marketing content writer and call to action

The Comprehensive Guide to CTA Best Practices

by | Jun 15, 2020 | Content Marketing | 0 comments

The Comprehensive Guide to CTA Best Practices

by | Jun 15, 2020 | Content Marketing | 0 comments

Every marketing content writer understands the power of a well-written call-to-action, commonly called a CTA. Whether a CTA takes the form of a button, text box, contact form or simple link, it directs the reader to take the desired next step and further engage with your brand. While anyone can craft a decent CTA, understanding the research and psychology behind web user behavior can drive even more conversions, sales and traffic.

 

Benchmarks for CTA Success

In a study by Leighton Interactive, the firm noted that limited data addresses an average click-through rate for calls-to-action. They studied the performance of CTAs that received at least 100 clicks over the past five months and found an average universal CTR of 4.23%. Button-style CTAs had an average rate of 5.31%, compared to 3.35% for CTAs with a distinctive design and just 2.06% for CTAs consisting of text alone.

Measuring performance of your own CTAs will provide valuable insight into what types of calls to action appeal most to your audience. A simple A/B testing program allows you to gather useful data even with limited resources. In fact, CXL reports that customers’ A/B tests increase CTA performance by up to 49%.

According to @leinteractive, a button-style CTA has the highest click-thru rate at 5.31%, nearly 1% higher than the universal average of 4.23%. 👀#ContentMarketing #Marketing #CTA Click To Tweet

 

Types of Calls to Action

Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all CTA. With sophisticated audience segmentation, a brand may have several different buyer personas and desire different actions for each group. Before publishing content, clarify the goals of your CTA. For example, should your CTA:

  • Encourage people to buy a product?
  • Encourage people to share your content?
  • Drive signups to your email list?
  • Expand event registration?
  • Drive phone calls?

These are just a few examples of the endless ways your brand can use a CTA to its advantage. Be creative, but be sure to have the end game in mind before you start writing or provide a brief to your copywriting services agency. When you finish, review the CTA language created by your marketing content writer as well as the design and colors to evaluate whether they reflect the campaign goals and the best practices for efficacy described below.

These are some of the most common types of CTAs to implement within your company’s content:

  • Event awareness CTAs – Inform the potential audience about an impending online or in-person event. This type of CTA is designed to bolster ticket sales, encourage event signups and build a mailing list for event updates.
  • Add to cart CTAs – Guide the reader into the purchasing funnel. With this type of CTA, a click should take the user directly to the full shopping cart ready for a sale.
  • Lead CTAs – Encourage further engagement with your brand. Common examples include free trial offers, no-obligation quotes and product demonstrations. Neil Patel reports that offering a free trial when a new visitor comes to your site can increase conversions by 328% over CTAs that ask users to buy something on their initial visit.
  • Social share CTAs – Perform well because they are low-ask and user-friendly. Readers can quickly share valuable content with their friends and followers, increasing their engagement with your brand while building your visibility and authority.
  • Continue CTAs – Often appear on blog posts and long-form content. After a teaser, the audience can click through to read the rest of an interesting item. The image below is a good example from Michael’s; readers who are inspired by the image can click through for a free pattern to make the jewelry pictured.

Michaels CTA

  • Form submission CTAs – Allow readers to submit their personal information in response to an offer. This type of CTA lets you guide casual visitors into the lead portion of your sales funnel.
.@NeilPatel reports that offering a free trial when a new visitor comes to your site can increase conversions by 328% 🤯 over CTAs that ask users to buy something on their initial visit. #ContentMarketing #Marketing #CTA #CallToAction Click To Tweet

 

Text Elements of an Effective CTA

Search engine optimization firm CrazyEgg identified three key aspects of a click-worthy CTA. They recommend including:

  • Usability – Tell the reader exactly what you want them to do in the simplest terms possible. For example, if you want readers to sign up for your email newsletter, use language like “Subscribe” or “Connect With Us.” Consider this the modern version of the “Mail Your Card” plea from print magazines.
  • Immediacy – Don’t give the reader a chance to forget about your offer. Create a sense of urgency with words such as “now” and “today.” This sample from Ann Taylor encourages shoppers to visit the site right away by using language like “Ends Tomorrow!” and “Shop Now.”

Ann Taylor CTA

  • A statement of obligation – For the email newsletter example, make sure to clarify that the content is free and customer data remains secure. Users are more likely to click on your CTA when you limit their perceived risk. Ask your marketing content writer to stress phrases like “Free Trial,” “Free Offer” and “Risk-Free.”

A good CTA will include just one call to action. More than that can confuse readers and discourage them from taking any of the suggested actions. As every great marketing content writer knows, the ideal copy is clear, concise and straightforward. Avoid obscuring your message with excess words.

When writing your CTA, describe what will happen when they click. For example, a new product release CTA should not use the words “Buy Now,” unless clicking the link actually completes the purchase. Instead, choose precise language such as “Explore Product Features” or “Add to Cart” to ensure the click lives up to reader expectations.

