Twitter followers are nice, but they’re not leads. Same goes for Facebook likes and blog readers. They are good things to be sure, but not exactly students in seats. Ditto for all the other platforms and their ways of quantifying popularity. Most of these numbers don’t mean anything, unless they translate to bona fide leads that convert.
It all comes down to leads.
Everything single thing you do as part of your digital marketing strategy should be about getting prospective students and their parents to opt into further communications with you. It’s all about delivering and nurturing high quality leads through content your target market can’t resist.The way you convert a follower or a fan to a lead is through clever use of a call-to-action. A call-to-action (aka CTA) is an invitation that comes in the form of a button or link. Basically a potential student fills out a form with his or her contact information in exchange for premium or higher end content than is available elsewhere on your website.
CTAs should be concise and action oriented.
Obviously the effectiveness of a CTA depends in part upon the quality of the offer being extended. We’ll get to that, but in the meantime, let’s focus on the language and phrasing that makes a CTA effective.
- A call-to-action phrase should begin with a verb or action word: download, get, receive, claim or register.
- The phrase should be very short; five or six words at the most.
- CTAs should be designed in a way that fits with the overall look of the page but also manages to stand out.
- A call-to-action should be very clear about exactly what a reader will get when he or she clicks the button and fills out the form. No surprises!
- The Lead-Generating CTA
This kind of CTA serves to attract and convert casual web visitors into leads and belongs wherever new visitors land on your website—most likely on a blog page. Typically, effective lead-generating CTAs appear in the sidebar as a floating banner or at the end of a great post.
- The Social-Sharing CTA
Ultimately, you want a prospective student to opt into communications with you, but you also want for them to spread the word about your institution. This is where the social sharing CTA comes into play. You will want to include sharing buttons at the end of each blog post to make it easy for readers to use them. Make sure you complement these buttons with the same kind of vivid, concise language you’d use in any CTA, such as Share the News, Spread the Wisdom or Get the Word Out.
- The Take-the Next-Step CTA
This is a type of lead-generating CTA where you attract prospective students and their families by offering them something that further draws them in: a free consultation, a free college-admissions coaching session, an ebook, whitepaper or seminar. These CTAs can be linked to thank you pages, blog posts, emails and other places where engaged visitors will encounter them.
- The “Make it Official” CTA
This is where you take your nurtured, informed lead to the next level by turning that person into an applicant. You don’t want to turn off new visitors by asking them to apply too early in the process, but eventually you’ve got to get down to what this has all been about, getting that lead to become an applicant and then a student. Be professional, friendly and clear. Emphasize that it is important that he or she take action now, but also that you will be there as a knowledgeable guide to what can be a confusing process. Using a well-crafted phrase creates a sense of safety, but also of accomplishment on the part of the prospect taking action.
So there you have it—a quick cheat sheet on how to create effective CTAs. If you need more inspiration, check out this list of 50 different CTAs from SitePro News.
The next step will be to test, test, and retest your CTAs to make sure they are effective. We will cover that topic soon!
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