The Dying Art of Crafting the Perfect Call to Action (or How to Get the Quick Click)

clickIt makes me want to scream in frustration every time I see a website page, (or even an email or social media post or blog) with a mediocre call to action (CTA).  After all, it’s called a call to action (not a suggestion or hint to do something at some vague future time). Why would anyone want to do anything in response to a non-specific, weak, ineffectual, wimpy call to action like:

  • Click here?
  • Read more?
  • Click here to?
  • Get started?

These CTAs are missing purpose…a reason to do anything at all.

However, notice how much more directive these CTAs are:

  • Start improving your response rates
  • Start saving money now
  • Download (whatever) now
  • Be the first of your friends to …
  • Give me my free …

Crafting the perfect call to action is a dying art and it needs to be resurrected if you want the quick click. Strong, direct and clear calls to action will always get a better click through rate.

Why? Because when you use the right words and graphics, provide a real benefit to your prospects, and make it easy to respond, they’ll act NOW!

Start by asking these questions

According to a recent post from Justine Jordan, every CTA needs a purpose. If you’re not sure what that purpose is, she recommends asking yourself these three questions:

  • “What do I want the recipient to do?”
  • “How will they know how to do it?”
  • “What’s the benefit to them?”

To deliver an offer they can’t refuse, you might want to keep her helpful infographic close at hand.

Understanding CTA buttons

Michael Aagaard, a copywriter and self-confessed split-test junkie, says that “the call to action represents the tipping point between bounce and conversion.” When you want someone to do something online, your call-to-action is the only way for them to do it (whether you’re asking them to download a PDF, sign up for your newsletter, or buy your products).

Your CTA button consists of two parts: design and copy. Both are important in click through and conversion.

  • The button design helps attract prospects’ attention to the CTA. It answers the question, “Where should I click?”
  • The button copy helps prospects make up their minds at the critical decision-making moment, by answering the question, “Why should I click that button?”

buttonsA tested example from Mr. Aagaard shows how a minor change of the color of a button increased both click through rate and sales by nearly 36%. Of course, no one button color, size, or shape works for every situation. It’s all about standing out…and testing to see what works best for you. The same is true for the CTA copy.

You must get and keep prospects’ attention to survive. Have you ever gone online with the intention of reading a news article and a few minutes later found yourself checking your Facebook page or Googling an obscure recipe for Ruby Red Trout? The world of online content has amped up our tendency to shift attention all over the place…in new and unexpected directions. To survive as a business owner, your calls to action must have the power to grab and keep people’s attention.

How to breathe new life into your CTAs

Here are a few tips on the road to creating new, more inspiring calls to action:

  1. Avoid “submit” on your CTA button. Instead, use valuable and actionable copy. No one likes to “submit” to anything. By stating the value of what the visitors will receive by clicking the button, you help reduce anxiety and friction and, thus increase click throughs. Make it action-oriented…start with a verb like “download,”  “register” or “try,” and stay away from vague, cliché or passive language
  2. Make it absolutely clear and specific what the offer is. If you’re giving away a white paper on generating more Facebook followers, tell your prospects, ” “Download the Free Whitepaper on How to Generate More Facebook Followers.” Revealing some details encourages visitors to click. HubSpot recommends not being too wordy…keep CTAs concise, simple and uncluttered, usually between 90 and 150 characters, if you want to catch attention fast.
  3. Make the CTA stand out. If it blends with the page, you won’t get much action. Instead it should contrast with your site’s color scheme and it should be big enough so it’s not ignored.
  4. Keep it above the fold. Prospects want to see the CTA without having to scroll down the page. And keep it within their normal eye path without being annoying or distracting.
  5. Consider the context. To create the best CTA, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) recommends that you think about where prospects are in the buying cycle and how much they know about your product or service. If it’s early or it’s complicated, you might want to ask them to “request a demo” or “learn more.” Then, CTAs on other pages can include different offers to appeal to visitors at a different point in the cycle. Don’t use them in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  6. Link your CTA to its own dedicated landing page, NOT your home page. A homepage is a dumping ground for all miscellaneous traffic. CTAs give you the opportunity to drive visitors from a particular channel or source to a specific landing page that is closely tied to the CTA. Bringing them directly to the homepage will make them feel lost and reduce the likelihood they’ll convert.
  7. Test, Test, Test…and A/B Test again. A call-to-action can get old very fast, and you can’t guarantee the same CTA will work forever. It’s a critical to keep on testing design, copy and placement to create effective CTAs.
  8. Customize your calls to action to the audience. Everyone is different, so you need to create CTAs for different targets.
  9. Deliver what you promise. A prospect who follows through on your call to action should get what you promised quickly and easily. It’s the best way to start building trust.

No hard-and-fast rules

They key with your call to action is that you have to keep testing it. We have many clients who have trouble getting people to opt-in to their lists and who think they have to change their entire offer when sometimes all they really need to do is change their call to action.

There are no hard and fast rules. What works for your competitor, your friend, or your Uncle Mortimer might not work for you. Test. That’s how you’ll know if it’s working.

Need help with creating and testing CTAs? At Solamar we have the marketers, copywriters and designers to help you come up with the calls to action that get clicks and conversions. Be sure to talk to the experts at Solamar!

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