Calls to action can make or break any advertisement, online or offline. One of the nice things about online marketing is that it’s easier to test one call to action against another to see what works; but as I’ve said before, we often don’t get enough response in business-to-business marketing to be able to compare things in a statistically valid way. I just looked through a well-known engineering trade magazine and a well-known laboratory news website, and in both cases, the display adverts fell into three roughly equally-sized camps: those with good calls-to-action, those with poor ones, and those with none at all.
One of the nice things about Google AdWords is that you can easily see the difference in response between an ad which asks readers to do something effectively, and one which does it half-heartedly. I find that marketing professionals who have spent some time with AdWords often discover a newly-found enthusiasm for improving the calls to action on other types of advertising, such as their print ads.
More ideas than you’ll ever be able to implement in a single payoff line are discussed in 10 Keys to Crafting an Effective Call to Action on The Whoa Factor. Have a quick read now*, but bookmark this article, and next time you’ve drafted an advertisement, take a look at the list of suggestions again afterwards to see how it can inspire you to go back and improve the most important part of the whole ad.
* Update May 2010: the site seems to have been removed. I’ve found a cached copy on Google which is reproduced below. Click to read.