the CTA, he will arrive at what is called a landing page. This page includes a form for inputting contact information. You can't just use a generic landing page. It has to be highly relevant to the CTA. Clearly re-state the offer and the action you would like your prospect to take. Otherwise, your visitor may get confused and click away from your page.
- Stand Out. Some people include CTAs at the end of a blog post. This is a natural place to ask for an action. However, CTAs should also be place prominently above the fold of each page of your site. You want to make them visual and use contrasting colors so that they stand out. CTAs that blend in with your site will not necessarily get the attention you want.
- Don't forget social media. Make your content easy to share with social sharing buttons. Specifically ask people to share with their friends.
Writing a good CTA is an art form that you will need to master if you are going to have a successful online marketing strategy. With these tips, you are off to a good start, but there is certainly a lot more to learn. To learn more, check out our white paper, "What is a Digital Content Strategy? Any Why You Need One!"