What is a Call to Action? (CTA)

When someone uses the term Call to Action (CTA) in marketing they are referring to the copy that explicitly instructs or sometimes cleverly leads an individual to follow an intended action. The best CTA’s are well written directives used to drive marketing campaigns, encouraging people outside of the website to click on ads or search results, and once again for the desired on-page actions.

What should be included in useful CTAs?

The most common examples of CTAs are directives like “Buy Now”, “Click Here to Download”, or “Visit Webpage”. They often are used as a text hyperlink that clicks through to another page, like a contact form or submit button. CTAs do not always need to be hypertext, they can also be used without linking off-page, such as instructions on how to complete a form, or an engaging thank you message).

What are some common CTA examples?

  • General action CTAs can be developed by identifying high-level intent phrases related to your audience, followed by “Check it out”, “Click here for more”, “Learn more”, “Start now”
  • Non-profit empathetic CTAs can be developed by identifying positive outcomes, charity priorities or impact on society followed by, “Donate”, “Volunteer”, “Support the cause”, “Make a difference”, “Gift”
  • Action oriented purchase CTAs can be developed by identifying high-intent phrases directive within the context of the value proposition, followed by “Buy”, “Shop”, “Purchase”, “Reserve”, “PreOrder”, “Add to Cart”, “Select”, “View”, “Save”, “Order”
  • Web Application or SAAS companies utilize trial CTAs that can be used to encourage limited availability or value from service that typically include the phrases, “Try”, “Subscribe”, “Get Started”, “Sign Up”, “Claim Free Trial”
  • Multi level marketing platforms or websites incentivizing sharing their content utilize CTAs that encourage sharing, publishing or promotion using phrases like “Take advantage of”, “Claim your spot”, “Refer a Friend for Free”, “Subscribe”, “Sign Up for Free Download”

Urgency is the most important consideration when developing useful CTAs. If a user has followed through multiple actions to reach a specific page there should be an incredibly compelling Call to Action to get them to convert into a customer. Applying the LIFT Model to CTAs, we can explore factums of improvement.

What is the LIFT Model?

  • Developed in 2009 by Chris Goward
  • Provides framework to evaluate experiences from perspective of the user
  • Uses 6 conversion factors: Value Proposition, Clarity, Relevance, Distraction, Urgency, and Anxiety
  • Can be used to identify issues and opportunities for user experience enhancements
  • Vital in building, testing hypothesis for UX-Design experiments
  • Categorizes factors into two pieces: conversion drivers & conversion inhibitors

What is a Value Proposition CTA?

The LIFT Model is useful for optimizing CTAs because it takes into consideration the Value Proposition, weighing the cost vs. benefit of a prospects motives. In the LIFT Model we can measure Motivation (M) by the Perceived Benefits (PB) weighed against the Perceived Costs (PC).

So the formula for optimizing CTAs for engagement would be M = PB-PC

If the perceived benefits outweigh the perceived costs, users will be motivated to react to the CTA. The stronger the value proposition, the greater potential for conversions and happy customers.

How do I measure the Relevance of a CTA?

A core component of the Value Propisition, the Relevance factor is one of the key conversion drivers in any CTA. The relevance of your Call to Action is a form of measurement against how reliable the message was vs. the end result for the user. Consider the source media, personalization opportunities and any other marketing enhancements that can improve user experience. Did the user click on a Facebook Ad? Was it an organic result from Google? Matching the promise to the destination will ensure that CTA meets relevance requirements.

What does Clarity mean for a CTA?

The clarity of any CTA relies on how articulate the value proposition is on the page. This is one of the most difficult factors to improve because many authors are blind to the problems they cannot see. In other words, what is simple to someone may be incredibly complex to someone else. Designing CTAs with clarity is the art of creating a flow of images, text or both to minimize the time it takes to click through or take an action. Improving the clarity of a message is another conversion driver.

Some tips for having a clear, communicative CTA

  • Research Audience, Related Problems
  • Include Subheadings, Paragraph Headings, Keywords
  • Include Supporting Image Content
  • QA for Quality, Expertise & Helpfulness of Content

How do I measure Urgency in a CTA?

The urgency of any Call to Action relies on how a user is introduced to the value proposition on the page. For example, if an ad suggesting they “Act now!” leads to a page with no urgent language, the relevancy will be lost and users will not convert. When considering the Urgency of a CTA, it can be broken into two objectives:

  • External urgency, such as factors or influences that you can introduce to the user
  • Internal urgency or keyword intent, the factors that brought the user to this specific page for this specific reason
  • Include Supporting Facts, Provocative Information

Following a well-designed CTA checklist will improve the clarity, relevance and urgency of the marketing message.

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