A Call to Action (CTA) is an interactive element on your website (often in your blog) which directs your reader to take some sort of action. This could be to download a free publication, ask for a health assessment, or take a quiz about symptoms or side effects.
Building an interactive marketing tool like a CTA doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, it should be one of the easier things you can do to drive engagement... you'll (ideally) make CTAs for many different products or services as the need arises.
To simplify the task, we've included ten key "bones" below that make up the CTA "skeleton." The way you incorporate them may vary from one CTA to the next, because your CTAs should be tailored for each group they're designed to reach. For healthcare marketing purposes, this could be patients, other doctors, patient's families, or other caregivers. (You usually decide who these groups are by creating personas.)
At any rate, each CTA you build should still include all of the features below if your goal is to guide your reader further along their patient (or customer) journey, toward the all-important Zero Moment of Truth, when they finally decide it's time to give your medical practice a call to schedule a visit.
Your message should be addressed in second-person command-style language, which directly addresses the reader with specific requests or invitations. Note how the word "you" is implicit in these examples:
(you) Learn about the side effects of pain medications here.
(you) Discover the main causes of insomnia.
(you) Download this copy of our free e-book on how to care for someone with dementia.
A crisp, clear title identifying what the action item entails makes the call to action obvious. The title should be placed prominently at the top of the CTA element. Its language should also spur your patient prospect to take the next step. Borrowing from our examples above, these could be useful CTA titles:
Pain Medication Side Effects Fact Sheet
Insomnia's Top Ten List of Causes
How to Care for Someone with Dementia
A good CTA is built, literally, to stand out.
Size: The CTA should be easy to spot on the page, usually because it is oversize or a different size or shape when compared to the rest of the content.
Position: The CTA should be positioned before the reader gets to the bottom of the page. It might also be positioned at the top of the column adjacent to the main content it supports.
You can put CTAs at the bottom of the page, too, but you're trusting your content to engage those readers all the way to the last word. Is your content that good? Maybe? But if not...
Scanning readers will read in an "F" shaped pattern, with the long tail of the "F" skewed to the left. If you put your CTA at the bottom, make sure it's at the left.
Design: The CTA provides an instance when your goal is not to blend in, but to stand out. Introduce a different color to the palette; choose larger or different weight fonts; make the entire element focus on a single, easy-to-identify image.
4. Irresistible offer.
What constitutes an irresistible offer? Anything you can offer to give away for free, such as:
a 10-minute consultation
a patient-focused webinar
a helpful checklist
a trending white paper you can share with other physicians
a downloadable poster
a reserved seat at a free caregiver support event you are hosting
a discount on membership to an organization you're aligned with
a coupon for 15 percent off your web or on-site store
You can assign a time frame for the offer, with an expiration date, to elevate the sense of urgency of your CTA. Examples:
Download our worksheet by October 1 so you can put it to use during our October 2 event!
RSVP for your reserved seat now for our next Meet and Greet slated for the end of the month!
Receive your free assessment in November and put your weight-loss plan into action before the holidays!
Other ways to create urgency include focusing on the down side of waiting or not getting help. Let's take a look at how our previous examples could lead to this kind of call for urgency: For instance:
Do your pain medications have side effects you can't tolerate? It's never too late to research alternatives.
Don't risk depression, hypertension, diabetes, or the other chronic health problems that even one more sleepless night can bring.
Your loved ones with Alzheimer's need your help now; let us help you to help them!
6. Motivational content.
The words you use in your CTA convey a kind of tone that you will want to keep consistent with the tone of your overall blog, website, and medical practice.
Readers find command-style words like "Click" or "Subscribe" a bit intimidating because they carry a tone that implies a commitment... which they may or may not be emotionally prepared to make.
However, using words like "Learn more" or "Receive" or "Stay up-to-date" are softer words from a tonal standpoint; they are more likely to feel more like "helping" words rather than "demanding" words, and are more likely to empower your reader to make a decision or choice because they still feel they are the one that's in charge.
Your content should also center exclusively on two specific ideas: a single pain point your reader suffers and the solution you can offer. In a sense, a CTA should be a kind of problem-solving "billboard" announcing your solution in exchange for their attention.
7. Optimized images.
CTAs should also work the search engines, but when your language is tightly focused, it may be hard to build in the keywords necessary to optimize your content. That's okay, because your CTA should also include a distinctive image, and in the Alt Text section of that image, you have the opportunity to include the keywords that will improve search engine optimization (SEO).
8. Landing page linkage.
Each CTA should link to a dedicated landing page. While you may have preexisting landing pages you could use, you are better off building a new one that receives the traffic that the CTA is sending.
Why? The most effective CTA has language that corresponds precisely with the language on the landing page. A dedicated landing pages provide a more comfortable experience for the reader because there is shared familiarity between the CTA and where the CTA takes them. If they arrive at a landing page that doesn't correspond with the offer they expected, they may become confused or less trusting of you.
If you feel you can get by with fewer, more generalized landing pages, just make sure the language used on every single one completely reflects the language in your CTAs.
9. Clickable button.
Make sure your CTA is clickable (or fillable). If the reader sees the offer but does not identify any kind of way to move into the offer (by way of an active button or a form right on the same page), then they will not take another step toward utilizing your offer.
Your best practice is to either design the button so that it has the obvious appearance of being clickable (by using a drop shadow, for instance), or use prominent and colorful flags or arrows inside your CTA to point to a live and active online form they can fill out.
Try not to use terms like "click here," however: these phrases do not enhance the idea that potential patients have something to gain by doing so. Instead, consider "learn more" or "feel better!" or other motivational language to inspire their engagement.
After all, let's not forget: inbound marketing is all about them.
If you can connect all of these "bones" inside the skeleton of your CTA, you can be sure to see more click-throughs and engagement.
A CTA is a necessary, vital part of the patient (or customer) journey for this reason: the more you can empower your readers to trust you to help them solve their problems, the more comfortable they'll become asking for help, and the closer you are to seeing them arrive, face-to-face, in your clinic.