10 signs your calls-to-action need an overhaulArticle added by Amy McIlwain on July 29, 2013
Amy McIlwain

Amy McIlwain

Denver, CO

Joined: August 26, 2010

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Have you ever developed an addiction to downloading free offers? Last week, I was perusing thorough the HubSpot website and couldn’t help but notice myself compulsively downloading e-book after e-book — everything from social media marketing to website creation. Normally, I’m hesitant when it comes to signing up for free offers, but on this occasion, I was on a rampage. By the end of the night, I had 15 e-books in my inbox! And HubSpot probably had enough information to track down my exact location.

What was so compelling and irresistible about HubSpot’s offers? Were they laced with glitter or promises of fame and fortune? Not really. In fact, one of the many elements of their success was their calls-to-action (CTA).

Definition: Words that urge the reader, listener or viewer of a sales promotion message to take an immediate action.

Here are a few things I learned about creating strong and unavoidable calls-to-action.

1. Create urgency: You don’t want your prospects to take action tomorrow or next week, you want them to take action now! You can do this by emphasizing deadlines, seasonality or words like “now” and “today.” Example: Download Your Free E-Book TODAY!

2. Use colors that pop: Strong, contrasting colors capture the reader’s eye. If your call-to-action blends with the color scheme of your webpage, people will overlook it like a face in a huge crowd.

3. Use verbs: According to a HubSpot study, verbs get the most retweets on Twitter.

4. Steer clear of adverbs: On the other hand, adverbs got the fewest retweets. For those of you that ditched 6th grade English class, a verb is a word that conveys action, such as “run, jump or click.” Adverbs tell when, where, why or under what conditions something happens or happened, like “she ran quickly.”

5. Make the CTA clickable: You wouldn’t believe how many calls-to-action I see that look like this: “Call 1-800-555-5555 for a Financial Consultation.” While that seems perfectly logical, people rarely pick up the phone and call. Instead, give them a free offer they can click and access immediately.

6. Use questions: At presentations, you probably tune in when the speaker asks the audience a question, right? Questions cause mental engagement and participation. Use them in your CTA to generate interest. Example: “Looking to do a 401(k) Rollover? Learn how you can make it happen today!”

7. Use numbers: On the Web, people search for specificity and quick, empirical data. Using numbers, statistics, and percentages eliminates ambiguity and creates a clearer picture of the value and effectiveness of your offer. Exampe: “Download our 25 Page Social Media Quick Guide!”
8. Above the fold: This means your viewers can see the information without having to scroll down the page. Believe it or not, this is a simple and powerful way to increase your conversion rate. Here's an example from Brad Johnson, who does a great job of this on his website.

9. Be specific in the action you want them to take: As a teenager, did you listen to your mom when she said, “Be home soon?” To your mom, “soon” might have meant “now.” But for you, it could have meant next week or next month. Yikes!

Specificity is important when it comes to CTA, too. Aim to be very specific in what you want your readers to do.

10. Use high-quality offers: Part of what got me addicted to HubSpot was the quality of their offers. I mean, who can turn down things like, “How to Master Facebook Marketing in 10 Days” or “The Secret to Creating Irresistible Marketing Offers?” Create value and indispensability with your offers.

Now that you have a few tricks in your pocket for creating irresistible calls-to-action, it’s time to start overhauling your existing ones.
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