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What Is A Call To Action?

Since its advent in the early 1990s, the internet has become a part of everyday life for at least half of the global population. There were an estimated 4.33 billion active users worldwide in 2019, with 1.92 billion purchasing goods or services online, worth a staggering $3.5 trillion. With improvements and advances in technology, this can only increase.

For a business to succeed and thrive, an online presence is essential. But you need a good, positive, dynamic strategy unless you want those potential customers and clients to pass you by. And when you manage to attract them to your page, what are you doing to encourage them to make a decision?

This is where a call to action could be really useful. You may not know what a CTA is, but it’s a sure bet that you’ve seen them hundreds of times whilst browsing for yourself. We’ll dive into the world of online marketing to examine how these handy marketing tools can help your business.

What is a Call To Action?

Basically, it’s an online marketing tool, a way of getting someone to actually make a decision. The online world is (obviously) very different from a real store. Imagine a person wanders into your physical store and spends some time looking around, picks up an item, puts it down. They wander some more, pick it up again, and then put it back. You might approach them to offer advice. They seem hesitant, uncertain. You smile and tell them that if they buy it today you’ll give them 10% off, or that you’ll give them a free gift. This does the trick, and they buy the item. They walk away happy, and you’ve made a sale. Had you not ‘called them to action’, then they would probably have walked away without buying.

‘Calls to action’ online work in a similar way to the above scenario, except that they happen automatically.

It’s not initially all about buying, however (although that is clearly the ultimate aim). CTAs are all about the ‘buying journey’, from securing leads to raising awareness and interest in your business, or encouraging engagement on a social level, all with the intention of pushing the customer towards a sale.

This may not be something you’ve considered, which is reasonable enough. After all, why would a ‘prospect’ (potential customer) need to be told what to do at any stage of the process? And what if you antagonize them by interfering? The fact is that people do seem to need guidance. And the clearer you are in guiding them through each step, the more likely you are to make that sale.

Different types of Call To Actions

Calls to action‘ can be used in so many different ways. They can hover discretely at the head or foot of a page, or as a simple, highlighted link. They can appear as a ‘pop up’ at a strategic point, perhaps as the visitor looks like they’re about to leave your page. They can greet a visitor to alert them of new offers.

Here are a few examples of the potential ways they can be used:

  • Subscribe today – encourage ‘prospects’ to join your mailing list to receive news and offers.
  • Sign up – perhaps for a free trial, a future event or online course on offer.
  • Learn more – a way to provide more detailed information on products and services.
  • Follow us on – social media activity is a great way to engage with the public and to gauge their perception of your business.
  • Order – a simple CTA that guides them to the next step in the process to place an order.
  • Download – downloadable content (especially free stuff) goes down very well if it’s good quality and relevant. This could perhaps be used for lead magnets, programs, marketing material and so on.
  • Buy now!/Add to cart – another basic one that encourages the visitor to make the sale, especially effective when coupled with a ‘time-sensitive’ prompt, as in ‘offer ends at midnight’.
  • Call us now – some people prefer the personal touch, the reassurance of a human voice. A call to action that lets them know that someone is there to help them.
  • Help/Chat a handy way to let the consumer know that help is at hand should they need it.
  • Donate – a great way for charities and appeals to boost funds, letting people know how they can take action.
  • Try for free! – again, people like free stuff. They’ll love you for it and will be more likely to give a favorable review of your business and to come back later.

Each of these has its uses, depending on the nature of the site. One thing they have in common is that the intention must be clear.

Although partly covered in the above list, it’s worth listing the eight most commonly used types of CTAs you can expect to see:

  • Events promotion
  • Social media sharing
  • Form submissions
  • Discovery (products/services)
  • Lead generation
  • Lead nurturing
  • ‘Read more’
  • Closing the sale

How Call To Actions Are Used

One of the main factors in CTAs is FOMO – the fear of missing out. Your leads have to feel that there’s a chance that they’ll lose out by not clicking on that box. Aside from this, they also need to feel valued as a customer. You can do this by guiding them through the process each step of the way. Even though it’s the software doing all the work, they feel reassured that you are there with them. The instructions have to be explicit, without jargon, letting them know precisely what will happen when they click. Try to keep your calls to action ‘human’, perhaps with a touch of humor. Be creative, make the designs eye-catching without being too complex.

This is exactly how many businesses have used CTAs successfully to boost their ‘click-through’ rate and convert leads into sales.

Again, although the goal is to make more sales, the initial aim is to boost engagement and ‘user experience’. Visitors who have a positive experience on your site will be more likely to return and to spread the word. A call to action can reduce frustration for the consumer by providing instant access to information, services, and products. And the less stress and frustration involved, the greater the chances of customer loyalty in the future.

The Benefit Of Call To Actions

As part of a well-managed, intuitive online marketing strategy, CTAs can work wonders for your business. SEO experts have suggested that ‘conversion rates’, that is, leads converted to sales, can be boosted by as much as 80% by placing a call to action on a landing page. Even better, actual sales can be increased by about the same margin, if they are well-place and relevant. Subscriptions and sign-ups can also be given a boost of around 30%.

These figures speak for themselves. Ideally, your site should have multiple calls to action, on every page.

Your website can be as beautiful as anything, but without a call to action, it’s like a store without staff, signs, or a checkout.

Call To Action in Pop-Ups

Pop-ups can be irritating. In the past, they’ve been used to excess – and still are, in some cases. But when used sensibly they are extremely effective. The timing is key, coming at a stage in the ‘sales funnel’ to let the consumer know that all is well and to guide them to take the next step.

Once again, the pop-up should be relevant. People are often suffering from advertising fatigue, with commercials and pop-ups thrown at them each and every time they go online. They want clarity and guidance. A timely pop-up could be the difference between gaining a loyal customer and losing a frustrated one. And pop-ups don’t necessarily have to be of the ‘in your face’ variety. One that slides discretely in from the side of the screen, or which hovers at the top, blinking as if to say ‘I’m here if you need me!’, can be just as effective.

Don’t miss out!

If this were a CTA button, it would be a bright red one, right in the center of your screen, telling you to click now to create effective calls to action that suit your business.

It is clear that people want and need direction when browsing online – whether they realize it or not. Your website needs to function properly as well as look good. Though it might seem like overkill, calls to action should be in a number of places – most people don’t study a website in detail, they’ll scan it first. If they don’t see what they want (often inside of 15 seconds) they’ll leave. Exit pop-ups can help here, drawing attention to offers and incentives, but the trick is to get them interested enough to stay and engage.

CTAs are an essential part of your marketing strategy, helping you to maximize your online business potential. E-commerce is projected to reach $54 billion in 2020. And that’s a market you won’t want to miss out on. If you want to get started using Popups and CTA’s, try PopupDomination today for free!

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