How to Craft a Killer Call-To-Action in Marketing & Advertising

Richard Branson Marketing LessonFew years ago, business mogul Richard Branson was doing charity work in rural Africa, when a woman from a nearby village approached him.

“Mr Richard! Mr. Richard! Do you have a minute please,” the woman called out. “I’ve heard you are a very generous man. Can you lend me money to buy a sewing machine?”

She explained how she wanted to start a tailoring business but did not have the cash to buy a sewing machine. Furthermore, she planned to repay it back in 3 months and employ 6 people full-time, giving him a great return on his investment.

Branson’s Unexpected Response

This was typical of Branson’s experience. When you are as rich as Branson you get asked for money all the time, and most times you learn to say no. What was surprising was Branson’s response. Rather than saying no, as he had done many times, he agreed to lend her the money.

The question is why? What was so persuasive about her pitch? Why was Branson moved by her plight when he routinely rejects similar requests by others?

Her Secret? A Strong Call-To-Action

The answer comes down to her use of what marketers call a strong call to action, which is a fancy word for telling your customers what you want them to do next.

Unlike her unsuccessful counterparts, she asked for exactly what she wanted Branson to do – give her $300 for a sewing machine. She stated why she wanted it – to start a tailoring business that would employ 6 other women. Most importantly, she said it boldly and with confidence.

As Branson put it, “The woman’s determination and ambition were fantastic. So was her focus: she knew exactly what she wanted and why.” And that is why she got her $300 when so many had failed before her.

The Importance of Using a Strong Call-To-Action

Why the story of the tribal lady matters to your marketing efforts is because it shows how powerful being direct and specific about what you want your customers can be in increasing your conversion rate.

Whether you want people to subscribe to your list, buy your product, pick up the phone and call you or like you on Facebook or Retweet your Tweets, asking them to do so in no uncertain terms is one of the most powerful ways to do so.

How to Increase Your Re-Tweets 4X using a simple Call-To-Action

Dan Zarella, a social media scientist, looked at a sample of 10,000 tweets to see if specifically asking people to retweet your tweets would make a difference. It did. Not a small one either. Tweets that contained the phrase, “Please retweet”, got 4 times the retweets compared to tweets that did not ask people to retweet.

In another experiment on the importance of using a strong call to action, Marketing Sherpa, tested three different call to actions to see which one would produce the highest click through rate (CTR). Here are their results:

“Click to continue”: 8.53% CTR

“Continue to article”: 3.3% CTR

“Read more”: (-)1.8% CTR

Specifically telling customers to ‘Click’ got more of them to do it. Like the lady in Africa, being direct and specific about what they wanted their readers to do won the day.

5 Rules for Creating a Killer Call-To-Action

Now that you understand the importance of using a strong call to action, let’s look at how to construct one.

1. Use buttons: Buttons make it obvious that the user can click on them. This obviousness itself improves click through rates.

2. Use colour: Getting people to notice your request is half the battle. Colour makes your call to action stand out, thus increasing the chance of a prospect seeing and actioning your call to action. Also, if you can, give it a colour that is different to the rest of your scheme to make it more noticeable.

3. Respect its personal space: Do not bury it in noise. Leave lots of space around it so that it stands out.

4. Use action words and phrases: Use action words like “Click here to read more” or “Call now” or “Download now for free”, rather than “Read more” or “Subscribe”. Simply being direct will increase your conversion rate. This can be enhanced by the use of symbols that spur action like “>>” or the down arrow.

5. Incentivise your call to action: Use a free report or consultation to give your customers extra incentive to take the desired action. “Download free report” or “Call for free consultation” or “Call now, only 5 widgets remaining”.

5 Examples of Call-To-Actions in Marketing

Here are some great examples of Call to Actions to get your mental juices flowing.

1. NCOVER’s call to action

Call to Action Example - Ncover
source: Ncover.com

Why it is a good call to action example:

- Uses a big button that makes it stand out.

- Uses a different colour for the button (green) to the rest of the website (blue).

- Uses a down arrow further adding to the ‘action’ element of the call to action.

2. Lifetreecreative’s call to action

 Call to Action Example - Ncover

source: Lifetreecreative.com

Why it is a good call to action example:

- Uses an actionable phrase – “Request a FREE Quote Today”

- Uses an incentive (free quote)

- Uses a different colour button (blue) to the rest of the website (green).

3. Picsengine’s call to action

 Call to Action Example - Picsengine

source: Picsengine.com

Why it is a good call to action example:

- Uses an actionable phrase – “See in action”

- Uses a prominent location to display the call to action with lots of space to make it noticeable.

4. ZyngaPoker’s Call to action

 Call to Action Example - Zynga

source: Facebook.com/TexasHoldEm

Why it is a good call to action example:

- Uses an actionable phrase – “Play Now”

- Uses a prominent location combined with a catchy graphic and lots of white space to make the call to action noticeable.

- Uses a big coloured button

5. Mashable’s call to action

 Call to Action Example - Mashable

source: Facebook.com/mashable

Why it is a good call to action example:

- Uses an actionable phrase – “Click on the button above”

- Uses a prominent location combined with a catchy graphic and lots of white space to make the call to action noticeable.

- Uses an arrow to guide the users attention to the desired action