A weak, forgettable call to action can repel even the most enthusiastic and motivated prospect.
It sounds like we are exaggerating, but we aren’t.
The truth is, even if you have a great offer, a bland call to action will cost you sales. It takes more than a big red button with some placeholder text on it to convert people.
The thing that upsets us the most about poorly crafted calls to action… they are so easy to fix! It takes seconds – or a few minutes, tops.
So if you want more conversions for your business, you have no excuse. Start with your calls to action. We’ll help! In today’s post, we’ll give you specific, actionable tips on how to turn any call to action into something special – and impossible to ignore.
Let’s dive in… with some theory (gasp!)
“Active” vs “passive” calls to action
Believe it or not, not all calls to action are created equal.
For the purposes of this post, we will divide them in two groups. This is not an “official” marketing concept, by the way – it’s just how we like to think about calls to action.
First, there are “active” calls to action. With those, your customer is expected to interact with something on the page – like fill out a form, click a button, share on social media, or leave a comment.
And then there are “passive” calls to action. That’s when people read, listen to, or see what they need to do… but there’s no immediate way to follow those instructions right there on the page.
Things like calling your office, emailing you, referring a friend to your product or service – those are all complicated actions that depend on customers to make a bit of effort.
For each type of call to action, we’ll discuss four strategies for lifting the curse (of blandness) from them. You can apply all of them in minutes, and then rapidly test if they result in more leads and customers for your business.
Let’s start with the “easy” part, when you need a website visitor to take action right there on the page…
Part 1. Active calls to action
An active call to action has one job: to capture your customer’s energy and enthusiasm, created after being exposed to your marketing message, and channel it into a small, obvious, and highly specific action.
To do that, it needs to be:
- Aligned with your customer’s thought process
- Connected to a desirable result
- Effortless and unmissable
With that in mind, you want to use these “quick fixes” to make your active call to action shine…
1. Use the “I want to ____” hack
If you don’t know how to phrase your call to action, this hack will save you tons of time and guesswork. It’s dead simple. All you need to do is this:
- Think about it from your customer’s perspective. They have heard your marketing message – now what do they want?
- Write down “I want to ____” and finish the sentence from your customer’s perspective.
- The blank space you just filled in is your call to action. Now trim it down so it can fit wherever you want to place it (e.g. a button), and you’re done!
If you only apply one technique from this blog post, make it this one. It’s that good.
2. Use specific, powerful language
Everywhere your customers look, they see the same generic, cookie-cutter calls to action. They can’t surf the web for five minutes without running into another generic blue button that says “Submit” – or “Sign Up,” or “Subscribe.”
Even when those calls to action aren’t as generic, they are still boring and vague. If someone decided not to use “Submit” (hurray), you’d think that they would come up with something better than “Get Started” or “Buy Now.” Not so!
Your customers are bored enough as is – please don’t add to their misery. Use these actionable guidelines to revitalize your calls to action:
- Think about the real action – what are your customers really doing? Are they requesting a free quote? Asking to call them back? Entering a contest? Then that’s what the call to action should be.
- Remember what your customers are getting. If the action isn’t exciting or important, then surely the result will be? Are they about to solve a major problem? Get a discount? Download an awesome freebie? Make your call to action about that benefit.
- Whenever you find yourself using low-energy phrases like “Get Started,” it’s time to rethink your life and your approach to marketing. Whenever possible, use single action verbs instead. Also, check out our post about power words – we have 4 words in there that you can use for calls to action.
Finally, if you have zero ideas on how to make your calls to action pack a punch, there’s one other thing you can do.
Write them in the first person. So, for example, instead of “Sign Up for the Newsletter” you’d have “Sign Me Up for the Newsletter!” – easy.
It’s the copywriting equivalent of patching a hole in the wall with wet toilet paper, but it works. At the very least, it will give you enough time to think of something better!
3. Drive home the value proposition
Your unique value proposition should be all over the place in your marketing. And while it’s tricky to fit it into your call to action, it’s absolutely worth trying!
It can increase your conversions for one important reason: customers want to be reminded about why they are on your page in the first place. If you can promise them something they won’t get anywhere else, it’s hard to beat that incentive.
Now, we have no idea what your unique value proposition is. Rather than give you a whole bunch of guidelines that may or may not apply to you, we’ll share one very simple way to incorporate your value proposition into your calls to action. Here it is:
IF you are making a specific value claim in your headline or sub-headline, THEN you should re-state that promise in your call to action.
For example, let’s say you’re offering to double your customer’s website traffic in 30 days – right there in the headline. It’s only logical that your call to action should reflect that value proposition. Here are some ways you could capture it, just to give you an idea:
“YES, I Want to Double My Traffic!”
“Say HELLO to 2X the Traffic”
“Solve Your Traffic Problem in 30 Days”
Bottom line is, if you have a unique and valuable promise, you shouldn’t neglect it in your calls to action. So don’t!
4. Remember the context
Just last week, we talked about how context is all-important for video conversions. Unsurprisingly, it also determines just how effective your calls to action are.
