by Ron Stein
Updated 5 yearss ago
Having a compelling call-to-action is critical for online sales, email, and print. And for good reason -- when there isn’t a human speaking with a prospect in real time, there needs to be an effective way to convert readers into a lead or direct sale.
Calls-to-action are just as important in face-to-face and telephone conversations too. Online or offline, a strong call-to-action will drive people to take immediate action.
A call-to-action tells the reader, listener, or viewer what you want them to do next. Of course, that next step depends on where you are in the customer marketing and sales cycle as well as your objective.
How you do it depends on the context. And even though call-to-action techniques vary greatly, it must be customer-oriented with a focus on value and a long-term relationship.
It all comes down to words. The right word or phrase will urge the person reading your printed material, listening to you speak, or visiting your website to take the next step.
There are other factors too of course -- your message, body language, the color of the ‘Buy Now” button, incentive offered, photo and graphic elements, and where on your website and brochures you place the call-to-action -- to name a few.
Your goal is to (a) generate a lead, (b) set an appointment, (c) get or provide more information, or (d) close a sale. But, you don’t need a million dollar marketing campaign to have effective calls-to-action. All you need is a little practical call-to-action know-how.
Use active language. Small changes in the words you write will equal big changes in the results. Always keep in mind that the person reading your website or speaking to in person has other things on their mind. Your wording needs to be clear, specific, and action-oriented. Maybe even urgent, but leave the hype at home. Use active words that telegraph what you’d like prospects to do -- such as call, subscribe, learn, register, buy, start, and order. These are the words that help persuade prospects to take an action.
Context and urgency matter. You can't just say, “buy” and expect people to act. Make sure your audience gets the message from the call-to-action by reinforcing the context around or preceding it. Have a solid marketing message. Use graphics smartly, such as arrows pointing to the call-to-action. Add urgency to your action words -- Call today for a complementary appraisal, Subscribe for free, Buy now, Start your free trial, Learn more, Free for a limited time only, and Yes, sign me up! And my personal favorite, Learn how Ron Stein can boost your business! Keep it brief, particularly if it’s a button on a web page.
Follow through action. Good news! Your prospect takes the action you want on your webpage, calls your office after reading your ad, or when speaking with you confirms that your product or service solves their problem. Now what? Think through what happens next when a prospect responds. Is it easy to fill out the web form or are there extra hoops to jump through? Who answers the phone and what do they say? What’s your follow-up process and is it immediate? Do have an order form in your brief case? The action you take must be as deliberate and carefully planned as the call-to-action itself.
Before developing your calls-to-action, you need to have a strong marketing message. Think through what action you’d like your audience to take. Then build the interaction around that and wrap it around a call-to-action that is clear and concise, pointing people to the next step.
That’s the secret to motivating people to act.
Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com