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Three places you should absolutely be using a call to action

I have had all kinds of different experience in sales. Most were not positive. I tried to sale some kind of system for home security once. It didn’t go well.

I tried to sell a satellite type of telecommunications and cable once. I also spent about 30 days on a car lot trying to sell cars.

The one place I always excelled was retail. For about eight years I worked in a bookstore where I was stationed at the cash register. I had customers who were regulars, some who were semi-famous, rich, poor, and just about everything in between.

It was very relationship oriented.

pexels-photo-626986
Courtesy of Pexels – A call to action can come in handy in a bookstore

One of the things I was asked to do was to sign customers up for our email newsletter. To me, it was a no-brainer because the customer was going to get coupons – great coupons – to the story and all they had to do was give us an email.

I did better than most when I was at the register, and that despite having far more customers than most of the ones checking out customers.

Do you know what the difference was between those like me and those who did poorly?

The difference, aside from being pleasant and building a relationship, was that I asked. That’s it. I simply asked if they wanted to sign up.

In the marketing world, that it is called a call to action. Look, you don’t have to bring some kind of manipulative, high-pressure sales technique to your content, all you need is a simple call to action.

So, what is a call to action (or CTA)? Well, in the marketing world it is simply where you ask for someone to take action. CTA’s come in the form of a linked text and or a linked button. Either way, it is made up of copy. The copy delivers the goods.

Alex Birkett of ConversionXL defines it like this,

In marketing, a call to action (also known as a “CTA”) refers to any message designed to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale. It really is as simple as it sounds: a call for someone to take action.

Experts usually talk about the call to actions in the context of buttons. We use buttons quite frequently for calls to action. Nevertheless, in this article, we are referring to the copy you use for CTA links as well as CTA buttons.

Before we start, let’s shall discuss four fundamentals to keep in mind when talking about using a call to action.

Be consistent

By being consistent,  I mean make sure your title and your call to action matches. You never want to link to a page that is vastly different than what the call to action is promising. Joanna Wiebe says,

. . . DO! Match your headline to the call to action that led visitors there

A great way to lower bounce/exits is to create a seamless experience in which your visitors’ expectations are matched.

Be Specific

Here you want to let your visitor know exactly what you would like to do. There’s no reason to beat around the bush. Billy McCaffrey says,

Let your audience know exactly what you want them to do, and don’t dilly dally – start the CTA with the desired action.

Never use “Submit”

Submit is a bad CTA. It is a word that just doesn’t inspire action. In fact, it can be referred to as a “friction” word. McCaffrey explains,

Words like “Submit,” “Buy,” “Sign Up,” and “Download” are high friction words when used by themselves. These words imply that the visitor has to perform chores, and who likes doing chores? Nobody I know.

Don’t make it seem like a chore for the user. Reduce the friction of clicking on the link or button.

Provide a benefit

Often times the call to action, such as the “submit” (see above) and other mundane words, do not inspire action because there is no clear benefit for clicking. Your CTA needs to provide a benefit for your user. Greg Digneo explains this at Copyblogger,

The words “free consultation” have come to mean “sales pitch,” and signing up for your newsletter is giving you permission to sell stuff.

Highlight exactly what your readers are going to receive when they take action. How will they benefit?

Provide the benefit of clicking on the link or button.

Using your Call to Action

So, where are the places we should use a good call to action? Well, the answer could be everywhere. Today we are going to focus on three places you absolutely should be using a call to action.

If you aren’t using CTA’s in these three places, I am sending the CTA Police to track you down and make you change your ways. 

On your homepage

You should absolutely be using a call to action on your homepage. If you are, you are doing something that the majority of small businesses are not doing. When I consult solopreneurs on their homepage, the call to action is one of the first things I look for.

According to a 2013 article by Small Biz Trends, 70% of small businesses do not use any kind of call to action on their homepage.

If your website has such a call to action, give yourself and your marketing team a pat on the back.  You are doing better than 70% of B2B (business to business) websites. Small Biz Trends

Even if we account for the fact that more are using a call to actions now, you are still better than most small businesses if you have a call to action on your homepage.

