If your readers love your content, but don’t have the ability to do anything other than read it, then your message might be missing a call to action (CTA). Every piece of content you distribute should contain a clear CTA. Don’t let your messages miss out on the chance to give your audience a worthwhile next step.
Readers perusing your email, website or blog post might want to download your latest report, find your social media channels, or take some other action. But without an obvious pathway toward this information, the pursuit of information may be abandoned. It can actually be quite frustrating for visitors to go hunting through a website or message – unable to find what they are looking for. Clear CTAs help your readers avoid frustration and help you capture opportunities.
What is a CTA?
The CTA is the cornerstone of inbound marketing lead generation. A call to action is simply any type of graphic or text that a prospect can utilize to take a next step. CTAs can be as subtle as a “Visit our Website” link at the top of your email newsletter, or as overt as an image inviting readers to “Download Our Guide by April 30th and Receive a Free Travel Mug.”
Good CTAs point readers in the direction of your valuable resources, better CTAs capture contact information in exchange for a downloadable item, and the best CTAs accomplish both these tasks while also grabbing attention, enticing readers and succinctly offering exactly what your readers want or need from your message.
- Free consultation offers
- Enticing give-aways
- “Buy now” offers
- Polls and surveys
- Opportunities to learn more
Why include a CTA?
Your content marketing strategies are basically ineffective without CTAs. Your content exists to establish pathways back to your front door. Without a call to action, that pathway can dissolve causing your readers to start looking elsewhere for more information or additional resources. When you have a reader already looking to your content to help them solve problems, seize the opportunity to light the way to your next offering.
What does a CTA do for me?
CTAs route readers to your ancillary communication channels and additional resources: blog, social media, online resources, website, and so on. This helps drive traffic to your various marketing initiatives. They can also help you build your list by capturing contact information or new opt-in email subscribers. Most importantly, CTAs help you generate leads. When a prospect responds to your CTA and downloads your latest report, whitepaper or other nifty resource, you capture their contact information. Prospects who actively choose to receive the communications and resources you offer are your highly-engaged warm leads. This means they already have you in mind when you follow up with them through drip campaigns, follow-up calls or other nurturing efforts.
How can I incorporate effective CTAs into my messages?
It is worth your time and energy to plan and track your calls to action. After all, this planning comes back to you in the form of engaged prospects, and impressed onlookers convert into new clients.
Take these six simple steps, and you will begin taking your messages from CTA MIA to actionable:
Think about what you would like your CTA to accomplish and how it will achieve that objective:
- What do I want my readers to do?
- How will my CTA get them where I want them to go?
- Is there a deadline for responding?
- Do I have an incentive to offer?
- Am I capturing contact information, and if so, how much?
Incorporate visual cues, such as graphics, images and succinct text, into your CTA in an aesthetically pleasing and stimulating manner. Be sure your use of color, typeface and imagery cohesively blend with your brand specifications. Here are some things to consider:
- Is the CTA attention getting?
- Is the CTA visually appealing?
- Does the CTA quickly, clearly communicate my objective?
- Is the CTA at or near the top of my message (above the fold)?
- Does the CTA make sense with the message content?
Also keep in mind that your readers will become overwhelmed if you are asking them to go in too many directions at once. Make each CTA relevant to the message at hand. Avoid cluttering your messages.
You will also want to test the basic functionality of your CTA. Have you ever clicked on a website link that did not work or tried to access something in an email message that directed you to a wrong page? Then you understand the impression that a “broken” CTA can give. Make sure your CTAs are functional. Beyond function, you may also want to perform A/B tests to determine which wording, placement, color scheme or other factors work best in your messaging.
All of your CTAs should capture click activity, contact information or both (depending on the purpose of your CTA). Be sure the lead source is tied to these records and consider other data you might like to associate with these new database members: inception date, prospect location, campaign name, A/B test identifiers, etc.
If your CTA is for a newsletter sign up, whitepaper or report download, be sure to deliver your resource as soon after form completion as possible. If an email newsletter, welcome message, or a responsive email message, lands in a recipient’s inbox days after the opt-in form was completed, that message runs the risk of being mistaken as junk mail. Your CTAs should quickly deliver on their promises.
Don’t do all that work and then forget to follow up on your opportunities. Track the responses from your CTAs and further nurture your prospects with relevant drip campaigns, additional offers or even a phone call.
Make sure your CTAs are not missing in action. After all, the CTA is the essential element of your inbound marketing strategies that helps you generate new leads and offer crucial next steps to your engaged prospects.