How to create a call to action that converts
Back in the pre-digital age, we had a whole lot more time to read print media and do other things as well. So a call-to-action (CTA) was much more leisurely.
An entertaining trawl through classic vintage ads reveals that companies expected consumers to send them a postcard or fill in a coupon (often with helpful scissor symbols around the edge), put it in the post and WAIT for the brochure, money-off voucher, sample or free trial. While you were doing that, you could respond to other retailers’ suggestions that you ‘visit the showroom’, or ‘talk to your travel agent’ or go to a shop and ‘ask for it by name’.
Today the incentives aren’t much different – companies still want to give us trials, information, become part of an elite, join in an experience or event. It’s just that we don’t want to hang around any more. In the age of instant gratification and 24/7 availability, an enticing call-to-action is more important than ever.
Print media now usually just gives the website, email address, social icon or phone number, sometimes only one of them. We know what to do. Though there are still sightings of the timeless dotted-line-and-scissors coupon.
What makes a good call-to-action in digital media? There are many choices open to the user which include straightforward purchasing, downloading software or a brochure, signing up for a trial membership or contacting the sales team for an appointment. In the case of property marketing, where there frequently isn’t even anything to see, buy or visit in the early stages of a development, it’s simply to let the housebuilder know that you might be interested.
Whatever you’re selling, be clear, concise and commanding. CTAs like Sign Up, Shop Now, Try For Free, Subscribe, Register Your Interest, Download Brochure or Join Us tell consumers what they’re getting. Vaguer CTAs such as Click Here, and Find Out More are less effective. Don’t say ‘Apply Online’ – they’re already online and just want to know how to ‘Apply’. And while it might be tempting to be creative or witty, consumers tend to feel safer with the familiar. The wording should be part of your SEO 101.
Give customers a reason to respond – what’s in it for them? ‘Shop now, sale ends at midnight.’ Promote excitement or emotion. ‘Buy now for 50% off’, ‘Plan your dream holiday today.’ ‘Healthier eating starts today.’ Incite FOMO. ‘Places are limited. Book your appointment now.’ Remember that the customer may not be reading your website in the order you intended, so there should be a clear call-to-action on every page of your site. It can be an image, a line of text or a button. Whatever form it takes, it’s an element that makes the reader do something.
M-commerce in the UK (on mobiles or tablets) is on the march, growing from £1.34 bn in 2011 to £29.04 bn in 2018 according to Statista. And M-commerce needs a different CTA approach to desktop e-commerce, due to smaller screens and the fact that consumers are more likely to be on the move (for more tips on this read our blog on creating content for mobile). Companies are creating more mobile-friendly websites where it’s easier to browse or ‘add to bag’ with bigger buttons and CTA links. The same rules apply though – there’s nothing like ‘Shop all deals now’ for producing action.
CTAs are vitally important to close the deal. Keep them direct, simple, relevant and informative. On mobiles, make them finger-friendly. And as with all digital actions, deploy A/B testing to see what’s working for you. Tiny tweaks can make a big difference to your conversion rate.