As a marketer, you should love calls-to-action. In case you aren’t familiar, CTAs are the prompts that persuade your online visitors to take some meaningful “action” (as the name implies); that action can be any number of things, including watching a video, buying an item, or filling out a form.
In most cases, the successful completion of this action (which was called for) is known as a conversion. Conversions make you money, whether that’s through a direct sale, or an addition to an email list where you can get sales, or anywhere in between.
Follow that chain back to the beginning, and you’ll realize how important your CTAs are to your bottom line. There are many opportunities to create and place CTAs, including on dedicated landing pages for your products or services, but today I want to talk specifically about CTAs in your blog posts.
In any case, you’ll need to ensure your CTAs have these seven key qualities if you want them to be successful:
However, it’s easy to take that “prominent” quality a little too far. For example, if you have a pop-up that bombards users with gimmicky messaging, and refuses to close out (asking users variants of “are you sure?” multiple times), users may get frustrated and leave. Similarly, if you sell users too hard with your pitch, demanding that they “buy now,” they may come to distrust your content and avoid you in the future. Instead, keep your CTAs tasteful and somewhat reserved, despite the fact that they’re noticeable.
Ideally, your CTAs will also be relevant, tying into the focal point of your blog post. There’s some wiggle room here for generic pop-ups, which might ask users to join an email list no matter what they’re currently reading, but otherwise, try to keep your CTA relevant to your original headline. For example, if you’ve written a post on how to choose the best pogo stick, your CTA should invite users to buy one of your best pogo sticks—not to send them to the roller blade section of your site.
Good CTAs also have some apparent value to the user engaging with them. In some cases, the value is easy to demonstrate; for example, you might offer a free downloadable guide that can help users with some critical need in their professional life (in exchange for an email address). In other cases, you’ll have to persuade users that what you have to show them is worth their time; this may mean describing what you’re offering in more detail, or pitching the benefits. For example, “watch this video” is far less compelling than “watch this video if you want to wake up earlier every day without feeling groggy.”
If a user encounters even the slightest hiccup in engaging with your CTA, they’ll be much more likely to leave; modern users are impatient, and want to accomplish things in the smallest number of steps. That means they expect to be taken to a new page quickly, if they have to leave at all, with only a handful of fields required to be filled out, and fast loading times on top of that. You’ll want to experiment on multiple devices to ensure your CTA is user friendly.
Before you start creating CTAs, you need to understand why your audience is viewing your content in the first place. Are they looking to learn new things? Are they trying to buy something? Are they stressed, and trying to save time every day? Speak to these needs, and your readers can’t help but click.
Finally, your CTAs should be somewhat diverse, pointing to different areas of your website and utilizing different language. If you use the same copy every time, verbatim, recurring readers will quickly grow tired of your stunts, and may view you as less sincere or less trustworthy as a result. Plus, unless you’re only selling one thing, you’ll want to spread the love to diversify your customers’ interests.
Of course, even including all seven of these characteristics isn’t enough to guarantee success. The art of mastering conversion rates is tiresome, and borderline impossible; even experts in the craft are occasionally stumped by audiences and industries that don’t follow the traditional rules.