Throughout my more-than-eight-year marketing career, I’ve taken brand after brand from anonymity to unmistakability, and I attribute my success to one simple truth:
Engage people and they will engage back.
Therein lies the power of the ubiquitous Call to Action (CTA).
Be it a button urging people to buy, a pop-up asking them to subscribe or a burning question that drives them to comment, engaging your audience is at the crux of effective marketing.
The moment someone clicks or comments, the interaction turns from one-sided conversation to two-sided exchange, and this dialogue opens the door to coveted brand recognition and, beyond that, elusive brand loyalty.
But not all CTAs are created equal.
Staying on the pulse of what’s relevant is paramount.
How To Leverage The Latest Call To Action Trend
1. The Current Marketplace: Stand Out or Falter Out
With the uninterrupted, unfaltering, unstoppable rise of social media comes great opportunity. From Instagram and Twitter to Facebook and YouTube, every platform is constantly bringing forth new ways to reach – and reach out to – audiences.
But the flip side of the increasing ease of connection is an ever-growing difficulty to capture consumers’ attention. Simply put, with the barrier of entry continuously shrinking, more voices join the conversation all the time, and, as they do, it becomes harder for each individual to be heard.
So, how do you make sure your call doesn’t fall on deaf ears?
Raise the stakes.
2. Traditional Marketing: Building Bridges
Psychology tells us that people are more likely to engage if they feel a personal link, some commonality that binds them to your brand. This isn’t new.
Marketers have been using it to their advantage for generations. The oldest trick in the book is an emotional appeal.
Think: tug-at-your-heart-strings animal welfare commercials accompanied by Sarah McLachlan crooning “In the Arms of an Angel.” Upon seeing those heartbreaking scenes, you, just like the BCSPCA (British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), want a better life for the sad creatures depicted therein.
Whether or not you pick up the phone right then and there, the animals remain in your heart and on your mind, consciously or subconsciously. There’s also appeal to ego (think: overly flashy sports car or perfume ads), appeal to logic (think: taglines like Tangerine’s “Forward banking”) and more.
What matters is not the route you choose, but the destination – a bridge built between you and your potential consumer.
3. Contemporary Marketing: Standing Together
Transcending commonality into collaboration, the latest marketing trend involves something akin to recruitment. Rather than simply inviting audiences to follow and like what they have to say, the early adopters of this innovative approach urge them to buy in – literally.
What’s best described as a Call to Donation involves a brand requesting a donation to fuel its future endeavors. It may sound farfetched, but all kinds of content creators are cashing in on, well, asking for cash. And the benefit spans far wider than immediate monetary gain.
By handing over some of their hard-earned bucks, patrons invest in your future and, in so doing, become invested in you. Suddenly, your success is synonymous with their own, and that is a very powerful tool indeed.
4. Calls to Donation: Origins and Beyond
With multiple predecessors throughout history, the modern patronage movement began in 2013 with San Francisco-based musician Jack Conte. Jack had won the admiration of millions on his YouTube channel, yet his bank account had little to show for it.
The disparity sparked an idea that would become Patreon, an online platform that today connects more than one hundred thousand creators with roughly 2 million patrons, whose total support to date exceeds the $250 million mark. Needless to say, the concept has proven itself.
While Patreon charges member fees, free-of-charge variations have cropped up, opening possibilities to every content maker on the internet. A notable example is the Canadian-based company QUID. Enabled by proprietary technology, it has set itself apart as the authority in micro-donations.
Dealing in sums between one cent and $2, QUID is capitalizing on a recent charity sector trend predicated on the idea that more people are willing to give less money (think: the grocery cashier asking if you’d like to donate $1 to the local food bank today).
There’s strength in numbers, so pennies have proven to add up.
5. Adopting the Concept: Ask and Ye Shall Receive
So how do you put this theory into action?
Slow and steady.
Patronage as a contemporary phenomenon is still relatively new. Your followers might not have heard of it, let alone come around to the idea of participating. No one likes to be hustled for money, so tact is essential.
Tread lightly and take the time to feel your audience out. Temper the frequency, urgency and prominence of Calls to Donation. They should be few and far between among other CTAs; the tone of language should be suggestive, rather than imperative; and the graphics should be noticeable yet not in-your-face.
Through experimentation, a winning approach will reveal itself, but less is definitely more – and that applies to the dollar amount you’re requesting, too. Keep your eyes on the prize: Calls to Donation are about members, not money.
The goal is to bring as many individuals on board your cause as possible.
Brazen as it may sound, Call to Donation boasts a years-long proven track record. It is undoubtedly the new frontier of CTAs and will continue to rise. Do it right, and you’ll propel yourself and your brand to the top; fail to address it, and, in time, you’ll become irrelevant.
To paraphrase the infamous words of the late English writer Herbert George Wells, when it comes to this phenomenon, adapt or perish.
Inbal Sarig is QUID’s Marketing Director. Inbal has more than eight years of experience in marketing and storytelling.