A call to action (CTA) is a crucial component whenever you are trying to encourage one of your website visitors to “do something” as a next step (which to be honest should be most, if not all, the time). Whether it’s a big flashy button on a landing page or a more subtle link nestled within some copy, whenever you want a person to give you their contact details – to download an eBook, signup to a newsletter, or simply request some more information – a CTA is almost certainly what you’ll want to use to encourage them to do so.
But creating an effective CTA is something that many people approach with a hugely nonchalant demeanor. But why? These crucial components of landing pages and blog posts alike have the potential to turn a prospect into a customer, so it stands to reason that you should take them seriously and give them the attention they deserve, right?
With that in mind, how do you create CTA’s that convert?
1. Always Appreciate Where The Customer Is On Their Online Journey
When it comes to creating a killer CTA, you must always consider where the customer is on his or her journey. In other words, are they landing on your page because they’re ready to make a purchase (or at least they think they are) or are they just discovering your brand for the first time?
This is a crucial component of any good CTA creation as it will shape the kind of CTA you ultimately opt for.
For example, let’s say you’re sat with a group of friends and you’re discussing the latest iPhone release. You’re all unsure as to exactly how much it costs, so you turn to Google for answers. No doubt a host of results will pop up giving you a price range. This inevitably also lists network provider, phone specification, contract length, and more. Your discussion is concluded with the help of the Internet, but it has taken you much further down a ‘buy me’ path.
Chances are, if there is a CTA staring at you on the page you visited it will ask you to ‘call us today’/’pre-order now’/’get 3 months free’. In essence the CTA wants you to go to the online store or pick up the phone. You were originally only there to obtain a quick bit of information before bouncing off the site again, but a savvy CTA is pulling you in.
So how about when a potential customer lands on one of your product pages? And it’s a product page they’ve landed on several times before – maybe even added to their wishlist or basket. Isn’t there a good chance they’re considering making a purchase?
A ‘buy now while stocks last’ or ‘buy now at a special discounted price’ CTA may just be enough to secure the deal.
The bottom line is that whenever you create a CTA, you should always put yourself in the individual’s shoes and consider how their customer journey has been progressing to this point and how it might progress to the conclusion you seek.
2. Subtle Interruption
We’ve all heard the old adage that says if you want to be successful in sales and marketing, you should learn how to listen as much as you speak. You’ve heard that, right? If you haven’t, it’s a fairly common, well accepted theory that helps sales and marketing professionals (and their customers) reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion.
However, when it comes to creating a killer CTA that will make people sit up and take notice, subtle interruption is the name of the game.
The basic premise is that you want to subtly interrupt your prospect and make them think, “Wait! What did you say?”
When used correctly, this method can jolt your visitor into action. But you need to get it right and it isn’t easy.
It’s all about the link between marketing and psychology, and the way we all crave completion. For example, let’s say you’re in the middle of watching a movie at home and there’s an unexpected power outage. What’s the first thing you do when the power’s back? You switch your TV back on and finish what you were watching (this has been made vastly easier with services like Netflix).
The same applies to sales and marketing. Your customers and prospects usually have a problem and they have come to you in the hope you can fix it. Killer marketing usually starts by outlining where they are (the problem they’ve got) before looking to build a bridge and help them get where they want to be.
Provided you’ve indulged and engaged them with what you’re saying, and highlighted how wonderful their lives will be if they buy your product or use your service, there’s a good chance they’ll click your ‘Find out more’ button because they’re craving that completion.
It’s all about using that subtle interruption at just the right time to get your customers and prospects to want to know more about whatever it is you’re selling.
3. Be Consistent And Clear
As you may know from your historical marketing efforts, consistency is key when it comes to engaging your customers and prospects online. People like what they know, it’s that simple.
So if you’ve got into the habit of publishing a new blog post every Friday morning at 10am, and sharing it on your social media channels immediately after, you should look to this consistently all the time.
The same goes for your CTAs.
If you’ve got a CTA at the end of a blog post that leads to a landing page, ensure that any CTAs on the landing page echo the ones in the blog.
For example, if you’ve got a blog post that outlines how your customers and prospects can attract more followers on Twitter, and you have an associated eBook that you want to push at the end of it, you might have a CTA that reads: ‘Click here to download our FREE eBook and grow your Twitter followers overnight’.
You’d then have the same (or a very similar) CTA on the actual landing page itself, so that the visitor remembers why they’re there.
In addition to being consistent, it’s also very important to be clear. In other words, tell your audience exactly what it is you want them to do.
So, using the same example of the Twitter followers cited above, if you want them to download your eBook, tell them so! Simply placing a random image at the end won’t do. Look to force their hand by outlining the benefits and instructing them on what they need to do next to take the right path.
4. Never Submit!
How many times have you seen a CTA on an online form that reads ‘submit’?
Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence and usually happens when the website developer either hasn’t been guided about effective CTA composition or simply doesn’t care and goes for the easy option.
While you might think that little details like this don’t really matter, they do. Even though it’s a bit old now, a HubSpot analysis of over 40,000 landing pages found that the ones with ‘submit’ buttons had a significantly lower conversion rate (around 14%) than their more dynamic counterparts.
For example, forms with ‘click here’ had a conversion rate of over 30%, while ones with ‘go’ boasted conversion rates of just under 25%.
This highlights how a simple change of language on a form button can help you realize significantly better results.
The word ‘submit’ isn’t ideal because it’s too vague. It almost sounds as though the visitor is going to click the button and maybe get a response; the same as when they submit an application for something. It might be successful or it might not. This perceived uncertainty causes people to hesitate – almost subconsciously – which may be enough for them to change their minds.
Your CTAs should instill confidence and make your customers/prospects feel positive that what they’re doing is not only right, but that they’re going to benefit from doing it.
The best part is that changing a ‘submit’ button is usually a very quick and simple task (depending on how many of them you’ve got). Yet it’s a change that could dramatically improve your conversion rates.
So, if you’re looking to create CTAs that encourage your customers and prospects to act, you need to:
- Consider where they are on their online journey
- Interrupt them subtly, without sounding ‘salesy’
- Be consistent and clear in your message
- Use language the audience ‘gets’.
What CTAs have you used in the past? Have you found that some work better than others? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Tweet us at @cmindscape or leave a comment below.
COO and co-founder of Creative Mindscape. Lover of marketing, psychology, tech and all things sport. Family man with a passion for living life outside the rat race and chasing your own dreams.