A CTA (call to action) may consist of just a wee little bit of text, but it’s arguably one of the most important bits of copy involved in your business’s digital marketing ecosystem. Wait, what is a CTA and what does it have to do in marketing, you ask? EVERYTHING. This word, phrase, or sentence – which usually lives in the form of a button – is what prompts your audience to take a specific action. And that action is usually clicking on a link to move a potential customer further down the funnel, eventually, leading to conversion, whether you deem that as a purchase, a contact form submission, or something entirely different. Imagine it akin to a giant flashing arrow sign to “GO HERE,” ultimately helping to direct your customer to your ideal end goal.
But a CTA that simply states “Click Here” doesn’t always cut it. It needs to hook. It needs to engage. It needs to intrigue to truly encourage a reader. So how do you make sure that this tiny bit of text is truly going to work for you on the various pages of your website, in your email marketing, organic and paid social, and various other forms of digital content? You study these five key rules to constructing a killer CTA that begs to be clicked.
Be Clear & Concise in the Action You Want Them to Take
Limiting your CTA to less than five words is ideal (however, there are cases when you do see longer CTAs that are equally effective). The reasoning for this is because simple statements are easy for users to read and make a snap judgment about, but, when too long, you’re asking your user to consider too much, usually resulting in them taking no action at all. The more concise your CTA, the easier it is for a user to decide whether to click.
- “Get Started”
- “Subscribe Now”
- “Join Free Today”
- “Give It a Try”
Begin with a Command Verb
Again, it’s all about being clear in the action you want them to take – and believe it or not, people want you to tell them what to do (that’s how they evaluate if it’s an action they want to take). That means starting the CTA with a command verb or directive – something that tells them to “do this.”
- “Download Our New E-Book” instead of “Our Latest E-book Is Available”
- “Send Me Specials Now” instead of “Here’s Where Sign-up to Receive Specials”
- “Claim Your Free Trial” instead of “Your Free Trial Awaits”
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Use of Active or Power Words
Related to using a command verb to start, the words you use should feel powerful versus plain in order to evoke emotion and encourage a user to click.
- “Skyrocket Your Sales” versus “Increase Your Sales”
- “Claim This Once-in-a-Lifetime Offer” versus “Claim This Important Offer”
- “Prepare to Be Inspired” versus “See These Inspiring Examples”
Spark a Sense of Urgency
Don’t be afraid to play up a little FOMO by using your CTA to compel your visitor to take an immediate action NOW (think something akin to the old TV ads proclaiming “call in the next 60 minutes to get this exclusive offer!”). Time-sensitive words, in particular, convey urgency.
- “Hurry. Offer Ends in 24 Hours”
- “Get Your Free E-Book Today”
- “Book Now & Get 25% Off”
Ignite Curiosity, Intrigue & Anticipation
A good curiosity-evoking CTA hints to the result of whatever story you’re going to tell in your content, without giving too much more. Essentially, you are connecting your audience with something they really want by getting them eager to learn more about how they can achieve it.
- “Discover a Cocktail Tailored to Your Taste”
- “See What 21 Leads in <1 Day Looks Like”
Other Important Design Features Associated with a Strong CTA
Whether you’re using CTAs on your website landing page, in your blog content, email, or social media, here are a few other key design elements to make sure they stand out enough for users to click.
- Visibility Use visual cues to indicate “this is clickable” by putting your CTA in a button, color block, an underline or outline, or paired with an arrow-like element (arrows usually indicate that the text will take you somewhere new). Also, include plenty of negative space surrounding your CTA to make it stand out.
- Size If the CTA is too small in size, a visitor or subscriber might not notice it; too large and it can compete with or overshadow the other content on the page.
- Consistency in Treatment Once you nail down the best way to visually treat your CTA, keep it consistent with how you treat them throughout, so that users begin to identify and understand, especially as they navigate your site, that those elements indicate “click here.”
- Amount Too many CTAs on the same page can conflict with one another and confuse readers about what to click, resulting in them often clicking nothing at all.
Does all the above sound great, but you’re not sure how to put it into action (nor have the time)?
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