You need your content to convert. Product and Agency Communications are all about offering your readers the chance to inform themselves about what you do, and convincing them to take the next step.
This week, we talk about guiding your audience to take action with Calls to Action (CTAs) and Calls to Value (CTVs). Carl Richards, Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire, Christine Buehler, Chris Fenwick, and Felicity Brand peel back the layers on how these content components can enhance your narrative, drive readers' enthusiasm, and ultimately increase the effectiveness of your work.
We explore practical tips on where to place these crucial elements and discuss how they influence user experience. We'll also dissect different examples of CTAs and CTVs, from buttons to links and sentences. Whether you're an editor, a writer, or interested in digital marketing, this episode can help refine your skills and write more engaging pieces. Tune in now!
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Hi, i'm Carl from OSP and this is Communicate, connect Grow, the OSP podcast. On today's episode, we're talking about using a call to action in your writing with the editing code CTA, if you want to be a more effective writer, a more transparent editor, develop clear strategic thinking or learn from our network of expert friends and colleagues. that's what we're here for. We divide our episodes across three themes Communicate, connect and Grow. This is a Communicate episode and we're talking about giving your audience clear prompts for what to do next with our editorial code CTA. The CTA editing code falls into the scope and narrative structure phase of the editing process and it's about giving your audience a prompt to act. In our documentation about this code, it says close to with a clear call to action.Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire:
Hi, i'm Jeffrey McGuire, you can call me Jam. Please subscribe to our podcast. Go read our blog. We have this code, cta, in our editing codes, i think mostly as a placeholder, because anyone doing the writing and the digital marketing is. This is kind of baked into our perspective Through writing something to give someone an opportunity to learn more or to download a thing or what have you. I have my taste in where CTAs go in articles and then I can. If someone hasn't put one in the places where I feel they should be, then I can make a little mark CTA, put something like this in great And ha ha ha. I did my introducing myself with calls to action directly because I thought that would be quote unquote, clever. The slightly more interesting thing about CTA is that this topic covers both calls to action and calls to value, ctvs, and the difference is worth paying attention to because you can use calls to value in some more subtle ways and within the flow of your text so you can change things up and put in a few more place opportunities for people to do something. So a call to action in the end is click this button, book a demo, download the white paper. It's always do a thing That's a call to action. You put it For me. I like to put one in after the introduction to the article, where we've read the lead and it's you know. You've summed up, for example, the challenge that the article is addressing and the benefit you can get from solving it, and maybe like a name check of how you're going to solve it. You introduce the context, you're talking again. Boom, already convinced, want to learn more, book a demo, boom, cta, right. And then when you get to the end of the article and you've summed everything up again, it's a good place to have it. A call to value says start your learning journey today or begin your personal growth, or something like that, where it's not a specific action but it's inviting someone into your vision and like talking about the end goal. So you're showing them right the value of an interaction with whatever you're offering, and both of them have their place. Cta is kind of often come in buttons or very clear links. Calls to value can be included in describing bigger stories, i guess.Christine Beuhler:
I am Christine Bueller. I'm a communications consultant at Open Strategy Partners, where I work on writing and marketing materials for many different tech and open source companies. Well, CTA is pretty self-explanatory Just means close your piece with a clear call to action.Chris Fenwick:
Hi, I'm Chris Fenwick and I work as a content writer and also editor at OSP. I mean, if we're talking about editing longer form blog pieces, then it's very much a kind of structural code. It's just like here's a thing that you need to have either at the beginning, after the introduction, or at the end, where it's a leap off point to the end client website. I mean, obviously, if you're doing social media tweets and things like that, a lot of them should have some sort of CTA in as well. But we're more frequently using these codes to annotate blogs and so forth.Felicity Brand:
I'm Felicity Brand. I'm a communications consultant at Open Strategy Partners CTA. Call to action. So you've written some great words, you've engaged your reader. They're really enthusiastic. Now what do you want them to do? What is the point of this writing? So you want to include a call to action. That may be you want them to book something, to download something, to join something, to share their story. Whatever it may be, you want to tell people what to do and make it easy for them to do that thing. The moment fades fast, so you need to make sure you've got your CTA well placed. At OSP, we tend to include one early, like generally after the opening paragraph, and one at the conclusion or at the end of the article. They're usually the same. Sometimes they can be different, but the point is that we include at least one CTA so that that writing is doing some work. We don't just write for the sake of it. We want that writing to have a purpose. That's what the CTA is all about.Carl Richards:
Now we're going to look at how this code is used in your typical workday as an editor.Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire:
As an editor. there's a really straightforward part where I want to check that CTAs are in the places that I think they should be and if they're not, i will say please put one here, based on whatever the goal of this campaign is. I'll call to value. Sometimes I'll say, hey, why don't we swap this kind of dull click the thing for start your journey to better golfing today, right, it's a chance to open things out a little bit. In the end, this is a very functional, very straightforward code. So are they there? Are they aligned with the REC campaign? Go?Christine Beuhler:
