On February 1, 2016, I shared a blog post about a study conducted by Search Engine Journal regarding CTAs on Twitter. In the weeks since then, CTAs have been on my mind—when I write blogs, social media posts, even while creating imagery like an infographic. Calls to action are crucial because they turn the process of informing into a possible conversion—or at least they invite users to take one more step in the conversion process.
That said, “Call us” can be a great CTA…but it’s not the most creative. On the flipside, writing CTAs that are too much of an attempt at cleverness can come across as cutesy, irrelevant, or even deceitful—and chances are, none of us want our content to be perceived as such. Cutesy may not be damaging depending on the business and target audience, but irrelevant won’t lead to any conversions and deceitful can damage a company’s reputation.
So how do you avoid being cutesy, irrelevant, or deceitful?
The key here is audience. Who are you trying to convert? Before you can answer that, you need to know who your ideal client is—and that’s a topic for a different post (or series of posts). We all wear different hats—sometimes more than one in a day. The buyer journey is complex, no longer composed of falling straight down a funnel, but rather, a series of twists and turns, crossroads and traffic circles.
For example, you don’t want to write a casual CTA if you’re targeting C-Suite executives. It’s not likely to speak to them. Similarly, you don’t want to use overly formal language if you’re targeting college students.
Conversation—and blog posts, social media, and their included CTAs are conversations—is a two way street. You need to know your audience, but you also need to know who you are. If you don’t have a brand identity, then your CTAs, as well as your content in general, will not come across as genuine, and that can have a two-pronged effect.
When content is not genuine, readers may react by either deciding you don’t know what you’re talking about or feeling as though you
are trying to deceive them. Either way, this can lead to a potential buyer ignoring your content going forward. While conversation and therefore content is a two-way street, buyers can put up roadblocks that can keep you from accessing them and their network of friends, family, and colleagues through them.
Just like your content, your call to action must:
- Speak to your key audience,
- Convey your brand with honesty,
- Offer your service, and,
- Avoid detracting from the content itself.
That last point is important to remember. While you want your reader to come away with your call to action in mind (even better if your reader takes action), you don’t want to detract from the main offering of your content.
CTAs in Social Media
Where social media is concerned, you have to consider your medium when you plan your CTAs. The reason for this is that certain social media platforms are more suited to certain types of CTAs and content alike.
I won’t go into extreme depth here because I think it was adequately covered in a previous discussion. Remember though that you’re confined to 140 characters. That’s not much to work with, so your CTA needs to be brief, if you’re going to include one. Consider the “Please Retweet!” CTA, which takes up 15 of your allotted 140 characters. (In case you don’t feel like pulling out a calculator, that’s a little over 10% of your message.)
Twitter is not a good place for CTAs like the following:
Call us to find out how we can help build your brand today!
That’s a whopping 47 characters (~34% of your tweet)! That’s way too long. Stick to less than 20% for your call to action. Likewise for Twitter, you want to stick to CTAs that readers can act on with the click of a button. Steer clear of “call us” and “visit us.” If you’re not giving them a link, retweet, reply, and like are your best CTAs for the Twitterverse.
While not constricted to character count, shorter posts do tend to drive more engagement. However, you have a wider option of accessible engagements for your fans. You can ask them to use Facebook Reactions, or comment. You can ask them to share your post. You can invite them to utilize a CTA button or send you a message. You can ask them to call you, visit your website, or your physical location.
Remember though, to keep it fitted to your audience. If you’re writing for C-Suite readers, don’t include a CTA like this one:
Click angry if this news ticks you off!
Not only would such an audience be unlikely to engage, but you might be deemed too casual, and they might unlike your page.
CTAs in blog content should be subtle. You don’t want an entire paragraph filled with phone numbers, email addresses, snail mail addresses, and directions by hot-air balloon. Remember, while you may want readers to convert, they may not have navigated to your blog with the intent to do so. Chances are, they showed up because they think you’re going to provide them with relevant, interesting, and memorable information. That’s what you should be doing, too!
When you make your content about your reader, and less about your company and its services, you inform that reader that you care about their journey.
Years ago, I was traveling internationally and spent a morning shopping in a bazaar. I noticed that there were two types of shop owners. One type would run up to me as I walked through the maze of streets, bragging about the wares and prices I might find at his shop. The other type offered me a cup of coffee and a conversation. I was told of this practice before traveling, and knew that it might insult shop owners if I accepted a cup of coffee or tea and did not purchase an item from their shop, so I was careful to politely decline.
That’s the point—it’s harder to walk away from someone who is addressing your needs first. Are you thirsty? Do you want to come into the shop and sit down for a while? Have some friendly, harmless conversation to get away from the bustle of thousands of shops and shoppers?
I’m sure that the shop owners who run up to people sell their fair share of trinkets. One of them dropped his price from one hundred US dollars down to seven in less than three minutes. The fact was, I didn’t need a painting of a whirling dervish in a shadow box frame when my suitcase was already full to bursting. I expressed this, and he just kept lowering the price, as though doing so would make the item less breakable amidst my shoes and other souvenirs.
Others in the group with which I traveled tried to resist shopping after accepting an offer of coffee or tea—despite knowing the customs ahead of time—and ended up spending hundreds of dollars.
Look after your potential customers’ needs first, and yours second. This maxim will help both your content and your CTAs attract your ideal clients and ease them through their journey. Be the one who offers them refreshment, a comfortable chair, and most important, conversation that will benefit them.
It’s true—I didn’t cover every single social media network out there or other medium for CTAs, but this is a blog post, not a novel. Maybe you’re writing press releases or website content. The point is that just as you want to specialize your content for your audience, medium, and message, so too must you specialize your CTA. Want to chat about how the right content and the right CTAs can help your business?