Thursday, September 14, 2017

Crafting Effective Calls to Action: Three Simple Tips

Many people associate the phrase "call to action" with political activism or military readiness. In the wake of the recent presidential election, for example, many protest groups (on the left and right) viewed Donald Trump's victory as a catalyzing event--a call to action.

And in recent months, as the Trump administration (and the world) has faced increasing military threats from North Korea, many governments worldwide have issued calls-to-action.

The phrase "call to action" likely evolved from "call to arms," which was first recorded in the mid 19th century (source). Today, however, "call to action" is most commonly understand as a marketing term. In digital marketing, specifically, a "call to action" is any on-page element that solicits a desired action--like a link or button.

This definition is related to the digital marketing concept of "conversion," when a visitor actually performs a desired action--like clicking that link or button, or signing up for a newsletter.

To attract conversions, of course, a website must offer effective calls to action--enticements that make the "action" both simple and desirable.

So how do you create an effective call to action on your most important pages? Below we offer three simple tips.
Uncle Sam: In World War II, America's most famous "call to action."  [Source]
Design: Make Your Call to Action Stand Out

The Uncle Sam poster above illustrates perhaps the most important element of creating an effective call to action: Your call to action must be front and center, as easy to identify as any other element on the page--and, perhaps, easier to identify.

Our blog's sponsor, the SEO expert Alex Stepman, notes that many websites fail to perform this one simple task: "Too often," Stepman says, "calls to action are hidden at the bottom of a page, or elsewhere--even visitors who may want to click can be discouraged by too much scrolling."

You do not need to bludgeon your visitors with your call to action. Instead, create an actionable button or link THAT STANDS OUT from the rest of your content. Many websites use pop-ups or overlays--but beware, you need to be careful about your use and placement of these elements, lest you alienate your visitors.

As the SEO expert, Rand Fishkin, of Moz, notes: "I would strongly urge you to avoid elements that are significantly harming [user experience]."

A better option: Blend your call to action buttons or links seamlessly into your content.

Content: Short and Sweet

Calls to action necessarily made of content--most often words. So the best calls-to-action include short and sweet words, phrases, or sentences. Simple declarative language catches the eye and simplifies the message.

HubSpot collected 31 Call-to-Action Examples You Can't Help But Click." From Evernote's "remember everything" to Netflix's "cancel anytime," which appears above the "Join Free for a Month" button, the most prominent connection between each, by far, is simple, declarative phrases:

So when writing a call to action leave passive voice behind--and strive for active voice with active verbs.

Netflix's call-to-action button is emphasized by simple, declarative phrases. [Photo Source]
Content Conversion: What's the Payoff for Your Visitor?

Your call to action must offer your visitor a sense of worth. Many brands ask visitors to sign up for newsletters; the most effective brands, however, include the enticement of savings: 15% OFF. Examples of other incentives may include free e-books, a free product sample, or a free trial of your product--like Netflix offers above.

In its article about calls to action, HubSpot speaks about the potential effectiveness of an "exit CTA," which
"detect your users' behavior and only appear when it seems as though they're about to leave your site."

Hubspot uses the example of a clothing brand, Ugmonk, which offers an exit call to action with an incentive.

"By intervening in a timely way," HubSpot notes, "these pop-ups serve as a fantastic way of getting your reader’s attention while offering them a reason to stay." [Source]
Actionable Content Marketing with Stepman's SEO 

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote websites with actionable content that converts visitors, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's PC: 215-900-9398.

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.