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Calls to Action: The Promise and The Consequences

Calls to Action: The Promise and The Consequences
May 4, 2016 Alyssa Nolte
cta-promise-marketing-design

UX Insight: A CTA is your promise to the customer. If you do not deliver on that promise, you might irreparably harm your image or your brand.

The humble call-to-action is a staple in the advertising and marketing world. We create an ask, do our best to catch and direct the attention of our prospect, and hope they complete the action we’ve laid out for them. Whether you’re looking for them to buy a widget, call the sales team, or simply read an article you wrote, the CTA is the gateway for your user. There is no denying that a call to action is important but what designers sometimes forget is that a call to action is more than just a request, a call to action represents a promise to your user.
I recently experienced a less than satisfactory CTA experience on Twitter. I am a new mom and follow the Parents Magazine twitter because I have no idea what I’m doing. I stumbled across this tweet about a popular breakfast sandwich being recalled, *gasp*.

starbucksAfter first trying to remember if I ate breakfast at Starbucks this week, I clicked on the link included in the tweet so I could figure out which breakfast sandwich to avoid when I’m getting my daily caffeine dose. And I saw this…

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Wait, what? I’m here for the Starbucks sandwich article, not to read about an Olympic runner’s new baby (although, you go girl!). My personal investment in the information regarding the Starbucks sandwiches was minimal, but I was still mildly annoyed that the link didn’t take me where I expected to go. The promise (tweet) was broken and the consequences are many. Not only am I writing this article about the experience but my trust level in the Parents Magazine articles shared through their Twitter has greatly decreased. I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

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Imagine if the stakes were higher than finding out what not to order at Starbucks. Many companies rely on their websites to help convince potential customers to take the next step, to follow the call to an action. The higher the stakes, the higher the level of trust required, and the more quickly a potential customer will bounce if you break that trust. The humble call to action often gets overlooked, even though it is arguably one of the most important elements of a design. If your call to action doesn’t clearly outline what your prospect can expect and then deliver on those expectations, you are breaking a promise and risking the integrity of your brand.

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