Your site ranks #1 for every keyword you want to target. Thousands of users are clicking your links. You’re getting more traffic than you ever thought possible.
You didn’t put all that time and effort into luring users to your site just to have them look at your content and leave. You want them to do something. You want them to call you. You want them to send you an email. You want them to sign up for your newsletter. You want them to buy something.
So how do you get users to take your desired action? Simple: write a great call-to-action.
What is a call-to-action?
A call-to-action – or CTA – tells users exactly what you want them to do.
Call now. Buy now. Click here. Sign up. Get started. These are all simple calls-to-action.
But to write a great call-to-action, you can’t just tell the user what they should do. You have to tell the user why they should do it.
Netflix.com has a great call-to-action:
“Join Free for a Month.”
It tells the user what they should do: “Join.”
And it tells the user why they should do it: “…because you can watch all of these movies and TV shows for an entire month FOR FREE!”
So how can you write a great call-to-action for your business? Keep on reading!
Clearly state what the user will get when they take action
Again, Netflix does this perfectly.
“Join Free for a Month” = “You will get one free month of Netflix if you join now.”
It’s simple and effective. And you can do it for any business:
- Call now for a free quote on HVAC services
- Sign up for SEO and grow your business
- Fill out our form and get your windshield fixed FAST
Use as few words as possible to get your point across. If you make your point quickly, users will act quickly.
Use active verbs
Active verbs like “buy,” “subscribe,” “order,” and “download” tell users exactly what you want them to do.
“Our email list provides you with the latest news and updates. Subscribers get a 50% off coupon good for their next order.”
“Subscribe to our email newsletter and get 50% off your next order!”
Example 1 implies that the user should subscribe.
Example 2 tells them to subscribe. (It’s also much more concise.)
Be direct. It works!
Use positive emotional words
Words that evoke positive emotions – “love,” “dream,” “better,” “satisfy” – make users feel good about taking your desired action.
“Click here to buy a house.”
“Find your dream home today.”
The first example is flat. It sounds like a chore.
The second example is enticing. It sounds like an adventure!
People like adventures. They don’t like chores. Keep that in mind.
Use negative emotional words (with caution!)
Words that evoke negative emotions can also grab users’ attention.
Example: “Your email marketing stinks. We can make it better. Call now.”
Going negative is riskier than going positive, because, frankly, you’re being kind of a jerk. If you think a negative approach is the way to go, be sure to clear it with the owner of the business.
Make them an offer they can’t refuse
The Netflix example offers a great deal: “Join Free for a Month.”
A whole free month! Who can resist that? According to their subscription numbers, at least 86 million of us can’t.
People love a bargain. If you can offer one that your competition can’t, go for it.
Here are some examples for other businesses:
- Fill out our form for 25% off A/C repair!
- Free dinner for 2 with all windshield replacements. Call now!
- Buy 5 candles, get 1 FREE!
Create a sense of urgency
If a user feels like they can take a week or two to consider your offer, they may decide against it. They may even forget all about it!
But if the user feels like they’ll miss out if they don’t act now, they’re more likely to take your desired action right away.
An easy way to create a sense of urgency is with limited time offers or offers with limited supply:
- Call now for 25% off A/C repair. TODAY ONLY!
- Free dinner for 2 with all windshield replacements. Call now! OFFER GOOD UNTIL DECEMBER 31
- Sign up for our SEO conference. Only 1,000 spots available, and they go fast!
Focus on one action per page
If you want the user to contact you, focus on getting the user to contact you. If you want them to join your email list, focus on getting them to join your email list. Don’t muddy the waters by asking them to contact you, then asking them to join your email list, then asking them to download a brochure.
If the user has to think too much about which action to take, they may take no action at all.
Plus, it’s easier to convince someone to do one thing than it is to convince them to do five things.
Focus makes things easier on you and the user. It’s a win-win!
Put your call-to-action in the right place on the page
Proper placement of your call-to-action depends on how long it takes to convince a user that taking your desired action is a good idea. Sometimes it takes no time at all. Sometimes it can take a couple of paragraphs of persuasive copy, if not more.
Conventional wisdom says to put your call-to-action at or near the top of the page, so a user can see it without scrolling down. But this may not always be the best option.
If you place a CTA at the top of the page, the user may ignore it because they don’t have enough information to make their decision. If they decide to scroll down and read on, they may not scroll back up, so your CTA might as well not be there at all.
On longer pages, it’s a good idea to repeat your call-to-action throughout your content. This gives the user a convenient way to take action when they feel like they’ve been sufficiently informed.
There’s no hard and fast rule for exactly where to place a CTA, or for how many times you should repeat it on a longer page. The only way to find out the correct answer is to do it, see what happens, and make changes as necessary.
Know your audience and tailor your CTA to them
Different industries have different audiences. A great call-to-action for a dog groomer would have a different tone and style than a great call-to-action for a funeral home.
A great call-to-action for a dog groomer: “Call now to save 50% on your dog’s new ‘do!”
A not-so-great call-to-action for a funeral home: “Call now for killer caskets at prices that’ll knock you dead!”
We hope it’s obvious why the second example is inappropriate.
Tone and style could be the difference between gaining a new customer and turning them off forever. If you’re not sure what tone and style to use, or if you think the campaign might benefit from a change, discuss it with the owner of the business.
Test your CTA’s effectiveness
After you implement your snazzy new CTA, track its effectiveness.
Are you getting more calls, emails, subscriptions, purchases, etc. than you were before? Great! If not, tweak it until your results improve.
If you think you’ve got an even better CTA, try it out and see what happens. If it improves your conversion rate, awesome! If not, go back to the CTA that was more effective.
Optimizing a CTA is more art than science. Don’t be afraid to get creative, but don’t get so married to your work that you ignore hard data that shows you it isn’t working. Be flexible.
Don’t underestimate the power of an effective call-to-action. And don’t underdo the work it takes to write one of your own.
We’ve given you the tools you need. Now it’s time to act on this call-to-action:
Get more conversions. Make more money. Write a great call-to-action NOW!