We’ve talked a lot about “calls to action” (often abbreviated as CTAs) in some of our recent Therapy Marketing Institute STAR Trainings. However, effective calls to action are so vital to your marketing success that they warrant closer inspection…
What Is a Call to Action?
A call to action, or CTA, is commonly an image, button, or some type of graphic or text (typically on a website) that prompts your visitors, leads, and clients to take some type of action. A CTA is, quite literally, a “call” to take an “action.”
Why use call to actions? Well, I’m assuming you’re not marketing your business for the fun of it!
The whole point of your marketing is to build relationships with prospective clients and referral sources and lead them through your marketing funnel to the point where they become actual clients and referral sources (for more about marketing funnels, see our “Your Therapy Marketing Plan, Part 3: Using the Right Media and Methods” STAR Training).
In order to turn prospective clients and referral sources into actual clients and referral sources, you need them to take specific actions. They need to sign up for your newsletter, join your group, attend your event, or call and schedule an appointment.
The actions you want people to take can be anything: download an ebook, call to schedule a consultation, sign up for a newsletter, attend an event, get a coupon, and so on. But you need them to take action. Hence, you need to be using CTAs!
It’s important to note that a CTA can be used anywhere in your marketing. They need not be confined to your website. In fact, they shouldn’t be. You can and should use calls to action in any books you write, in e-mails, at the end of any blog posts, articles, or newsletters you publish, and at the end of any presentations you give.
Still not sure what a CTA is? You’ll know them when you see them. Here are a few examples of what website CTAs can look like:
And, remember, a call to action need not involve a fancy image, button, or other graphic. A call to action can be as simple as saying something like:
“Call me today at 555-555-1234 to ask any questions you have or schedule a free initial consultation!”
In most places in your marketing you’ll want to use only one CTA, because the more options you offer people the less the likelihood is that they’ll choose any of them. However, there are a few special instances where you may want to use multiple CTAs, such as the “Home” page of your website. We’re not going to worry about that much here but, if you’re interested, let us know by leaving a comment below this article.
The important thing to remember when getting started with calls to action is that you can’t simply slap “Click Here!” on a brightly colored button, put it on your website, and start raking in the clients. There are several crucial elements you need to include in a CTA if you want to entice people to actually take the action you desire.
A Quick CTA Checklist
It’s best to start simply when creating your first calls to action. There’s no reason to spend a lot of time creating a fancy call to action image or graphic that no one clicks!
To save you some effort, here’s a quick checklist for the essential elements of an effective CTA:
- Eye-Catching Design – For someone to take an action you desire, they first have to notice its existence. If your call to action is simply written text, use a larger font size and consider putting it in bold or italics, or both. If you’re creating call-to-action images, this is the one time I’d recommend using colors that contrast with your website’s design. And make sure your call-to-action images are prominently located and big enough that they can be seen at a quick glance.
- Copy That Makes People Want to Take Action – If you’re trying to get someone to sign up for a free newsletter or ebook, it’s not enough to provide an e-mail address field and a button that says “Submit.” Use concise, jargon-free phrases containing actionable verbs to catch people’s attention, such as: “Download Now,” “Register Today,” “Join for Free,” and so on.
- A Clear Value Proposition – People should know exactly what will happen when they click on a CTA. Are they expecting to download a free report or ebook? Have you answer questions or schedule a consultation? Sign up for a newsletter or training? Make sure your calls to action explicitly tell users what they’ll be getting when they take the desired action.
- A Specific Page (Ideally a Landing Page) Aligned with One Stage of Your Marketing Funnel – If your call to action leads people to a page of your website, then it will be most effective if visitors are taken to a dedicated landing page, as opposed to a random or general-purpose page of your site. For example, a CTA is still a CTA if it points to a “Contact Us” page, but it won’t be as effective as driving leads and prospective clients to a specific, focused landing page for a free ebook download or a page that details the reasons to call or e-mail today. Similarly, calls to action should be created with a specific stage of your marketing funnel in mind (again, watch our “Your Therapy Marketing Plan, Part 3: Using the Right Media and Methods” STAR Training for more on marketing funnels). For example, a call to action designed to get people to sign up for a several-hundred-dollar workshop sitting on a blog post created for new site visitors will be unlikely to get results. A far more effective call to action on a blog post aimed at new site visitors would be one designed to get them to download a free report or sign up for free updates or an e-mail newsletter. Why? Because in the latter case, both the blog post and CTA target the same people: new site visitors at the beginning of your marketing funnel with whom you’ve yet to establish a relationship. Getting a new visitor to part with several hundred dollars will be much more difficult than getting them to part with their e-mail address in exchange for information they want.
