Before we can talk about links or buttons, we’ve got to cover an important concept in online marketing. It’s called the CTA (“Call To Action”). Douglas Karr, writing for MarTech, defines as CTA as:
A call to action is typically as a region of the screen that drives the reader to click-through to engage further with a brand.
Whenever you ask someone to subscribe to your library’s newsletter, register for a program, or get further information, those are examples of CTAs. They’re very common nearly everywhere online, but very few libraries have truly mastered how to make these attractive to readers. “Getting people to perform a click of a mouse button—or any desired action—however, is never easy. It takes careful planning and strategizing to get people to heed your CTA, let alone act on it.” (ProBlogger) It’s simply easier for people to ignore what you’d like them to do, than to, you know, actually do it.
Let’s talk about two (2) easy fixes that you can make right now.
Stop with the dated and vague link text.
Which of these is better and why? (I have underlined these to pretend that they are hyperlinks, but they aren’t so don’t bother clicking.)
- “Click here for more bestsellers.”
- “See the latest New York Times non-fiction bestseller list.”
Did you pick #2? You win! This does two things far better than #1. Firstly, it ditches the horrendous “Click here” phrase, which has long been shunned by both marketers and usability experts alike. Users know how to click a link. Using that verbiage is a throwback to the very early days of the internet, when people literally didn’t look for hyperlinks or know what to do with them. So, that’s redundant, useless and annoying. Secondly, people now do look for links. In fact, they scan text specifically for them. That means that, when someone finds a link, they want to know right away what they’ll get if/when they click it. Specificity really does matter here. The first example does not explain what anyone really gets. It’s a vague promise of “more bestsellers.” Bestsellers, determined by whom? What kind?
The argument against #2 is usually along the lines of “That’s too long!” Yep, it’s long. That’s OK. The goal is to get people’s interest and you can’t do that if your CTA is lame.
Place it properly.
There are generally two recommended places to put CTAs. And, to be blunt, those guidelines are a little wibbly-wobbley timey-wimey, because it can depend a good deal on the design of the thing containing the CTA. However, for the most part, they go either:
- Above the fold, or
- Below the post.
If you’re a web designer or developer, the first recommendation is going to make you cringe. There is no more “fold.” But, the idea still applies. Put the CTA towards the top of the page or post, so that people will be more likely to see it as the content is downloading.
However, putting it at the end of the post can actually have more advantages. Because people have to engage with the content (e.g., scroll) to get to it, the chances are actually higher that people will actually click the CTA when they encounter it.