3 call to action mistakes savvy marketers avoid

Are your messages getting the desired reaction from your audience? Here are some gaffes that could be sandbagging your efforts.

A compelling yet simple call to action makes it easier for your customer to take the next step with your brand.

It sounds easy enough: Once the user has consumed some piece of helpful information, they should have a ready-made way to remain engaged with the company providing the information. However, a poorly designed or unclear call to action can backfire, alienating your audience with sales jargon or confusing them to the point of abandoning your site.

At its worst, the call to action distracts from the core message, blurring the line between a helpful article and a sales pitch. Often, this happens because the marketer misunderstands or ignores the customer journey.

The call to action can be a powerful tool, but whether that power acts positively or negatively for your brand is another story. To ensure a positive interaction, avoid these three mistakes:

1. Your content is a bait and switch.

When creating content, it’s important to ask if you are offering the answer to a question or a promotion for your business.

If your headline reads “What to consider when choosing a tub for your bathroom” and the body content only restates the problem alongside the tubs you sell and ways to purchase them, your users are likely to leave your site quickly. Instead, your content should meet the expectations set by the headline and offer the design and technical advice for making that big home improvement.

If possible, you should still add a call to action, such as a prompt for “live advice from an expert” or to “click here for more good design tips.” Simply tailor it to the larger piece. That way, it not only follows through on its promise by providing good information, but it also builds goodwill for later.

2. You don’t understand your consumer’s needs.

Depending on where the customer is in their purchase journey, your customer may arrive at a piece of content ready to make a purchase and looking for an easy way do it. Alternatively, they may just be interested in gathering research. At this stage, the customer may be more inclined to respond to a prompt that directs them to visit a library of more relevant content or sign up for a newsletter versus completing a contact form or clicking a buy button.

Rather than making content in a vacuum, identify your target demographic and how your content can help them through their customer journey.

3. Your goals are too broad.

Marketers can be tempted to provide users with as many potential actions as possible. However, given too many options, potential customers may never take that next step.

There is psychology behind this. Columbia Business School professor Sheena Iyengar, an expert on choice, found that when people have too many choices, they’re more likely to delay decision-making, make a worse decision or opt out altogether.

It’s easy to apply this to planning a big purchase. If there are 10 potential options fighting for your attention, it may be more appealing to come back to the task tomorrow than to complete it immediately, if at all. For your customers, if you know what they should be looking for at this point on their journey, you can and should be able to direct them rationally and quickly to the next best step.

A simple call to action makes that next step crystal clear for the client and increases the chance your users will follow through.

Megan Pearl is a content account manager with Wray Ward, a full-service PR agency.

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