You might not think of the space around your buttons and forms as important, but it is. You can use it to capture and direct your customer’s attention to the call to action – and to overcome any last-minute hesitation before clicking.
- Place visual cues to guide where your customer is looking. Arrows, graphics, images of people pointing and looking at your call to action – all of these channel your visitor’s attention where you want it.
- Use micro-copy around your call to action to reassure your customer and alleviate any potential concerns they might have.
Let’s illustrate that last one. For example, if your customer is worried about giving you their credit card information for a free trial, here’s how you might reassure them:
“No credit card required”
“Free for 30 days, cancel anytime”
“We won’t charge you until your trial is over”
In the same fashion, you can address potential anxiety about the length of your surveys and opt-in forms, shipping options for purchases, money-back guarantees – you name it.
Part 2. Passive calls to action
As we mentioned before, passive calls to action are meant to solve a very specific challenge.
You want to use them for overcoming inertia and resistance from your customers, and getting them to do something slightly more complicated. It could be to call you, send an application, visit your office, and so on.
That’s why a passive call to action works best when it…
- Minimizes perceived difficulty
- Invokes scarcity and urgency
- Addresses potential concerns
Let’s dig into the four “quick fixes” that help you achieve all that!
1. Break it down to the smallest step
Chances are, your sales process is far from instant. Your customer will need to contact you, learn what they need to make a decision, place an order, wait for it to be fulfilled, use the product or service, ask your customer support for help… and so on.
But however long it takes, there is usually one small thing that puts the entire process in motion. And that’s exactly what you want to emphasize in your calls to action. Make it easy for people to take that small, obvious step, and de-emphasize or omit the rest of it.
A good rule of thumb is, it should take your customer less than a minute, or maybe two minutes, to complete.
Here’s an example: a real estate agency would never ask people to “buy or sell your next property with us” as a call to action. That’s overwhelming and vague. Instead, they would ask people to call and request a free quote. Or to call and schedule a showing.
As they say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Identify what that step is for your customers, and ask them to take it. Then meet them where they are and guide them the rest of the way.
2. Use scarcity and urgency
Scarcity and urgency are wonderful engines for driving conversions. If you have a limited-time offer, or selling a finite amount of your product, always let your customers know.
There’s one catch: it has to be real, otherwise it won’t work, and people will catch on. But the good news is, you can benefit from urgency- and scarcity-driven language even when there’s no real reason for your customers to act fast. Here’s how:
- Use words like “now” and “today” – they will increase perceived urgency.
- Tell your customers “don’t wait” and remind them about the cost of doing nothing.
- Make a time-specific promise about the benefit of your product and service, and tell your customers that they can have results “X days from now” if they act today.
As you can see, you don’t have to overuse discounts, limited-time offers and other tactics. Sometimes just tweaking your language a little bit gets the job done.
3. Eliminate objections
From a purely psychological standpoint, it’s always easier to do nothing rather than something. Decision-making depletes your energy and makes you think about potential risks.
It’s your job as a marketer to anticipate and address those risks in your calls to action. Otherwise your customers will just ask, “But what about [insert excuse here]?” – and get on with their lives exactly as before.
All objections fall into three general categories:
- Risk aversion
- Price resistance
- Time constraints
Think about whichever concern stands the tallest (and the scariest) in your customer’s mind. Are they afraid your product or service leaves them disappointed? Are they too busy to make use of your offer? Do they find it a little too expensive?
Once you have identified the top concern, craft a compelling answer to it. An answer that acknowledges what your customers feel – and gives them an ironclad reason to take action anyway.
Use the answer you have come up with before you present your customers with a call to action. This is the most logical point in the sales process to “pop the question” and address their objection.
4. Make your passive call to action active
This “quick fix” is obvious but criminally under-used. When your customers have to stop what they are doing and make an effort to act on your marketing message, it puts your potential sale into a vulnerable position.
All that momentum and enthusiasm you inspired could evaporate at any moment. All it takes is one distraction, one stray thought of, “Nah, I’ll do it later,” one small complication – and you lose a customer.
So why risk it? Don’t let anything interfere with your customer’s journey. Give them a way to act right then and there, without shifting their attention elsewhere.
Do you need a prospect to get in touch with your salesperson? Just ask them to hop on a live chat conversation – or fill out a 60-second contact form.
Would you like them to refer someone to your company? Give them an email script and a button to send it out immediately (by the way, it’s a powerful hack to spread your message).
Are you eager to invite the customer in your office? Make sure they book an appointment immediately on the page – and give them driving directions while you’re at it!
Bottom line is, you want to think outside the box. Modern technology lets you create a fast, frictionless sales process – take advantage of that!
And now, you test
As with most marketing tactics, the best way to know if something works is to test it. Your calls to action are one of the most important components of your marketing – just because improving them can give you disproportionate results.
So… are you ready for a breakthrough in conversions? We hope that you implement at least one of these “quick fixes” this month. Even one small change can give you a significant lift in conversions. Time to see just how big of a boost it turns out to be. Enjoy!