Life lesson: If you want somebody to do something, you generally have to tell him to do it. If you want your husband to wash the dishes, you’re better off asking him than expecting him to read your mind. And if you want website visitors to take a certain action, you’re better off guiding them through the process and spelling out exactly what you want from them, instead of hoping they’ll just stumble upon it.
Or, to say all of that a bit more succinctly: Calls to action are important!
The call to action is the section of your website or landing page where you invite users to take one specific action — clicking on a link, buying a product, e-mailing you, calling you, signing up for your e-mail blast, downloading your e-book or what have you. Hopefully, if you’ve spent much time at all in marketing, this is all review.
There is ongoing discussion about what a call to action should look like, and often this discussion is consumed by web design and layout. Certainly, the positioning of your call to action on the page is important, but if you really want to develop something that will achieve the desired result, it all comes down to good writing.
So if your calls to action aren’t doing what you want them to do, the problem is likely with the actual words on the page. The question is, how can you up your writing game to start getting those calls to action answered?
5 Tips for Improving your CTA
- Lead with a strong verb. Start directing the action from the very beginning of your call to action. “Interested parties should contact us today” hardly conveys urgency or excitement. “Discover new solutions by contacting us today” packs more of a punch.
- Use some numbers. People like numbers. Their eyes drift to numbers. Not all calls to action lend themselves to this, but if it’s possible to say something like Reduce your home heating costs by 20 percent or Join more than 8,000 other financial professionals in your call to action, do it!
- Avoid adverbs. What’s an adverb? For our purposes, we’ll just call it a word that modifies a verb — and in most cases, it’ll end in –ly. People don’t trust adverbs, nor should they. They’re vague. A word like quickly or urgently is so non-specific that it will immediately drain your call to action of its credibility.
- Write for laymen. Be specific, but not overly technical — and focus on value! Why should people do what you’re asking them to do? What’s in it for them? Write your calls to action to convey immediate benefit.
- Finally: Keep it short! Your call to action is where users go to find out what you want them to do next — and frankly, they don’t have all day. Keep it to somewhere in the general vicinity of 100 characters, 150 at the most. Just get to the point.
The call to action may be the shortest and most formulaic piece of web content you ever write. It is likely also the most important.