Updated: Nov 6
If your website isn't converting visitors into customers, you might have a problem with your CTAs. Here's what they are, how they work, and 12 ways to improve them AND your conversion rate.
A CTA is the little nudge you give your reader to take the next step that builds your relationship. Like read another blog post, add something to their basket, or sign up for your newsletter. Wondering how to write a killer call-to-action? Keep reading...
Why do I need to use CTAs on my website?
Because, if you want your marketing materials to earn their keep, you want people to do something after reading them. Like:
Call you for a quote
Sign up for your newsletter
Make a purchase, online or in-store
Book onto an event
Download more information
Request a call back
Send you an email
When your marketing materials inspire action, they’re worth producing because they deliver ROI (return on investment). They deliver a benefit for your business and, hopefully, pay for themselves in the business they win.
What you don’t want people to do is:
Click away from your website empty-handed
Think ‘that was nice’ and bin your brochure
Shrug and think ‘so what?’
What's wrong with 'so what?'
'So what?’ is the enemy of action.
'So what?' is the sound of potential customers walking away with their money still in their pockets.
It is the gentle weeping of unsold products, wondering when they’ll find their forever home.
It’s contractors twiddling their thumbs as they wait for work to come in.
It is the swoooosh of the tumbleweed blowing through your bistro.
‘So what?’ moments happen when content doesn’t do anything to move a customer forward through the sales process.
They read your webpage or brochure, maybe they find it really interesting. But then...nothing. There is no next step. There is nothing else to do. So they leave.
Bye-bye sales. Bye-bye early retirement. Give them a wave on their way out…
A CTA is the difference between making money and wasting trees
If you don’t want your marketing materials to bring in business, feel free to print CTA-free flyers and drop them in your nearest recycling bin.
Or continue posting boring blogs that add no value to your business.
But if you’re in the business of...well, doing business...then you need to make your marketing materials work harder.
And you do that through calls to action.
The call to action is the subtle nudge or a great big kick up the backside your reader needs to take the next step.
How do you write a clickworthy call to action?
Clickworthy CTAs look like this:
Call now for your free, no obligation quote
Sign up now for 50% off your first meal
Join 1,000s of others receiving our weekly tips by email
Book now to avoid disappointment
Download your free holiday guide and start dreaming today
Click here for exclusive access to our next VIP event
Or plain and simple next steps like this:
Add to basket
Whether they’re exclusive time-limited offers or simple invitations to give you a ring, calls to action give your customer somewhere to go.
They shepherd your reader through your content to a desired action, and they stop them disappearing off to a new distraction.
Like a competitor
Or the cinema
Or petting a cute cat that’s walked by
You need to lasso your easily distracted, often fickle readers and pull them along with you, delighting their socks off until they're ready to commit.
12 tips on how to write a killer call-to-action
1. Work out what you want your customer to do
That’s the whole point of your marketing materials, after all. Don’t leave them with nowhere to go when they fall in love with what you offer.
2. Think about the most effective call to action for your business
Don’t invite people to call you if you’re never near a phone, or drop into your premise if you're not open to the public. Ask them to email you instead. Or to download your brochure.
3. Funnel people to your desired outcome
It's called a sales funnel - the way you're planning to turn anonymous website visitors to paying customers. For example > Read website > Email for info > Receive brochure > Book service. Your CTAs need to move people along this customer journey.
4. Remember the customer journey
People aren't always ready to buy, so a sales-based CTA might put them off. Consider adding CTAs that build your relationship, like inviting them to sign up for a newsletter.
5. Consider the Rule of One
That said, the Rule of One states that you write for one person, with one compelling offer, and one call to action. It's all about clarity and driving your reader to a single conversion goal.
6. Include social proof
A CTA requires a website visitor to make a commitment - even if it’s a small one. Include social proof elements - such as reviews, ratings, or the number of satisfied customers - near your CTAs to reassure people that they’re making the right decision.
7. Sweeten the deal
What can you offer to push reluctant readers to take action? Think about offering a discount or exclusive offer if they sign up to your mailing list or download a lead magnet.
8. Create a sense of urgency
No-one wants to miss out. Encourage people to take the step straight away ‘Limited offer’. ‘Book now’. ‘Start today’. Discover more about urgency and other persuasive techniques in copywriting.
9. Pepper calls to action throughout your text
As a minimum, make sure every page of your website or publication finishes with one. No-one should get to the end of the page and have nowhere to go.
10. Start your CTAs with active verbs
Like the ones used here. They are compelling and give clear instructions about what to do next.
11. Ditch your waffle
A call to action is quick and clear. If your call to action looks like this – Please kindly consider signing up for our insightful newsletter which is delivered to your inbox on a bimonthy basis – change it!
12. Be aware of GDPR laws
Esp if you plan to ask people to sign up for information by email or post. Creating a mailing list is massively valuable to a marketer but there are legal responsibilities to consider. Visit ico.org.uk for info
Worried your CTAs need work? Get in touch to book a web copy review today.
About the author
Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer. After 15+ years in marketing and communications, she escaped the 9-to-5 and started Write on Tyne.
Write on Tyne is a small content and copywriting agency dedicated to making marketing managers' lives easier.
We provide top-notch copy for campaigns, content marketing, and websites - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.