When it comes to driving conversions and encouraging user engagement, one powerful tool that should be in your digital marketing toolkit is the call to action (CTA). A well-crafted call to action can have a significant impact on the success of your marketing efforts. I made the decision to write an article that aims to cover everything you need to know to get the most out of call-to-actions in your digital marketing initiatives after reading a recent LinkedIn post.
So, in this article, we'll explore what a call to action is, its role in digital marketing, where to place it, its purpose, and different types of CTAs for various stages of the sales funnel.
What does "call-to-action" mean?
At its core, a call to action is a directive that prompts your audience to take a specific action. It serves as an invitation, urging users to engage with your brand, make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter, or perform any desired action.
CTAs are important for several reasons, but what makes them a vital component of your marketing strategy and campaigns is their effectiveness at steering user behaviour, facilitating audience interaction, and providing measurable outcomes. By integrating concise and compelling CTAs into your promotional materials, you can guide users towards desired actions that align with your overall business objectives. Whether it's getting them to click on a button, to make a purchase, or to subscribe to your newsletter, CTAs serve as markers that direct users towards specific actions.
What’s more, CTAs offer quantifiable outcomes, enabling you to monitor and assess metrics such as the rate at which users click on your content, engage with your content, and other conversion rates. By analysing this data, you can refine your tactics and work on increasing the effectiveness of your CTAs over time.
What is the purpose of a call-to-action?
The primary purpose of a CTA is to motivate the reader to take an action—ideally, one that you have planned—that will take them along a predetermined customer journey that ultimately leads to a sale. CTAs are powerful tools that help you achieve several important objectives for your digital marketing activities.
One significant impact of CTAs is the increase in click-through rates. By presenting a clear and compelling CTA, you encourage the reader to click and engage with your content. A well-designed CTA captures the reader’s attention and entices them to act, whether it's exploring a product page, signing up for a webinar, or downloading a resource. Higher click-through rates indicate an active and interested audience, indicating progress along your planned customer journey.
CTAs act as guideposts along the customer journey, steering potential customers towards the next stage of the sales funnel. They provide clear instructions and direct users to take specific actions, helping them move from awareness to consideration to conversion.
What is a call-to-action in digital marketing?
In the digital space, a call to action (CTA) can take various forms, such as clickable buttons, hyperlinks, or text prompts. They still serve the same purpose as explained above; they are just used in a digitally specific way. These CTAs are placed within websites, emails, social media posts, and other digital platforms to encourage users to take specific actions. By presenting a CTA, you create a focal point that captures users' attention and directs them towards the next step in their customer journey.
As mentioned, CTAs act as guideposts, especially in the digital space, guiding users through the desired conversion path. Whether it's prompting users to make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter, download a resource, or fill out a form, CTAs provide a clear directive on what action your customer should take. In offline marketing (such as billboards, TV ads, radio, etc.), CTAs are statements that encourage action separate from the source, whereas, in digital marketing, CTAs serve as interactive cues that prompt users to engage with your brand at the source and move further along the customer journey.
What your CTA says and what it visually looks like in digital marketing are crucial to capturing your customer’s attention. It should stand out, contrast with the surrounding content, and make use of compelling language to entice your customers to click on it or engage with it. You also need to pay attention to where you place the CTA. It should ideally be positioned where customers are most likely to see it without having to search or scroll too far down the page.
By serving as focal points as a result of their design and placement and by providing clear instructions, CTAs become pivotal in converting website visitors, email recipients, or social media users into engaged prospects or customers. They act as catalysts that bridge the gap between user interest (as explained below) and action, guiding users towards the next step in the customer journey and contributing to the overall success of your digital marketing efforts.
Where should a call-to-action be in your marketing content?
The strategic placement of your CTA is a critical factor in maximising its effectiveness. To capture your audience’s attention and encourage action, CTAs should be prominently displayed in easily visible locations. But, what does this mean practically?
