Without A Strong Call To Action, Your Marketing Is a Dead End

A call to action or a CTA can mean a lot of different things, depending on the channel you’re using to engage with prospects. You can—and you should—use them in blogs, emails, on your website, within eBooks, ads, and in social media posts.

But, what exactly is a CTA?

A call to action tells your prospect what exactly they should do to get even more value from you. (click to tweet)

You know what I’m talking about...It’s that big red “Download” button or the form that pops up, asking you to enter your email address.

On your end, it moves a prospect from one step of your funnel to the next...and at the end of that funnel, maybe, just maybe, they’ll become a customer.

So ask yourself, what is the ONE action you want the prospect to take right now?

In Sapper’s case, we’ve seen strong b2b email CTA's convert at up to 30 and 40%. That’s huge!

Before jumping into the critical elements of a killer CTA, I’ve got a little disclaimer—Not every CTA will automatically bump your conversion rate so high. There are a lot of factors at play.

The Success of Your Call to Action Depends on a Few Different Variables:

  1. How compelling your offering is.
  2. Which stage of the funnel your prospects are in.
  3. How warm your prospects are.
  4. How well-designed the CTA is, visually and verbally.
  5. Whether or not mercury is in retrograde. (Kidding.)

For example, Sapper could tweet a blog title and a link to our 18k+ Twitter followers. Sure, we might get a few clicks, but that tweet will likely disappear from followers’ timelines in seconds.

But if we sent a portion of our email list to a flash sale of a product that they had already expressed interest in, the conversion rate would likely improve. This has the power of an extremely targeted market, and the urgency of a limited time sale.

It’s up to you to create that perfect storm of the right offer, the right prospects, and the right time.

But none of those things will matter if you don’t include a call to action.

So what are the basics of designing that killer CTA?

Crucial Elements of a Strong Call To Action:

1. Make a compelling offer

At its core, compelling means that it is relevant and useful to the reader.

If you clicked on this blog about CTAs, it wouldn't make sense if we placed an ad at the end about "The Top Ten Accounting Tools for Small Businesses," right?

On the other hand, an ad for an ebook titled "The Ultimate Guide to Creating CTA Graphics," could be really helpful to someone just learning about the subject.

Looking at Wordpress themes on studiopress.com, I came across the CTA below. As I’m about to begin building a website, this is both relevant and appealing to me.

Call to action example from studiopress.com

2. Be clear and concise

You're not writing a paragraph here. The reader has already gotten what they came for—they've read the blog or email they clicked on—and now you've got seconds to convince them to stick around.

Your Mission: Catch their eye and get them to click again.

Check out this example of an actual email CTA we’ve seen:

"Let’s schedule a phone call to see how we can help you take care of the people who take care of your business. What are the best times to connect?"

First of all, they don’t sound like they’re sure they can deliver any value. It sounds like a maybe, at best. And is it clear to you how they’re going to help you if you get on that call? It isn’t to me, so that email would go straight to the trash bin.

This is how we revised that line:

"If you’re interested in taking care of the people who take care of your business, I’d love to discuss how we can help. Do you have 15 minutes next Wednesday for a quick call?"

3. Use action verbs

"Register" and "submit" don’t count. They’re boring!

Words like "build," "grow," and "master" are inherently more exciting. They hint at the value the prospect will receive if they take action.

The image below is from Hubspot’s homepage. And if Hubspot does it, you know it’s a good idea.

Call to action example from Hubspot

4. Communicate value

What value will the prospect receive if they take the action you're suggesting?

Marketing is always about answering this question as quickly as possible — "What's in it for me?” (click to tweet)

Here’s another line from an email that we’ve come across at Sapper:

“20 minutes of your time and I guarantee I can add value for you and help simplify things for you and your employees.”

How is this person going to add value? He guarantees it, but doesn’t tell us how or what we’re going to get out of it. Why should I trust his guarantee? I don’t. And so, I’m moving on to the next email.

Here’s our revision of that sentence. Do you find it more compelling?

“If you don’t love your current provider enough to send them a holiday card (or you just need an extra set of hands) I’d be happy to discuss how we can help.”

5. Include visual elements (like a button)

Remember, your CTA should be eye catching, and a graphic will always draw more attention than text will. That’s why articles— like this one —recommend that you do add visual elements into your marketing. They stand out!

Of course, images don’t always show up in email, so this is one best left for blogs, landing pages, and social media.

Buttons are also really great for telling your prospect where to click. It sounds silly, but if they've got to scour the entire image for the right button or link, they might get tired and leave.

Neil Patel, the marketing guru, has his game on point. There’s no question where to put your url or where to click.

Call to action example from Neil Patel

6. Limit the number of CTA's you include.

I know you want your prospects to download your ebook, sign up for your newsletter, and purchase a product, but when you throw out all of those things at once, it gets confusing.

At best, they'll be overwhelmed and choose one at random. At worst, they'll be annoyed, and will go back to whatever social media site they found you on to unfollow. Think back to that ONE action you want prospects to take from above.

Below is another a shaky example from an email I’ve come across recently. Which action should I take? Which action is the most important to the sender?

"If you’re interested in email marketing that actually works, let’s schedule a call to discuss. Do you have 15 minutes next Wednesday? Need more convincing? Click here and see the power of our interactive videos for yourself."

Bringing It All Together

Below is a solid example from the CoSchedule blog. The copy is minimalistic, clear, and compelling.

Call to action example from Coschedule

"Yes, I'd love to save time AND grow my audience!"

It also tells me what benefit I'd get from clicking.

"Hello, actionable content delivered to my inbox. Yes, please."

There's a clear button to click on, and as a bonus, they added social proof, telling me that over 220k people have already subscribed.

"Sign me up!"

Bottom Line

There’s a great big world of CTA’s out there, but don’t be intimidated. Your calls to action don’t have to be fancy or complicated. Keep it simple! Follow the steps above to point your blog traffic to another content, and then another, and then, ultimately win new customers.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like "What Successful Cold Email Campaigns Have in Common"

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