What is a Call to Action (CTA)? Just the most important line of copy you can add to any marketing message.
A CTA does precisely what it says: It tells people exactly what to do after reading your message. It’s a succinct, clear direction; if people follow it, they go from being a passive reader to an interested consumer who progresses one step further down the sales funnel.
In other words, the CTA sums up your entire reason for sending an email, creating an ad, developing a gated marketing asset or designing a new website. Check out these examples:
- “Schedule your free, no-strings-attached consultation today.”
- “Sign up now to receive your first month on us.”
- “Cybercriminals will keep attacking. Ensure your security tools can keep up. Read the report now.”
- “Is your outdated website driving people away? Register for this new webinar to find out.”
- “This week only, we’re offering special pricing and volume discounts. Contact us today to learn more.”
- “If you’re feeling overlooked by other data providers, we’ve got your back. Call us now.”
- “Want to win a year of free service? Enter now.”
- “Online fraud is costing retailers millions. Read more to protect your business.”
Do you really need CTAs?
Absolutely. Why? Because people expect them, for starters. Additionally, some people simply don’t know what to do. It may seem completely obvious to you that anyone with half a brain would know what to do next, but some people won’t put two and two together. Assume they know nothing and tell them exactly what to do next.
In fact, every piece of marketing material you share and every page on your website should include a strong CTA.
On your web pages, that could be a simple “Schedule an Appointment” or “Receive a Quote” button, but every page should have one. You never know what marketing message will resonate with customers, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to take the next step.
In emails, brochures, videos and other assets, you have the space to be a bit more creative, both in design and copy. Take advantage of that, and make sure you are using every opportunity to convince prospects to engage further with your brand.
How to write an effective CTA
All the messaging leading up to the CTA should be well-written and answer for customers “What’s in It for Me?” and the CTA should be no different. The most effective CTAs are:
- Be clever. Be cute. Be trendy. Just make sure that your readers understand what it is you are asking them to do.
- Keep it short and sweet. If you’ve done well with your marketing copy, you’ve already sold your audience on your product or service. The CTA should tell them in no uncertain terms how to move forward. Aim for 15-20 words, tops, for emails and other longer copy. For buttons, you’ll need to get down to two or three words.
- Easy to find and follow. Design elements such as bold, clickable buttons catch your eye, so incorporate them when possible. Even when you can’t, for example, in an email, link directly to web pages, forms and so on. Don’t expect people to do too much searching or put in too much effort. Most won’t.
- Benefit-driven. Always tell people what they have to gain by following your directive.
- Action-oriented. Spell out the actual action you want the reader to take. For example, use words like “Download,” “Register,” “Attend,” “Sign up,” “Learn more,” or even just “Get.”
- When possible, give them a reason to act right this minute.
Ultimately, your CTA summarizes the entire point of your message. It’s a nice way to tie everything up into a neat little package—and clear up any confusion about what readers should do next.