In this post I’d like to talk about calls-to-action. This has come up in a myriad of conversations lately and it seems appropriate to talk about it here. I previously recorded a podcast episode that you can click here to listen to where I talked a great deal about calls to action and why they matter.
So what’s a call-to-action you may be asking? It is essentially a piece of your marketing message where you are asking your audience to take an action. This could be in the form of an e-mail, on your website, part of a blog post or even a podcast. This is the trigger that causes someone to take that next logical step in the direction you want them to go in. Ideally you want your call-to-action to be something compelling and persuasive that really engages the user and gets them to take that next step.
The primary reason this came up is because someone I work closely with sent out an e-mail. It was the company’s ‘Top Article of the Week’ e-mail, which are always packed with good information. This weeks top article was a tip about 20 ways to help you perform better in business. I saw the e-mail and was eager to open it. When I opened it there were a couple of sentences summarizing why I had to check this information out, followed by a “Read More” button. The subject of the e-mail was great. The juicy tidbit to get the reader excited about the content was great. But the execution once you clicked “Read More” left something to be desired.
The way they had set it up was that when you clicked “Read More” it opened up a non-branded PDF. It was a PDF with the 20 tips (which were great tips) but then it didn’t do anything else. I couldn’t stop myself I had to reach out and let them know about the potential missed opportunity. I provided them with a couple of tips that I’d like to share with you as well.
If you are going to ask a reader to take an action from an e-mail send them to your website, not to a PDF download. This is good for several reasons; The first is by bringing them to your website you now have the opportunity to showcase what you offer versus a static PDF. The second is having this content on your website in text versus a PDF will likely help your website in the search engines. A robust website filled with content will likely perform better than a website with little content.
Don’t overlook the importance of a strong call to action. If you would still prefer to send them to a downloadable PDF, then at least optimize that PDF you are sending with your company logo. This particular PDF didn’t have anything in it, no contact info, no additional steps someone could take to find out how to get more information, nothing. It listed out the tips and that was it. If someone has taken the time to click “Read More” in your e-mail, then read the entire PDF download you’ve provided – you have an engaged reader. Take advantage of that. If you don’t have a call-to-action at the bottom of that PDF you are missing an opportunity to take them to that next level, which could be to the point of a sale.
Don’t make things feel like a maze. Having a call to action is great but don’t make it too complicated either. Make it simple and don’t ask for more information than you need. If you want them to download a PDF or an intro program ask them for the bare minimum. What do you need to know? Their first name (so you can customize later) and their e-mail address (if you don’t already have it). That’s usually about all you need. Just remember that people need guidance. Nobody knows your system and website better than you. To you it may seem obvious what the next step is on your website, but it probably isn’t that obvious to your potential customers. You need to explicitly tell them what they should do next. In the case of this PDF you can say “Like what you read? Read more here and get your free copy of the XYZ program today!”
This is a really broad topic and there are a lot of directions this could go in. The intention of this blog post was to provide a couple of quick tips that could improve upon what you may already be doing. Online marketing, e-mail marketing and the content of your website should all work in tandem together. They should support one another, which should ultimately support your business goals. A strong call-to-action in everything that you are doing is the key in getting your customers or potential customers to do what you’d like them to do.