Your Guide to Writing Effective Calls to Action
Everyone wants to know how to give their website, ad or newsletter that extra edge. The difference between average and great is often in the call to action (or ‘CTA’ if you don’t have time for the extra syllable). The right CTA can turn hesitant customers into conversions and transform ‘possible sales next week’ into ‘actual sales right now’.
So how do you write something that actually convinces your customers to take the action you want?
First things first: What actually is a call to action?
The definition is generally along the lines of “content designed to induce a reader/listener/viewer to take a desired action”.
That doesn’t mean too much, so let’s put it in context.
This is a call to action:
This is one too:
And so is this:
They’re all pretty simple. They’re all pretty short. They all tell you, the receiver, what to do next. And us people – we just love to be told what to do next.
What makes a ‘good’ call to action?
A good CTA should:
- Be short
- Address a common concern
- Promote a specific USP
- Use language well
- Have a clear path for the user to follow
- Be visible and not buried by the design or copy.
While you don’t have to tick every single thing off that list, you would want to aim for at least 3-4 of those elements to feel OK about your efforts.
So how does someone create an effective call to action?
First, you need to go back to all the target market profiling your business has done. If you haven’t already, jot down why the reader/viewer/listener is consuming your content.
- Are they trying to solve a problem?
- Do they want a new experience?
- Is there an essential need they’re looking to fulfil?
Whatever it is, identify why they’re looking at you. You’ll want a CTA that speaks to their desires.
Once you’ve got those points down in a short and clear way, you have something to work with. Now it’s time to put those into a call to action.
Let’s jump back to how Netflix has put theirs together.
This CTA seems to have it all. There’s the promotion of a benefit (watch anywhere), addressing a common concern of being locked in to a contract (cancel any time), an offer too good to refuse (join free for a month), and perhaps the most interesting element – the more abstract concept of seeing what’s next. As a reader, I’m intrigued; what is next? Which show can I binge-watch now? The copy is short and well-constructed, and the next step is clear – click the button to join.
No matter where your CTA is appearing, by keeping the simple principles mentioned above in mind, you should be able to create a call to action that encourages your audience to take the action you want them to.
And, of course, don’t forget to measure and test, using variants of the CTA over time against a control, and adjust accordingly. That way you can get a feel for what makes your audience tick and why they’re engaging with your brand in the first place.