The foundational rules of communications—know your audience and give them relevant information—while still true in theory, have evolved in practice. The most forward-thinking PR professionals have learned that providing information isn’t enough to drive business, and that meaningful measurement is more than clips or impressions.
Now, engagement is the name of the game. And this is good news for your organization. It gives you the chance to set up strategic engagement points where you give audiences the chance to both show and tell you exactly what they want and need, in order to forge meaningful relationships with your brand.
These engagement points—calls to action (CTAs)—are critical to beginning two-way interactions with your audiences. A CTA can, and should, be stronger than “contact us” or “click here.” It must be tied to a specific business objective, measurable and something your organization can deliver from a service standpoint.
Digital channels, including websites, blogs and social media, are important platforms to meet your audiences where they are. CTAs can help move them to where you want and need your audience to be.
Including CTAs in contributed articles and news releases is necessary in measuring the ROI of placements and in converting readers into leads. Here are some tips on creating the most effective CTAs:
â–¶ Have them take action for a reason: If you’re going to ask your audience to do something, make sure there’s a specific reason that benefits you and your customer. For example, “contact us” isn’t tied to a specific business objective, but “download our white paper on lean manufacturing” will drop new prospects into your database.
â–¶ Make your CTAs measurable: Link to additional content on a topic in a contributed article and track the clicks of the link. From there you are able to attribute the numbers to specific placements.
â–¶ Convey a sense of urgency: Readers always have the option to contact you, but they will only be able to download your company’s savings calculator for a limited time. Provide a unique offer they can’t find anywhere else.
â–¶ Show the benefit(s): The CTA should demonstrate the benefit to the reader. Think about why a reader would want to pursue your offer and reflect it in your copy.
CTAs IN THE NEWS
CTAs in news placements not only help communicators collect leads, but also measure the effectiveness of each placement. Here are some examples of CTAs for bylined articles and other placements.
• “Read more about [insert topic]”: This is a great CTA for thought-leadership pieces. Hyperlink to more content your company has written on the same subject. The reader sees the benefit of learning more and you have the opportunity to present additional content. Once the reader is on your blog or website, capture the information that will help you convert them into a customer.
• “Request a product demo”: A product demonstration works well in context of product-specific news coverage, such as product news releases or showcases in trade publications. Linking to a product demo request on your website presents a definite benefit to the reader and allows you to collect new leads.
• “Download our special report”: A special report is unique and timely information your audience cannot find anywhere else. This CTA works well in a piece on market trends. You make a new connection with a prospect and they receive relevant content.
There are multiple variables affecting the success of CTAs. Use these tips to ensure relevancy and to avoid your CTAs from being overly promotional:
1. Segment your audience: What stage of the sales funnel is the audience in? Different offers appeal to different segments based on their stage in the sales cycle. A white paper would be a relevant offer for someone in the attract stage, whereas a product demo would be an effective offer for prospects.
2. Base CTAs on context: The CTA should flow within the content in which it’s located.
3. Place above the fold: Communicators make the mistake of placing the CTA at the end of articles, where it is most likely to be edited out. Try placing CTAs where you mention an industry topic within the body.
At the core of all successful PR programs is knowing the audience and delivering value to that audience. Approach CTAs with this mind-set and you will create mutually beneficial relationships. PRN
Beth LaBreche is the CEO and founder of LaBreche, a communications agency in Minneapolis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.