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Simple Definition: What is a Call-to-Action?

by | Mar 6, 2023 | Business, Website

What is a call to action?

Have you started to explore the website and digital marketing world?

Then you may have heard about CTAs or calls to action and are desperately trying to get a grasp on how to use them most effectively.

I get it. In the small business world, we all want to find new and innovative ways to reach our target audiences. 

Today, you’re in luck because I’m going to show you everything you need to know about a call-to-action but were afraid to ask, including how to use them within your business. 

You’ll be ready to implement them in your marketing in no time! 

Table of Contents

What is a Call-to-Action?

I’m not here to bury the lead; simply,  a call-to-action (CTA) is an instruction or statement that encourages a person to take some desired action. It’s usually a statement that prompts a reader, listener or viewer to do something, such as “Learn More,” “Sign Up Now,” or “Buy Now.”

Generally, CTAs convert leads into customers and increase engagement with a brand or product.

A call-to-action encourages your readers to take meaningful action and offer tangible, easy-to-understand, and doable next steps. 

It also reminds them that their action is part of a larger effort to achieve something bigger.

Why are Call-to-Actions (CTAs) Important?

You may come across people in marketing who believe call-to-actions involve aggressive language. Although strong language can be effective in some situations, using it in every call-to-action is unnecessary. Research has shown that friendly, informative language can be just as effective in encouraging people to act. This means that the call-to-action should be tailored to the audience and the context, so it’s important to consider the language and tone that will be most effective for your specific situation.

When you use call-to-actions, you’ll be able to ensure that your website visitors know exactly what to do and why.

Additionally, using call-to-actions can help boost your conversion rates and increase your business’s sales.

On top of that, having a call-to-action on your website can help boost your website’s SEO and help you track metrics more accurately. 

For example:

To share a little bit behind the scenes, my primary call-to-action for my business is to “Book a Consultation Call” with me. I can track how many calls get booked through my calendar. I have linked my calendar throughout my website to allow people to start working with me quickly and directly.

Alternatively, I also follow if my CTAs on social media are effective by monitoring my website source traffic with Google Analytics.  

Call-to-actions are able to; 1) guide the user. Ensure that your website visitors know exactly what to do and why. 2) Be tailored to the audience and the context, so it's important to consider the language and tone that will be most effective for your specific situation. 3) Encourage people to act. Help boost your conversion rates and increase your business's sales.

Background of Call-to-Actions

Don’t worry; this is not some boring AP history class.

One of the best ways to understand a new concept is to travel back in time and know where it came from and the processes that led to its inception.

For CTAs, we have to look at sales pages and strategies.

The use of call-to-actions have been around for a very long time. Call-to-actions have been used for print material to tell the reader what to do next on posters and newspaper ads. Sales representatives have used them to persuade buyers for many years. They specifically instruct during calls on what next steps you need to take to move forward on the buyer journey.

Ashlyn Writes has an excellent video on THE DO’S & DON’TS OF WRITING SALES PAGE COPY 💻.

How CTAs Work

So far, we’ve stayed pretty theoretical in our exploration of CTAs. If you’re still confused, I don’t blame you.

When I first started learning about call-to-actions, I felt like I was overwhelmed before I even began. The fact that I am continuously converting users to clients shows that I was thankfully wrong.

Luckily, marketing is more complex in theory than in practice.

I’ve compiled a few call-to-action examples below to help you better understand and see them applied in different use cases.

Example #1: Targeting the Audience to Take the Next Steps

When designing my client’s websites, I apply call-to-action best practices to target their website and content to their audience. 

With my client, Terri, we applied call-to-actions for her wedding officiant business. 

She says, “Within a day of going live with my webpage, I had a wedding couple from Ireland; who are getting married in Ontario hire my wedding officiant services.”

For Terri, we used the same call-to-action throughout her website to direct her customer to the next step in her buying process: contacting her.

This means that when you target your audience and actively guide them to action, prompting them to the next steps. It is beneficial to make your website work for you.

Example #2: CTAs for Service-Based Businesses

As a service-based business, call-to-actions (CTAs) are important in driving website visitors to become customers. Implementing effective CTAs on your website can help boost conversions, build customer relationships, and generate more leads. 

Here are some ways to use and implement CTAs on your website:

  1. Use clear and concise CTAs: Make sure your CTA is easy to understand and stands out from the rest of your content. Use action-oriented words like “Get Started” or “Book Now” to encourage visitors to take action. 
  2. Place call-to-actions strategically: Place your CTAs where people will likely see them. This could be in the header and/or footer of your website and the main content area.
  3. Try different types of call-to-actions: Experiment with different types of call-to-actions, such as buttons, forms, pop-ups, and banners, to see which resonates more with your target audience.
  4. Test and refine your CTAs: Test different versions of your CTAs to see which works best. Test different colours, sizes, and words to see what resonates with your audience.
  5. Use targeted CTAs: Personalize your CTAs to target different audiences. For example, you could have a CTA that is targeted to existing customers or one that is targeted to prospective customers.

By using and implementing these tips, you can create effective call-to-actions that will help drive conversions and leads for your service-based business.

Example #3: Defining the Next Steps for Your Followers

Call-to-actions can also be used within other online marketing material. 

An example of this is to include them in your social media posts.

The best ways to implement this in your business are:

  • Create a sense of urgency by highlighting limited-time offers or deals.
  • Incorporate visuals that make it easy to understand the call-to-action.
  • Use an eye-catching headline or title to draw attention to the call-to-action.
  • Write compelling copy that speaks to the customer’s needs or desires.
  • Ask customers to share the call-to-action with their friends or family.

Here’s how you can apply it:

  1. Start by brainstorming a call-to-action that will encourage your followers to take action. Examples might be “Click the link in our bio,” “DM us for more info,” or “Visit our website for more details.” 
  2. Write your caption as usual, but leave enough room for your call-to-action. 
  3. Add a relevant hashtag to ensure your post is discoverable. 
  4. Add the link to your website, product page, or the relevant section of your website. 
  5. Check the formatting of your post and make sure your call-to-action stands out. You can use emojis, bold text, or different colours to draw attention to the call-to-action.

Explainer Video Time: Call-to-Action

Still not sure you get call-to-actions well enough to start implementing them in your own business? We all learn in different ways.

Check out this video to see if it helps you out:

Call-to-Action: How to Write High-Converting CTAs (+ Examples)

Isn’t Julie a clever cookie? I especially like the best practices for creating call-to-actions described near the video’s end.

I hope CTAs are crystal clear to you now.

I first launched Broadbent Studio because I am passionate about helping fellow female entrepreneurs succeed in their businesses. 

Do you still have questions? No shame in that! You can contact me here or on Instagram, where I’m always happy to answer any questions. 

One thing you can do to get started with marketing your small business is to join my email list to stay up to date on upcoming blog posts. Signup below! See what I did there?😉

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