A guest post by my colleague, Kimberly Houston.
Let’s just admit it: blogging is hard work.
Whether your goal is to build an audience for your writing, sell your products and services, generate leads, or position yourself as an industry leader, running a successful blog is a serious commitment that requires a boatload of time, effort, and focus.
It’s not for the faint of heart, or the lazy.
And if you’re doing all this work, you want to see results – in the way of people signing up for your email list, setting up a free consultation, requesting more information, visiting your bricks-and-mortar store, signing up for a free trial offer, buying your products, or taking whatever the logical next step is in your customer relationship or audience engagement process.
If you’re getting consistent traffic to your blog or website but your visitors aren’t taking these actions, take heart – the problem could be as simple as adding the right call to action (CTA) in your blog posts and website copy.
What is a call to action?
A call to action is a clear instruction in your written communications – your newsletter and blog posts, your Shop or Work with Me page, your social media status updates, your ads and other sales materials – essentially anywhere you communicate with your audience – that directs said audience to take a specific action.
In a nutshell, the call to action is the very clear and uber-specific instruction telling your readers what to do next.
Because just like in “real life,” if there’s something you want someone to do, asking them to do it directly and succinctly is usually the most effective way to get what you want.
Examples of calls to action include:
- “Sign up here for free weekly tips and inspiration I only share with my subscribers”
- “Come in today for 30% off”
- “Buy now”
- “Re-tweet this!”
- “Leave your comments below”
- “Click here to subscribe”
- “Order now to take advantage of this limited-time offer”
See? Not so hard, right?
Where to Add CTAs on Your Website
The best place for a call to action depends on what the purpose of your website is and what you want readers and potential customers and clients to do after reading a piece of content on your site. The key is to not leave people hanging – give them clear direction on what to do next within or at the end of each page or post.
First you’ll need to decide the ideal action you want your readers to take depending on whether they’re reading a blog post, visiting your website’s home page, or checking out your Work with Me or Sales page, etc.
Here are a few key places to put CTAs:
- At the end of blog posts, asking for comments or directing people to sign up for your email list
- On your email opt-in form asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter
- In a newsletter asking readers to click over to a blog post
- Within your blog posts directing people to something else you’ve written on your blog or elsewhere
- At the end of blog posts asking your readers to share the post on social media
- On the home page of your website directing readers to contact you for more information or to book a complimentary session
- On a sales page asking for a sale (you’ll want a CTA in several locations on a sales page – but this is a topic for another blog post)
How to Write Your Killer Call to Action
Now that you have some ideas of where to put calls to action to generate the desired actions from your readers, it’s time to develop your CTA copy! The length of your CTA copy will be determined by where it is and what you’re asking people to do. For example, button copy will be short and sweet and say things like “buy now,” “sign up today,” or “get instant access.” Where you have room to write to your heart’s content, such as at the end of blog posts, your call to action copy may be longer.
4 Tips for Writing a Strong Call to Action
1. Know your audience. If you’re writing for an audience of lawyers for example, your calls to action will be worded differently than if you write for, say, circus clowns. Call to action copy for accountants would be different from artists. You get the idea. You want to write in a way that resonates with your target audience and uses the kind of language they would respond to, based on their needs and desires.
- Oyster, the Netflix of books, according to the interwebs, uses this call to action on their home page: “Read unlimited books, anytime, anywhere. Start for Free.”
- The dating site OK Cupid uses this call to action on their home page:
- The wonderful novelty store Archie McPhee uses this call to action copy to get people to sign up for their newsletter: “Join the Cult of McPhee: Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter (A $700 Value!)”
- From the home page of an accounting firm in my hometown: “Our dedication to quality, professional standards, and service is unmatched. Get in touch today.”
- From a contact form on the website of a personal injury attorney: “No Obligation Free Consultation. Get Help Now!”
2. Define your outcome. For example, my primary goal is to get email subscribers. This is more important to me than getting social media followers, having people leave comments on my blog posts, or requesting more information. For you it may be different.
With that outcome in mind, the call to action I use at the end of blog posts directs people to sign up for my email list. I don’t ask people to “follow me on social media!,” or “sign up for a free strategy session,” or “Click here to find out more.” It’s almost exclusively about the email list.
Here’s what I use at the end of most blog posts:
- “For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up for weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.”
If your primary goal is to get people to sign up for a free strategy session, you could use something like this at the end of the body copy on your home page:
- “Ready to get started? Book your complimentary Discovery Session now by entering your email in the form below. I’ll be in touch within 24 hours to set up our call to see if we’re a good fit to work together.”
3. Use action-oriented words. Begin your calls to action with verbs like “download,” “join,” “sign up,” “share with your friends,” “discover,” and “register now,” etc.
- “Create an Event. It’s free.”
- “Read the case study”
- “Sign up and publish for free”
4. Convey the benefit. You want to show value and relevance to your target audience and offer a benefit that is meaningful to them based on their needs and desires.
Where I see the most need for this is in call to action copy on newsletter opt-in forms. Telling someone to “join my newsletter” or “sign up for email updates” just doesn’t cut it. There’s no benefit, value or personality whatsoever in those flaccid calls to action.
Instead, you want to get specific and focus the form copy on the main benefit your subscribers will receive, based on a problem they want to solve or a pleasure they want to gain.
- Tracy Matthews Jewelry opt-in copy: Is your jewelry box a mess? Sign up to receive your FREE guide: Clean It Like a Professional and Keep It Tangle & Tarnish-Free! Added Bonus: By becoming a member you are instantly privy to FREE jewelry giveaways, special jewelry offers, and video tutorials.
The opt-in copy here leads with benefits: how to keep your jewelry tangle and tarnish free, plus access to giveaways, special offers and video tutorials.
- Interior designer opt-in copy: Enter your email below to grab your free guide, “From Chaos to Calm: 7 Simple Steps for Transforming Your Busy Young Family’s Home into an Oasis of Practical Luxury.” (Plus weekly design tips and inspiration I only share with email subscribers.)
The opt-in copy here focuses on the result the interior designer’s target audience wants to achieve: transforming a chaotic home into an oasis of practical luxury.
- My opt-in form copy: Enter your email to get instant access to the FREE Creative Rebel Guide to Writing an Ideal Client-Attracting About Page (so you never have to accept work from someone simply because they have a checkbook and a pulse, ever again.)
My audience of creative business builders often struggles with getting the right kind of clients, so that’s the benefit I focus on in the opt-in copy: writing an About page in a way that attracts ideal clients.
Bonus tip: Where appropriate, promise instant gratification. It’s human nature – we all love instant gratification. This will depend on your desired outcomes and goals for your site, but where you can use words like “Instant Access,” “Get It Now,” “Instant Download” and similar copy, you’ll often see an increase in people taking action.
As the wildly successful copywriter and marketing strategist and guru Dan Kennedy says, “After the headline, the call to action is the most important element of successful copywriting.” And I would argue, the same is true of successful blogging. Your call to action is the key to getting your blog and website visitors to do what you want them to do, and in many cases, it’s the piece of copy that urges your readers to take the next logical step to working with you.
Kimberly Houston is a copywriter and web marketing strategist who helps creative business builders rise above the online fray with personality-driven web copy & marketing strategy that captivates, connects and converts ideal clients online. Visit her website to grab your free copy of The Creative Rebel Guide to Writing an Ideal Client Attracting About Page.