The (Literal) Art of Persuasion: Funneling Traffic With CTAs

I’ve talked about tracking your conversion funnels in Google Analytics, and I’ve given out a boatload of methods to send traffic directly to your website. Today, let’s bring those two together: how to get people into your conversion funnel and encourage them through to the end.

This isn’t a technical process, and you don’t need to learn entirely new tech or practice any new marketing strategies. It all comes down to one important, yet surprisingly common content marketing tool: the CTA, or call to action. Your call to action is a byline in your content that makes a request or encourages an action from your visitors. This is straightforward stuff: “click here,” “find out more,” and so on.

The Call to Action: Keeping Journalists Paid Since The Dawn Of The Internet

If you want an example of the direct value of a call to action, look no further than your online news outlet of choice. I’ve done a little work as an online journalist, and from my little hobby news blogs all the way up to international outlets like the BBC, all syndicated news publishers have fully embraced the call to action in their online business models.

When you read the introductory portion of an article posted online, nine times out of then the rest of the article is dropped behind a “Read More” break. If you want to read the rest, you click the “Read More” link and the page loads the full article beyond the first few sentences. Did you catch that little bit of marketing magic? You just refreshed basically the same webpage (minus the content you wanted to read, of course!) all over again. If there are advertisements on the sides of the page, guess what: they just reloaded too.

Brand new ads, another set of brand new impressions, and new opportunities for you to be distracted by something you want to click on. News publishers are paid by their advertising affiliates per click or per impression, and they’re delivering multiple advertisements spread around the page. If there are four ads placed around a two page article you want to read, you’re painlessly handing that news company 12 ad impressions per article. That doesn’t even consider multi-page articles and feature pieces, which can often prompt ten or twelve page refreshes in one visit.

See how clever a simple “Read More” call to action plays into a lucrative business model? You can make this work for your business too.

Leave Call to Action Breadcrumbs Along Your Conversion Path

Visitors to your website arrive with the intent to find out more about your business. Your content should give them the information they want, and should encourage them to buy, or otherwise convert, how you want them to. You’ve got a business to run, though, and it’s considered rude and bad marketing to directly tell someone “buy my thing!” You can suggest it, though, with a call to action.

By placing a call to action at the end of your content, along with a button or a link that sends them to more information or further into the conversion process, you turn a one-way street (online business) into a two-way interaction. You’re reaching out and inviting them to take action themselves, and are aiding customers by showing them where to look next.

Stringing together multiple pieces of content with call to action phrases jumping from one to the next, eventually arriving at your actual conversion opportunity, will help funnel traffic through the process and increase conversions overall. You may have a homepage, and a Why You Should Subscribe To Our Newsletter page, but if you put a call to action on the former, more people will feel compelled to investigate the latter.

More Than Just A Catchy Phrase

Your call to action is as much a visual component as it is a written content component. Written call to action phrases in content are good. Anchor links that stand out with special formatting, coloration, and text style are better. Buttons are best.

Buttons are a visual, tactile element that can be designed to “pop” right out of the page. What do you think is more appealing: a line of text that reads “Find Out More” or a large, solid color button with larger main font and an icon that encourages action? The button, hands down. SEO specialists and content marketers will attest to the power of a big, attention-grabbing, clickable button in driving conversions compared to just text.

Word Choice Is Key: Action Words Encourage Action ran a casual experiment in word choice with their own informational newsletter. They sent out multiple versions of the same newsletter that featured different word choices in their call to action. They have lots of interesting results, but this is what stood out the most to me.

CTA phrases including the verb “read,” as in “read more,” only showed a 5% click rate; that is, only five percent of total viewers actually followed through and clicked to read more. CTAs that included the word “find,” as in “find out more,” however, saw a 7.8% click rate. The difference in success rates between “find,” a verb that conveys active participation and a little urgency to boot, and “read,” a passive, ho-hum verb, is roughly 25%.

Clearly, when you’re dealing with a phrase of maybe five words max that you’re staking increased conversion success on, every detail counts. With some clever placement throughout your website, and careful, context-sensitive design savvy, you can use CTAs to encourage site visitors to explore your content more thoroughly and drive more overall conversions at a tiny cost to you.

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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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