By PAWAN DESHPANDE published JULY 17, 2013

Calls-to-action (CTAs) are among the most neglected of content marketing components — in both curated and created content. Yet, they are also among the discipline’s most essential features in terms of providing brand value. These simple, yet targeted, phrases are directly responsible for encouraging your audience to take a next step toward becoming a loyal customer, such as downloading your white paper, following you on Twitter, registering for your webinar, or sharing your content with a friend or colleague.

Without a call-to-action, content marketing efforts amount to little more than writing exercises. It’s not enough to publish useful information; you want readers to engage with you and take an action that will provide value for your business. 

Here are a few examples:

CMI cta
  • From an article on blog content, from Think Traffic:
cta-add to comments

In addition to being essential to your original content creation efforts, CTAs are also vital tools for the content curator. In the curation scenario, focus should be placed on the portion of the curated article where you provide commentary on why the content is relevant, rather than impacting any sections that you’re quoting and attributing to the original author. In the process of annotating and adding your own perspective, you can also elicit opinions from your readers and ask them to comment, as I did in this post on content marketing tools:

list-cta attributions

Creating your call

What goes into a strong call-to-action? Here are five tips for making yours as effective as possible.

  • Choose a goal: Should your CTA generate webinar sign-ups? eBook downloads? Social media shares? Something else? Write your CTA based directly on your most important current marketing goal — and always include a link so that the reader can take the desired action with minimal hassle.
  • Consider the context: Where is the prospect in the sales cycle? It doesn’t make sense for someone coming to your home page for the first time to get a CTA about buying an expensive product. In such a case, a CTA such as “request a demo” or “learn more” might be more appropriate. In addition, CTAs for content on your own blog might assume more familiarity with your brand than CTAs in guest blogs or other content you place on third-party websites; but remember that, thanks to Google, you never know where someone will enter your site for the first time.
  • Make it short and actionable: Cramming multiple CTAs into one piece of content can lower conversion rates, while long, wordy CTAs can confuse readers or simply get ignored. Another reason to keep it short: If you’re putting a CTA in a button, long strings of text won’t have the same visual impact as a short one. Nowadays, most consumers understand that a hyperlink is intended for them to click, so it’s unnecessary to say “Click here to register for our free webinar.” Instead, a simpler call action stating, “Register for our free webinar” is likely to have a stronger impact.
  • Place it strategically: When writing a short snippet of curated content, it’s probably not the best idea to include a CTA there, as it may distract readers when viewing that content. When providing a longer annotation on why the content is relevant, that might be a more appropriate place for your CTA. Below is an example of a CTA incorporated within the curated annotation.
CTA insights

Alternately, you could encourage readers to spread your content through social media or email by including a share bar or sharing buttons on your site.

  • Test your CTAs: Conduct A/B testing to find out what CTA messages are working best for your target audience. Does tweaking the wording or placement of your CTA change its impact? If so, you will want to adjust your strategy accordingly for future content creation/curation.