Writing an effective call to action (CTA) is one of the biggest challenges we face as marketers. In one phrase, you need to ask someone to complete the perfect action that you need them to take. The most amazing copy in the world means almost nothing if there isn’t a clear and compelling CTA at the end.
It’s not easy, so we’re going to give you some basic tips on how you can start writing great CTAs! Sometimes, you need a helping hand, though. When you need a reader to take a very specific action, writing a CTA can become the most difficult thing in the world. That’s where we come in! When you’re stuck, speak to our copywriting team and we’ll help you smash through that writer’s block.
What is a call to action (CTA)?
The best place to start is to define what a CTA is and how it’s used. A CTA is a phrase that directs your target audience to take an action. This can take the form of something simple like ‘Shop Now’ or something more complex like ‘Sign up for more information on marketing’. Regardless of how effective these CTAs are (we’ll discuss this later), they are both viable examples.
In most marketing adverts, the CTA will be the most visible element. A button or colourful graphic adds to the eye-drawing ability of it and subconsciously convinces your audience to click it.
A CTA will be its strongest when it is written to appeal to your target audience. Before you start writing, consider what they would respond well to and why. It’s important that you guide them to the action you want them to take, but the way you do that has to be tailored to them.
What makes a great call to action?
Defining what is required for a great call to action is difficult because it depends on many things: situation, target audience, advertiser, purpose, etc. With that being said, there are some generally-accepted best-practices that are worth remembering, which we’ll go over here.
Never be afraid to break the mould, though! Truly successful marketers should be adaptable to their situation and be willing to experiment. Whilst these best-practices are good guidelines, in certain situations, there may be other ways to craft the perfect CTA for your business.
1. Evoke emotion or enthusiasm
A boring CTA is an ineffective CTA. By injecting some emotion and enthusiasm into it, you can promote that same feeling within your audience. This increases the chance that you’ll see a positive response to your CTA and has been proven to improve click-rates.
Let’s look at an example:
Bill is writing an advert for a new line of shoes that he’s releasing. He wants to convince people to buy a pair with a great 20% off promotion. ‘Buy now’ is a good place to start, but it lacks enthusiasm and doesn’t mention his promotion. He finally settles on ‘Buy now and get 20% off!’, alongside strong advert copy that mentions that the promotion is only for a limited time.
The important thing to note from this example is that the CTA has to be paired with a strong advert. You can’t expect the CTA itself to do all of the heavy-lifting! ‘Buy now’ works well in the example because it’s alongside a limited time offer, so it promotes a sense of urgency as well as enthusiasm and a great deal.
2. Follow the verb with a reason
The above example works on another level too. By offering 20% off his shoes, Bill is not only directing his audience to do something, in this case, ‘buy now’, but is also giving them a reason to take that action.
The reason you can use can be almost anything. It’s popular to pair the verb in the CTA with some sort of freebie e.g. ‘Sign up now and get your first week free’. Offering something for free is a great way to convince your audience to take the action you want them to take. A key thing to remember when you use a freebie, though, is that you often need to work harder to retain the audience you gain.
3. End with a time limit
Bill hits another great idea in his advert by talking about his promotion only lasting for a limited time. He could take it a step further and put this information within his CTA, though.
Here’s an example of how he could change it: ‘Buy now and get 20% off! Offer ends Sunday’. He hits 3 distinct things here by having a clear verb/action, giving his audience a reason, and making them feel like they might miss out if they don’t act fast.
The length is probably as long as you’ll ever want to go with a CTA. Any longer, and you wouldn’t be able to feature it attractively on an advert and it would become a bit complex. By doing all 3 of these things, though, Bill is not only getting his audience to take the action he needs but also convincing them in 2 separate ways to take that action.
There are plenty of other ways you can improve your CTAs and these examples are not the extent of it (by any stretch of the imagination!). They’re a good place to start, though, and important lessons to consider when you’re crafting your next CTA.
Still having difficulties with your latest campaign? Need a helping hand? All of us at redPepper Marketing are here to help you! Get in touch with us today and speak to one of our expert copywriters. Hurry, this offer ends tomorrow! (Just kidding. ?)