Calls to action (CTAs) are powerful tools that can act as catalysts, urging your website's visitors to engage with your content. Perhaps your CTA prompts a user to purchase a product or service, sign up for a mailing list, or even access gated content by sharing your content on social media.
But a weak call to action can be detrimental to the success of your online marketing campaign, and slam on the brakes instead of helping your content circulate like wildfire. In a previous post, I showed you how to improve your CTAs in the following ways:
- Making your CTAs highly visible and easy to find
- Crafting clear and compact CTAs
- Using temporal events to create an air of urgency
As they say, there's always room for improvement, so use the following tactics and techniques to step up your CTAs and encourage more visitors to take action.
1. Make Your Value Proposition Risk-Free
There's a reason digital services and the retail industry typically have a customer support department that accepts returns. You see, human beings aren't typically wired to handle new experiences without some degree of caution or skepticism. But by reducing or completely eliminating risk, you can encourage more users to go out on a limb and try out your product or service.
For instance, if you want visitors to your site to take action by signing up for your mailing list, you can reduce their risk by offering them a way to opt out at any time. One of the largest reasons people don't want to sign up for a mailing list is the risk of spam. By offering a simple opt-out option, it's likely more people would subscribe.
Likewise, people are usually hesitant to forfeit their hard earned dollars in exchange for a product or service they feel is untested or unproven. One way to help alleviate that risk is to use customer testimonials, but you may want to consider incorporating two other tools into your CTA. Most legitimate businesses frequently offer some form of a money-back guarantee.
That way the user feels safe, and is assured that they won't get stuck with a lemon. Alternatively, it may even be appropriate to offer some form of a free trial. Free trials are most often used in subscription-based businesses, but can also work for informational products if you limit the free trial enough.
For instance, consider a website that offers informational training videos for a one-time fee. The website may have hundreds, or even thousands, of hours of video training. By limiting the free trial to, say, 48 hours, there's no chance the user could experience all of your content for free. And the free trial offers a great way for the user to judge the quality of the content.
2. Incentivize the Offer with Freebies
Who doesn't like free goodies? I think just about everyone likes that feeling when you get something for free. Instead of simply offering your product in a direct exchange for money, even though your product or service arguably has value on its own, see if you can't offer something extra for free.
For instance, you might offer special access to gated content for first-time buyers or subscribers. Other times, you may be able to attach unique features to your product for users who take action. One example that I saw recently was a VPN provider that offered a free service, but the free version had monthly data caps.
To incentivize free users to essentially market their service for free, this provider offered an extra Gigabyte of monthly data to users who tweeted or shared their content. I thought that was brilliant. After all, that excess capacity was just sitting there, and by offering a small incentive, users were actively encouraged to share content within their social media circles.
3. Be Persistent
One of the keys to effective CTAs is to be persistent without being overbearing, which is more of an art than a science. You want to make sure that you call your visitors to action multiple times on a page without feeling pushy. Naturally, you will want to place a call to action at the bottom of the page, but it's also a good idea to incorporate your CTA in other places.
For instance, consider that a lot of users like to skim content, and cherry pick the information they were hunting for in the first place. Additionally, some users may bounce, and leave your page before digesting all of your material. For that reason, it's a good idea to place a CTA nearer the top of the page (when appropriate – use good judgment) to ensure that a greater number of eyeballs see your CTA.
4. Use Industry-Appropriate Vocabulary
Young, green marketers often feel that they need to write content with the same level of diction and eloquence as Shakespeare. But as much as you might like to flex your vocabulary muscles, understand that this isn't always the best approach for several reasons.
First of all, web surfers these days want instant gratification. They want to travel the path of least resistance, generally speaking, which is why high quality images and video content are so popular. If your content is harder to finish than a dense, rich piece of cheesecake, you're going to be chasing away more visitors than you attract.
More often than not, it's better to use plain, simple, down-to-earth expressions that don't leave your audience feeling like they're trying to read Ulysses (perhaps the most notoriously difficult novel to read). Employ the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) to ensure that your audience can quickly read your CTA without having to exercise their brain.
I would even go so far as to say that you should avoid industry-specific jargon, where possible. Sometimes this may not be necessary if you're trying to get a user to purchase a highly technical device, like an Adaptive Security Appliance. But by and large, keep your vocabulary simple and light.
In summary, the following are ways you can improve your calls to action:
- Make your value proposition risk-free
- Incentivize offers with free goodies
- Be persistent
- Use industry-appropriate language
Remember that you need to call users to action during the right phase of your sales and marketing funnel. Timing is key, and if you don't have a sales funnel, your business could be missing out on exponential growth.
If you want to know more about funnel development, feel free to checkout some templates as well as our webinar. Last but not least, realize that you don't have to cram every piece of content full of CTAs. Sometimes it's appropriate to simply give your audience something valuable for free, with no strings attached.