Start by answering these questions for your consumers: How are you going to help me? What do you have for me right now?
It amazes me when I see advertising that does not have a call to action or, even worse, has an anemic one like "learn more." Sure, it's difficult to ensure that your banners and search ads have something appealing to offer besides a catchy graphic or tag line but c'mon - every company has something of value to offer its prospects. So unless your success metric is impressions, the idea behind online advertising is to encourage some kind of desired behavior. It could be a high value brand engagement like watching a video, playing a game, sharing with a chiclet, or hitting a Facebook "like" button. Or it could be things more tangible like lead capture, materials download, or e-commerce transactions.
At my firm, we always try to start our creative process by breaking our messaging down into two modules: benefits and offers.
When people are online they will usually ask two things of an ad they see:
How are you going to help me? A person - whether they are making a consumer or business purchase - will look at a product or brand and think: Will this help me do something? Will it help me do a better job? Save money? Make more money? Be healthier? Look better? Feel better? Be safer? Have fun? What is the benefit of this product? Why should I care? Answering this question is the first part of sparking interest and engagement online.
What do you have for me right now? A call to action must say more than "learn more." It must fulfill on the benefit statement. It must encourage a consumer to take action to get educated on making the right decision, saving money on a product, or getting something that will put him on the path to happiness, wellness, or fun. It needs to offer something of enough immediate value that people will do what you want right there and then.
So here are some tips on presenting and describing calls to action in a way that fits into the unified approach to benefits and offers:
Of course I am missing many other things that could be offered, so as always please feel free to comment and add other effective calls to action you have used.
Harry is off today. This column was originally published on June 8, 2010 on ClickZ.
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As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.
Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.
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