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Lights. Camera. Call to Action.

The Business View – May 2017 / Small Business Corner

 

A call to action (CTA) is one of the most critical parts of any marketing message, whether it’s delivered by email, direct mail, on your website, Facebook page or any other way. A click-worthy call to action will spur the customer or prospect to take the next step (call, click, buy, download, tell a friend, etc.).

 

But many businesses create ineffective calls to action – or worse, none at all. “Call us” or “Click here” are CTA weaklings. They offer no information or customer motivation. Who should I call, and why? What happens if I do click? What’s in this for me?

 

A strong CTA makes it clear what action you want someone to take, and why they should take it. Your approach depends on exactly what you want to happen. For example, if the goal is to spur a purchase, and you’ve already communicated benefits, a simple “Buy Now!” might be all you need.

 

Here are 9 tips for creating strong calls to action:

 

1 – Set the table first:

A call to action works best when customers are properly prepped. Start by identifying the problem (the pain), and explaining why your product or service solves it. The benefits you offer can become part of your call to action.

 

2 – Make it stand out:

In a letter or text email, for example, the CTA can be in larger type, color or bold. On a website or blog it can be designed into a colorful, attention-getting button. In any case, keep the page clean and simple.

 

3 – Offer incentives:

Consider a sweetener, such as a discount or free gift as a reward for heeding your call to action. For example, instead of saying merely “Join our mailing list,” your CTA could be “Join our mailing list and receive a 15% off coupon.”

 

4 – Avoid scary terms:

Instead of asking people to “Register” or “Subscribe,” (both can be scary), try friendlier terms such as “Receive updates” or “Stay connected.” Make it about them, not you.

 

5 – Minimize the choices:

Avoid surrounding your CTA with too many choices. For example, presenting three action choices such as “View Demo,” “Get more Information” and “Buy Now” all in the same place will likely reduce response.

 

6 – Place your CTA early and high:

Small businesses typically place CTAs at the bottom of an email, direct mail piece or web page. The best place, however, is high up where the eye can easily see it.

7 – Use links liberally:

Always link logos and product photos to your desired landing page or shopping cart. And don’t forget to label your photos with descriptive “ALT” tags. This stands for “alternative text” which will appear in someone’s browser or email if the image is not available.

 

8 – Be strategic:

When creating CTAs, don’t think in terms of a single offer or campaign. Try for messages that can be part of your overall marketing plan. That way, the same ones can be used in a variety of circumstances.

 

9 – Follow through:

Having a great CTA is just a start. You must also consider what happens if the reader does what you asked. It’s vital to deliver the proper response quickly – an order confirmation, thank you note, email, or other action that keeps the customer moving down the purchase path.

 

Copyright 2017 BizBest Media Corp.

This column was written by Daniel Kehrer, Founder & Managing Director of BizBest Media Corp. Kehrer is a nationally known, award winning expert on small and local business, start-ups, content marketing, entrepreneurship and social media, with an MBA from UCLA/ Anderson. He can be reached at dkehrer@bizbest.com.

 

Click here to read The Business View – May 2017