A call to action (CTA) is what drives a prospect to perform the desired task on your website. Common CTAs include subscribe, add to cart, download, and sign up buttons or links. Writing a great CTA takes time, thought and practice. Some of the best copywriters in the world make cash for themselves and for their clients because they understand the art of persuasion and how to capture it in just a few simple words.

What a CTA Is

Your call to action (CTA) is telling your readers to do something. It is often framed in a way to capture the readers’ attention while skimming and often uses fonts, images, and text boxes to both invite and motivate readers to take action. As a business owner or blogger, your CTA should be clear and with purpose. It is part of your marketing strategy and without specific thoughts behind your CTA (or too many CTAs), your audience could get confused.

Confusion generally means readers won’t do anything.

A CTA can be different on different website pages and you may even have several CTAs on one page. One page may ask the reader to go to a free webinar while another page is asking customers to buy something. A pop up might call readers to subscribe for future announcements or newsletters. Every CTA has a different use for a business and website.

Consider these steps in developing a great CTA for your next blog or landing page:

Determine the Objective of the CTA

Clearly define the purpose and objective of your call to action. By knowing what you want the CTA to accomplish, you will better be able to build an effective and winning CTA. Doesn’t every website want to convert more sales?

Yes, every website wants to make more sales. However, if you are a new website or trying to build an email list to have greater control over the content your prospects see, you might not be trying to convert every click into a sale. In fact, you don’t want to.

Consumers are very cautious online and often want to determine if a site legitimately offers a solution to their problem. Plus, not every consumer is ready to buy the moment they come to your site. (Remember the way you structure your pillar content is to help consumers move through the sales funnel.) If those that aren’t ready to buy are willing to give you an email for a free download of something, you win.

Note: in the digital marketing world, emails are considered a form of currency. Even though you don’t get a dime the moment someone opt-in to your offer with an email, you have the ability to keep them moving down the sales funnel until they are ready to buy. You get to build a high-quality and professional relationship without hoping they come back to your website. This helps mitigate changes in Google algorithms that affect ranking as well as the fickle nature of online searchers.

Know What Makes Your Target Audience Tick

Your ideal customer has something he is searching for online; it’s why he is there and found your website. Marketers call this a pain or pleasure point (pain points tend to sell better). A pain point is a problem the reader has that he is looking for a solution; if you can offer that solution, you win the consumer. An example of a pain point might be migraine headaches and you might have a supplement that is a great solution.

A pleasure point is something that makes your client happy, often feeding off the reader’s ego for more money, nicer things, popularity, love, and ultimate joy. While the pain point might target a headache, a pleasure point targets things like a new house, a better job, or falling in love. Know what your audience wants so you can give them exactly what they are seeking. In other words, don’t try to sell ice to an Eskimo unless he is asking for it.

Draft With No Care In the World – Then Edit Very Carefully

A CTA is usually no more than a couple of sentences, maybe a paragraph. In fact, the shorter the CTA is the more effective if often is. Play with the draft in the tone and voice of your brand and don’t worry about getting it right the first time. Try to tackle the pain point – tackle several if there is more than one.

Like all writing, censoring yourself in the draft phase hinders a lot of great ideas from coming to the surface. Throw all ideas down onto a pad of paper or into a document on your computer. Then when you edit, think about how you can make everything shorter, tighter, stronger with words your audience relates to. Think about emotional words that evoke feelings – people buy on emotion and later justify purchases with logic.

Simple is Better Than Clever

Oh, the trap of being clever. Alliterations, plays on words, double entendres. These are all cute and fun but often confuse readers. Seriously. I’ll take a lesson taught to me in fiction and screenplay writing – kill your darlings. If you think it is that great, test it among a neutral test group. Chances are it is going overboard. If they love it, keep it. But, make sure the majority loves it.

Too cute will turn people off and you won’t get the desired conversion with your CTA.

Simple and direct CTAs tell the reader exactly what you want them to do. You’ll have a lead into the actual action statement. For example, someone selling weight loss supplements might have a straightforward CTA like this: “If you want to lose 10 pounds in 10 days, buy our XYZ supplement.”

Don’t we need to make our products or services stand out from competitors?

Don’t confuse all the work you do in the content leading up to the CTA. All of that content is the orange that gets squeezed to make the CTA juice. (Yes, I got cute and clever there. If I weren’t making a point, I’d kill it. Then again, it isn’t the CTA, so why not have some fun?) The simple point is, the content should clearly define the solution to your reader’s problem. The CTA gets them to solve it.

Make It Easy

Making it easy doesn’t refer to making a huge green flashing button that says BUY HERE. That’s just obnoxious and not helpful unless you are selling payday loans in a seedy strip mall next to the strip bar. Making CTAs easy means giving your customers a sense of confidence that they just didn’t commit their son’s college education by clicking your CTA.

city street with neon

This is why freebies and promotion subscriptions work well. There is nothing lost for the customer who gives you an email – he can always opt out later if he hates your emails. Free trials, money back guarantees, no credit card required are all ways that CTAs help make the clicking decision easy for consumers. With no commitment, it becomes easy to see what the next offer or solution is. Give them a reason to stay try you and then win them by overdelivering.

Test Locations

Traditionally, a CTA is found at the end of the blog or content. This isn’t always the case. Look for sections in your content that are relevant to what you are selling. There may be a better place to position the CTA. Remember that not every reader will get to the end of your content so finding other areas for CTAs gives you a better chance of converting readers who got their answer quickly but didn’t see a button to buy now.

While testing locations, test various types of CTAs and track your results. Marketing campaigns don’t end with the creation of the ads. Everything must always be monitored to see what is working, tweaked or changed and re-monitored to see if you got it better. Better results eventually mean better sales. And yes, that is the ultimate goal even if some CTAs don’t directly get you there.

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