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Online Marketing Program: 1.3 Call To Actions – Part 1

September 26, 2011 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: SEO 

The term “call to action” means, well, just what it sounds like – it’s instructing someone to do what you want them to do, or calling them to action.

For example, a successful call to action can motivate a customer to click on a link at the end of a blog post, reply to an e-mail, or “like” your post on Facebook. After your readers have finished reading your content, a call to action provides web visitors with the next step, leading them one step closer to converting from a visitor to a customer. Whether it’s completing a sale or downloading an article, a strong call to action is an important part of any marketing strategy – perhaps it’s said the MOST important part of any strategy!

Why is a Call to Action Important?

A call to action forces participation from a reader, either in the form of leaving a comment, sending a re-tweet, and so on. Some readers may only comment if they are told to comment, so a strong call to action encourages readers that it’s ok to share their thoughts. A call to action motivates people to respond to a post that they know the solution to or have a strong opinion about. When people see that others have understood the call to action and are expressing their opinions, they are more likely to do, as they know the site is trusted and fun to participate in.

How to Write a Call to Action

When writing your own call to action, it is important to keep things quick and simple with the addition of a question or comment. This way, people are not discouraged or confused by how to respond. The call to action should not take up a great deal of time or require instruction, as users should be able to easily respond without any confusion. Make your call to action obvious; let your users know exactly what you are asking of them.

 

Call to Action Techniques

When creating your own call to action, remember to keep it simple. It is important to make it obvious what you are asking the reader to do and make it clear where the call to action is.

Your call to action should also be obtainable, as the simpler it is the more likely that people will participate.

Your call to action should stand out, and encourage readers to interact with your article or website.

It is also helpful to put the call to action in bold or even use a different font or a quote box so that it will stand out and look different from the rest of the text.

A call to action is also effective when it is urgent, and demands the readers to do what you want, when you want them to do it. Using phrases like “buy now”, or “click here”, encourages readers to respond immediately.

Writing calls-to-action

Using the right words appropriate to your website will drive people to take the action; using the wrong words can distract them, at best, or cause them to leave your website, at worst. With
that in mind, here are some tips for writing effective calls-to-action:

•Lay the groundwork – Before someone is willing to follow one of your calls-to-action, they first have to recognize a need that requires them doing so. Telling your visitors the benefits of taking that action will help give them the motivation to actually do so.

•Use action-oriented words – Using an active voice encourages people to follow your calls-to-action, and also helps people scanning your website quickly identify what your call-to-action is about. This is also one of the reasons you should avoid using “click here” in your link text.

•Have one on every page – There should always be at least one call-to-action within the content on every page of your website – no page should be a dead-end. Ending your content with a
call-to-action tells visitors what the next step is and keeps them moving on your website.

•Limit the number and keep them distinct – Having too many calls-to-action on a website can be confusing for your visitors. Limit yourself to only a few, and keep them distinct so visitors know what the primary call-to-action is, as well as what you want them to do first from the choices.

•Keep your forms short and clear – Unless someone has a compelling interest, many people see a long form asking for unnecessary information and won’t fill it out. Follow some of my other tips for writing clear instructions if your main call-to-action is a form.

Designing calls-to-action

Web designers can have a lot of influence over how effective calls-to-action are. Following general usability and design guidelines help make the website as effective as possible. Here are some tips for how to do that:

•Put it above the fold – You want your main call-to-action to be visible wherever people go throughout your website – almost like your logo. The right side of your website’s header is a natural location to do that; any other lesser calls-to-action can go in sidebars, above the fold as well.

•Use images for emphasis – Images or icons get people’s attention because they get noticed by your eyes before content on a page does. Buttons also do the same thing and are great to use because they stand out against text AND imply action by their very nature.

•Choose contrasting colors – If you’re using a button as your primary call-to-action mechanism, use a color that contrasts with your main colors for maximum effect. Just don’t choose a color that contrasts so much that it becomes too hard to ignore when reading the content around it.

•Consider homepage placement – We all know how important your homepage is, which is why you need to make it as usable as possible for your visitors. Your main call-to-action should be prominently placed on it where people will really see it.

•Use some white space – The more white space around your call-to-action, the more people’s eyes will naturally be drawn to it. Crowding your call-to-action in with surrounding content will decrease its effectiveness as it gets lost in the overall noise of the page.

•Make it bigger – Size isn’t everything when it comes to your call-to-action, but making it bigger definitely makes it more likely that it will get noticed. Just don’t make it so big that it totally overwhelms the rest of the content on your website – find the right balance.

Note: Our section on Call To Actions is so big, that we split it in half….come back next Monday for our look at color and collaterals to finish off this very important “not-done-often-enough” section of our Go To Market curriculum!

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