You’ll see some common verbs used repeatedly in brand CTAs, because they work. Examples include Discover, Download, Learn, Shop, Join, Buy, Build, Order, Go, Subscribe and Start. Do you notice a common thread? These vivid action words spark a sense of adventure, problem-solving, enrichment and engagement that appeals to your curious audience. Avoid words that don’t create an emotional reaction. For example, you probably don’t get very excited when someone asks you to “Read More,” “Click Here” or “Submit Your Information.”

The words “I” and “You” are also quite powerful because they imply an existing relationship with and speak directly to the reader. A study by Content Verve found a 90% increase in a button’s CTR after changing third-person language to first-person. In research by Unbounce, CTRs rose by 90% simply by changing the word “you” to the word “me” in a CTA.

A study by @ContentVerve found a 90% increase in a button's CTR simply by changing third-person language to first-person. 📈 #ContentMarketing #Marketing #CTA #CallToAction Click To Tweet

You probably already know that numbers catch a reader’s attention when you use them in a headline. Have your marketing content writer test this trick with your CTAs as well. The number gives readers a sense of value that answers their vital question: “What’s in it for me?” Check out the big, bold numbers in this Gap CTA below.

Gap CTA

 

Visual Elements

Although almost any page element can serve as a CTA, Leighton Interactive and other content marketing gurus report the most click-through success with buttons. Getting too creative with images can confuse the reader and prevent them from taking the next step.

To encourage them to click, use a recognizable shape like a circle or rectangle for your button. Experiment with rounded vs. squared edges and other design elements.

Make it conspicuous by using a contrasting color that stands out from the page background. The Wordstream blog reports that orange and green buttons tend to get the most clicks. The easier it is for your user to find the CTA, the more likely they are to answer the call. The immediately recognizable green button on Spotify’s CTA is a prime example of how to do this right.

Spotify CTA

When you’ve settled on a color, consider font size. The sweet spot is a font large enough to be easily visible and to catch attention, but not so large that it will be mistaken for spam. Avoid annoying your audience, but make sure they have difficulty passing by the button.

If you prefer a designed CTA rather than a button CTA, make sure your audience can distinguish the result from a banner advertisement. Otherwise, they will likely skip right over the offer since we’ve become conditioned to avoid online ads and pop-ups. A clean, simple CTA will help your offer stand out from all the digital noise.

 

Placement Best Practices

The ideal spot for a CTA on your website depends on who your audience is and the action you want them to take. Let’s return to our list of example CTAs above and consider placement possibilities for each:

  • To drive event attendance among existing customers, add an event awareness CTA to their receipts, personalized dashboards and login pages. When you’re looking for new leads for possible attendees, try the CTA in the sidebar, within the navigation bar or as a pinned post on your page. Time-sensitive events should also appear as a CTA on your brand’s landing page.
  • Have your marketing content writer craft an add-to-cart CTA on the specific product page, email blast or social media post for the item or service you’re selling, as well as at the end of blog content.
  • CTAs designed to encourage engagement among fresh leads work well in blog posts. Figure out where new visitors spend time on your site, then add lead CTAs in those places, too.
  • Social share CTAs can go just about anywhere on your site. Landing pages, blog posts and other content-rich areas make the most sense. However, avoid placing share buttons on any page where you also ask your audience to share their personal information.
  • Continue CTAs appear on long content items to break up the flow. They also provide insight into the headlines that your audience finds most interesting.
  • Place form submission CTAs before your landing page. You can also use this type of CTA when prospects click away from your site or after they take a different action, such as making a social share of your content.

Just as you should avoid including more than one action in a single CTA, avoid crowding multiple CTAs on a single page. Limit per-page CTAs to three and make sure each appears in its own distinct area of the page. For example, place one in the sidebar, one in the navigation menu and one at the bottom of the content. Your call-to-action should never have to compete for attention with other items on the page.

Place a CTA on a page with relevant content. Inappropriately placed offers can confuse and misguide the reader. If your audience can’t find what they’re looking for on your site within a few minutes, you’ll notice an increase in your bounce rate as they seek substance elsewhere.

You should also consider the readers’ journey through the page when you place your CTA. Ideally, your offer should be directly in the path they travel as they explore and gather information. This doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, though; many effective pages use the simple structure of an H1 title, marketing copy that contains H2 headings to guide the reader, and a CTA at the end, with a form where appropriate. This layout appears on the web over and over because it works.

Placing the CTA at the end of content is a natural choice, but make sure it doesn’t get lost when your readers scroll. If they never reach the CTA, they can’t possibly click on it. Test for this issue when you have a CTA that follows best practices but still performs poorly compared to your other offers.

If you use social media, not adding CTAs to your brand’s Facebook page is a missed opportunity. Just visit your business page and click the button to “Create a Call to Action.” Fill in the link and appropriate information and click “Create” for an instant offer you can delete, update or edit at any time. Instagram users can currently add certain types of CTAs to business pages, such as “Start Order,” “Book Tickets” and “Get Directions.”

 

Hire a Marketing Content Writer To Create Your CTAs

When you hire a marketing content writer, he or she can serve as a professional guide to CTAs that convert visitors to leads and leads to long-term satisfied clients. At BKA Content, our team is ready to brainstorm with you on the most effective call-to-action strategy for your brand. Get in touch today to learn more about our dedicated content creation services.

Caleb Shepherd
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