CTA essentials

Too often, companies issue calls to action (CTAs) that are not well-thought-out, are too much of a leap for the customer, or are simply shameless clickbait. But CTAs can be critical to the customer journey – and to the success of your marketing efforts. Here’s how to craft a CTA that effectively engages your audience.

  1. Have one

    As with the lotto, you can’t win if you don’t play. So whether you want your visitors and customers to sign up for your newsletter, podcast, or webinar; follow you on social media; fill out their contact details; download your latest and greatest eBook; watch a video; read additional information; share your content; or buy something, make sure you have a CTA button or a link that prompts – and encourages – your visitors what to do next.

  2. Have only one

    Per web page, and often across websites, it’s a good idea to keep CTAs to a minimum. If you’re trying to map out a specific customer journey, you don’t want to confuse your visitors or have them veering off in many different directions. Know your marketing objective and make sure your CTAs will help you achieve it.

  3. Make them clear, concise, and compelling

    Here, again, you don’t want to be confusing. You want visitors to know why they should be taking action – what’s in it for them? Your CTA should be well-defined (not vague and mysterious) and should plainly outline the benefit users will receive by moving forward with you.

    And be concise. Doing so means achieving the often delicate balance between being too longwinded and providing enough information so that visitors know just what they’re getting into.

    Finally, your CTA should be visually easy to spot so users know immediately that they have the option to take action, whether it’s hyperlinked text, a shopping cart, or a button. If you go the button route, you may also want to consider stand-out colours, designs, or both.

  4. Forget passive aggressive

    Using the active voice in the wording of your CTA is more direct and more powerful, and it carries a stronger sense of urgency than passive language. For more forceful CTAs, lead with an action verb. For example, which of the following do you think is more effective?

    Our eBook can be downloaded here (passive)


    Download our eBook today! (active)

  5. Don’t ask too much of your customers

    Sometimes CTAs expect customers to take too big a leap. For example, I recently read a travel blog, “Five must-sees” in some city or other, and at the end of the blog post, the company’s CTA was “Book a cruise”. That’s asking a bit much after just reading a blog post, right? In this case, a few CTA baby steps are definitely in order. Perhaps “Request a brochure”, “Chat with one of our travel experts”, or simply “Read more articles on this destination” would better suit the page. In other words, make your CTAs reasonable and doable for your audience.

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