Every good writer knows that there are few lines more important to the inbound content creation process than the call-to-action, or CTA.
A CTA motivates a visitor to take immediate action by saying things like “Click here to learn more,” “subscribe to our email list for daily updates,” or even, “buy the product you’re reading about here.”
Essentially, a CTA tells the audience what it should be doing next, which serves the incredibly important marketing purpose of increasing conversion rates and boosting sale numbers.
For the content marketer or copywriter there are few skills quite so important as learning to craft a strong, compelling CTA.
Today, we’re here to help you learn how to write a CTA that will boost the ROI of your online content, beyond a doubt.
Why You Need to Worry about How to Write a CTA
I don’t need a call-to-action if my content is really good, right?
This is a fallible fallacy that I believed once. Would you believe it?
Yes, I debated marketers and said once that good content can stand by itself. Then, after a great conversation with Guillaume from Scoop.it, I created some CTAs and I saw more readers click, follow through and visit my services page. You do need to nudge your visitors to action! Unfortunately, that will remain the truth.
Do not, do not make the same mistakes I did.
To prove why CTAs are so efficient, check this out:
- Over 90% of visitors who read your headline will actually read your CTA, as well. (Unbounce)
- Emails with an non-convoluted single call-to-action received an increase of 371% in clicks, and in sales, a whopping 1617%. (WordStream)
- Adding a CTA to your Facebook business or public figure page can increase your CTR rate by 285%. (AdRoll)
- Marketer Kimberly Snyder increased conversions by 144% by making her visitors watch an informational video on her services before giving them a CTA. (QuickSprout)
Finally, ready for this one? From Grow & Convert:
There you go. Without a doubt–CTAs are crucial to the growth, ROI, and value of your online content. Now, let’s talk about how to create them!
Defining What Makes Up a CTA
Think about the time you spend cruising the web every day. Maybe you read a few blogs, subscribe to an online journal or two or do a bit of shopping.
Now, think about how often you see a pop-up window of some type that implores you to please “buy now!” “subscribe!” “sign up!” or “click here.”
These are CTAs.
A CTA serves the purpose of directing a business’s customers to their next step and helping the business enjoy increased conversion rates and more sales. CTAs are an important marketing tool and can be found in everything from website landing pages to television commercials.
But what makes a CTA actually work? Inspire people to take that action of clicking through? The answer may surprise you: there’s a real psychology behind it all.
The Inner Psychology Behind Why a CTA Works
In addition to serving a marketing purpose, a good CTA serves the distinct psychological purpose of drawing upon people’s desire to act immediately. Because of the sense of urgency in a CTA, people are much more likely to take a specific action than they would have been had there been no CTA to give them a specific and definable nudge in the right direction.
This nudge works, because humans aren’t often eager to take action if left to ourselves. This is not to say that we lack the ability to dress ourselves and decide what we want to eat for lunch but that, when it comes to larger decisions, we often need help to determine which direction we will take.
This is called perceptual set theory in psychological speak.
Perceptual set theory: the theory that our human mind perceives the world around it in a three-fold process, that helps discern, develop expectation, create drive and motivation.
This is why we often consult our friends and loved ones for advice in the event of large decisions or purchases.
A CTA caters to this need for validation and direction in a somewhat subdued way.
Because people expect a nudge from the company or product with which they are flirting, the CTA is both expected and effective at encouraging a desired outcome.
7 Key Fundamentals You Need to Know to Write an Awesome CTA
1) Be Short, Sweet, Direct
A CTA is not a platform for the long-winded discussion of benefits or “here are the top 10 reasons you should click here” explanations. Tell your visitors what you want them to do and leave it at that.
Utilize strong command verbs like “download” “submit” or “subscribe” and avoid wishy-washy words that convey a sense of uncertainty, such as “try” or “see.” When it comes to marketing, people want direction and the entire purpose of a CTA is to tell them what to do next. Don’t be afraid to be direct.
2) Write In First-Person
This simple trick goes a long way.
Michael Aagard of Content Verve saw a tremendous 90% increase in clicks by simply using first-person in their CTA content: “Start my free 30 day trial” vs. “Start your free 30 day trial.”
When your reader clicks the button, they’re claiming a benefit for them–and writing in first person solidifies that positive feeling.
3) Use CTAs Throughout Your Content, Not Just Once
HubSpot discovered that anchor text CTAs increased their conversion rates by 121%.
What’s more, between 47 – 93% of incoming leads from a post came only from anchor text CTAs: and 83% to 93% of all leads from a post came from anchor text AND internal link CTAs.
