Why no one clicks your calls to action (and how to make them)

Marketers often agonise – even obsess – over creating ‘the perfect’ call to action (CTA) for their campaigns and content.

It’s understandable. We just want consistent and reliable clicks and conversions. Is that so much to ask?!

In reality, your goals and objectives don’t always go hand in hand with what your prospects and customers want to do. Depending on their buying journey stage, your website visitors may not want to ‘take action’ at all.

In certain sectors, such as care homes or automotive, the prospect’s buying journey is likely to be long and complex – much like the B2B buying journey. For both auto buyers and care home clients, it’s a high stakes purchase, with many touchpoints along the way. Getting the right CTA in front of your prospect at just the right time (every time!) can make or break your efforts.

Whatever your industry, CTAs are often too pushy and not created sympathetically with the audience’s buying journey in mind. If there’s one golden rule to remember with CTAs, it’s that they should always match the intention of the prospect at that particular moment.

Good call to action, bad call to action

A CTA that isn’t aligned with the prospect’s needs will always be a flop. No matter how clear and engaging it is, no action will be taken – it won’t resonate. In these situations, no amount of marketing psychology theory can make the prospect take action. They just won’t be ready.

So what makes the perfect CTA then, I hear you ask?

Convention says that CTAs should (among other things):

  • Have a compelling message
  • Be clear and concise, using action words
  • Not offer choice – have one objective and stick to it
  • Focus on the value the prospect will receive

But the truth is, there isn’t a perfect CTA (sorry!); there are only well-targeted and timely CTAs.

And that’s the key.

Once you understand what your target audience is looking for at any stage of the buying journey, you can tailor your CTAs to match their needs. And the best bit? You won’t sound pushy, because the messaging will be exactly what they want to hear.

How to get inside your prospects’ heads

When prospects are faced with a call to action – at the end of a blog post, for example – they’ll be thinking about how the offer meets their needs now and in the future. Previous experiences with your and other brands’ content will have a subconscious impact on whether the prospect clicks your CTA or not.

Before they click your CTA, they’ll likely ask themselves:

  • What will I get now and will it be worth my while?
  • What might I get in the future and will it be worth my while?
  • Do I have to give away my personal details?
  • Will I be hounded by salespeople if I do this?

As a CTA ‘creator’, you need to put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and consider whether the value you’re providing is enough for them to tick off all these questions in their mind.

When choice becomes a good thing

One of the golden rules of great CTAs has always been to not offer choice. State what you want your prospect to do, and only that. The theory is that conversions will be higher when choice is limited, as providing options results in indecision and ultimately, no action taken at all.

But what if providing options meant you could learn more about prospect behaviour and preference? What if you could use that insight to further refine your CTA strategy going forward?

Bringing choice to your calls to action

When you provide your prospects with choices in CTAs, you’ll get valuable insight into their preferences at that stage of their journey. You’ll be able to better understand their needs and build a clearer picture of what requirements they have along the path to purchase.

For example, car dealers may want to try offering:

  • A no-obligation in-person or virtual test drive, as well as a ‘configure your car now’ option
  • Freely downloadable resources and guides, as well as that ‘sign up to our mailing list’ button
  • A way for prospects to register their interest in learning more about particular vehicles
  • A way to choose an offer on a vehicle from a list of other vehicles

Choice-focused CTAs for care homes could include:

  • Unrestricted access to an online virtual tour, as well as booking an in-person visit
  • An ‘ask us a question’ box, as well as a ‘call us now’ button
  • The option to freely download a short factsheet, as well as request a brochure via an online form
  • Watch a video testimonial from a resident, as well as read a written one

Call to action insight

All of the above allow you to gather data on prospect preference at the time they are consuming your content. For example, do most prospects opt for a free trial, rather than diving straight into the ‘buy now’? Now you know you’re dealing with an early-stage audience that likely isn’t ready to buy just yet.

These choices also help you understand content preferences, too. For example whether prospects prefer written content or visual content, such as video.

It may not always be appropriate. Many times a focused, single-path CTA is the way to go. But when the time is right, try giving your prospects some options in your CTAs – and then revel in the user-generated data it gives you.

About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics and content management.

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