One important guideline for CTA placement is to position it above the fold. This means placing the CTA in the upper portion of your webpage or email, which is immediately visible without requiring the reader to scroll. By placing the CTA above the fold, you ensure that users encounter it as soon as they land on your page, increasing the chances that they will engage with it.
Another effective placement for CTAs is at the end of blog posts. When users reach the end of an informative or engaging blog post, they are likely to be primed for action. By placing your CTA here, you provide a natural transition point for your readers to take the next step, like subscribing to a newsletter or exploring related products or services.
Landing pages are also ideal locations for CTAs. These dedicated pages focus on specific offers or campaigns and are designed to convert your visitors into leads or customers. Placing a CTA prominently on your landing page ensures that your users are directed towards the action that you want them to take without distraction or confusion.
You should also consider integrating CTAs in your email newsletters, which can be highly effective. By including a clear and compelling CTA in the body of your email, you provide a direct path for readers to follow, whether it's visiting your product page, registering for an event, or making a purchase. Placing CTAs in email newsletters capitalises on the engaged audience that has already shown interest by subscribing to your emails.
It's important, however, to consider context and relevance when using and placing CTAs in your marketing material. The rule of thumb here is to ensure that your CTA aligns with the content surrounding it and matches the reader’s expectations. For example, if your blog post discusses a specific product or service, the CTA should offer further information or an opportunity to purchase that product or service. Adding a CTA that takes people to a YouTube video of your annual staff awards won’t be effective in this case.
How does a call-to-action change as potential customers move through the sales funnel?
As your customer moves through the stages of the sales funnel, their reasons for engaging with your brand change. In effect, their intentions and what they want to gain from interacting with you change. Adapting your call to action (CTA) based on the intentions of the customer is a strategic approach that can help increase the effectiveness of your marketing activities. By understanding the various stages of the customer journey, how your customer’s intentions change as they move along this journey, and tailoring your CTAs accordingly, you can address the specific needs and motivations of different customer segments.
Here's how CTAs can be adjusted based on customer intentions:
During the awareness stage, your customers are just beginning to explore their needs or challenges. The goal is to capture their attention and generate interest. CTAs at this stage should be informative, enticing, and focused on providing valuable content or insights. Examples include "Learn More," "Discover," or "Get Started" CTAs that encourage users to explore educational resources, blog posts, or introductory content.
In the consideration stage, your customers are actively evaluating their options and comparing different solutions. Your CTAs at this stage should emphasise the unique value proposition of your product or service. You can use CTAs such as "Compare," "Request a Demo," or "Free Trial" to encourage customers to engage deeper with your offerings and experience the benefits firsthand.
At the decision stage, your customers are ready to make a purchase or commit to a specific solution. CTAs should focus on driving conversions and closing the sale. You can use persuasive and action-oriented CTAs such as "Buy Now," "Get 50% Off," or "Book Now" to prompt your customers to take the final step and complete their purchase.
After your customer has made a purchase, your CTAs can be adjusted to nurture loyalty, encourage repeat purchases, and gather feedback. You can use CTAs like "Join our Loyalty Program," "Leave a Review," or "Subscribe for Exclusive Offers" to foster ongoing engagement and establish a long-term relationship with the customer.
It's important to understand, though, that customer intentions can vary and not every customer will fit neatly into these stages. Some customers may move quickly through the stages, while others may spend more time in each phase. However, by aligning your CTAs with customer intentions in general, you can guide your customers through the journey that you have planned for them and increase the likelihood of a sale, increase customer satisfaction, and develop long-term loyalty.
Which call-to-action should I use?
How effective your CTA is depends on factors such as your target audience, your industry, where your customer is along the sales funnel, and your overall marketing strategy. As mentioned, you need to tailor your CTAs to resonate with your specific audience, their intentions, and the goals that you want to achieve with the content that you are sharing, and you should always try to test and optimise your CTAs to maximise their impact.
