September 7, 2021
What’s a CTA? (And why you need to be using them!)
Hint: It's all about how you sell it.

dog paws in front of a computer keyboard; blog post on CTAs

You may have heard us mention CTAs around here once or twice.

They’re an important part of any piece of marketing… whether it’s your social media posts….

…or blog posts…

…or newsletters…

…or even your paid ads.

So, what exactly is a CTA? And why do you need one? Here we’ll explain what those three simple letters mean — and why they’re not so simple at all.

What the heck is a CTA, anyway?

CTA stands for “call to action,” and it’s defined by HubSpot as “an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a ‘call’ to take an ‘action.'”

What qualifies as a CTA, you might wonder?

Anything that asks folks to take another step is a call to action:

“Click here”

“Call now”

“Sign up”

“Read more”

…and the list goes on. You’ve probably seen these as buttons on the bottom of ads, sign up forms, or even webpages trying to sell you stuff.

But the call to action isn’t just the button. There’s more to it than that. Let’s start from the top.

Setting Up Your Call to Action

Setting the stage just right is the prelude to an effective call to action.

Don’t just think about the CTA text — the content that’s surrounding it is equally as important. Here’s where really digging into your copywriting skills can give you a boost:

Make it SUPER

Now that you’ve set the stage, you’re ready to lead potential clients to the next step.

If you’re trying to get folks to go to your blog, “read more” probably seems intuitive. But in reality, it’s not that simple.

In order for a call to action to really be effective, it needs to be SUPER.

So, what do we mean by that?

Specific

If you use vague language, you’re going to lose potential customers. Tell them exactly what step you want them to take next. Tell them exactly what to expect when they take that step. Get more specific than “Read more” — what exactly will they be reading, and why should they care? Saying something like “Discover how to make 10x more profits” is much more compelling than “Read more.”

This also means not putting too many CTAs in one place, for two reasons: 1. Commitment is scary. Unless you’ve established plenty of trust with your potential client, the more you ask them to commit to, the less likely they’ll do any of it. And 2. It can get overly confusing when you’re putting too many options in one place. Think of what it’s like standing in a grocery aisle with endless options for cereals — how do you decide on one? What are the differences? What’s the right choice for you?

Avoid confusion and fear of commitment by using one CTA per page.

Urgent

“Learn more” is never a good call to action. You could learn more now, but it’s still going to be there later, right? Why do today what you could put off until tomorrow?

Creating a sense of urgency is psychologically important in getting folks to act. They don’t want to miss out, so they’re more likely to do it if they feel like they have to do it right now.

Personal

Always make your CTA personal by getting the reader involved — it’s been proven to work. ContentVerve saw a 90% increase in click-through rate (i.e., people who clicked on a CTA) when they wrote in the first person. Consider “Claim my offer now” versus “Claim this offer now” — Which sounds more compelling to you?

Easy

I once heard CTAs compared to registers in stores — if the register isn’t easy to find, are you going to keep wandering around looking for it? Probably not. You’ll almost certainly walk out without buying anything. Don’t make your CTA a hard-to-find cash register. Use clear language that indicates what the next step is, but also think about what it looks like, design-wise. Make the text bigger, put it on a button in a contrasting color, or use an arrow to point out where it is.

Per protocol 80, Inc’s 2021 inbound marketing statistics, making CTAs look like buttons created a 45% boost in clicks for CreateDebate, and Helzberg Diamonds saw a 26% increase in clicks by adding an arrow icon to their CTA buttons.

Rare

Your CTA should be something no one else has to offer. Play up the exclusivity and novelty of it — It should be something new and exciting that potential clients can only get by clicking here… right now.

Examples of Great CTAs

There is no one-size-fits-all CTA. That said, you can still borrow (and even steal) some of the great ones when they’re appropriate to what you’re selling. The first secret of marketing club is to never reinvent the wheel.

Here are a couple of really great examples to inspire you — take what serves you and leave the rest.

Evernote

Evernote CTA image

Wouldn’t we all like to “Remember Everything?” While the visual here is compelling — giving you an idea of what the app looks like — the text gives you all the information you need to make a decision. Remember all your stuff. Simplify it with an app. Sign up.

Clear, concise, memorable, compelling. I’m sold.

Square

Square CTA image

Start selling today. For folks who are just getting their business off ground — and presumably overwhelmed by all the paperwork and fees needed to get it off the ground — the idea that you could start making money right now, from anywhere you want, is pretty appealing.

Netflix

Netflix CTA image

At this point, we all know what Netflix is — so they don’t have to make a big deal of spelling out what this subscription is for. But “See what’s next” implies you’ll get to stay up-to-date on whatever the next hot show or movie is. The idea that you can watch from anywhere you want means not having to worry if the next airplane you’re stuck on doesn’t offer free movies. And then they sweeten the deal by saying you can cancel anytime and you can try it for free! For a whole month!

Count us in!

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