If you and I have spoken recently – and I went on one of my “make sure your website has_______.” (fill in the blank) riffs – I probably brought up “Calls-to-Action” – and I probably brought that up alot!

But Susan, What is the “Call-to-Action” of which you speak?

A Call-to-Action (CTA) is an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action, such as “Sign-up Now”, or “Request a Quote”. The CTA is your final instruction to your reader. Literally, it is a “Call” to take an “Action”   The action you want people to take could be anything: download an e-book, sign up for a webinar, get a coupon, attend an event, etc. A CTA can be placed anywhere in your marketing — on your website, in an e-book, in an email, or even at the end of a blog post.

what is a call to action

In direct mail, you have to tell people to “mail the enclosed card.” In digital marketing, we ask for a click.  No matter how creative we get, it still boils down to that one request. The CTA should be compelling, risk-reducing, or benefits-oriented.

But Susan, how can I tell if I’ve used the right Call-to-Action?

Basically, an effective Call-to-Action will have:

  1. Eye-Catching Design: Makes sense, in order for a visitor to click on your CTA, they’ll have to even notice that it’s there. Hubspot experts suggest that this may be the one time you can veer off course from your branding guidelines: They suggest that the colors you use for your CTA should contrast with your website design, as well as be large enough to get noticed.
  2. Copy That Makes People Want to Act: You don’t have to be boring here – but, be sure to be clear. You want to use a clear, concise message with actionable verbs. Catch people’s attention and let them know exactly what to do.
  3.  A Clear Value Proposition: Your visitors will want to know precisely what will happen should they click on your Call-to-Action. Will there be an e-book to download? A coupon?  An invitation? Are they signing up for your newsletter? Be thorough and clear about what they are getting in exchange for their action – their click.
  4. A Specific Page (Ideally a Landing Page) Aligned With One Stage in the Sales Cycle: Your Call-to-Action will have the most impact if it leads your visitors to a dedicated landing page. Hubspot points out: “a CTA is still a CTA if it points to a “contact us” page (which isn’t a landing page), but it won’t be as effective driving leads and customers as a specific, focused landing page for a free e-book download.

For more details, you might refer to the Hubspot blog which offers a Checklist for an Effective CTA.

Need some ideas to help you think outside of the box?  Check out 11 Kick-Ass Examples of Calls-to-Action and Why They Work on Wordstream. My favorite: < Be Awesome >.

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