There are, however, general CTAs that have proven to be effective in certain circumstances. The following is a list of some of the various categories of CTAs, along with some examples of effective CTAs from each category.
An action-oriented CTA uses strong, imperative language to encourage your reader to take a specific action. These CTAs are effective for driving immediate action.
"Buy now and save 20%!"
"Book your free consultation today!"
"Start your free trial now!"
"Get started in just three easy steps!"
"Subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive offers!"
A benefit-focused CTA highlights the advantages or outcomes that readers can expect by taking the desired action. These CTAs appeal to their self-interest and showcase the value they will receive.
"Boost your productivity with our time-saving software!"
"Unlock a healthier lifestyle with our fitness program!"
"Transform your skin with our revolutionary skincare products!"
"Get the body you've always dreamed of with our fitness equipment!"
"Discover the secret to financial freedom. Join our investment program!"
An urgency-driven CTA creates a sense of urgency or scarcity to encourage immediate action. These CTAs capitalise on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and encourage readers to act quickly.
"Limited time offer! Shop now before it's gone!"
"Only 2 seats left! Register for our workshop now!"
"Hurry, sale ends tonight! Don't miss out!"
"Get early access to our exclusive event. RSVP now!"
"Last chance to grab our special discount. Order now!"
An interactive CTA engages readers by inviting them to participate or interact with your brand. These CTAs can enhance user experience, increase engagement, and build a connection between the reader and your brand.
"Take our quiz to find your perfect skincare routine!"
"Try our interactive demo to see our product in action!"
"Spin the wheel for a chance to win exciting prizes!"
"Explore our virtual tour to discover our stunning locations!"
"Create your own customised design with our interactive tool!"
Social Proof CTA:
A social proof CTA leverages testimonials, reviews, or endorsements to build trust and credibility. These CTAs showcase positive feedback from satisfied customers, boosting confidence in the reader's decision to take action.
"Join thousands of happy customers. Start your journey with us!"
"Read what our clients are saying about our services!"
"See why industry experts recommend our solution!"
"Discover why our customers rate us 5 stars!"
"Join our community of satisfied users. Sign up now!"
A personalised CTA tailors the message based on the reader's preferences, behaviour, or demographic information. These CTAs create a more personalised experience, increasing relevance and engagement.
"Welcome back, [Name]! Check out our latest offers just for you!"
"Based on your interests, we recommend these handpicked products!"
"Get your free style guide customised to your fashion preferences!"
"As a loyal customer, enjoy this exclusive discount on your next purchase!"
"Complete your profile and receive personalised content straight to your inbox!"
A curiosity-provoking CTA generates intrigue and compels the reader to click or explore further to satisfy their curiosity. These CTAs leverage the power of mystery and the desire for new information.
"Uncover the secret to success. Click here to find out!"
"Discover the hidden benefits of our new product line!"
"What's the #1 skincare ingredient you've been missing out on?"
"Unlock exclusive insider tips and tricks. Click to reveal!"
"Find out how this simple hack can transform your productivity!"
A confidence-building CTA addresses potential concerns or objections readers may have, reassuring them and building trust in your brand. These CTAs instil confidence and remove barriers to taking action.
"Try it risk-free with our 30-day money-back guarantee!"
"See why we're rated #1 in customer satisfaction!"
"Join our community of trusted experts in your industry!"
"Get a free consultation to address all your questions and concerns!"
"We've helped thousands of customers like you. Start your journey today!"
A well-crafted call to action is an indispensable tool in your digital marketing arsenal. By strategically placing your CTAs, understanding their purpose, and tailoring them to different stages of the sales funnel, you can effectively guide your customers towards the desired actions that you have planned for them, increasing conversions, and ultimately leading to an increase in sales.
So, whether you're aiming to increase revenue, grow your subscriber list, or increase engagement, an effective call to action is a powerful tool that you can use to help you achieve these goals.