When it comes to turning your audience (whether it's on social media or a webpage) into a customer, the best way to ensure that they know what to do and where to go is with a call to action button.
In this article, we explore how to create a call to action that converts.
What is a call to action?
In marketing terms, a call to action (or CTA, as it’s commonly known) is the part of your content that encourages your audience to take specific action as a result of your instructions. Straightforward examples include, ‘call now’, ‘buy now’ and ‘learn more’. In a digital marketing context, these are often clickable and lead you to other sites in order to complete the action.
Why do I need a call to action?
You can cultivate all the brand awareness and positive associations you want but, in the end, you’ll need your customers or audience to take some sort of action in order for your company to actually succeed.
A call to action taps into human psychology, igniting our curiosity, our predisposition for anticipation, and our understanding of the behavior and reward exchange: if we take this action, what will we receive as a result?
The call to action is a proven marketing method of engaging the interest of your customer to encourage them to interact with your brand in the way you’ve suggested, whether than be to purchase your product or find out more about your services.
Tips and tricks for writing a great call to action
Give your audience a reason
No matter what you’re creating for your customer, it must always be valuable. What are you offering them in your CTA: is it a new software product that will help them take control of their meditation practice or save them money on their next shopping bill? Before you craft your CTA, you’ll need to know exactly what you’re offering your customer, ensuring that it’s relevant to their needs and interests and not just in the CTA but as a business. What problem are you trying to solve for your customer? What makes your company the best at what it does? Your CTA will call your customer to not only take the specific action you’re suggesting but also to interact with your company in general because it’s valuable and relevant to them in general.
Use commanding language
A well-crafted CTA can be a combination of just a few words if it’s powerful enough. As such, the language that you use in your few words has to be meaningful and serve a specific purpose: it’s here that you’ll incorporate language that incites a response, namely commanding language. Simply put, this is a language that works as a command: the words ‘buy’, ‘shop’, ‘call’, ‘learn’, ‘download’ work as directives, encouraging customers to take the action suggested without any confusion.
Consider this scenario from a prominent shoe brand: there’s a new shoe line or product now on sale. Would you be more likely to click on a post promoting if it said, “new collection available” as opposed to “click through to browse our new collection”? The latter is far more likely to tempt you into clicking, following the suggested action.
Emotions are an easy route to authenticity and help to endear you to your audience, deepening your relationship and connection. If you’re excited about a new service that you’re offering, for example, it’s more likely that your customers will follow suit. Playing on human emotions makes you as a brand or company more human by extension and is much more likely to stir a reaction in your audience. Alex Bashinksky suggests channeling baser emotions such as fear, inclusion, curiosity into your CTAs, tapping into some of our deepest desires.
Need an example? To tap into the emotion of ‘inclusion’, a CTA could be: ‘join your peers’.
“You know that feeling of wanting to be included? Of wanting to be a part of the tribe? To feel united with others over a common goal?” he explains. “That can be a very powerful feeling to use in your call to action. Your audience may already feel like they’re a part of your special tribe, but you can take things a step further.”
Put parameters on it
If sales ran forever, no one would rush to grab a bargain. The temptation of a sale lies in its brevity: how many times have we been treated to a phrase resembling, ‘it’s ending soon, get in quick!’
Creating a sense of urgency around your offering is a great call to action, effectively activating the notion now known as ‘FOMO’. No one wants to know they had something in their reach and then missed out and your CTA can capture this feeling if well crafted. If you’re promoting a sale, for example, you could put a limit on the time frame and let people know about it: ‘Sale ends tonight!’ Or, if there’s no particular promotion, reminding people that stocks are limited can also have the same effect.
Customize the CTA
Consumer behavior isn’t always the same across devices. Think about how you engage with brands you encounter through Instagram promotion on your smartphone as opposed to suggestions on your desktop. As such, your CTA should be customized to suit these different mediums and the behavior changes as a result of them.
“On a desktop screen, it's possible to fit several calls to action,” explains Franchisegator.com’s Stephen Baldwin of the differences between desktop and mobile CTA approaches. “Add this to your cart, sign up for our newsletter, here are five ads, etc. A mobile device should only showcase one actionable item at a time. Order each CTA vertically in order of importance to your business. Attempting to fit two or more side by side will be too busy for users and dilute their effectiveness. Less is more.”
Incorporate your branding
You run your carefully considered branding through your website copy and packaging, so why not through your CTAs? Using your brand’s language front and center not only inspires your customers to take action but also ties the action directly to your brand, consolidating brand awareness.
Website design brand Huemor’s branding centers on their unique, tongue-in-cheek branding, from their company name to their URL (huemor.rocks) and their approachable website copy. In this way, it would be out-of-character for Huemor to switch to super urgent or sales-based CTA that doesn’t bring the brand that they’ve created to life. They’re mission-based and their CTA “view our work” reflects that, by asking visitors to their site to simply look at their portfolio as proof of what they can offer service-wise.
Why are many supermarket items priced at, say, $1.99 or $4.99? Why are we more interested in getting 30% off than slightly-less-than-a-third off certain products? There’s a psychology to numbers that makes us more easily grasp a concept.
“People respond to an organization, and digits act as helpful symbols that easily categorize content,” clinical psychologist Megan James has explained. “Numbered lists are also more readable for short attention spans.”
Including pricing information incentivizes people into finding out more if the price is a good entry point for them. It also gives you insight into the kinds of offers and promotions that create interest in your particular audience.
Examples of effective calls to action
Australian employment search engine Seek has cleverly incorporated their branding into their homepage CTA. The combination of the colorful pink button and the simple integration of the word ‘seek’ as opposed to ‘search’ or ‘go’ not only encourages you to click through to find results, it also imprints the company name in your mind for search results related to employment.
Netflix’s CTA is strictly the eye-catching ‘try it now’ phrase but this is made additionally powerful by the words that precede it: “watch anywhere. Cancel at any time.” In six words, you understand what Netlfix’s capabilities are, as well as what it means to engage in a contract with them. These words eliminate any obstacles you might have about signing up right now—the perfect CTA.
True to its conversational branding style, Basecamp created a CTA that reflects its positioning. While still short, snappy, and making use of directive language, it’s friendly and supportive, much like the mission of their unique selling point.
News aggregator newsletter The Skimm has its bread and butter in informing its readers. The copy leading into the final CTA copy, ‘ready to live smarter?’ is an emotive call to action; when would the answer ever be no?