Like any piece of marketing, video is only as effective as its call to action. The most interesting, engaging, and memorable video will still miss its goals if it doesn’t tell viewers what to do next. A well-written video CTA turns viewers into customers.
So there’s a lot riding on a few seconds of video. Follow these seven steps to craft an excellent call to action for your next video project.
Step 1: Choose a Goal for Your Video CTA
Every video starts with a goal. Your CTA should support that objective. Start by identifying the one thing you want viewers to do next. You should be able to narrow this down to a single action word. Here’s a list to get you started:
Verbs for Your Call To Action:
The best CTAs include simple, commanding verbs. They tell viewers what to do next. For example, let’s say you’ve created a video to promote your software as a service offering. Your goal is to get people to sign up for a free trial. So your verb should be either “try” or “click.”
Avoid offering too many options. The average adult makes about 35,000 decisions per day. Most people aren’t excited about having to make one more. Give them a clear direction instead like “Download our ebook”
Avoid Asking for Too Much from One Video CTA
Remember that CTAs don’t always have to sell a product right away. People are more likely to take a small risk, like downloading an ebook, than they are to spend thousands of dollars on a service. But downloading the ebook is the first step on the journey.
Don’t stifle interest and momentum with a CTA that asks for too much. Make sure whatever you ask viewers to do seems like the logical next step. Think about your video CTA as a way to invite viewers into your sales funnel. It’s the beginning of a relationship, not a last-ditch effort.
Notice how this video for Sabin Metal Corporation asks viewers to visit their website to view a presentation. They don’t tell viewers about recycling services or ask them to sign up for a mailing list. They make a specific request: “Visit our website to view a presentation.”
Step 1 Summary
- Set one goal
- Choose a verb that guides viewers to take action
- Avoid asking for too much at once
Step 2: Define a Problem, Then Offer a Solution
Your video CTA should always include both the what, and the why. Usually, this means you need to point out a problem and present your CTA as the solution.
For example: “OurSoftware simplifies your payroll processing without hiring an outside firm. Click to start your free trial.”
In the fewest words possible, tell them how you’ll fix their problem. Then, ask them to act on the CTA.
Set the Right Tone with Your video CTA
A video CTA that strikes the wrong tone can do more harm than good. If you’re overly aggressive or focused on the wrong problem, viewers might not trust you. If they feel pressured or misunderstood, they probably won’t do what you’ve asked.
CTAs should be honest and provide value to the potential lead. It’s not about getting their email address, it’s about giving them access to important information that they need. Your CTA should sell the benefits of doing business with you.
Again, staying laser-focused on the customer can help you here. Consider:
- Is this a real problem the customer may face?
- What other factors might influence the customer?
- Are there political or social factors in play?
- Have we built enough trust to make this ask?
For example, if you’re selling CRM software to companies in a booming industry, customer acquisition may not be the right problem to solve. Maybe you should highlight how your software automates some nurturing efforts so sales people can handle more customers in a day.
Step 2 Summary
- Highlight a problem, then offer a solution
- Stay laser-focused on the customer
- Choose the right tone
Step 3: Create a Sense of Urgency
Effective video CTAs inspire immediate action. They should be something that can’t wait until later. If viewers watch your video and put it on their to-do list you’ll never hear from them again. So incite action by adding time frames to your offer.
You might include a time-driven use cycle like, double your revenue in 90 days. It implies that the customer will see quick results. Introducing scarcity can also help you convince viewers to act now. Remind them that the market can change at any time. For example: “This spike in demand won’t last long. Act now to make the most of it.”
This style of CTA might feel a little heavy-handed, but it’s a tried and true method. People hate missing out. A three-day sale, limited time offer, or limited stock notice might be the lever you need to move them to act.
Make it, Don’t Fake it
Urgency and scarcity are valuable tactics, but customers can spot if you’re stretching the truth. Telling them you have limited stock of an ebook doesn’t make sense, and they know it. If your store is perpetually having a “Going Out of Business Sale,” you’ll lose customer credibility. (Plus, your CTA tactic might become a self-fulfilling prophecy!)
You should be able to find urgency without manufacturing it. “Double your revenue in 90 days” is a bold claim that might tempt viewers to put it to the test. Just make sure you can deliver on that promise.
If overt timelines don’t work for what you’re selling, try including words like “today” or “now” instead. Notice how this video for Med-Stop doesn’t just invite viewers to try their service. The voiceover says, “Try Med-Stop today.” Just adding the word “today” makes CTA feel a little more urgent.
