The art of the content marketing CTA: 10 Dos and don’ts
To ensure content marketing success, you need to make sure your business isn’t neglecting key components that turn traffic into leads. As a prime example, a poor call-to-action (CTA) can completely negate all the good that you’ve done on the rest of your website or with social media posting.
What are CTAs, and why do they matter?
The Content Marketing Institute defines CTAs as “simple, yet targeted, phrases [that] are directly responsible for encouraging your audience to take a next step toward becoming a loyal customer.” Yes, at heart, calls-to-action are all about leads. This makes them a vital aspect of any content marketing strategy, so it’s kind of a head-scratcher that so many companies are getting them wrong.
And when you do get them wrong, the impact can be far more severe than if another part of your content isn’t up to par. Informing and entertaining your customers is one thing, but ultimately what you want is for them to engage with you, regardless of whether that involves downloading a whitepaper, signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase online.
Fortunately, there are all sorts of handy tips and tricks that can be used to turn your boring, stale CTAs into your content’s secret weapon, and we’re going to run through a few of these with some simple dos and don’ts!
Don’t: Use the same CTAs as everyone else
“Get in touch with our expert team to find out more” Yuck. Almost every business has used this CTA at one time or another, and while fine in (very) small doses, it’s such a content marketing cliche that you’re better off avoiding it wherever possible. Aside from being incredibly common, calls-to-action like this one are also pretty vague and uninspiring.
Do: Splurge on graphic CTAs
Yes, a graphic is more expensive than a simple line of linked text, but the benefits are well worth it. By commissioning a custom-designed image that can be inserted into your content, it’s far more likely that your CTA will leap off the page and entice your audience to engage.
Don’t: Be generic
Following on from cliches like ‘get in touch to find out more,’ it’s important to avoid the use of generic words that fail to set your product or service apart. Moz’s definition of an effective CTA is one that “tells readers that clicking on it will get them what they want or need,” and specificity is a big part of this. If you’re putting a CTA in a blog article discussing a particular product, use something along the lines of “start using X today,” rather than much more generic copy like “check out our products here.”
DO: Use the best words
Word choice is a much more complex field than many content producers recognise, and it can have a significant effect on how successful your CTAs are in creating leads. Even small differences can have a huge impact, as Adchemy learnt in a recent study measuring the click-through rate for different calls-to-action. The data revealed that the word ‘shop’ produced a conversion rate four times higher than ‘buy,’ thanks to the perception of ‘shopping’ as a more pleasant experience than ‘buying.’
Don’t: Use impersonal CTAs
The word ‘shop’ produced a conversion rate four times higher than ‘buy,’ due to the perception of ‘shopping’ as a more pleasant experience than ‘buying.’
Potential customers want to feel as though you’re speaking directly to them, and too many CTAs ignore this in favour of bland messaging that fails to create a personal connection. The difference between “learn what our product can do” and “learn what our product can do for you” is immense, so don’t forget to address your potential customers directly.
Do: Create a sense of action
The goal of a CTA is to make a reader take immediate action, clicking through to the next page and downloading or signing up for something. Action words such as ‘now’ or ‘today’ create a sense of urgency and excitement, so you should sprinkle them throughout your CTAs (without going overboard).
Don’t: Write without a goal
What is the objective of your CTA? Is it to get potential customers to leave their contact details? If so, make sure that’s what you say, and don’t be afraid to switch things up depending on your current content marketing strategy. Marketing goals are always changing, so don’t fall into the trap of using a one-size-fits-all graphic or line of text when something different might better describe what you want your potential customer to do.
Do: Tweak your CTAs to match your content
Poorly-thought-out CTAs stick out like a sore thumb. We’ve all seen amazing blog articles ruined with an on-the-nose, overly salesy concluding line that undoes the good work that came before it. If your tone is sales-focused, then go ahead, but for most businesses you’ll find better success by making sure the tone of each CTA matches your overall style.
Don’t: Get overly complex
“Get in touch with us to find out how our services can help your business improve financial performance.” It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it? Your content is the place to describe things in detail, so leave the unnecessary data out and go with something simpler like “Talk to us today about boosting your bottom line.”
Do: Keep it simple, stupid
Not every business can get away with a call-to-action that’s less than five words. But if you can, they’re a fantastic option, especially with a bit of clever graphic design. Think about Netflix’s red, bold ‘Join Free for a Month,” or Prezi’s chill, blue button that simply asks you to “Give Prezi a try.”
These are the CTAs that stick with us, so if there’s any way you can summarise everything you want to say into a few well-chosen words that encourage action, do it.