In content marketing—as in life—you can never assume that people know what you want from them. Sure, you can sit around all day hoping for your kids to do the dishes or your husband to take out the trash, but more likely than not, you’re going to have to ask them to do it if you really want it to get done!
And in much the same way: When there’s something you want your readers to do—whether buying a product, making an appointment, or signing up for your e-mail list—it’s best to just come out with it. No need to be coy: Explain what you want your readers to do. Guide them through your website and show them the action you want them to take.
The part of your page where you do this is called the call to action, and it is as important as any component of content you will ever write. A good call to action is succinct, action-oriented, and centered on benefits. It makes clear what you want your reader to do, but also how and why they should do it.
Not all calls to action are created equal. If your call to action isn’t doing its job, it could be that it’s lacking one of the essential components of a good, strong CTA. Here are five especially critical components:
- A strong action verb. Make this the first word of your call to action: Discover new solutions for your small business. Engage thought leaders like yourself. Uncover the secret of maximum productivity. Lead with a verb that draws attention and carries the sentence forward—and the reader along with it!
- Brevity. Get to the point. Your reader wants to know what you expect of them, what you want them to do—and the longer you drag it out, the more likely it is they’ll lose interest or your point will get muddled.
- Benefits. The call to action isn’t about you. It’s about your reader—what they need to do but also why they should do it. Make sure your call to action indicates what’s in it for them.
- Simplicity. There is a concept called the paradox of choice, which says that the more options people have, the less likely they are to actually pick something. If you write a call to action that invites people to call or e-mail or connect on Facebook or buy your product or download your e-book, you’re overwhelming them. Stick to one or two basic ideas, instead.
- Specifics. Where should people go to buy your product, or what phone number should they call? Make sure your CTA provides all the information people need.