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What is a call to action? by Matt Ottewill (March 2014)

Calls to action are an essential part of almost all marketing processes. They are designed to solicit a response from a visitor, follower, lead or customer.

The essential idea of a call to action (CTA) is to capitalise on any engagement by a potential customer (a visitor or lead) with your product or service. A call to action will 'encourage' a lead to continue a process of engagement and progress through the sales funnel until they purchase something and become a loyal customer.

Marketing professionals consider it essential to have a CTA in all online marketing content and ads. They maintain that the message should always end in some kind of invitation or device which continues the lead's engagement and interest in the product or service.

Example CTAs

Here are some example CTAs ..

  • Ending each post in a social media conversation with a question (eg “what do you think?”)
  • Letting a visitor to your site know that if they subscribe they will get a free download or be entered in a competition
  • Asking questions in a forum (people love to give their opinions)
  • After a sale, asking your customer to write a review and share their purchase
  • Adding a link in an email to your music on Amazon
  • Adding a “subscribe” annotation to a YouTube video
  • Adding a link in a YouTube video to your music on the iTunes store
  • Any kind of button or link that encourages your visitor to engage further, such as entering a competition

An example CTA timeline

A timeline might run something like this ..

  1. an online display asks a visitor to rate 10 action films about submarines
  2. a visitor clicks the ad, goes to a website and completes the survey
  3. at the end of the survey the visitor is shown a trailer for a new soon-to-be-released submarine based mobile game, and is encouraged to join a mailing list by being offered a discount voucher
  4. one they have subscribed they are encouraged to get friends to subscribe with offers of further discounts
  5. when the game is released they are sent an email link to the store with their voucher code
  6. three days after they have purchased the game they are sent a message asking them to review and rate the game, for which they will receive a loyalty card or additional game maps