”If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Sometimes people need an invitation. If you want them to do something, you’ve got to ask. Enter the call to action, arguably the most critical component of any marketing piece. Let’s take a look at it.
What is a call to action? It’s exactly what it sounds like: an invitation for the customer to take a desired next step. A call to action can be many things: a “contact us” button, an email signup, a sharing link for social media, a forwarding link for email campaigns, or a whitepaper download. A call to action can also be as simple as posing a question to your audience to encourage conversation (such as asking your reader to share their thoughts on a blog article or social media post in the comments.) It’s anything that leads the customer to do something other than just passively view your marketing piece and take no further action.
What is the goal of a call to action? The end objective of a call to action is to gather contact information and convert visitors into marketing leads; however, that is not always accomplished via contact button or email signup form. A purpose of a call to action can include other steps that eventually lead to the conversion (such as expanding your audience by asking readers to share an article).
Is a call to action really necessary? Yes. Next?
When and where should I use a call to action? They should be used whenever and wherever possible, but it’s important to understand that there are certain calls to action that should be avoided in some applications. For example, as I mentioned, it’s great to ask people to speak up and share their thoughts at the end of a blog article, but that might not be the time for a sales pitch and invitation to “contact us for a free quote!” This can make your entire article seems like a commercial, rather than a sincere attempt to offer information of value to your audience. You don’t want to leave that impression.
What makes an effective call to action?
- It should be easy to find
- It should be easy to complete, and not require an excessive number of steps
- Clever wording (rather than just “Contact Us!”) that fits your tone can be successful
- Your call to action shouldn’t take people where they don’t expect to go
- It’s nice to thank people for taking the step to further connect with you
- If you can, test a couple of different versions of your call to action to see which works best
I’m not a fan of calls to action that must be completed before you can view any information of value. I prefer to feel I am making a choice, not being forced to do something. If I get a pop-up asking for my contact information before I can proceed to a site, more often than not, I’ll just leave. Here are some great examples of effective calls to action.
And now, here is my call to action for you! Do you have other thoughts on this topic? Speak up in the comments. (Really, I’m not just saying this. I’d love to know what you have to say.)