A key skill every successful salesperson masters is to “ask for the sale”. The idea that the answer to that question is always “no” until it’s asked has a parallel in marketing as well. If we don’t tell people what we want them to do, they won’t do it. A call to action (CTA) tells the person what we want them to do next. So while purely including a CTA is a great first step, the inclusion of a high performance CTA requires a few other considerations.
Let’s explore those now.
What are your objectives?
Every marketing or content initiative has a purpose (or else why would be we wasting our time with it). Defining what the objective is and what we think the person’s next step should be is the first consideration in the creation of high performance CTAs. Do you want the person to submit their information to download a piece of educational content? Do you want them to reach out to schedule an appointment? Do you want them to watch a video that defines your health system’s quality in a particular service line? Defining what the next step should be allows you to create an actionable CTA that resonates with the audience.
Who is the audience and what do they need?
Knowing who we are talking to and what they need helps us write an enticing CTA. Understanding where in the customer journey our audience is when they engage with our marketing or content helps inform us about what we can ask them to do. For example, if the person is researching flu symptoms and comes across your article about caring for a family during flu season, then the next thing they might want to know is what treatment options are available. Presenting a CTA about scheduling an appointment might be premature until they identify a possible illness and understand what the next steps for treatment are. Don’t simply apply the same PTA across every page on your website or every bit of content. Match your CTAs to what the person needs next then consider how this next step helps meet your objective.
How do our objectives help meet their needs?
After you identify what a person needs next in their customer journey, consider how your objectives can support them. For the example above, if your customer is looking for treatment option information and your objective is to gather leads for a particular service line, presenting a CTA about a webinar that discusses this topic would be helpful. If your objective is to schedule more appointments, consider nurturing this lead with an email that delivers the information that person needs to take that next step. The point is to meet the user’s needs in order to achieve your objective.
How do we make it clear what we want them to do?
Presenting a clear CTA can be accomplished in various different ways. The copy, visual design, message, and location on the page all play a role. With audience and their needs identified, the development of your message should be clear. Matching the copy to the way audiences think about what they need is important. The CTA should be action-oriented and benefit focused. Copy like “Sign-up for a Free Treatment Webinar” communicates the action the audience should take and the benefit they will receive.
The design of your CTA is also important. Choose colors that separate it from the rest of the page. Larger CTAs tend to stand out more but items that are too large risk being overlooked if they resemble common banner ads. The use of relevant, high-quality imagery and illustration can also be used to set the CTA apart from the rest of the page. But like the size consideration, CTAs that are too overly graphic risk being overlooked if they too closely resemble a banner ad. Finally, ensure there is enough white-space around your CTAs so they don’t get lost in the rest of the page content.
Page position is another important part of CTA visibility. CTAs positioned at the right or bottom of a web page tend to perform better due to the way the audience naturally tends to read. The other thing to consider about placement is at which point in the content a user would likely want to move to the next step. If the content needs to be consumed in its entirety before moving on, then it makes sense to include the CTA at the bottom of the content. If a user could move on at any point then placing the CTA higher up the page will perform better.
How are we sure the CTA is performing as it should?
Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. It’s just as true in marketing as it is in boxing. Even our best laid plans can sometimes underperform as soon as they are exposed to the realities of our audience and their wants or expectations. That is why testing and measurement is so important. Try different messages, design, page placement, or different CTAs all together. Measure which performs the best. Don’t just launch and forget. You must track back against the work and use what performs.
So while they might not always be given the consideration they deserve, CTAs could arguably be the most important piece of your marketing initiatives. Deciding on your objective, understanding who you are talking to, what your audience needs, ensuring the next step is obvious, and measuring the results to make sure your CTA is performing as expected are all key components in the development of high performance healthcare marketing.