WooCommerce The Best WordPress eCommerce Platform
Screenshot: WooCommerce’s homepage w/ CTA

Failing to have a call to action on your homepage can cost you leads and money. Various homepage CTA’s could include signing up for a lead magnet, scheduling a free consultation, or downloading a free trial of a product.

The homepage is not the place to shove multiple calls to action in the face of your visitors. It is important to display your most important call to actions, but be careful about rolling out the entire site to them.

As Michiel Heijmans from Yoast says,

It seems that most homepages are designed with one thing in mind: “How do I make everything on my website accessible from this one single page.” Well, you can’t. Not in a way that your visitor will understand your company, product or really anything at all.

Your About Page

Yep, on your about page. Here’s how it works.

About pages are often overlooked for a call to action. We are, after all, telling people about our company. However, if you build your about page right, you can add a CTA that persuades visitors to join your email list, download a freebie, or join a community like a Facebook group.

About Enchanting Marketing Henneke Duistermaat
Screenshot: Enchanting Marketing, as you can see Henneke practices watch she teaches

How do you do accomplish adding a CTA on your about page? By making the page about them. That’s right, making YOUR about page about THEM. What are you going to do for them to help them solve their problem?

Listen to what Karen Evans of Smart Blogging Online says,

It sounds nuts, but your customers are looking to see themselves in your mission statement—they want to understand what kind of problems you solve and how they fit into the solutions you offer.

Your about page allows you to connect your story to your visitor’s story. Once you do that, you can offer them something. Marian Schembari wrote about the anatomy of an About Page for the Kopywriting Kourse blog. In the article, she mentions two things you can do on your About Page that will create a call to action. The first is the “offerings” and the second is a call to action which she says, “Ideally, this would be an email subscription form.”

At this point, you have shown your visitor that you know your stuff, that your story connects with their problem, that you care about their problem, and you have nurtured them to sign up for your email newsletter.

In our Emails

When considering a call to action in our emails, we can think about two types of emails. The first is the cold or warm outreach emails that we send to prospects. The second is the emails we send to our opt in list. Here we are going to focus on using the call to action in our emails to our list.

Often in email newsletters, our emails consist of a series of links to our latest posts. Nothing wrong with doing that, but consider spending some time on copy that encourages a subscriber to click on the link. If your call to action is going to be read my blog post, explain why.

Take this article written at Impact about Deadpool. How would you send an email to your list to entice them to read the article?

4 Ways Marvel Killed It with Deadpool 2 s Content Marketing
Screenshot: 4 Ways Marvel Killed It with Deadpool 2 s Content Marketing

I might start with a story about trying something I have never tried before and then relating it to the article. In fact, most of my emails start with a story that segues to a call to action. For this article, I created copy to use before the call to action link.

Recently, our writer Justine Timoteo was introduced to Deadpool. Justine is not a fan of comics, but something about this guy made her want to watch the movie. Was it her boyfriend’s request? Was it Deadool’s humor?

What was it about the movie that Justine found relatable?

Read the article here to find out

That’s much better than simply putting a boring content snippet and the link. Persuade your users to click the link.

There other reasons to a use call to action. If you created a new ebook, are hosting a webinar or Facebook Live, have a service you are promoting or a product to sale, these are all valid reasons to create a call to action.

If you those on your list are already customers, then you can surely use a call to action to upsell them on another product or service by giving them a benefit.

Wrapping it up

Call to actions are the lifeblood that leads potential customers right to our products and services. It is simply something we cannot live without and something we need to optimize as well as we can.

Leaving off call to actions is a recipe to receive no action at all. Don’t make it hard for your customers to contact you or do business with you. Make sure you have your CTA’s in place for your Homepage, your About Page and your emails.

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Todd Jones
Along with being the resident writer for MainWP and content hacker at Copyflight, I specialize in writing about startups, entrepreneurs, social media, WordPress and inbound marketing topics.

2 thoughts on “Three places you should absolutely be using a call to action

  1. Great article, but please run it through a grammar and spellchecker. There’s nothing less enticing to some readers than seeing someone has typed that instead of then or spelt movie and moie. Please don’t think I’m trolling, it really is interesting, you’re just not doing yourself justice.

    1. I made those corrections. Thanks for the feedback Chris

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