Step 3 Summary
- Encourage viewers to act now
- Choose compelling reasons for viewers to act
- Add urgent words like “now” or “today” to your CTA copy
Step 4: Choose A CTA Format that Fits Your Video
Your CTA should match the style of your video. In some cases, a heartfelt voiceover from a trusted narrator might invite viewers to act. A different audience might respond better to a button surrounded by slick graphics. While video CTAs take many shapes and styles, the three most common video marketing CTAs are:
- Interactive (Clickable)
You can test each of these to find out which one works best for your audience. In some cases, you might want to combine them for an even bigger impact. Here’s a quick look at each format to help you pick the one that fits your video.
Voiceover Style Video CTA
The right narrator or well-acted protagonist can build rapport with your viewer over the course of your video. In that case, it’s a good idea to stick with the same narrator for the CTA.
At 0:40 into the explainer video clip below, PG&E uses the soothing voice of the narrator to confirm that they’re on your side. The CTA uses language like “us” and “help” in the simple CTA at the end of the video, asking viewers to take the next step toward energy efficiency financing.
A voiceover video CTA relies on familiarity to encourage viewers to act. People love the familiar. That’s why you hear the same five or six celebrities voicing commercials for big-ticket items like cars and insurance.
Keep in mind that many viewers routinely watch online videos without sound. If your call to action is voice only, your viewers might never hear it. You might want to include a visual CTA as well. At a minimum, make sure you include subtitles so viewers watching on mute still get the message.
Text Style Video CTA
The shift to mobile video means that text-based videos (and CTAs) are becoming more important, but don’t go overboard. Your text CTA should never obscure the important content of your video. That means no annoying pop-ups in the center of the screen. Don’t cover a crucial scene or product feature with CTA text. Stay away from overly animated text flying in and out of your video at random
Fill the screen and make sure your CTA stands out from the rest of your video. Then leave it on the screen as long as you can. Use bold text in a legible font. It’s okay to extend your video for a few seconds to give viewers time to absorb the information.
Clickable Style Video CTA
A hypertext link or clickable button can be effective. They give viewers a direct link to whatever it is you’re offering, which makes it easy for them to take action.
Keep in mind that clickable links won’t work everywhere. If viewers are streaming your video to their television they may not be able to click live links. If they’re watching on mobile, the button may be too small or their player might not support it.
If you do use clickable links, make sure the links actually work. This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget that today’s website redesign can affect the clickable CTA on a video you made five years ago.
Step 4 Summary
- Voiceover CTA are effective, but viewers might miss it while watching on mute
- Text CTAs should be clear and unobtrusive
- Clickable CTAs are effective but don’t work on all platforms
Step 5: Choose the Right Moment
Wistia notes a drop-off in viewership in the last 15 seconds of a video. It’s probably not a coincidence that most videos present their CTA around that time. Avoid presenting to an empty room by mentioning your CTA earlier.
That being said, you can ask too early. Most viewers will need at least a few seconds to get to know you before they’re willing to take action. Make sure you’ve offered a convincing reason before you make the ask.
Notice how this video from MIT Sloan invites viewers to enroll within the first twenty seconds. After that first invitation, the video provides more context to convince viewers that MIT Management Executive Education is right for them.
Step 5 Summary
- You don’t have to wait until the end to ask for action
- Provide context before you make the ask
Step 6: A/B Test to Find What Works
If you’re not sure which call to action is right for you, you can A/B test a few until you find one that works. Try “Download the guide” vs. “Click here to get the guide.” These sound similar, but one might appeal more to your specific audience.
You can also test different CTA styles or combinations to see which one moves your audience to action. If a video is meeting the goal you set for it, test a different CTA style, wording, tone or indicator of urgency.
Step 6 Summary
- Compare wording and styles to find the best CTA for your video
Step 7: Deliver On Your CTA Promise
This last step is simple but important: Make sure you deliver on your promise.
Your CTAs have to be attention-grabbing, but they can’t disappoint. You have to set the right expectations and then deliver on them. Find the balance between promotion and over-promising.
Remember the power of social proof. If you waste someone’s time, they won’t be an ambassador for your brand. They’ll be the opposite. Give viewers something positive to talk about by delivering on what you promise.
Step 7 Summary
- Promise only what you can deliver
Animated Explainer Video CTA
The point of any animated explainer video is to increase conversions. You’ve enticed viewers to your site. You’ve engaged them with a great video. The next step is to direct them along the buyer journey with a video CTA. Get this right, and you’ll see results where it matters most, in your conversion rate.
Here’s one last CTA example for you: Download our free eBook to find out how to grow your business with animated explainer videos. You might be surprised at what animated video can do for you.