This is part two of Alicia Lawrence's two-part blog post on call to action.
Calls to action are an important part of an Internet marketer’s job. You can build links and optimize your website for search engines, but if you don’t have a persuasive call to action you won’t get any customers.
In the first part of this series I laid down the groundwork for the art of persuasion. They are the best practices for anyone looking to persuade another. However, these next six points are specific tactics to use in your call to action to persuade the reader to click or purchase.
Finding the Right Words
The words you use to frame your call to action have as a significant effect on a person’s choice. Even the smallest word choices, exhibited in this experiment, such as changing the word “keep” to “lose” shows that consumers fear loss over their desire to gain.
Your call to action should also give a sense of urgency while communicating to consumers exactly what you want them to do and why they should do it. To create a sense of urgency, use words like the following: "call," "buy now," "register," "donate," "for a short time only," and "order now to receive a free gift." One of the most important parts to ensure urgency in your call to action is the end date: “Offer expires February 20th.”
Power of Comparisons
It was Aristotle who said, “The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor.” Metaphors, similes and analogies have always been powerful vehicles for persuasion. (I’ll be referring to all three as comparisons.)
Creating a visual with our words helps alleviate skepticism and provide understanding. Crafting great comparisons, especially with a limited amount of words, takes times and isn’t always the best method for a call to action. However, many landing pages and emails could benefit from the power of comparison to persuade their readers.
Most calls to action require the consumer to click a link (at least in the first step). While this action may seem simple enough, there are ways to position that link to make it even more tempting to click.
The first technique is called the “Money Link,” dubbed by SEMrush’s very own Kathleen Garvin. This link, accompanied by the call to action, is placed in the first paragraph, which gives it a higher click-through-rate.
Secondly, for longer content like a landing page, make sure to include the same link multiple times. General rule of thumb, your call to action link should be seen no matter where someone is on a landing page. But be careful not to confuse the readers with which link they should click.
This leads to our third technique: always clearly mark your links so the reader knows what will happen when they do click.
As mentioned earlier, people fear loss; the decision theory refers to that fear as loss aversion. As communicators we should be putting loss aversion to work in our calls to action by showing how your products help solve a problem.
Express to your reader (maybe through a comparison) why not buying your products could result in a loss. For example, this is the type of fear that insurance agencies appeal to.
We live in a visual world. It’s a big reason why content and graphics have become such an important part in marketing. Even just a simple, high-quality photo of someone smiling will increase your conversions.
Keep in mind, in order for images to work as a persuasive tool you must know your audience. Try A/B testing or a focus group to get a better understanding of what works for your readers. While a photo of a smiling person works for some sites, a web graphic might be more successful for others. Even the very color of a purchase button has an impact on the click-through-rate.
Photo by Maxwell Systems
Value of a Number
Readers love numbers. I’m sure you’ve noticed your draw to a headline that has the “Top 5” style. Even for calls to action, placing a number in your content has a persuasive appeal to it. You could be explaining the 15 benefits of a product or how they could lose $100 if they don’t purchase your service. In order to reinforce this point, I’ll explain this persuasion tactic in 4 steps.
1. Use Numerals: The actual number 4 draws the reader’s attention more than the written word four.
2. Help People Scan: Like putting words in bold, numerals stick out of a wall of text and helps the reader remember the main points.
3. Keeps Their Interest: When the reader knows there are a certain number of tips or points, they have a tendency to keep reading.
4. Numbers Build Credibility: I once heard a statistic that 98% of people believe anything that has a number in it. While I’m not sure if that is true, numbers do hold a certain factual persuasion over the reader. If you have solid statistics in the call to action it will help build your company’s credibility with consumers.
Many of these best practices can be combined to create a powerful call to action your consumers won’t be able to refuse. What tips and best practices have you found to work to persuade your readers to follow a call to action? Let me know in the comments below.
Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business and Muck Rack. Her last article for SEMrush was “How to Persuade Customers to Follow the Call to Action: Part 1.”