A call to action (CTA) is an instruction you give to your audience to do a desired activity. This can be as simple as “call now” or “check out our latest newsletter” and this is probably something you already know.
But you may have come across the terms “hard” and “soft” calls to action and been a little perplexed, well perplex no longer! We’re here to help you out.
First you need to imagine a customer’s journey from first contact with your company to a purchase. This might go something like the image below.
The customer first finds your company through one of your blog posts and, finding the post interesting, signs up to your mailing list.
After a while of reading your posts and building trust with your company the customer reads in one of your posts about a product you have and decides to check out reviews, this leads to a trial purchase and eventually a purchase.
Hard CTAs and Their Problems
The purchase at the end was the main thing that you wanted the customer to do. A hard call to action is when you ask someone to take that main action. A hard call to action for our example could have been something along the lines of “Purchase Our Product!!!”.
For the average person having their first interaction reading a blog post, they are not likely to read the hard call to action and make the purchase from that, they don’t know your company or the benefits they could get from your product.
So if you are only telling people to purchase your product you are missing out on all the people who would be willing to purchase later, after they can first get to know your company a bit.
This is where soft CTAs come in.
A soft CTA is when you ask someone to perform an action which isn’t your main desired action but is a step towards it.
So in the above example, the soft CTA would be asking the person who has read you blog post to join your mailing list.
Once they are on board another soft CTA would be telling them about your product and asking them to check out your reviews.
Each step in this example is a small step which is easily completed. This makes it more likely that the customer is going to reach the end of the buying cycle than if you were to ask people who were interacting with you for the first time to buy your product.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use hard CTAs, as some people are reading to buy earlier than others. Instead you should complement your hard CTAs with soft ones for those customers who need a little more interaction with your company first.