What Is a Call to Action?
You’re walking into the supermarket. Out front is a table with two adorable little girls. They’re chowing down on cookies. You wander over and ask about the sweets.
They say the cookies are delicious. They’re made with real butter. “And look,” one girl holds up the half-eaten treat, “there’s a new salted caramel cream one!”
Then…they smile and go back to eating.
Aren’t they going to ask you to buy the cookies? You want the cookies. Are they for sale or not? What are you supposed to do?
I know - this is totally unrealistic. Girl Scouts are brilliant salespeople. Also, NO ONE would sell this way.
But…if you don’t have a solid call to action on your website, your landing page, your email, your blog - whatever - this is how you’re operating.
A call to action - or a CTA - is a clear, compelling way to tell a lead what to do next.
You know what a CTA looks like. Those buttons with links that say “CALL NOW!” That’s a call to action. And all the copy you create needs a CTA.
Let me say that again - You always need a call to action.
Anytime you’re speaking or writing for potential leads, a CTA is both a good business strategy and good manners.
You heard me - good manners.
Look, people are bombarded with a constant stream of information. After a while, it’s less like information and more like drinking from a firehose. Any help you can give them to focus their choices, to reduce friction to the next step - that’s welcome.
A call to action in marketing can help your ideal client feel oriented and help you continue a valuable conversation with a qualified lead.
So, help them out with a good CTA.
“[M]ake it as easy as possible for them to follow the directions of your specific, succinct and actionable request,” says Forbes.com, “Even when people have the will and skill to act, they may find it too hard to get over the hill — that is, overcome the barriers in their way.”
But what makes a good call to action?
Well, a CTA has to be clear and compelling. Beyond that, there are a lot of different ways to do it.
In this blog, I want to give you some guidance on best practices when creating your call to action.
Then we’ll buzz through some call to action examples so you can build one that works for you.
Your CTA Button
Oh my god, Katie. Are we really going to talk about the CTA button? Seriously?
Yeah - just for a second.
Be sure to make it large enough to comfortably fit the text and click it easily on mobile.
As to placement? If we’re talking home pages or landing pages - be sure to put your call to action button “above the fold.” That means the lead shouldn’t have to scroll to find your first CTA.
If it makes sense to put more than one button - and it usually does - then do it where a button seems to naturally go.
How do you figure that out? Well, it’s not a perfect science.
But you’ve been a consumer. Put yourself in your ideal client’s place. Consider the flow of your page. Then place a CTA button whenever you feel “taking the next step” could be natural.
Be sure to give your call to action button some space. Reduce the clutter around it. Remember it’s all about clearing a path to the next step.
Possessive Pronouns in Your/My Call to Action
There’s some debate over which possessive pronoun - “Your” or “My”- is more effective for a CTA. Meaning, does “Start Your Free Trial” or “Start My Free Trial” work better?
ContentVerve saw a 90% uptick in their click-through rate when they used my.
But really - I think they’re both great.
Possessive pronouns create ownership in the client. And words like “your” and “my” can help their imagination close the gap between reading about your service and trying it out.
Just do some A/B testing - meaning you can run both CTAs and track your success.
The more info you collect, the better grasp you’ll have on which version your clients respond to.
Using Time and FOMO
Ends Soon! Act Now! For a Limited Time!
Here’s the thing - I have no problem applying this kind of pressure…if it’s true and has a positive spin.
Putting an expiration on your call to action, letting them know there’s a limited quantity - these can and do create urgency in a lead that’s hesitating.
My only caution is this. Business doesn’t exist in a bubble. It’s not separate from “real life.”
Creating urgency around a truly limited opportunity is useful. But we don’t need to put more terror of scarcity into the world.
Excitement is a good message. Paranoia is not. The world you sell in is also the world you live in. Act accordingly.
Call to Action Examples
When you create your CTA you need to see things from your lead’s point of view. Then ask, what’s next? That’s all - what’s the next step you want them to take?
Below are some categories and call to action examples. It’s not an exhaustive list, but I just want to get your brain going.
Be sure to keep a pen and paper handy, in case these CTA examples ignite some of your own great ideas.
The “What Do I Get?” CTA
A button that says “Tap here for 50% off!” is a super compelling call to action.
Consider spelling out a discount in numbers or pop the word “FREE” in there. It may seem blunt, but it’s a clear and tasty CTA.
It says “if you just press this, you get this!” Almost like a free vending machine. That's an interesting CTA.
Just Another Step
There are different levels of commitment in different calls to action. Things like “Shop Now” or a “Browse Our Selections.” rate as medium to low commitment.
Phrases like these nudge a lead just one more step toward a transaction. Your CTA can hold the door open for them, without an immediate purchase being pushed.
Invite Them on an Adventure
Words like “Explore” or “Discover” can invite the lead into an experience. This kind of CTA excites a feeling of wonder or deep change in your service.
It also implies a greater sense of agency in clicking that button.
The “What’s Gonna Happen?” CTA
This is any call to action that leads to a real connection.
Schedule Your Appointment, Book a Call, Reserve Your Space.
A straightforward call to action that nails down an appointment is a slightly higher commitment. All the more reason to use plain language.
It might scare some people off, but that’s fine. This call to action is about connecting with people who now need to talk to a real live human.
Samples and Lead Magnets
You can use a call to action to hand off a lead magnet.
The words “Download Your Free E-Book” or “Tap here for your free 7-day trial” are a great way to offer value immediately, in exchange for an email.
This is a CTA that continues the conversation - while they get a sample of your work. Everybody wins!
Timid Shoppers Need Low Commitment
Depending on what service you offer or what your price point is, your ideal client might need a minute.
They might be timid to reveal too much if your service covers sensitive topics. Or they might be worried about the price tag.
So choose a call to action that gives them some room. Language like “Learn More” or “View Our Offers” can be great wording to warm a timid lead.
A call to action that implies a solid, enthusiastic commitment can be disarming and exciting. A CTA like, “Yes, Sign Me Up” or “I’m in!” can add a real vibe of celebration and enlistment.
My only caution is to make sure the copy leading up to the button is clear on what they're signing up for. And be sure you’ve earned that enthusiasm.
A passionate call to action can be endearing when earned. It can feel obnoxious and manipulative if they're not sold on the journey.
Your Funnel, Their journey
Like I said, there are a million ways to do this. How you do it is a choice. And you can keep tweaking that choice as you go.
Just remember that a call to action is an important tool in your funnel.
And for your lead, it’s a signpost leading them into the next phase of their customer journey.
Just think about where they are on that trip. And where they need to go next.
Then give them clear directions on how to find their way.
Did you set your specific goals? Do these goals involve taking your passion and creating a profitable business out of it? I could be the mentor for you.