The essential checklist for writing call to actions that convert

Sanina Kaur, director of SK Copy Co, shares some best practice advice for writing call to actions that encourage people to take the next step, not click away 

What do you want your readers to do once they’ve finished reading your piece of content? Download your free ebook? Sign up for your next event? Or book a free consultation with you?

It’s all very well and good you wanting them to do that, but do they know that? What I mean is, have you spelt it out to them? In today’s increasingly busy world, people’s attention spans are shorter than ever, which means two things:

  • You’re lucky if they have the time or make the effort to read your piece of content in full. According to HubSpot 43% of people admit to skimming blog posts
  • They need a bit of guidance. Your readers aren’t mind readers; they need to be told (subtly) what you would like them to do next

That’s where your call to actions (CTAs) come in, if you’re using them to their full advantage, that is. Here are some pointers on making sure your CTAs a) grab people’s attention and b) make them take action.

Length

Space is limited when it comes to CTAs, so don’t waffle. Keep them short and snappy and to the point. Always.

Not only will this help increase the chances of them being read from start to finish, they’ll also be easier for today’s modern audience to digest. According to Marketing Land, two-thirds of emails are read on either smartphones or tablets, which means the shorter the CTA, the easier they’ll be for people to take in and read, regardless of the device they’re using. 

When it comes to writing standard CTA copy, always try to use no more than five to six words and make sure they’re as punchy as possible, without sounding cheesy.

Verbs

One of the biggest mistake marketers make, is using weak passive language in their CTAs. Take ‘click here’ for instance, yes, it tells the reader what to do, but it doesn’t promote how they’re going to benefit from investing their time in clicking here. What will they get? What’s in it for them?

If you want people to take the next step in their buyer journey, then you need to start your CTAs with a strong command verb. For instance, if you’re writing content for an e-commerce site then use verbs such as ‘buy’, ‘order’ or ‘shop.’ However, if you’d like people to sign up to your blog or newsletter, then choose ‘subscribe’ or ‘sign up.’

As obvious as it sounds, taking a step back and asking yourself if the words you’re using would encourage you to respond or not, is a really useful way of gauging whether or not your CTAs are going to inspire action, be dismissed or even worse, totally overlooked.

Language

Keep it concise and make it really easy for people to understand what they need to do in an instant. As with all forms of content, steer clear of lengthy words, industry speak and jargon. However, it’s important to note: don’t be too to the point, as you may come across as being blunt.

Use Plain English and words and phrases that your target audience are going to immediately identify with. Always avoid including any acronyms or abbreviations. Yes, they might be shorter and you might understand them, but not everybody will know what they mean. If your CTAs aren’t easy to instantly understand, then chances are they aren’t going to do very much for your click-through rates.

Logic

Does what you’re asking people to do next feel natural? Where does the CTA you’re writing fit according to where they are in their buyer journey? Is it the logical next step?

For example, you wouldn’t expect readers to feel ready enough to book a consultation with you after just reading a top of the funnel blog however, they might be ready to read another blog or perhaps download a relevant piece of content.

Ideally, you will have mapped your content to each stage of the buyer journey, which will ensure that your CTAs are relevant and tie in with the next step you’re asking readers to commit to. Would you take that next step or is it too much of a leap? Do you think some further nurturing is required?      

Reason

What’s the advantage of people clicking your CTA? How will they benefit? Will they save time or perhaps they’ll save money? If so, then say it!

Linking your CTAs to your value proposition is a really effective way of creating compelling CTAs, you just need to make sure you really nail that key benefit and do it succinctly. It’s also important to remember that whatever you promise in your CTA, you deliver on. So, if a reader is expecting to download your latest white paper, then they should be taken to a landing page where they can access your white paper, not something totally different.

Creating highly effective CTAs can be challenging, but as with all forms of content-writing, it’s possible if you take the time to understand your target audience and focus on communicating the right message, at the right time.