“When I say jump, you say, ‘How high?’”
This may work for drill sergeants, but it probably won’t do you any favors in marketing. As nice as it would be to get customers to instantly buy from you the moment they see a button with the words “buy now,” that’s typically not going to happen.
Instead, you need to tap into all your powers of persuasion to write a call-to-action that gets the attention of your readers and convinces them to take the desired next step.
This can be easier said than done. After all, we’re bombarded with countless marketing messages each day, all with a call-to-action of their own. It’s easy to get lost in the clutter.
If you’ve ever felt like you can’t hack it at writing marketing content, you’re not alone. The good news is that even if you’re not a great writer, you can become a master at crafting a call-to-action that generates real results for your business.
1. Define wording around an outcome
One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed with calls-to-action is that many of them try to be too concise. Yes, there’s value in not being wordy. But super short calls-to-action like “free consultation” or “free trial” can actually seem too demanding or vague for someone who happens to click on a display ad.
Instead, you can make your call-to-action more clear and direct by defining the wording around the visitors’ desired outcomes.
For example, a food subscription box could use a phrase like “try your first free meal today” instead of “free trial.” An injury attorney could use a call-to-action like “learn your rights” instead of “free consultation.”
These phrases can actually be more effective with cold leads by more closely linking their actions with clear, concrete outcomes.
2. Use action words
Is your writing action-packed and engaging? Or flat and boring? The answer could reveal why you are (or aren’t) getting clicks on your calls-to-action.
Let’s face it, words like “submit” aren’t that enticing. They sound more reminiscent of turning in a term paper than gaining access to an exciting offer.
Because of this, your call-to-action should use engaging action words whenever possible. Words like “choose,” “get,” “try,” or “take” imply that the reader has more power over what happens next. These are active, rather than passive, invitations.
This can work even for shorter calls-to-action. Change the button that reads “free trial” to “get your free trial,” and suddenly, you’ve made an actual invitation, rather than simply telling visitors where the free trial is located.
3. Personalize whenever possible
When you think of personalization in marketing, your first thought might be of inserting a customer’s name in your call-to-action. While this could help, it often isn’t feasible. And there’s actually a better way to personalize your invitations.
A case study from HubSpot details how the company uses audience data to segment site visitors and present different calls-to-action based on where they are in the marketing funnel.
First-time visitors who haven’t interacted with the site previously are served a default call-to-action. But someone who is already a lead in the company’s internal system will be presented with a different call-to-action, even when visiting the same page.
You could create even more calls-to-action beyond those for visitors and leads, adapting the copy for what will be most appealing to individuals in different phases of the buyer’s journey. The results speak for themselves: HubSpot’s personalized invitations improved performance by 202 percent.
4. Use a call-to-action button
Okay, so this isn’t actually a writing tip. But by formatting your call-to-action as a button, you can dramatically increase your clickthrough and conversion rates. One case study from Campaign Monitor found that using a button instead of a link increased clickthrough rates by 28 percent.
This is because buttons have several important attributes that help them stand out from the rest of your landing page text. Effective buttons are larger than the rest of the text, and are typically separated from the rest of the copy by white space.
These simple attributes naturally draw the eye to the button, ensuring that your call-to-action actually gets read, rather than glossed over. When the button is the opposite color of the rest of the background, it will stand out even more, resulting in more views and clicks.
5. Create a sense of urgency
Creating a sense of urgency is a classic ingredient for marketing success, and that rings just as true for your digital call-to-action as it does with any other type of advertising.
There’s psychological backing for this, too.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research determined, “people are more likely to perform unimportant tasks (i.e., tasks with objectively lower payoffs) over important tasks (i.e., tasks with objectively better payoffs), when the unimportant tasks are characterized merely by spurious urgency (e.g., an illusion of expiration).”
In other words, even if your call-to-action is less important than other things going on in a consumer’s life, creating a sense of urgency will actually get them to prioritize it above those things.
Urgency words are typically time-oriented. They tell users to “order now” or that the call-to-action is for a “limited-time offer” or available “today only.” Sometimes, these calls-to-action will advise readers that prices will go up soon, or that a limited quantity of signups is left.
Either way, your invitation suddenly becomes a lot more important.
Time to craft a killer call-to-action
Even after you start implementing these hacks on your website, the work isn’t done. Each audience is unique, and those who visit your website could be hot or cold leads depending on their stage in the buying process.
So, even after you implement these hacks, you’ll have to use the tried-and-true marketing staple of A/B testing your calls-to-action. This will give you valuable data so you can determine which words or phrases work best with your audience.
With writing smarts and actionable data in hand, you can continue refining your calls-to-action so you can achieve more growth than ever before.
Have you used any of these hacks in crafting your website’s calls-to-action? Or are there other tricks you’ve used that I didn’t touch on?
I’d love to hear about what’s worked (or not worked) in your own efforts to craft compelling calls-to-action for your readers. I look forward to joining the conversation in the comments section below!
Guest author: Lucas Miller is a Freelance Copywriter and Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, tweeting or attempting to play pickup basketball, he’s working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the “World’s Greatest Pompadour.” To get more tips on how to start your own six-figure freelance copywriting business, join his free newsletter.