Does your target market know what you want them to do?
Have you given them a clear CTA or are you yelling “watch out”?
Last week I was gasping for breath when I suddenly heard the shout behind me. “Watch out!”. A cyclist. Wanting me to get out of his way. Now, I’m not an idiot. I wanted to get out of his way too.
I love running the Durban promenade. It’s stunning and there’s plenty of room for everyone. Except maybe the cyclists! Sometimes they seem to think they own it entirely – and forget there’s an actual road they could be using. Still, I’ll happily get out of their way.
But it’s a fat lot of good telling me to “watch out”. If I step to the side, I might step directly into his path. If I don’t, he might ride into me. With no time to think, I stopped dead and froze.
This should have been simple. All I needed was a clear direction. Yell “keep right” and I will. Shout “watch out” and I have no idea what to do.
What is a “Call to Action”?
A call to action (or CTA) is an instruction to your audience. It’s simple: you’re telling them what to do next.
Calls to Action need to be clear and specific
And this is true whether you’re yelling at runners or running a marketing campaign. Emails, social media posts, sales pages, or landing pages – they all need a strong CTA that leaves no room for confusion.
Why is a call to action important?
If you don’t tell your audience exactly what to do, they’ll probably do nothing at all.
It also achieves something else that’s important – it forces you to think about why you’re sharing that content. If you don’t know what you want your audience to do, you might need to focus on your purpose before your invest your time and energy in that piece of content.
And no, “Because I have to post on social media 3 times a week” or “It’s time for our quarterly newsletter” are not good enough reasons.
10 Reasons to create content
1. Drive traffic to your website
2. Build your database
3. Develop relationships with your audience
4. Be seen as an expert
5. Create awareness
6. Build trust
7. Reach a new audience
8. Help your followers solve a problem
9. Raise money for a charity
10. Make a sale
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you can probably see how most of these reasons can be linked to a call to action. Things like Learn More, Subscribe now, and Share this.
So many reasons, so many choices
Don’t be tempted to give your audience options. The research is clear – if you give someone too many choices, it causes confusion.
Should I buy now or visit their website first? Or should I download their guide and then decide if I want to buy? It’s almost as bad as no CTA at all.
What is the best CTA?
That depends. I know that’s the most annoying answer, but the best CTA depends on what you want to achieve, and the format of your content.
How to choose the right CTA
- For web traffic you might invite your readers to Learn More, Click here or find a link in your Instagram bio that takes them to your website.
- To position yourself as an expert, you could ask people to download a high value guide.
- To create awareness and reach new audiences, you might ask people to share your post on their social platforms.
- To make a sale, you should probably tell your market to buy now – or if they’re not ready for that, to find out more.
Ultimately digital marketing is a tool to expand your business, and you should create with your business objectives in mind.
4 Hallmarks of a great Call to Action
1. Clear, unambiguous direction
Don’t clutter your message with several different CTAs. Focus on the one that matters most. If you give me choices, you might confuse me. And if I’m confused, I’ll probably do nothing.
2. Sense of urgency
Give me a reason to act now. If I decide to “think about it later”, I probably won’t think about it at all.
3. Make it easy for your audience to do what you’re asking
Your CTA should stand out on your page. This is particularly true when it comes to landing pages
4. Appropriately timed
if you think I’m not ready for a “buy now” CTA, lead me there gently with a series of calls to action. I may need to trust you before I buy, or know more detail about your offering.
If you’re offering me a great deal on Swiss chocolate I’ll probably hit your “Add to cart” button instantly, but if you want me to sign up for your wildly expensive software, you’ll have to show me why I need it a couple of time before I commit. And even if you offer me a free trial too soon, I might sign up for it and never bother to use it,
Where to place your CTA in an email
There’s some debate about this. We’ve all had those emails with the same CTA repeated every 2 paragraphs. It’s not always really annoying. But if your audience has read your email to the end, they probably see value in what you’ve given them and will be more inclined to do what you’ve asked.
My own CTA
I wrote this post for several reasons, one of which was to give you interesting stuff worth sharing. So if this made you think about the calls to action you’ve been using, please share this.