— June 30, 2018
Every piece of marketing content you write should have a clear call to action. The CTA serves a simple yet crucial role in telling your readers what steps they should be taking next, like buying your product, calling for an appointment with you, signing up for your email list, or simply sharing your post with their friends. Not all CTAs are created equal, though. If your calls are not generating action, it could be for any number of reasons. This blog lists four reasons why your CTAs are falling flat and five best practices, so you can improve yours.
4 reasons why your CTAs are falling flat
Amanda Clark lists four reasons why your CTAs are falling flat. Here they are:
1. You forgot the action part
This happens more often than you might think. It is common to assume that the CTA is any short, snappy wrap-up to your content but the goal of the CTA is not to summarize. The goal of a CTA is to encourage your readers to take the next step. So, if your CTA does not include a clear verb, it is simply not doing its job. Some examples of effective CTAs are ‘Call today to schedule your appointment,’ ‘Download our free e-book right now,’ and ‘Sign up for additional updates.’
2. Your verb choice is weak
When it comes to verbs, it is important to pick some really evocative ones. However, all too often, CTAs are written with bland, boring verbs like ‘Enter,’ ‘Continue,’ and ‘Click here.’ Yes, they qualify as action words but they are hardly motivating. Aim for something a little more exciting, such as discover, explore, and start your journey:
- Discover the secrets of content marketing by joining our email newsletter.
- Explore your financing options by calling a loan specialist today.
- Start your journey with meditation today; download our free guide!
3. You forget about benefits
It is not enough to tell people what to do. You also need to tell them why they should do it. What is in it for them? A good CTA conveys real value.
- Save money on your monthly utility bills by downloading our energy efficiency e-book.
- Get one-on-one content marketing assistance when you call one of our consultants.
- Increase your sales numbers by up to 20 percent when you download our program.
4. Your CTA is too long
Finally, remember that the hallmark of a strong CTA is that it is short and snappy. You do not need to rehash your entire sales pitch. Get to the point. There is no reason for your CTA to be any longer than one to two sentences, clearly laying out the invitation and the benefits.
Five best practices
Will Schmidt calls writing CTAs very challenging and uses the following five best practices to keep in mind as you refine your own CTA copy moving forward.
1. Balance creativity and practicality
Creativity can take you a long way toward encouraging clicks and conversions but it can also detract from your success if you go too far with it. Puns, play-on words, and double entendres are fantastic and appropriate only if they also incite action.
2. Keep it simple
Simple will almost always trump complex. It is your job to refine dense messages and convey them in a straightforward way to your audience. If you want people to take a specific action, sometimes it is as easy as just saying it. Sometimes being straightforward can be the most effective. If you can write it in five words, write it in five words (or fewer if it gets the meaning across).
3. Keep it clear
Your CTA is only going to be effective if your audience can understand what you are saying. Avoid run-on sentences, poor grammar, jargon, and fluffy language. Spell out precisely what you want your audience to do. This provides a foundation for you to work off of. Once your message is clearly and correctly written out, you can whisk in some creativity and play with stronger words to elicit a more emotional connection to the message.
4. Use strong verbs to start your CTA
As Amanda said, a direct, simple, and effective CTA starts with a powerful verb. Power verbs can help take your CTA from a place of inaction to action. “Please Consider Donating to Our Campaign Today” is very different from “Donate to Our Campaign Today.” They express the same sentiment, but the second one is much stronger because it starts with an impactful “donate” as opposed to a softer “please consider.” Schmidt suggests the following words: view, donate, support, fundraise, create, discover, explore, learn, read, and see.
5. Create urgency
Amazon puts a countdown clock on their daily deals because they want you to feel a sense of urgency. If you do not buy this item right now, you may never get this awesome deal again. Anything you can do to include a similar sense of urgency in your CTA will go a long way towards getting people to click and take action.
This does not necessarily need to be a specific measurement of time. It could be a general feeling that you convey. You extract urgent tidbits around opportunities that might not come around again and include them in your CTA. Personally, I urge you to use this CTA honestly; do not make up a time limit if there is none.
Digital marketing trends
CTAs can be found in nearly everything you do in your digital marketing plan. Digital marketing has changed a lot over the last few years so what worked for you last year might not work for you this year. One of your jobs as an entrepreneur is to keep up with this change. In How Can Current Digital Marketing Trends Help the Entrepreneur?, I discuss ten current digital marketing trends and what they mean for entrepreneurs. In addition, here are some new releases of books about digital marketing.
If you need help with your digital marketing efforts and CTAs in other languages, you can contact me. I am a translator, so I can translate your company’s content for you.