Rethink Your Call-to-Action and Revolutionize Your Digital Display Ads

December 22, 2015 / Danielle Dean

Rethink_Your_Call-to-Action_and_Revolutionize_Your_Digital_Display_AdsWhen it comes to digital display ads, perhaps nothing else has more of a direct impact on your click-through and conversion rates than your call-to-action (CTA). Without a clear and compelling CTA, you’re going to have a much more challenging time converting website visitors into qualified leads or paying customers.

If your landing pages are only getting a smattering of traffic here and there, or if you’re experiencing lackluster conversion rates, it may be time to rethink your approach to your CTA. Below are some key points that will help you take a second look at this all-important element of your marketing arsenal, so that you can revolutionize the performance of your digital display ads.

1. First things first: Do you have a call-to-action?

A surprisingly common mistake that many marketers make is not having an actual call-to-action in their display ad. Now remember, the key word in the phrase “call-to-action” is “action;” in other words, you’re essentially asking the viewer to do something–e.g., visit your webpage, download an ebook, subscribe to your email list, etc.

If the language of your CTA is not clearly communicating what you want viewers to do, your display ad will be little more than a virtual art exhibit. You should include words in your text that are active, not passive; for example, you will often see the following words being used in the retail vertical:

  • Get
  • Find
  • Buy
  • Order
  • Shop
  • Review
  • Purchase

Notice how each word clearly states what the advertiser intends for the viewer to do. Each word is active and dynamic, and encourages interaction with the target site right off the bat. This is what you should strive for when choosing the text for your display ads. Even if you’re not in the retail vertical, you can still use words that inspire action. Read on!

2. Avoid being too generic with your CTA.

All too often, marketers will settle for a CTA that is too generic–for example, “Click here to learn more.” While this is better than not having any CTA at all, you’ll need to dig a little deeper in order to really connect with your viewers. When someone views your ad, there are several “micro-decisions” being made in that small span of time you have their attention; the viewer is first of all determining if what you’re communicating is relevant to their needs or wants, and then they’re deciding if the information you presented is compelling enough for them to click.

Keep in mind that no matter your vertical, you’re in business to solve a problem, or to appeal to a need or desire of some kind. You need to make sure your CTA is specific enough to appeal to your target customer’s wants, needs or interests, and clear enough to make taking action a no-brainer for them.

One great example of this is the company Square, which markets a product that enables business owners to accept credit card payments via a small square-shaped device that can be attached to a smartphone. In their display ads as well as on their main landing page, their brilliantly simple CTA text says “Start selling today.” With those three words, they sum up the essence of what their target customer likely wants to do (i.e., sell more products/services via mobile credit card processing), and by using the time-sensitive word “today,” they make it clear that customers will be able to see the benefit of using their product right away.

3. Incorporate the element of curiosity.

Your CTA should be enticing enough to arouse your viewer’s curiosity. When that happens, you’ve effectively compelled them to find out what’s on the other side of your CTA. For example, the company Evernote incorporates this intriguing phrase into the CTAs of many of their display ads: “Remember Everything.” Now who wouldn’t want to know how to do that? Take time to think about the results that your product or service is designed to offer to potential customers, and then create a CTA that’s interesting or fascinating enough to make viewers want to find out how they can achieve those results.

4. Create a sense of urgency.

When a visitor first lands on a page containing your ad, you only have a few seconds to grab their attention before they’re moving on. In fact, several user behavior studies have indicated that viewers always scan a page first to determine what the most important elements are before settling in on what they’re actually going to read. If the CTA in your display ad can use language that is urgent or time-sensitive (e.g., “Sale Ends Today” or “Limited Time Only”), you’re more likely to connect with your viewer and get the click.

In the highly competitive world of digital marketing, it is critical for you to develop effective CTAs so that you can make your display ads stand out from the crowd and attract your ideal prospect’s attention. By keeping the above ideas in mind, you can craft compelling CTAs that will garner more clicks, boost conversion rates and take the results of your display advertising campaigns to the next level.

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