I would say that, as editors, we're always checking that the CTA is both specific to the piece and also very clear. Vaganness does not serve you well when it comes to reading, writing or editing CTAs. It's also a good place to double check with your client that you are 100% positive of the action they want the readers to take, because there could be so many different actions. You always want to make sure that you're directing the readers where the client wants them to go.Chris Fenwick:
I think it's a very simple code because from my perspective it's just like a structural element that is either going to be there or not. If there's no CTA at the end of the article, then this is a big problem, And likewise, in a lot of cases, especially for a longer article, you'll want one at the end of the introductory paragraph as well, just so you have these jump off points. So for me, if it's missing, then it's just like a big issue. Obviously, if it's there, it's also great and you can commend somebody on that.Felicity Brand:
As an editor, when I'm working with the CTA code, firstly I'm checking to see that we have at least one. Then I'm also going to look for how we've worded it. So I want it to be nice and active, direct address using verbs. If it's for a client, i want to make sure it's consistent with the rest of the client's CTAs. And then with my reader advocate, hat on. As an editor, i want to make sure that CTA is addressing another editing code we have with them. What's in it for me. So that's a way I can add value as an editor, which just means looking for the value for the reader and making sure the CTA captures that and articulates that. It's important that the CTA is in line with or is married to some other codes lead and front. So with our piece of writing we've got a great title. We've hopefully got a great opening talking about what this piece of writing is about. As soon as we see that CTA, it needs to be in that family, so it can't come out of left field and get you to do something completely unrelated. They've all got to work together and that is going to build trust with your reader. So is no nasty surprises, you're managing their expectations and you're hopefully getting your reader to do a thing. A call to action.Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire:
Let's explore how you can approach this code as a writer the way that we work with a strategy in place and with a content brief in place that says this is my audience, this is the challenge they're facing and this is how we solve it. The call to action is often listed right in our briefing material and it says the point of this campaign is to get demos. The point of this campaign is to get people to read this thing. The point of this campaign is to get them on an email list, whatever it is, and then, accordingly, i wanna put one in. I wanna make sure that it's aligned with the goals and if I can get clever and turn one into a ctv that feels like it's, you know, rhetorically more aligned or interesting than I, might take that chance. But For the writer to, when I'm writing this is a checklist item. I have it. Is it what it's supposed to be?Christine Beuhler:
yeah, the the cta as a writer is an interesting challenge. For one thing, it kind of like sums up the importance of the entire piece. You know the cta should support the entirety of what you've just written, so it's important that it's strong, relevant, specific. You know it is also challenging because Cta is not supposed to be long. It should be a sentence maybe to at most. So really short and sweet, and as a writer I think you usually know that it's almost always harder to make things shorter. Kind of getting your economy of words down is a definitely a writerly skill that most people have to work towards.Chris Fenwick:
Expressing a lot with a little is always a challenge yeah, i mean I think it's a necessary part of the outline of a piece, so it's like it's explicitly there in the structure and in the plan that you know. Cta goes here at the end of the introduction and he is another one at the very end of the piece. In terms of how you write them Depends a little bit on the nature of the piece. If it's about a feature of some products, then I guess you just sort of the first one will be somewhat subtle and you kind of just mentioned the product and then say you can try it and then at the end, after the feature, you'll at the very end of the article is we incorporated more into the conclusion? Along the lines of if you need x, y and z, these things that have already been discussed in the article, then they are offered by whatever which you can try. Here I mean, similarly, if you've got, if you've done like a case study for B2B marketing and you've presented a client, and then how well, and then how a company has helped them, you can say you should have showed up, go through the whole structure of the case study. You can say something like well, you know, if you've got a business idea but need a team to deliver your web app, or if you think your website could benefit from a similar content review, try it.Felicity Brand:
You know, contact us here this sort of thing so I'm technical writer, my background is in technical writing and CTAs are foreign to us and that means as a writer, i come to CTAs without a marketing background. So I just approach them in a really straight forward way. I think what do I want the readers to do? try to articulate that as a writer, and particularly a writer at OSP, i can rely on our content brief. So the content brief will have already included what we want the readers to do. So it's not going to give me the words to use for my call to action, but it is going to give me The action that we want our readers to take. So that means, as a writer, i don't have to work that out. You know, it's already stated. What I'm doing as a writer is working out. You know what verbs to use, how to get extra mile and Rather than have a call to action, which is fine you can have a call to value and that's a way of stating what the readers going to get out of doing the action. So, rather than a directive, sign up for a workshop. You try to articulate the benefit that the reader will get. So it might be level up my writing skills. It's still a button, it's still an action for them to do, but the words on that button hopefully get straight to the heart of what the reader is trying to achieve. I think there's quite an art in writing CTAs. There's a lot of research into it. You can really go down a deep hole. As a writer, and particularly with my background as technical writer, i tend to just be straightforward with it and don't overthink it.Carl Richards:
Now, this writing code is important to readers for many different reasons.Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire:
