When you send an email to prospective customers or succeed in drawing visitors to your business website, what exactly do you want them to do next? Most likely, the answer is to move them closer to purchasing your product or service. But never assume customers immediately understand this, since we all tend to react, rather than act on things we encounter online.
That’s why a call-to-action (CTA) is so critically important—and why it should be included every time you communicate with potential customers.
A call-to-action is pretty much what it sounds like—whatever action you’d like people to take after reading your marketing email message, company blog, newsletter, etc. And the first step toward crafting an effective CTA is deciding what that action should be. Do you want them to:
- Ask for more information about your offerings?
- Take advantage of a limited-time discount?
- Request a free sample?
- Visit your Facebook page?
- Follow you on Twitter?
To encourage visitors to respond, try these tips for a more effective call-to-action:
A reader should never have to pause and wonder, What do they want me to do? State your CTA in clear, direct language, as in “Register here” or “Download this white paper.”
Don’t clutter your email message or white paper with a call-to-action in every other paragraph. Generally speaking, it’s most effective for a CTA to appear in the opening summary or in a sidebar “Resource Box” which the reader can easily spot while scanning your content.
Keep it short, using active language.
Rather than say, “Click here to sign up for our free newsletter,” use “Sign up for our free newsletter.” Straightforward, strongly worded language compels people to take the next step.
Make your CTA urgent, as in “right now!”
All of us will put off taking action if given the choice. Instead, your call-to-action should provide a sense of urgency (“Buy now” is stronger than “Read more”), as well as the idea that taking action today will cost less than taking action tomorrow (“Register today for our money-saving webinar”).
Relate the CTA to the message you’re sending.
Whatever your communications vehicle might be (newsletter, blog, article), keep the call-to-action relevant to that content.
Deliver on your offer.
You’ve worked hard to craft a short, simple, direct message that’s easy to act on and conveys a sense of urgency. Best of all, it works! Visitors to your site or readers of your newsletter are choosing to “Click here” just as you requested. Now it’s up to you to make good on your offer. Check and double-check to make sure automated processes are in place so prospects receive whatever the CTA has promised.
Any glitches that cause a failure to deliver on the call-to-action will lose you customers. On the other hand, your prompt response moves people one step closer to that all-critical purchasing decision.