With all the talk about content marketing and direct mail marketing that businesses must try to keep up with, one essential element sometimes gets lost in the mix. Improving click-through rates to your ads and website is great, but the best marketing and advertising efforts won’t count for much if the intended audience is left wondering, What do I do next?
That’s why an effective call-to-action (CTA) is essential for virtually any marketing strategy. Prospective customers need to be guided along their purchasing journey, so they don’t feel they’re wasting valuable time reaching the desired outcome. Generally speaking, a call-to action is among the most efficient lead-generation tools you have at your disposal.
Here are suggestions for crafting effective CTAs and guiding your audience as to what they can expect when they click on your ad or link:
Answer the most critical question of all.
First and foremost, every customer wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” Your call-to-action must address this concern as clearly and directly as possible.
As you decide on the wording for your CTA, consider what’s likely to be of the greatest benefit to your audience. Is it a discount on your products? An opportunity to learn more about what you have to offer, or some other specialized knowledge?
For example, if you offer a white paper examining the impact of business competition within your industry, the CTA might read, “Find Out What Your Competitors Know in Our Free White Paper!”
Make it urgent.
CTAs should include an element of urgency, so that prospects don’t delay clicking on the link now, as opposed to some indefinite time in the future.
“People hate to feel like they’re missing out on something,” notes Venture Harbour, “and creating a sense of urgency … implies this is precisely what’ll happen if users don’t act now.”
Carefully choose every word.
A CTA is similar to a tweet, in that you want to get a compelling message across in a very few carefully chosen words. Start by drafting a longer message that outlines what the CTA is and how clicking on it will benefit your prospective customers. What you write as a first draft will be too long to work as a CTA, but it’s an important start.
Then begin winnowing that message down, eliminating any fluff and retaining “action” words (primarily, strong verbs) that catch the eye and deliver your intended message as quickly as possible.
Optimize the CTA for all devices.
Just as your business website should be optimized for viewing on the full spectrum of devices, your CTA must be customized for the target audience’s preferred mode of communications.
While laptops and tablets offer approximately the same viewing experience, smaller mobile devices generally involve a different approach. It’s best, therefore, that your CTA is configured appropriately.
While potential buyers conduct much of their preliminary research on larger devices, they often use their smaller, mobile devices to make an actual purchase. In such cases, they are “in a hurry to find an answer and ready to make a purchase decision.” Make sure your mobile-optimized CTA gets them to the free offer or discount ASAP.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, content marketing is a highly valuable marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. By offering informative and useful content, you build a stronger bond with your target audience that can lead to greater sales and enhanced profits. These favorable outcomes are more likely achieved when you close the article, white paper or blog post with an effective CTA that motivates your audience to take the next step themselves.