5 Tips for Writing a Killer Call to Action
Raise your hand if you've ever heard that your blog posts should include a call to action (CTA). Raise your hand again if you have no idea how to do that without sounding like a salesy sleezebag.
CTAs are a misunderstood part of the blogging world---mostly because we've seen them done wrong WAY too often. If you've ever hopped on an "informative" webinar only to get a long-winded sales pitch instead of useful tips, you've been the victim of a bad CTA. The same goes for if you've ever been invited to a "free consultation" . . . with no idea what that actually means.
It's time to step up your content strategy with calls-to-action that people actually want to click on! But first, a quick refresher for those of you who are wondering "What's a call to action?"
A call-to-action is any time you tell your readers the next step to engaging with you or your brand. It could be anything from signing up for your email list to hiring you for a project to chatting with you on Twitter. CTAs are designed to take your readers deeper into your content so you can give them the information they need and they can fall more in love with you and your brand.
Check out these 5 tips for writing a killer call to action before hitting "publish" on your next blog post. A solid CTA can be the difference between content that falls flat and content that keeps your readers coming back for more!
1. Produce solid content.
Your readers will never click on your CTA if they're not impressed by your content in the first place. Think about how fast you click away from a blog that had a great image on Pinterest but zero helpful information!
Go the extra mile to create the content your readers actually need. That means writing irresistible blog posts, rehearsing your webinar in advance, outlining your e-course before you start writing, and thinking about what you want to say before you hop on Periscope.
Worthwhile content requires preparation. That doesn't mean you can't do things off the cuff sometimes---but you always need to know what value you're offering to your readers. If you can't find any value, they can't either.
If your CTAs aren't getting the results you want, the problem might lie with your content.Make sure your content is working for you, then focus on sprucing up your CTAs.
Once you've got high-quality content to draw your readers in and hold their attention, you're ready to start thinking about a call to action.
2. Give readers the next level of information.
Clicking on your CTA should be a no-brainer for your readers. Readers who have to think about clicking are readers who often decide to check Facebook instead.
So how do you make your CTA so appealing to your audience that they don't even have to think about it? You make sure it ties in with the content you just wrote.
If you just spent 1,200 words teaching people how to set up their custom WordPress theme, they know you're an expert in WordPress and web development. You've convinced them with your awesome content.
You now know your audience is looking for tips on customizing their WordPress theme. If your CTA is to sign up for a newsletter with even more WordPress tips, your readers will want more of your valuable info---and there's no doubt in their mind that you'll follow through because they've already seen how much value you can offer them.
It's easy to think that readers only want surface-level information because everyone wants to skim instead of reading a full-length blog post. But that's not true! Readers still want solid, in-depth information---they just want it in an easy-to-digest format.
Think about your latest blog post and ask yourself what other questions might come up once your readers have applied that information. Now create new content answering those questions. That's the call to action your readers will click on.
3. Give your content a goal.
Every single piece of content you put out needs to have a goal. (That's why we call it a content strategy.) Your CTA should help you get there.
The goal for your content as a whole is probably to help you make money in some way, whether it's through affiliate links and ads or selling products and services. That's a good goal to have, but you need to break it down when you're determining your CTA. Very few pieces of content should have a direct goal of earning money (but we'll talk more about that in a minute).
Instead, break down all the things that need to happen to increase your earning potential. You need an audience, for starters, so growing you blog following is probably high on your list. Youalso want followers who actually like you, so maybe you have a goal of creating engagement with your followers.
Content that aims to grow your blog traffic should include a CTA that gets new readers to stick around. Highlight your opt-in offer to get readers on your email list, ask readers to hang out with you on other social media platforms, or remind readers that they can sign up for your RSS feed or follow you through a feed reader.
If your goal is to engage with readers, include a clear prompt for comments, invite readers to your next Twitter chat or Periscope, or ask readers to follow you on a more personal medium, like Instagram.
Think about your goal for this specific piece of content and then ask yourself what action readers can take to help you move forward with that goal. That's your CTA.
4. Avoid sales pitch CTAs.
One of the reasons CTAs get such a bad rap is because people equate them with sales pitches. Your CTA can be a link to the products or services you're offering, but it usually shouldn't be.
Most readers who stumble upon your content aren't ready to buy yet. They need to get to know you and your brand a little better before they start forking over their hard-earned cash. That's why it's so important for your CTA to take readers deeper into your brand with even more free information.
Once readers are at a point where they can trust you, you're ready to start introducing sales pitches.
That means that blog posts should almost never end with a sales pitch CTA. Blog posts are how most new readers find you. People who have landed on your site for the first time thanks to Pinterest or Google just aren't ready to buy from you. Send these folks to more of your awesome content with links to the archives or a fantastic opt-in for your newsletter. (I'm in love with Melyssa's "content upgrade" strategy for this!)
So where can you throw in a sales pitch? Anywhere your readers have already had to show that they're interested in what you're offering.
That means they've had to sign up, opt-in, or interact with you and your content in some way. Webinars, newsletters, and free e-courses or other info products are good options for your sales pitch CTAs. Your audience is already interested in you, meaning they're probably interested in what you're selling!
One word to the wise: Just because you're pitching a warm audience doesn't mean you can switch into sleaze-ball mode. Follow the advice above and provide solid, valuable content before presenting your related sales pitch.
5. Close the deal with a specific CTA.
People don't want to take the next step when they're not sure what the next step looks like.
Even if your audience loves you to death, you'll have a hard time convincing readers to sign up for a mysterious newsletter or vague e-course. Give them the details! How often will they be hearing from you? How will you keep in touch with them? What will they be learning about?
Bloggers tend to write vague CTAs because most calls to action are pretty short. But who says short can't be specific? Look at the difference in these two examples. Which one would you rather click on?
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Yes, the second CTA is longer. But don't you think a few extra words is worth it if it doubles your sign-ups?
Telling readers exactly what they're getting also helps people self-select. That means that people who aren't your ideal reader will recognize that before they ever sign up for your list. That's a good thing! You won't waste time on someone who's not the right fit for your blog or business, and you'll know that everyone who does sign up is someone you'll love to work with.
What's your biggest trouble spot when it comes to writing killer CTAs?
Calls to action aren't the easiest things to write, but they make a world of difference when it comes to engaging with your audience! I'd love to hear your questions (or any tips and tricks!) in the comments!
P.S. If your CTAs aren't working out for you, the problem could be not knowing what your readers really need from you. Try these 12 survey questions to really get to know your readers to make sure you're offering the content and CTAs they'll love!