This is. I find this way more interesting than you might expect. I know that people look for ways to interact with you when they're reading a page. So if you put get a demo on a colored button that is at the bottom of the page, people recognize that pattern And if they've been interested in what they've been consuming, they're very likely to scan and find that thing and say, oh, i can get a demo, i can okay and click that. And if you just put it as a link or you put it in a paragraph of text, people might overlook it or they'd be like well, and I've had the feedback. You know that was cool, but I couldn't figure out how to interact with you there. So there's a. There's some really interesting crossover into UX here. So you have to do some thinking. My generic template in my mind is that I want to put a call to action as a sentence right after the introduction. I talked about that before And I want a structured article that offers my reader the chance to learn about the thing that I'm, that I want them to eventually try with me or buy or the experience, or just subscribe to my book, whatever it is. I want them to appreciate that I'm doing all my other writing stuff And at the bottom then, depending on the brand and the website style and whatever, at that point it's quite good to put a button in there with a CTA on it, and if there's not, if you have the chance to do UX testing or whatever you should. But I was really, really fascinated when somebody gave me this feedback Oh, there was no place to interact with your page And I there clearly was, but it wasn't highlighted. So crossover into the world of UX. Maybe we can find someone to talk about about this topic. That would be super interesting.Christine Beuhler:
So the CTA is a helpful reminder for readers, usually just why you're reading a piece in the first place. Once you reach the end, you don't have to stop and think to yourself well, what should I do with the information that I've just read? The CTA is right there. It makes it very clear and obvious. So it's kind of like performing a service for the reader. It sort of removes some of the mental load.Chris Fenwick:
I mean, i think a lot of readers are already reading, looking for a CTA in mind. I mean, if they're deliberately Googling particular solutions because they need a CMS that does x, y or z. If after the first paragraph of the blog article, they sort of see, oh, this is helpful, they'll probably open it in a new tab. I think actually it's something you want to put in with the expectation that readers are actually looking for it already. On the other hand, of course, it's possible that a reader has found the piece through some other means and they're reading it out of interest, in which case it's useful to them, and then they're just going to want to follow through on it. I mean if the piece is doing a good job or connects to them. But I think in a lot of cases it's also something that the reader is specifically going to scan the article for.Felicity Brand:
As a reader. You may not notice, but CTAs are kind of important. Recently I was reading a blog post and I was left hanging bereft at the end because I'd read this article. I was sold. And I got to the end I didn't know what to do with my short lived enthusiasm because there was no CTA. So I thought, okay, well, i can go to the contact page. I mean, what if I want to find out more? And after a few clicks I just I left because my enthusiasm had waned. So it's really important to capture that moment and capitalize on the good feeling. And the other way that CTAs are important as a reader is it can be an early warning sign about the agenda of a piece of writing. It can kind of reveal the underlying purpose. You can get a nasty shock if you've read something and you're trusting the author and then at the end they want you to buy something. They can give you a glimpse into any kind of agenda. But I think most of us probably by now, as readers on the internet do expect that there will be some kind of stepping stone at the end for reading more, joining a community, downloading a trial, whatever it may be, even if you're reading something for pleasure. You may want to get on the newsletter list, you know. Want to want to be on the list for the next update. Yeah, isn't that interesting? I hadn't actually thought about that. Reading for pleasure on the internet, you still. It's rare that you're going to come to the internet read something and leave, am I wrong?Carl Richards:
Yeah, that brings us to a close, dear listener. As always, we sign off with our calls to action. We'd love for you to share your examples or questions with us via Twitter at open underscore strategy, or email. Hello at open strategy partnerscom. This was one of the editorial codes we use at OSP. We'll be sharing more of them as we go. If you'd like to learn more in the meantime, come over to OpenStrategyPartnerscom. Have a look at our writer enablement workshops, case study offering or get in touch to talk about your strategy or product communication needs. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this podcast All the P's at OSP. Thanks to our clients who believe in us. Shout out to Patrick Gaumont for our high-energy maple syrup flavored theme music and to Mike Snow for additional horn arrangements. Thank you for listening and subscribing About our three themes. On the podcast You'll hear from different members of the OSP team hosting episodes over time. Communicate All things communication We share how we tackle writing, editing, word choices, formats, processes and more. Connect In-depth conversations with interesting, smart people about who they are, what they do and how they approach their life and work as communicators, technologists and leaders. Grow We cover strategic approaches to understanding and expressing the value of what you do, including tools, templates and practical applications. We also feel strongly about building a mindful, positive, human-first culture at work. That's bound to pop up from time to time too. This podcast is us figuring out communication, connection and growing together. Subscribe now on YouTube, apple Podcasts or the podcast channel of your choice. Follow us, suggest guests and topics, ask us questions. on social media, we are at Open Underscore Strategy on Twitter Until next time. Thanks for listening to Communicate, connect, grow the OSP podcast.Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire:
Subscribe to Communicate Connect. Grow our podcast on iTunes, spotify, everywhere you get your podcasts. Come read our blog. Come click our buttons and book demos. Start your journey to growing your company. Today We do strategic communications and we even have fun on it, doing it on good days. So here we are.