No matter which marketing channel you’re using, if you don’t have a strong call to action (CTA), your direct response campaign will suffer. But what makes for a strong call to action?  Hint: “Click here” isn’t one!

Five Tips to Optimize Your CTAs:

  1. Make Your Ask Specific

Not everyone reads every word in your direct response piece. This makes it vital that your calls to action are specific and actionable. For example, we are giving you five tips, so the ideal CTA for a post about this article is “Get the tips now” or “Send tips to my inbox.”

  1. Make It Urgent

Words like “now” and “today” make your calls to action more urgent — for example, “Sign Up Now.” Another way to add urgency is by using scarcity. For example, “Only 10 spots left — RSVP now.” Finally, if you have a deadline, showcase it prominently in creative campaigns near the end of the promotion to elicit greater response.

  1. When Possible, Add Personalization

Studies have shown that using first name personalization can significantly improve email open rates, click-through rates, and response. Not to mention, it improves brand loyalty. Why? Because personalization helps your message stand out and creates trust between you and your email recipients.

If you are using channels like email or direct mail where you can use a first name field, consider adding the recipient’s name to your CTA. This can be done within a button itself or within the body of the email. If you are using direct mail, consider personalizing headlines and using bold text for personalized calls to action within your letter copy or in your close.

Expert tip: Be judicious in your use of personalization — choose placements that are high impact such as the CTA(s).  If you overuse personalization, you risk sounding insincere.

  1. When Possible, Add the Word “You” or “My”

We all want things that are for us. For example, “Reserve your spot today” is a much stronger call to action than “Reserve a spot today.” Likewise, “Double your impact” is a stronger ask than “Donate.”

  1. Avoid Language That Is Device-Specific or Not Accessible

It’s important to consider that when marketing in digital channels,  people could be on a phone, tablet or computer. So, you don’t want your calls to action to be device specific. For example, you can’t “tap here” on a desktop and many people don’t “click here” on their phone. In addition, those examples often don’t meet accessibility requirements, since anyone using a screen reader or voiceover will hear “click here” out of context.

BONUS TIP: Test, Test, Test!

Every product and every organization is different, so it’s imperative to A/B test your calls to action when possible. It’s easy to implement a button test on an email or digital ad. We recommend a 50/50 randomized split of your audience. If your audience isn’t big enough to achieve statistical significance, plan to run the test through multiple efforts. For direct mail, a great place to A/B test is your reply form if using one. If not, you can track CTA response by using unique QR codes and URLs for each test cell. If the test wins and you only ran it in one channel, consider doing the same A/B test in other channels.

Note: If you are doing an A/B test in one channel, cross check whether that audience is also being targeted via other channels at the same time. Based on the test, decide whether the test needs to be consistent across all channels OR whether it’s okay to run it only with one channel. For example, if you are doing an elevated offer test, you need to ensure that that audience gets the same offer via all channel OR hold them out of other channels to ensure they don’t see different offers at the same time.

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