In content everywhere, there’s a key bit of information that's being left off the paper. It’s prevalent in white papers, in blogs, in web copy, and even on social media updates. It’s a tiny little thing called a "call-to-action" – not to be confused with the liberal advocacy organization that butts heads with the Catholic Church.
Since I’m a big fan of definitions, let’s consult the trusty ol' Web to find out how they classify this little marketing call.
According to the Business Dictionary…
A Call to Action (or a CTA) is a phrase that urges the reader to take an immediate action. An example would be reading, "Sign up for my weekly newsletter" after reading a blog post by a known industry expert.
Why is this important?
As a business owner or marketing executive, take this bit of advice to heart: Customers have no idea what they should do next. They will always rely on you to tell them.
It's sort of like the sales process. People who haven't spent any time in sales hate the close. They avoid closing like the plague because of a variety of reasons, but mostly because they don’t want to seem pushy.
However, the important thing to remember here is that giving your readers a call to action is like giving them a blueprint. It tells them what the next step in the sales process is, and guides them into your sales funnel. If you’re overlooking this critical step, I’ll bet you a hundred bucks you aren’t getting any leads from your website.
Calls to Action Create Effective Marketing
Bottom line: If you aren’t giving your readers a call to action, you’re creating ineffective marketing materials. So now that the importance of a CTA has been drilled into your head, let’s go over a few key elements of what makes a CTA effective.
- Use persuasive language. Don’t ask people to complete an action – tell them to complete it. Using words like "Buy," "Subscribe," "Call" and "Register" are actionable words. They urge the reader to take action. Likewise, using a word like "Try" doesn’t convey the urgency in completing a task, and so most people won’t.
- Offer an incentive. Visitors will always be more receptive to handing over something of theirs (such as an email address or a phone number) if they’re getting something in return. An excellent example of this is HubSpot – a marketing software for B2C and B2B companies. They have a strong content marketing strategy implemented and they release studies and white papers for marketing managers and directors in exchange for information about their biggest marketing challenges and other insightful data.
- Make it noticeable. Some marketers use a call to action in a sentence at the end of a blog post or page on their website. Smart marketers put their call to action in a button. In a separate color. Above the fold. In an area that catches the eye. You see what I’m getting at here? Don’t hide your call to action away in a block of text – set it apart, make it bold, make sure visitors notice it and take action. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Crafting a strong call to action and using it in your copy will dramatically improve your conversions. For starters, it will tell your leads what the next step is in the sales process. Secondly, it will capture more leads because there’s a clear path for the visitor to follow. And lastly, it can help you develop a sales process for online leads. Instead of flailing around helplessly when an online lead comes in, you can decide that when they sign up for a newsletter, you follow up a week later to set up a sales call. Thus ushering them into your existing sales process so that no lead gets left behind.
Lauren Fairbanks is Partner and Co-founder of Stunt & Gimmick's, an NYC-based content marketing and lead generation firm. Before she started her own firm, she worked in publishing at AOL and founded a popular lifestyle website that she sold in 2011. She's been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, Forbes, Crain's New York, CNN, AOL, and the New York Enterprise Report.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.