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Content Marketing 101: What is a Call-To-Action?

Written by Taylor Hawes

Friday, September 13th, 2013

"Book Now!" key on keyboard

You want to prompt your website visitors to take some sort of action. That’s the main point of having a website, to ultimately influence users to do something. The something that they do—whether it be signing up for a newsletter, signing up for a free trial, or buying a product—is called a call to action (CTA).  A strong call to action is essential to the success of any website, whether or not you’re using it to sell products and services. Some examples of calls to action include:

  • Download our free ebook or industry report

  • Sign up for a free trial

  • Register for our free webinar

  • View a demo

  • Sign up to receive a free coupon

  • Order now and get a discount

 

Why Have a Strong Call to Action?

There are three main reasons for having a strong CTA on your website:

  1. Provides direction to your users. If ever your users are unsure of what to do with the information you provide them, a call to action gives them a clear step to take next.

  2. Measuring the success of your site. You can tell how your website is doing with the public from the number of visitors you have vs. the number of people who accept your CTA (otherwise known as a conversion rate).

  3. Adds an objective to your website. Your call to action leaves no doubt as to what your website is about. For example, if you visit the Adobe Photoshop download page, you know immediately that they want you to download a free trial.

 

CALL-TO-ACTION1

How To Create One

Creating an effective CTA requires some marketing knowledge, but it’s nothing you can’t pick up quickly. Here are some tricks to use in creating one that will catch eyes.

  • Use actionable language. This might seem obvious, given the “action” in “call-to-action,” yet the internet is still full of vague language and information. Be clear about what you want your prospect to do. Use exact language. “You can register for our newsletter here” isn’t as strong as “Sign up for our newsletter.”

  • Point out benefits. A CTA should be brief, but you can still express benefits in just a few words. State that the report they’re downloading is industry award winning, or that it will teach them profitable secrets to increasing their sales. Point out that the free trial is for 30 days and comes with 24/7 email support. Basically, give your customer a reason to respond to your call.

  • Offer an incentive. A report published by Small Business Trends found that of the 200 small business websites they surveyed, 96% of them didn’t offer any sort of industry report, white paper, or otherwise helpful incentive. People like “insider” information, and offering it in the form of a free download makes it even more appealing.

  • Keep it simple. You don’t want to overwhelm or confuse your visitors, so limit the number of CTAs you have on your website. For instance, Hubspot has three CTAs on the bottom of their homepage: Call us, request a demo, or start a free trial.

CALL-TO-ACTION2

You also want to keep the amount of information you collect from your visitors to a minimum. The marketer in you might be tempted to collect lots of juicy demographics, but a CTA form isn’t the place to do that. Studies have found that the more fields a response form has, the smaller the website’s conversion rate. Keep it simple, and you won’t overwhelm your visitors.

  • Make it stand out. Your call to action should stand out from the rest of the page, and be in a place where users can easily locate it. Choose a contrasting background color, and place it above the fold where people can see it immediately. Some internet marketers would argue that a call to action need not always be above the fold. Just keep in mind that you want it to stand out to your audience and prompt them to take immediate action.

  • Have it on every page. The same Small Business Trends report found that 72% of the surveyed websites didn’t have a CTA on any of their internal pages. The chances of a conversion increase when the site visitor always has access to the CTA, so make sure you include it in the same spot on all of your pages.

 

Having a strong call to action is an overlooked yet fundamental part of optimizing your website for conversions. Whether building a prospect list, rallying activists, or getting your name out there as a blogger, CTAs add needed direction for both the website itself and your visitors. Now that you know the importance of it, there’s no reason not to have one!

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Comments

2 Responses to Content Marketing 101: What is a Call-To-Action?

  1. Eric Grimaldi says:

    Thanks for this valuable information about CTA, can my blog linked to my ecommerce be a CTA by itself?

    • HostGator says:

      Certainly, if your blog is utilized to market for your ecommerce site
      and contains links to purchase items you discuss on your blog, then that itself is a type of CTA; a CTA to buy a product from your ecommerce site.

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