Make Your Calls to Action Active


What is a call to action?

A call to action in the marketing context is a piece of content (graphic or text) intended to get a prospect to perform a specific act. This can be in the form of calling, clicking, submitting a form, etc. to get more information or make a purchase.

Every advertisement, web page, and email should have a call to action. This is the “ask”. It’s the thing you want people to do.

What makes a good call to action?

We measure the effectiveness of a call to action by looking at what percentage of people actually take the necessary next step. If your call to action is intended to get people to call, how many people actually did? If your call to action is intended to get people to visit your website, how many people actually did?

A good call to action is:

  1. Clear – it should be obvious what you want me to do next.
  2. Concise – keep it short and sweet.
  3. Captivating – it should grab my attention and get me to act.

A good call to action is active. What I mean by that is that it makes the prospect the subject of the action, and it suggests doing something. Let’s look at a few examples to better understand active calls to action:

  • Free Trial (this might sound like an enticing offer, but as a call to action is not active)
  • Sign Up for Your Free Trial (see how much better that is?)
  • Learn More (this is active, but “learn” is not an activity that is easy to measure or quantify)
  • Click Here to Learn More (this is active, and includes a direct activity in “click”)
  • Next (not active)
  • Continue or Submit (this is technically active, but it’s dull)
  • Get Started (much better)

You can see from the examples above, and the thousands of other examples all over the web, that there are a variety of different calls to action companies use – both good and bad. But when you make your call to action active, you entice a person to take that next step. You put them in control, and add a level of engagement that non-active calls to action do not match.

How to Ruin an Ad – Part 5

Welcome to the latest edition of our current weekly blog series, How to Ruin an Ad. As is most obvious from the title of this series, each week we’ll be identifying a key element of an ad that, when missing, is sure to reduce its effectiveness.

Last week’s ad was ruined by drop-out text.

Today’s ad is ruined by: No call to action

There are two different types of advertisements.

There are advertisements intended to create some sort of direct response in those who see or hear it. Let’s call those direct response ads – DR for short.

Then there are advertisements that are meant just to expose you to a brand, make you feel good about it, remind you that it’s there, in hopes that you come away remembering them next time you might need something that company offers. Those are “branding” ads.

If you are creating a branding ad, A) your ad budget must be pretty high, and B) you can ignore the rest of this post. Because brand ads don’t need a call to action.

But if you’re not, if you’re creating an ad that you hope gets the potential customer to pick up the phone or visit your website or take a trip to your store, you need a call to action. You need to tell them exactly what they should do.

The last thing you want is for someone to be exposed to your ad, convinced to take action, and not know what to do next. You might tell me, “Zach, they should really be able to figure it out on their own.” But why leave it in their hands when it’s so easy to go the extra step for them.

A call to action says, “Call 555-555-5555” or “Visit” or “Click here now”.

Without it, your ad is incomplete. You lead someone all the way to the door and don’t give them the key to get inside.

Did you enjoy this post? Do you have a surefire way to ruin an ad you think we should cover in an upcoming post? Share it with us in the comments or by email.

How to Develop Content – Why

Are you a content marketer? Maybe not, but content marketers are not the only ones creating content. Most companies have bought into the fact that creating great content is an easy way to connect with prospective customers in the marketplace and grow your brand.

But creating great content is not as easy as it may sound.

Yesterday, we talked about the first step in creating content of any kind, understanding your audience – the who.

Today, let’s talk about the purpose of your content – the Why!

Once you understand who your audience is, you need to establish a reason for the content. All content is not created equal. Some content exists to drive traffic to your website. Some content exists to convert people into customers. Some content is simply meant to establish you as an expert in the field.

Knowing why you’re creating this specific piece of content is critical. You must answer that question before you start writing.

If you’re trying to drive traffic, your content should be more unique and attention-grabbing. If you’re trying to sell someone, you’re content should be inspiring and have strong calls to action. If you’re setting yourself or your company up as experts, your writing should be more technical and detailed.

Without the Why, great content will be one step out of your reach.

Phone Calls vs. Web Visits

Is your goal to get people to visit your website or to call you?

That’s a question you have to answer when you are putting an ad together. What’s the goal?

The goal will affect the call to action, and the entire structure of the ad in many cases. And it should never be both.

Even though your brain might tell you to give people an option, that when presented with an option people will be happy to do one or the other, whichever makes more sense to them at the time, you’re wrong. Make the decision for them and more people will take action.

The question you have to answer is which would you rather them do?

A phone call is more active than a web visit. If I make a call, I’m more interested than someone who visits your website.

But a website visit is easier. More people are likely to click a link rather than dial a number.

Do you have a proper sales team to answer the phone if I call? Will the experience help convince me to purchase from you or hurt the odds?

Is your website designed to sell people? Do you have a proper landing page set up so that people don’t have to waste time fumbling around your site to get what they want?

Those are the questions you have to ask yourself and the decisions you have to make. If you have historical data, that’s even better. You should be able to tell what converts at a higher rate, a visit to the site or a phone call.

Nine times out of ten, if you have a trained sales team to support the volume of calls you expect to receive, a call will be better. The only hard part is convincing people to make the call. You better design an effective ad.

Marketing Trends – Part 3

Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly blog series, Marketing Trends. Each week, we will identify a key trend in the world of marketing. We’ll discuss the trend, why it’s important, and suggest ways that you can take advantage of this trend in your company.

Last week’s trend was Peak Google.

Today’s Trend = Negative Calls to Action

We all know what a call to action is. In marketing, we use calls to action in our ad copy or on our landing pages in order to get people to take the desired action, whether that be submitting a form, clicking on a button, or any number of other actions.

But a new trend is rising through the marketing ranks that has people talking about calls to action as if they are brand new. And it’s the use of “Negative Calls to Action”.

Here’s how it works. Instead of just presenting the call to action, you give the person an option. If you want them to click on a button, you present a Yes button and a No button. You force them to choose. But on the No button, instead of just saying No, makes the person feel like No is the wrong choice.

Consider this example:

A landing page with a subscription form for a free newsletter has a place for the person to enter their email and a submit button. But below the submit button is a second button that says, “No thanks, I am not interested in free stuff”.

The change is subtle, but it forces the prospect to take notice. They must actively choose to say no, even in the face of the value being offered, made even more obvious by the way you have presented it.

This may not drastically improve your business, but if conversion rates are an issue for you, this is one test worth trying. It has been shown in testing to improve conversion rates or click through rates when applied properly.

Think about all the different calls to action you use in your marketing. They may be on your website, in your ads, promotional materials, etc. What changes can you make to highlight the value being offered from the “no” stance? What are people turning down when they say no to your company?

What marketing trend should we cover next? Now accepting submissions for marketing trends that we will cover in an upcoming installment of this series. Submit your ideas via our contact page or in the comments section below.