Posted by Alex Hawker
11 January, 2019

The call-to-action can make or break the deal with a potential customer.

It appears in such a vital moment between your brand and your target market that it’s important to nail it and encourage customers along to the next stage of their journey.  

A call-to-action (CTA) is the copy that moves a potential customer through different stages of engagement and prompts them to carry out a specific task. This could be anything from clicking a website link to signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase.

Because of the sheer mass of businesses asking us to carry out these various actions, our brains often shut it all out and we rarely even remember them, let alone wish to act on them. Using your brand’s unique tone of voice helps to capture the attention of your target market and entice them with your offer.

Know your audience

As with any aspect of copywriting, you need to understand all about who you’re speaking to before you start to write. Take some time to think about the needs and desires of your target customers – this way you’ll hone in on what keywords, offers and aesthetics will appeal to them. It’s also useful to think about the journey you want them to take and then build a CTA around it. For example, if you want them to click through to your website, describe the content they can expect or perhaps give some kind of visual hint as to what the website looks like.

Find the right words

A lot is required from a few words when it comes to the CTA. You need to build a sense of urgency around the offer, meanwhile displaying the benefits and clarifying what steps need to be taken in order to encourage a conversion. For example, if you’re trying to get people to enter your giveaway competition for a free two-night stay in your hotel, be sure to mention that they’ve only got 24 hours to enter. Words like ‘limited’, ‘exclusive’, ‘one off’ or ‘now’ jolt people into action and get them to convert. The last thing you want is to let people think ‘I’ll just do it later’ because they’ll most likely forget and never end up converting.

Be clear

You can’t afford to be vague at this point, so use a word that states exactly what it is that you’re asking your customer to do (like subscribing or purchasing), rather than just including a mysterious ‘click here’ button, which will be avoided like the plague.

Make it personal

You should personalise your CTA as much as possible to arouse a more emotional response and appear in ‘the now’. Include ‘you’ where possible and write in the present tense. Writing in the first person is sometimes effective, too – for example, ‘sign me up for the newsletter’ can make customers feel more personally invested and inclined to click through.

Avoid the hard sell

Calls-to-action ask someone to do a very specific thing urgently – so it’s a good idea to use imperatives to drive the message. This doesn’t mean, though, that you need to adopt an aggressive tone or suddenly switch to the hard sell in this moment just because you’re making a command. Maintain your brand voice and, if you can, take the opportunity to make it entertaining. Joules is a great example – the brand has used its cheerful tone of voice to appeal to customers and stir up some urgency at the same time.

Example of a good call to action by Joules.

Avoid clickbait

It’s easy to make people feel cheated when your call-to-action sounds better than the reality. For instance, if you want someone to sign up to your newsletter, don’t exaggerate about the content they can expect, or they’ll just unsubscribe as soon as they realise you’ve not delivered, and you’ll gain an unhappy customer. Think about if you were seeing your CTA for the first time as a customer; would you be at all surprised or disappointed by what you clicked through to? If yes, just go back to the copy and see how it could more accurately describe your offer.

Design it to stand out

As well as getting the words right, you need to be strategic with the design of the call-to-action so that it doesn’t get overlooked. Test different things out to see what makes it jump out of the page while fitting with your brand’s look and feel. It’s also important that it’s not too hard to locate on the page, i.e. not too far down or hidden away. Luxury Family Hotels is a great example, as the CTA to download a PDF marries up with the colours of the top toolbar, has a photograph beside it and is also very large on the page; the eye is naturally drawn to it and it’s easy to spot.

Luxury Family Hotels homepage with call to action button.

Be accessible

It’s important to avoid ambiguity when you implement the call-to-action. If you want people to click a link, make sure its purpose can be determined from the link text alone. For example, it’s better to write ‘sign up to our newsletter’ with the whole sentence as a clickable link, than to write ‘sign up to our newsletter here’ with ‘here’ as the button. It also helps people who may be using assistive technologies to more successfully land on your call-to-action.

Choose the right time

Time and place are vital. You don’t want to jump in too early before your customer has learnt about what you’re offering, but equally it’s important not to leave it too late and miss the boat for any kind of conversion. Allow it to flow with the customer journey and present itself just at the time when the potential customer knows all they need to know, and are ready to move to the next stage of their relationship with your brand.

We can offer assistance with helping you craft a good call-to-action, from copywriting to design. Contact us to find out more about our services – we’d love to hear from you.