A life preserver tossed over the side of a boat to someone flailing about in the water is a definite call to action: Grab the life preserver!

While this call to action (CTA) is obvious, not all calls to action are crystal clear. But going for the sale, they should be. From your carefully constructed content title (implied call to action: read me/view me/listen to me) to the end of your piece (like, share, contact me), you want to engage—generate action—with the user.

CTAs lead your prospect from initial contact to the desired outcome of a sale. To keep people clicking, liking, sharing and reading, your content must be:

  • attention-getting
  • interesting 
  • fun and entertaining 
  • valuable
  • engaging
  • call to action optimized

You want to think through the buyer journey (walk a mile in their shoes) so that you’re producing the right kind of content at the right time, making the appropriate call to action depending on where the customer is in the journey. A simplified journey could be two stages: acquisition stage (prospect to buyer) retention stage (upselling and customer service).

It’s about relationship first

With social media and content marketing, information is disseminated, relationships are built, and communication is established. Different channels will support different kinds of content, but make sure your brand message is true across all media channels to build integrity. Then, step-by-step, engagement-by-engagement, your prospect is drawn through the sales process by both direct and indirect calls to action, providing value to them along the way.

In Acquisition Stage:

  • Answer questions your customers are asking 
  • Provide additional information on products or services
  • Provide solutions; “Lose 10 pounds in two weeks using…”
  • Ask questions to generate feedback and engagement— “…what do you think about? … need more information? … is this helpful?” 
  • Provide entertaining/fun opportunities

Generally, you don’t get the sale after one interaction, but you can create interest and desire for more information, which propels a prospect further along the sales journey. Chances are you’ll need two or more engagements throughout the various stages of the sales cycle to close the deal.

The more complex and/or expensive your products or services are, the longer the sales cycle is and the more time you need to nurture those leads.

You earn the right to ask for the sale

Once relationship exists, you’re on a firmer footing to ask for an email address, commitment, or sale. Trust has been established and customer interest is evident by repeated engagements with your content as your potential customer gets closer to becoming an actual customer.

Every piece of content should have a call to action or the customer engagement is a lost opportunity. Whether website, blog, email offer, video—you want to provide a “pathway to purchase,” with each call to action, direct or indirect, bringing them closer to a sale.

  • Be sure the action you want them to take is clear and concise: try, order, save, redeem, visit, click, download, view, subscribe, sign in, check out now, etc. 
  • Lead with an action verb and make the action easy to execute 
  • Any links or buttons should be highly visible, understandable and work–quickly 
  • Keep the number of clicks to a minimum to improve response rates
  • Mention the same call to action several times

Keep “selling” after the sale

“Once a customer, always a customer,” is not true. Companies lose between 10% – 30% of their customers annually, and even more in the online world. Attrition rates can eat away at your bottom line like mice nibbling on cheese. Acquiring a new customer is more costly than retaining an existing customer, plus losing a customer can negate all the hard work and expense that went into acquiring them.

Positive customer experience after the initial sale is vital to retaining a customer. The sale is just the beginning; retention depends on an ongoing relationship between company and customer. Companies that demonstrate caring about their customers’ needs and concerns will have a higher retention rate than companies that become distant after the sale is made.

At Retention stage:

  • Provide fantastic value in product or service 
  • Be readily available
  • Exhibit responsive customer service (so you don’t get unwanted publicity that is harmful and could cost additional customers as well) 
  • Continue consistent communication with relevant and helpful new information, offers
  • Send “Thank you” emails, coupons, discounts or gifts to show appreciation
  • Have special, proprietary offer for customers only

Join the Conversation:

  • If you use both direct and indirect calls to action, and what type of call to action generates best response? 
  • Have you picked up any tips from this article that will empower your “pathway to purchase?” 
  • What do you do specifically to ensure retention of your existing clients? 

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