How to Create a Powerful Call to ActionA call to action is one of the most critical parts of any marketing message, whether it’s delivered by email, direct mail, on your website, Facebook page or any other way. A call to action should spur the customer or prospect to take the next step (call, click, stop by, download, “like,” tell a friend, etc).

Many businesses create ineffective calls to action (CTA) – or worse, none at all. “Call us” or “Click here” are CTA wimps. They offer no information or customer motivation. Call who, why? What happens if I click? What’s in it for me?

A strong CTA makes it clear what action the customer is expected to take and why. Your approach depends on the action you want to motivate. For example, if the goal is to spur a purchase and you have given the benefits, a simple “Buy Now!” might be all you need. Here are 10 tips for creating strong calls to action:

  1. First, set the table A call to action works best when customers are properly prepped. Start by identifying the problem (the pain), and explaining how your product or service solves it. The benefits you offer can become part of your call to action.
  2. Make it stand out In a letter or email, the CTA can be in larger type, color or bold. On a website or blog it can be designed into a colorful button.
  3. Offer incentives Consider a sweetener, such as a discount or free gift, as a reward for heeding your call to action. For example, instead of merely saying “Join our mailing list,” your CTA could be “Join our mailing list and receive a 15% off coupon.”
  4. Avoid scary terms Instead of asking people to “Register” or “Subscribe,” (both can be scary), try friendlier terms such as “Receive updates” or “Stay connected.” Make it about them, not you.
  5. Keep it clear and simple Avoid surrounding your call to action with too many choices. Keep the mental effort required by customers to a minimum. For example, presenting three action choices — “View Demo,” “Get More Information” and “Buy Now” — all in the same place will reduce the success rate.
  6. Feast on QR codes Used properly, a QR code can be a great CTA supplement. (See “QR Code Basics for Local Businesses.“)  But don’t leave a QR code “naked.” Include a message that explains it, such as “Scan this code for a 3-D product photo.”
  7. Make it early Small businesses typically place their call to action at the bottom of a page. The best place is high on the page and in a central place where the eye can easily see it, not off to the side.
  8. Use links liberally Always link logos and product photos to your desired landing page or shopping cart. And don’t forget to label your photos with descriptive “ALT” tags. This stands for “alternative text,” which will appear in someone’s browser or email if the image is not available.
  9. Be strategic When creating your CTAs, don’t think in terms of a single offer or campaign. Try to create calls to action that can be part of your overall marketing plan. That way, the same ones can be used in a variety of circumstances.

10. Follow through Having a great call to action still isn’t enough. You also have to consider what happens if the customer or prospect does what you’ve asked. It is vital to deliver the   proper response quickly – an order confirmation, thank you note, email or other action on your part that keeps the customer moving down the purchase path.

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