Write stronger CTAs by focusing on your audience

Photo by Braden Hopkins on Unsplash
  • By Team CSI
  • |
  • Feb 20 2018
Categories: |Toolbox

Create a user-focused CTA strategy

Motivating or persuading audiences to do something is a common purpose for content, and calls to action (CTAs) are the final step, enabling your audiences to actually take that active step.

CTAs can be powerful little pieces of content, but they’re often not as strong as they could be, due to a lack of user-focus, or poor word choice, visuals, or location.

Here are some ways to make the most of your CTAs.

Connect CTAs to customer journeys

It might be tempting to follow some of the advice you can find online that stresses an aggressive, business-first mentality. Think giant CTA buttons yelling Buy Now! or Sign Up! at the top of every page.

But, as with all content, it’s best to put your audiences first. In other words, make sure your CTAs enable your audience to take a step they want to take.

It’s time to dig out your audience research: personas and customer journeys will be handy here. If you don’t have them already, start with our series on moving from audience research to user-focused content tools.

Now you can frame your CTAs within the customer journey your audience takes with your organization or product.

Work each of your target audiences (i.e., personas) through the journey stages and think from their points of view:

  • What information do they need before they go on?
  • What action will they be able to take in the next stage?

Then help them do it!

Example:

This simplified user journey will take one persona from awareness of a new campground to booking a campsite.

CTAs mapped to simplified customer journey

For each persona, think about what motivates them, and how you can make it easy for them to take action to get what they want.

Choose your words

Use simple phrasing that communicates as clearly as possible what the user should expect upon taking a specified action.

Example:

Weak: “More information”

Why? The phrase isn’t action-oriented, and doesn’t include the subject of information. This won’t help audiences when scanning the page, and doesn’t meet accessibility guidelines.

Stronger: “Read about our warranty policy.”

Why? CTAs should always begin with verbs to inspire action. Plus, the added noun makes the subject matter clear.

Weak: “Get a free estimate.”

Why? Your audience doesn’t know what will happen if they click the button. What does getting a free estimate entail? Is there a form to fill out? Will I get the quote online? Is membership or a credit card required? Will there be a page with additional information first?

Stronger: “Start with a free online estimate.”

Why? This clarifies several things for your audience, so they won’t feel misled after they click the button. The CTA implies that the first step is an online estimate, and that there will likely be follow-up steps, done offline.

Make CTAs visually distinctive

Choose a distinctive design for CTA buttons using a colour and shape that stand out from other text. This helps them look clickable, and will draw your audience’s attention.

Don’t make your CTAs compete with each other. Ensure there’s only one per page or section, and choose one that addresses the priority content (from your audience’s perspective!) on the destination page.

Pick your location

It’s true that people look more at the left side of the screen than the right (see the Nielson Norman Group for eye-tracking evidence), but a visually distinctive CTA button will catch your audience’s eye.

What’s most important is a choosing a user-focused location for your CTA. This means you place your CTAs after you give your audiences the information they need to want to move forward.

Big flashy CTAs at the top of every page aren’t user-focused. Your audiences aren’t ready to take action when they first get to your website.

Remember to map all of your content to customer journeys. Strong CTAs work best when they’re driving your audiences to user-focused content.

Further reading

Content mapping part 2: Mapping content to customer journeys

It’s all about the audience: From research to content tools

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