Don’t just stop with a CTA at the bottom of your content: incorporate a few well-worded call to actions throughout your content.
Example: if I was writing a tip about creating great meta content, I might link to a useful blog on our site about meta content for additional reading, or straight to our meta content writing services to catch service inquiries from interested leads.
4) Give Readers Something Valuable
In order for a CTA to be effective, it needs to convey a sense of value and VIP-like inclusion.
You don’t want to just demand a click. The visitor needs to believe that bypassing the CTA will result in a loss of information, deals or promotions.
This approach is used to no end in television infomercials during the infamous “But wait, there’s more! Call now…” spiel. By attaching a sense of value to the decision to opt-in to your CTA, you increase the chances that visitors will click, convert or purchase.
5) Inspire Enthusiasm
No visitor to your blog or web page is going to sign up for more ho-hum junk mail in their inbox, so you need to be certain that your CTA inspires a sense of excitement. This goes hand in hand with cultivating a sense of urgency, inclusion and value but also exists separately in that, to inspire enthusiasm, you need to know what your target audience cares about.
Do they visit your site for the content? For exclusive sales? Figure out what drives your target audience and use that to inspire excitement in your CTA. Unless you’re talking directly to your clients about their desires, there is a solid chance your CTA won’t be very effective.
6) Make Your Call-to-Action Obvious
Now that you have a CTA, you need to decide where you’re going to put it.
In addition to changing what you will write, the placement of the CTA will also alter how you present it. The importance of the CTA’s location is not to be underestimated and it goes without saying that the CTA be somewhere your viewers will see it without having to dig through various webpages. This could mean a bar at the top of your website or even a small pop-up window programmed to appear after a visitor has been engaged with your site for ten seconds. The CTA should be obvious, easy to click and visually appealing to your visitors.
7) Optimize for Devices
With an estimated 63% of all adult Americans using their cellphones as their primary Internet access point, it makes sense to think about the mobile platform when crafting your CTA. A CTA that doesn’t show up, or shows up poorly, on a mobile device is guaranteed to cost you business so it is well worth your time to do your homework before deciding on a CTA format for your site. Try on several different CTA options such as pop-ups, home page bars, embedded links and sidebars to determine which works best in both mobile and desktop view. The CTA should be obvious and easy to access for all of your users, not just those on PC’s.
How to Write a CTA that Wins: The Formula
Great CTA’s adhere to a very specific formula that allows them to be effective. In addition to meeting all of the above mentioned guidelines, a CTA needs to be constructed a specific way in order to pack the most punch when it comes to grabbing attention and demanding action.
The formula for a working CTA is as follows:
The problem + the solution + the action
Example: “Are you sick of boring content? ExpressWriters.com/write-blog is dedicated to rising above the mediocre on the web. Subscribe now for fresh, exclusive content delivered directly to your inbox!”
The above example fulfills the goals of being direct, exciting, valuable and inspiring enthusiasm in several ways.
By stating the problem, “are you sick of boring content?” the writer simultaneously customizes the CTA to the presumably content-hungry visitor and gains an immediate opening to propose a solution.
When that solution (“subscribe now”) is presented, it serves the purpose of tapping into the aforementioned workings of perceptual set theory, which states that people process new information in a three-fold pattern that helps them decide when and how to act. Finally, the assertion that subscribing will result in high-quality, exclusive content delivered directly to the subscriber’s inbox imbues the new subscription with a sense of value, which makes people more likely to opt-in.
Although there are literally millions of different ways to fill in these three blanks, it’s true that writing a great CTA in five minutes or less truly boils down to clearly stating the problem, the solution and the action.
In the world of inbound marketing, there is nothing quite as important as the well-crafted CTA. In addition to helping fulfill business goals like increased clicks, conversions or sales, a CTA helps direct new customers towards the actions you want them to take. When a CTA is well written, it can be a truly powerful marketing tool that has the power to transform a website landing page.
Write a Fantastic CTA and Earn More Clicks, ROI, and Revenue
Fortunately, great CTAs are easy to write when you take the above considerations and formula to heart. Although the information included in a CTA is relatively simple, it is important to remember that the CTA must be obvious, easy for new visitors to find and properly optimized for the mobile platform so as not to hamstring yourself on account of poor placement or difficult forms.
If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be writing effective, compelling and exciting CTAs in no time.
Although they may seem complicated, CTAs are simply a formulaic marketing tool that anyone can learn to craft. Get started on improving your content conversions now with what you’ve just learned about how to write a CTA, and start changing your business for the better.
Need great CTAs written? Hire our ad copywriters and have us write conversion-oriented call-to-actions for your content!