A Call-to-Action (or CTA) is the part of your message that asks or encourages people to do something with the information you’ve just given them—Act now! Call today! Click here!
A few things are at play when it comes to crafting an effective CTA: purpose, language, design, and science.
Obviously you cannot call someone to an action if you have not decided what you want that action is. Do you want them to read something? Apply for something? Try something? Click something? Give you their email? Take a quiz? Pick something that’s appropriate to your business models and your goals.
Incentive is an important part of purpose. Enticing readers with a coupon, a discount, an weekly email—anything you are at liberty to offer them. If you offer people a reward for following through, they’re more likely to do it.
As a copywriter, I love to pretend that all words are created equal—but I know they aren’t. A CTA is some of the most important (& difficult) copy to write. It needs to be short and persuasive. Don’t be afraid to be more bold than a ‘Click here’ or a ‘Start a Trial.’ Research shows that the more fun the copy is, the more likely people are to interact with it. This awesome article gives more details and examples when it comes to writing stellar CTAs.
Personally, I almost clicked this one just because it called me “good lookin’.” I’m a hopeless romantic that way.
The same basic rules of design all apply to your call to action. Pay attention to placement, color, style, shape, etc. Check out this study on how changing just the color of button text made a significant difference in results. Plus, look at nifty these examples.
Research shows that if the featured image or model is looking towards your CTA button (like in the first example), it will be more effective.
In the second example, nothing changed but the color. The stoplight pattern employs a sense of urgency, if only in our subconscious minds!
It may be more apt to call this analytics or strategy, but all marketing is a science, really. A truly successful CTA is one that will not only drive traffic and response, but can be optimized and monitored so you can learn more about the traffic you’re getting. Have a system in place to measure results. Are you using direct mail? Have them bring in the mailer. Online? Place tags on the website and use analytics. Social media? Take advantage of Facebook’s special offers tool.
Figure out what you want, write something witty to make it happen, make it pretty, and do some research on the most effective way to track results so you know if it worked. Or you could always put some experts on the job—and we may have some suggestions on just who can help you out (It’s us! Pick us!).