Back in 1996 in their song “Wannabe,” The Spice Girls issued a rather memorable challenge, “So tell me what you want, what you really really want.” When you boil it all down to its most simplistic level, that’s what a call to action, or CTA, is all about. What do you (really really) want your customer to do as a result of viewing your ad?
Every piece of advertising should have a CTA— a task that you want users to complete. CTAs provide focus, direction and a way to measure the success of advertising. They can be used on any form of advertising, from print ads and billboards to videos and commercials to websites and online display ads.
The tricky part is developing a CTA that is compelling enough to motivate users to take action by offering them something valuable.
Six Tips and Tricks for Creating a Successful CTA
1. Do your research. What compels your customer? What is the reason they do business with you? What are they seeking? Understanding your audience’s needs will help determine your CTA.
2. Be clear. Users need to recognize a problem/need in order to complete a CTA. So be upfront and clear about what you’re asking or saying. Be direct and specific, set expectations. Make the action as easy as possible.
3. Don’t ask too much. A website may have several CTAs, a display ad will have one. Don’t ask the customer to do too many different things or you will risk losing their interest or confusing them. You can also test different CTAs on a website based on audience segments – those willing to give an email address versus those willing to share something on social or download a PDF.
4. Consider position and design. Position on the page is important, as well as the space around it. Don’t surround your CTA with lots clutter or it may get lost. Color, shape, size, and typeface are all important too. A contrasting color or flashing button will attract the reader’s eye.
5. Use actionable words and phrases. Create a sense of urgency with messages that encourage people to act — limited time offer, limited supply, hurry, don’t wait, call now. However, always be honest and up-front, as no customer wants to feel misled.
6. Follow-up. Make sure whatever follows a CTA (whether it’s a button click or a user going to a website or physical store) is streamlined and measurable. Then, once you’ve gotten the user to act, what are you doing to push customers to the next level?
Test and measure when possible. See what works and what doesn’t and apply it to your next attempt. But don’t solely focus on conversion — brand perception is also very important. How does your CTA reflect your brand?
Anna Schiff, Art Director