Calls to Action Help Your Prospective Clients
Given that you need prospective clients to take action before they become actual clients, asking for that action by using CTAs should be a no-brainer.
Using CTAs to ask and make it easy for prospective clients to take action carry obvious benefits for you, the business owner. Calls to action are how you move a prospective client from a passive state of mind into a more active role. Calls to action are also a way you can measure the success of your marketing endeavors and track your return on investment. But what about your prospective clients? Do your CTAs benefit them, as well?
The answer is a definite, “Yes!” Let me explain…
Have you ever walked into a store, a conference, a hotel, or some other place of business and not known where to go first or what you needed to do next? I’m betting the answer is yes. How about a website? I can almost guarantee that at some point you’ve been to a website where you felt unsure of what to do next. This is often because the site owner has failed to give you any guidance. They have failed to give you a call to action.
In order to avoid confusing and frustrating your prospective clients, every marketing piece, media, and endeavor you create or undertake should employ calls to action to help walk prospective clients toward what it is they desire.
For this same reason, every page of your website needs a call to action at the end of the page. This doesn’t mean this is the only place you should use CTAs on your site, but using a CTA at the end of each and every page of your site prevents your site’s visitors from feeling they’ve reached a dead end. If your website’s visitors get to the end of a page and they don’t know where to click or what to do next, they have two options: leave or go backwards. As humans we hate going back over old ground. Therefore the consequence of no calls to action is obvious. Users leave feeling unsatisfied.
On the other hand, effective calls to action make your site “sticky.” They draw users onwards towards a final goal. But calls to action are not just about avoiding dead ends that leave users feeling unsatisfied. They’re also about helping users complete a key task.
If prospective clients are coming to your website looking for a therapist to work with, make it as easy as possible for them to schedule an appointment on each and every page of your site. If you’re promoting a book and people are coming to your site to find out more about it, make it as easy as possible for them to download a preview and/or purchase the book.
An important part of building successful relationships with prospective clients and referral sources is knowing what they want and making it easy for them to get it. Not using calls to action is like not labeling the call lights in your waiting room. It’s almost cruel.
Calls to action not only help you but they help your clients and prospective clients get the information and results they desire.
That’s the basics of calls to action.
I hope this helps convince you that effective calls to action help both your business and your prospective clients and website visitors.
But, stay tuned, as we’ll be looking at even more examples of how to effectively use calls to action in next month’s edition of Therapy Marketing Monthly.
In the meantime, here are some actions for you to take today:
- Review your website and other marketing initiatives. What action(s) do you want someone to take at the end of one of your presentations? How about after they’ve read an article you’ve written? What about once they’ve finished a specific page of your website? Are you asking for that action in each instance? If not, start doing so.
- If you’re already using calls to action, do they conform to the checklist above? Make sure all of your calls to action are eye-catching, offer a clear value proposition, use compelling copy, and, if they lead to a page on your website, make it a page devoted to the completion of the action being taken.
- Make a list of all the actions you want people to take when visiting your website. Make sure your asking for these actions and creating specific pages that get people to take each action separately in an organized sequence. Don’t create one page that asks people to subscribe to your newsletter, buy your book, and call for an appointment. The chances of them doing any are slim to none if presented with all three options simultaneously.
- Test different calls to action against each other. Create several calls to action asking people to sign up for your free newsletter or call and schedule an appointment. Then display them randomly to different visitors or cycle through them over a period of time to see which ones work better. The only way to really know what works and what doesn’t is to always be testing and tracking your results.
And, now, I’ll end with my own call to action! Let us know your questions and send us your examples of how you’re using calls to action by posting a comment below… We look forward to hearing from you!