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What to Avoid when Creating Calls-to-Action

by: Finella Kristle Panlilio

Thursday, March 20, 2014 |

Perfecting Calls-to-Action for Marketing Campaigns

Calls-to-action (or CTAs) matter because they pull in visitors, leads, and customers. An effective CTA is clear and eye-catching, and it is something that makes people want to click. Marketers use CTAs as a means of driving up leads and revenue, or to simply disseminate information.
It’s surprising how many global enterprises still get it wrong when it comes to using CTAs. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, these are the findings on how businesses are failing to make the best of CTAs:
  • 96% don’t feature any industry how-to guides or white papers on their homepages.
  • 70% don’t reference any notable CTAs on their homepages other than the usual "Contact Us" option.
  • 82% don’t reference their social media profiles (text or images).
  • 70% of websites with a phone number don’t display it in a prominent place.
  • 68% don’t include an email address on their homepages, and 38% of websites with an email address, bury it on their homepage (often in the footer).
Conversions depend on calls-to-action. Here’s a list of what you need to avoid when creating CTAs:
  • Fluffy language. People should know exactly what they will achieve by clicking your CTA. If you want your customer to "Download the eBook" then say so. Use clear, concise language that tells them what they are getting in exchange for their click.
  • Ambiguity. Avoid using ambiguous or open-ended invitations. It is not enough to say "Click here" or "Submit". You need concise, jargon-free phrases that will make people want to act. "Start My Free Trial", "View Case Studies", or "Get Started (it's free)" are great examples of CTAs that catch people's attention.
  • Lack of visual impact. Whether presented as a button, an ad, anchor text or image, your CTA needs to stand out from the rest of the page in terms of color, design, and position.
  • Poor placement. The placement of a CTA depends on a number of factors including the goal of your page and the complexity of its information. Generally speaking, lead generation or e-commerce CTAs should be displayed prominently near the top of the page, while more complex pages might call for a CTA below the fold.
  • Failing to optimize your media. For a mobile audience, don't bury your CTA at the bottom of the page where users will be required to scroll endlessly to reach it, or create tiny buttons that will make users fail to notice its existence or that will make it difficult to click. Optimization is key.
  • Lack of personalization. A case study from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 showed an overwhelming 90% increase in sign-ups by altering one word in a CTA, from "Start your free 30-day trial" to "Start my free 30-day trial". This isn't to say that similar results were acquired from studies in other languages, but the lesson is clear: understand the level of personalization that resonates best with your audience.
  • Lack of testing or analysis. According to Adobe's 2013 Digital Marketing Optimization Survey, 49% of respondents said testing wasn't yet a priority for their company. Don't fall into the same trap. Testing allows you to maximize the impact of your CTA, understand the preferences of your audience, and eliminate language and visuals that fail to deliver results.
  • Not matching reality with expectation. Make sure that your CTA does what it says and leads the visitors straight to the page they want to be on and not to a series of complex sign-up procedures.
  • Failing to SEO your CTAs. Alt tag it with strong keywords if your CTA is embedded as an image. This will guarantee your content is correctly indexed with search engines and will help to increase traffic.
  • Too much choice. Don’t confuse your visitors with too many CTAs or buttons per page. Where more than one CTA is necessary, a visual hierarchy will help emphasize priority (eg. more prominent buttons for greater importance).

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