Write Better CTAs With an Audience Mindset

What your audience needs matters most. Focus on their outcomes to write better CTAs, and use KPIs to test their effectiveness.
illustration of neon signs with various calls to action

Are your calls to action compelling enough for your audience, or are they only focused on what you can do? To write better CTAs, it’s crucial to consider what your customer needs, and not just what your KPIs are.

As marketers, it can be tempting to craft our messaging based solely on what we want to accomplish. But it’s important to always remember this key question from the audience’s perspective:

What’s in it for me?

KPIs—key performance indicators—are vital to any marketing campaign. A KPI is a measurable indicator of your campaign’s success. It should correlate logically to your campaign goal, depending on where your audience is in the sales or awareness funnel. For example, let’s say your goal is to increase awareness about a new service you’re launching. 

A reasonable KPI would be page visits to a landing page you’ve created. Or, if you are running an engagement campaign on social media, you could track and measure reactions and shares. In any event, you have set a measuring tool to be the objective performance test when you choose a KPI.

If your KPIs are set up correctly, you should be home-free when creating your campaign content, right? Well, this is where many creators get mixed up. We all know what we’re trying to get from our own perspective as marketers. 

But we need to write strong CTAs—calls to action—to drive behaviors and pique interest—that speak to the audience’s need, not only the action we want them to take. Below, we’ll show you how to write better CTAs, and how to use KPIs to measure exactly how useful they are.

The Relationship Between KPIs and CTAs

You see CTAs everywhere. You’ll find them as buttons on landing pages and in emails, pop-ups and hyperlinked banner text on websites, and tappable icons on social media stories and posts. The best ones have one thing in common: They compel action. And they do this by answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” 

Calls to action address the prospect’s most relevant and immediate need. In some ways, “Contextual to Audience” is a more meaningful way to conceive of what a CTA is all about.

If your KPI is the “what” from your perspective, the CTA is the “how.” More accurately still, it’s part of the “how.” It’s the language you use to convince your prospects to take action. 

If your CTA is too similar to your KPI, there’s a strong chance that it’s not as compelling as it should be. This is because they have meaning to separate audiences. CTAs are designed to persuade your audiences. KPIs exist to inform you how effectively your CTAs are doing that.

Let’s say you’re a B2B service and you are running a Google ad to get in front of brand-new audiences who need your help. You might set up some traffic KPIs—link clicks to your website or an educational landing page—to track awareness. In your mind, what you’re doing is helping your audience learn more (which is why you see so many generic “Learn More” CTA buttons).

But your prospect might be in a completely different frame of mind. Often, people searching on Google are looking only to solve a problem that “learning more” might not solve. Again: What’s in it for them? Your KPI of “link clicks” needs to be tied to a CTA that not only makes it clear what your prospect will get but also how it will address the most immediate pain points they’re feeling.

How to Write Better CTAs

Your CTAs should specifically convey that you can help people solve their most acutely felt problem. Instead of “learn more,” be specific: “Generate more leads,” “Save money on closing costs,” or “Support your community today” are all stronger CTAs for audiences who are just figuring out who you are, even if they’re early in the funnel. 

You should demonstrate that the result your customer wants is waiting at the end of that link click—which is what you’re tracking as a KPI. You can use that data to evaluate your CTAs in the context of your business goals and adjust them to improve performance. (An A/B test is a perfect way to do this.)

Eventually, when your prospect is more down-funnel, it’s time for more transactional conversions, with CTAs like “Schedule a consultation,” “Sign up now,” or “Donate.” You will still use KPIs to track how your CTA language performs, and the beauty of keeping KPIs consistent is that you can test your content and calls to action. If you’re tracking form fills on a landing page, you could compare how one CTA button does against another. 

The KPI doesn’t change—it is still form fills. But the CTA should change in order to fit the right message for the appropriate audience.

With an audience-focused mindset, you can write better CTAs. There is no secret sauce—marketers just need to consider what the customer wants, rather than just what they want to achieve. KPIs will always be necessary to track the success of campaigns, but it’s the language of your CTA that will drive customer action. Just keep your CTAs specific about the benefit to the customer, adjust it to the audience and stage of the funnel, and let your performance indicators tell you what’s working best.

Travis Souders

Travis Souders

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