A strategically-placed call to action (CTA) can help you convert visitors.
If it’s effective, the same CTA can catch people’s interest, move them through the buying journey, and increase your conversion rates.
So, you’re probably wondering how this article could possibly explain why you don’t need a CTA for effective marketing.
First, let’s talk about what CTAs are, and how they do work.
What Is a CTA?
CTA stands for Call to Action.
In marketing, a CTA is meant to drive customers to take the next step on their buying journey.
It might directly ask for a sale like many of the famous “click here for your free book” offers.
Alternatively, it might suggest that you sign up for an email list.
The goal is to get the customer to take the next step, whatever that step might be.
The concept of a CTA is as old as advertising itself.
The first CTA’s appeared in newspapers back in the 1700s, asking people to buy their products.
TV ads in the 1980s urged viewers to “Call Now!”
Where You Use a CTA
Let’s fast forward a bit.
In today’s online environment, CTAs are commonly used as either part of ads, emails, or included in content marketing.
You might have a CTA button on a landing page, a link to click to click for more information or a Buy Now! button on your Facebook page.
All are examples of a typical CTA.
Examples of CTAs
There are three forms of CTAs that typically get the highest levels of engagement:
- Call to Action
- Multivariate CTAs
- Personalized CTAs
Basic CTAs are static calls to action embedded in your content. They’re the same for everyone.
With a multivariate CTA, marketers create multiple versions of CTAs. This is often also referred to as A/B testing.
The version that performs the best (aka, has the most engagement) will be the winner. Typically this becomes a primary CTA, and another multivariate CTA is launched in another area.
Personalized CTAs are customized to the user or customer.
These “smart CTAs” adapt to visitors based on various scenarios. Most common scenarios include location, language, previous visits, buying history, or any number of variables.
As you might expect, these personalized CTAs tend to perform the best.
Why CTAs Aren’t as Important as You Might Think
Despite how common CTAs are, they’re not always the best solution.
Having the wrong CTA or one that’s ineffective can hurt you more than it helps.
The most common reasons that CTA’s don’t work are as follows:
Poor Value Proposition
If you haven’t established a powerful reason for the customer to take action, why would they?
In any marketing, it’s essential that you deliver value.
Value is in the eye of the customer. What is it they value right now, that is important enough for them to take action?
If the value isn’t there, a CTA won’t work.
Lack of Urgency
Another stumbling block is that your CTA lacks urgency.
An effective CTA needs to answer the following question: Why should I click on that CTA right now?
You may never have someone’s full attention, so it’s critical that your CTA provides a powerful reason to “act right now!”
The Wrong CTA
One thing that occurs most often is choosing the wrong CTA.
When this happens, customers don’t respond.
Despite the amount of thought, effort, or money you might put behind your CTA, if it’s wrong it won’t work.
In fact, the wrong CTA can cause confusion amongst customers and actually hurt your marketing efforts.
It’s easy for visitors to get distracted.
You only get a few seconds to capture a customer’s interest, demonstrate your expertise to solve their problem, and then ask for the sale.
For this reason, CTAs need to be clear, focused, and obvious.
If a customer has to think for long about whether your CTA is worth it, they likely won’t move forward.
Asking Too Much
Especially for B2B marketing, CTAs often ask for something in return for giving something.
For example, you might offer a Whitepaper with technical details in exchange for an email address.
If the value is there, it might entice people to enter their email to get the information.
However, if you’re form is too complicated, asks for too much information, or is too long, chances are your CTA won’t work.
One of the keys to an effective CTA is one that solves an immediate problem.
If potential customers have a problem in some area of their life or business and you can help them solve that problem, you’ll get their attention.
Great content does exactly that – and it doesn’t always require a call to action.
It doesn’t need to be an overt sales pitch.
In fact, the more sales-y your pitch is, the less effective it will likely be.
Your best approach is to always deliver content that informs, educates, inspires, or persuades.
Providing step-by-step guides.
All of these are examples of great alternatives to the typical call to action.
Strengthen Your Brand
The better way to get customers to take action is to embed your brand – and your unique approach – into your content.
When it’s intertwined, or used as examples to make a point, it feels more natural and helpful – rather than a sales pitch.
Kleenex has done this with such strong brand awareness that we’ve all forgotten to ask for a tissue.
An iPhone has such a strong brand embedded, we forget that it’s actually a smartphone.
A strong brand can result in potential customers taking action despite how weak, vague or invaluable your CTA is.
Use Anchor Texts
Adding links to your products or services to anchor texts rather than specific CTAs can also be effective.
It helps provide navigation to your products without a CTA.
Do your research to find out the highest performing keywords and then use them throughout your content.
Embed links to your products or services on the keywords. If people are looking for more information, they’ll click without you having to ask them to do so.
Effective marketing requires both reach and frequency. You’ve got to reach the right people and you’ve got to do it often.
Another alternative to a CTA is to focus heavily on Content Marketing.
Content marketing that continually positions you as a leader in whatever your industry is sends a message that can transcend a call to action.
Most marketers today take a two-step approach to this:
- Fresh content – providing a reason for visitors to frequent your website.
- Evergreen content – providing answers to commonly asked questions.
It’s no secret that search engines place value on fresh content. When there are regular updates to your website, it will help with your SEO.
Content Marketing is a great alternative to CTAs, helping you to build trust and authority in your industry.
There’s one final reason why you don’t need a CTA.
CTAs are an obvious attempt to sell.
Whether you’re asking for people to click to buy, sign up for a newsletter, or download an eBook, you’re selling something.
The fact is nobody likes to be sold. It’s the same reason many people hate car shopping.
Take a look at what gets you to take action, and try incorporating these ideas into your marketing.
Start small, test to determine what works, and then add more strategies to grow your engagement.
© Shawn Casemore 2020. All Rights Reserved.