Having a large internet presence is great for any business but doesn’t mean anything if your web traffic isn’t translating to action by your customers. Whether it’s a blog, social media page, or website, you need to inspire people to act beyond simply viewing your content.
Effective call to action phrases are one part science, one part art. Words are one of our most powerful tools, and learning how to use words can increase your conversions exponentially. Understanding how to craft effective call to action phrases and when/where to implement them will blast your online traffic from visits to real money.
The Psychology Behind CTAs
Humans have a natural tendency to interpret words based on the context surrounding them. This hard-wired association allows us to communicate more effectively. For example, consider the phrase “two puppies crashed into each other”. Now, what if, instead, I said: “two cars crashed into each other”. The same wording is used, but two very different pictures are painted by the phrase. One creates an image of two cute, little dogs playing and the other a dangerous accident. Context makes all the difference.
To write successful calls to action you must understand the context of your message. Whether it is making a purchase, signing up for something, or sharing content, be sure you maintain focus on the action you want the customer to take.
One of the most common mistakes marketers make is to focus on the product as opposed to the action. Your product will sell itself in other ways across your platform, so be sure your call to action is action focused. Focus on the results the reader will get instead of what you are trying to sell.
The Art of The CTA
The second half of an effective call to action is knowing when to use a certain phrase.
Join Free vs. No Cost
Buy Now! vs. Get Yours!
Consider the phrases above. None are incorrect in any way, but they all hold very different meanings. The subtleties in the wording makes all the difference when crafting a call to action. To fully understand why the different wordings of a phrase affect our brain in different ways you would need an extensive education in language studies, but that does not mean that you cannot quickly understand enough to craft a catchy and powerful call to action.
When trying to decide which phrase fits best for your specific action, there are five ground rules that apply to almost any CTA.
1. Create a Sense of Urgency
Have you ever noticed how many retail sales are made out to be an emergency? There’s a reason. These words play on our unwillingness to miss out on an opportunity. If we believe an opportunity is limited or scarce, we are much more likely to “buy now” instead of putting off the purchase.
2. Focus on a Benefit
All the bells and whistles are great for your website’s vibe and energy, but realistically a user does not care about the aesthetic. They care about what those bells and whistles can do for them! Be sure your call to action is user focused, and brings about the answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”. A call to action that says “Save over $100 a week” will be much more effective that one that says “Get our money saving app”.
Readers will absorb most content on your page, but they are generally focused on personal benefits. Be sure to highlight what the user is gaining for the action and your CTA will draw more clicks.
3. Minimize Risk
We all prefer low risk, high reward options, right? If possible, minimize the risk the user must take in order to complete the action. Don’t overlook the word “free”. It can be one of the most persuasive words in marketing, because who doesn’t enjoy something they don’t have to work to obtain?
Remember, the less risk the user must take to complete the action, the more likely they are to participate – also, telling them something is free will practically eliminate all thoughts of financial risk in the reader’s mind.
4. Ask at the Right Time
We’ve figured out the “what”, now we need the “when”. How do you know when to implement your call to action? Well, the answer is kind of tricky.
You’ll need to have a clear vision of what your call to action is. If you’re intending your user join a mail list or membership, ask early. Greet the user with a captivating welcome page and give them the chance to learn more about your services. If you’re trying to sell a product, you may want to aim your CTA towards the end of the user’s experience. Many times consumers will not want to purchase a product before learning about it, so it doesn’t make much logic sense to offer it early on.
There is no clear-cut guide to optimizing CTA placement, but with good, logical judgement you should be able to place your CTA in the right spot. Simply keep in mind the end goal of the action and build around it.
5. Keep it Simple
While it is okay to follow your primary call to action with a secondary one, such as urging your readers to follow your business on social media, be sure you do not clutter the reader’s mind with too many options. Ensure that your call to action is clearly visible and understandable, you do not want your reader lose focus, so don’t give them other things to focus on.
If your user has many options, they are less likely to choose one. This phenomenon is called decision paralysis. By giving your user multiple decisions to make, you clutter their mind and push them into a position into which they are afraid to make any decision at all.
Keep your call to action clearly defined and easy to locate to avoid users overcomplicating the process and ultimately leaving your page without following your CTA.
Choosing a CTA
There are thousands of options for an effective call to action, so which one should you choose? Well, the simple answer is – whichever one you think will work best!
Here’s a little snippet from a database my team has concocted with over 500 individual, unique CTA options that are categorized by a timeline. While it’s not hard to come up with CTA options, sometimes a little inspiration can go a long way.
There are thousands of calls to action for thousands of unique situations. Start experimenting to see which CTA works best for you!