Journey Mapping: Calls to Action Can Make or Break Your Content Efforts

Journey Mapping: CTAs Can Make or Break Your Efforts

By Duncan Milne

June 20, 2022
The journey phase your customer is in must inform your calls-to-action

Let’s go back to basics for a minute. A primary reason we dedicate time and money to journey mapping is because we want to provide the content that will empower customers to move faster along their buying journey. Without calls to action — telling them where to go next and which options to explore — a journey map is a wasted exercise.

Journey maps make sure the customer gets the content they need when they need it. They help us prioritize content creation. But even if we are creating content that’s speeding someone faster through a stage of journey, without calls-to-action, or CTAs, it can all be for nothing. The customers will be stuck, or “dead-ended.”

CTAs will vary, depending on the purposes of the content, the platform, the channel, the format and, most importantly, the place your content consumer is in their journey of engagement with your brand or product. Let’s look at some examples of CTAs, then analyze the considerations for the “attract,” “consider,” “decision” and “recommend” stages of the journey.

It’s easy to think of CTAs as “call us,” “email us” or “buy now” buttons, but they don’t need to be limited to that. A CTA could be to consume more content that’s recommended on a webpage’s sidebar, a “share this” button for social media or a tip or action item for someone to think about.

CTAs in the Attract Stage:

A significant part of the content at the attract stage should be outside your ecosystem (think social media, paid media, guest blogs, etc.). You’re essentially asking your audience to be inquisitive. CTAs should be visually prominent, short and to the point. You briefly have their attention and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find out more about who you are and the value you offer (neither of which are bad CTAs). “Learn more” isn’t an automatic no-no as some claim, but it’s far from the most compelling. When you’re writing for this stage, take a minute to put yourself in the audience’s mindset: What will they be thinking after consuming this content that is meant to raise awareness? What do you want them to be thinking? Anticipate what they might do next and make that your call to action. Maybe it’s “hear more stories,” “go behind the scenes” or maybe it really is simply “learn more.”

CTAs in the Consider Stage:

In the consideration stage, you’re trying to build trust and expertise, as well as demonstrate the value you bring. It might be too soon to drop a big “get in touch with us” or “book an appointment” in their face. The desired action in consideration should be to keep them engaged, direct them to more content, whet their curiosity and make it easy for them find out why you’re the brand for them. This phase is about you making your case in a win-win: You’re answering their questions while also establishing what you as an organization are about.

This phase is about you making your case in a win-win: You’re answering their questions while also establishing what you as an organization are about.

Your CTAs likely will be a combination of prompts like “hear from our CFO,” “behind our thinking” or “start my free trial.” They’re going to be softer, more subtle nudges. Your audience is already in the door; now you’re just helping them feel at home. (Bonus tip: When possible, use the first-person. Research suggests using “start my free trial” can perform up to 90% better than “start your free trial.”)

CTAs in the Decision Stage:

You’ve piqued their interest and provided an array of content to help answer their questions and understand your value — now, it’s decision time. The content in the decision stage will affirm what they learned in the consider stage — things like product details and specs. Like the attract stage, your CTAs here should be as simple and straightforward as possible, but the wording should take a helpful tone. Their next action is the moment in which their problem is being solved, so the CTA’s job here is to be intuitive and appear as an easy, seamless way to make that next step. “Schedule a consultation,” “book your tour” and “become a member” are all good examples of the kind of language you need at this stage. You also need to be prepared for a variety of decisions. What if the decision is “not yet”? Journeys are not always linear. Think about how you can lead them to more information, guidance or value that might change their minds in the future. This could be in the form of a newsletter or an offer.

CTAs in the Recommend Stage:

Well done! Your content has guided a member of your audience through the decision phase — but the work isn’t over. User recommendations are invaluable for two reasons: First, your audience trusts one another more than they trust you. It’s just a fact. But second, referral content actually turns into consideration phase content! Don’t be shy about asking customers or clients to post a positive review or rating or to recommend you on social media. And encourage them by making it worth their while. Whether you make it fun or valuable, you should always make it easy (this is another newsletter sign-up opportunity).

As you’re thinking about CTAs going forward, pay close attention to where your audience likely is in the journey and apply these tactics accordingly. Your engagement numbers will thank you!

And if you missed parts I and II of our journey-mapping series, make sure you check them out below:

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know where you’re at in your journey mapping efforts. Need help updating them? Or perhaps you’re creating them for the first time? We can help — reach out to us.

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