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Why Your Videos Need Calls to Action

August 26, 2014

Did you know that the impact of your video can be greatly reduced without what marketing strategists refer to as a “Call To Action” (or CTA)? Think of a CTA as the video world’s Bat-Signal followed by the Caped Crusaders ushering you to the Bat Cave. It’s a signal that something is happening along with directions on how to get there – before the viewer has a chance to wander off.

If you have not included a Call To Action in your video masterpiece, chances are you may be losing your viewer to a competitor’s website or video, or simply to the big distracting world of YouTube content if you serve up your videos there.Screen shot 2014-08-26 at 11.54.11 AM

Whether your video wants viewers to finish their viewing by contacting you, trying a demo, downloading a free trial, signing-up for a newsletter, making a contribution towards your cause or heading towards more content, your videos need a CTA to make that next phase of the sales cycle happen. So how do you do it?

Looks are everything

How your CTA link is presented is crucial for hooking viewers, so make sure it catches their attention and looks good in the context of your video. Placement, font, colour… all can affect how many clicks you will receive.

Timing Is Everything Too

Another aspect that can make a big difference is timing. Make sure your CTA shows up on screen when there is an opportune moment in the narrative of your video or at a time that is strategic.

And Quickly!  But One Step At A Time

This link should provide viewers with a one step direction. “Register for our free webinar here” or “Join our newsletter list”.

Adding a sense of urgency to your CTA also provides viewers with an incentive to become active participants instantly.  Think phrases like “Sign up now” or “Space is limited” to encourage action in the present moment. Direct their attention to the right spot. And by using words like “here” and “below” you are also creating an interactive experience that engages them more fully.

Offering Other Videos & Resources

You’ll also want to consider the sequence of resources you line up for the viewer. You can lead prospects by increasing their knowledge of your offerings. You might begin with an engaging video to draw them in, continue through to a white paper, then prompt them to contact you for a free quote. Or maybe you want to start off with a short intro video that gives a taste of your product or cause but then steers audiences to other videos in your series. If this is the case, provide a link or detailed directions guiding viewers to the next video in the series.

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis does that here. Once their video is done, they tease two other videos with a very brief description. The next video in their series is also cued to start about 5 seconds after the video ends, so they won’t lose the viewer to other web content:

Your Host Can Do More

An on-camera host can encourage the kind of engagement you’d like to see. If you’re looking for comments or a larger subscriber base, get your video’s host to ask for this engagement directly within your video. 

Annie Leotard, host of the extremely popular YouTube videos “The Story of Stuff”, always ends her videos by asking viewers a question that will hopefully lead to a click. She says, “Want to help?” and then a box appears in the middle of the screen prompting viewers to click on a “Join us” button.


With hilarity and viewer participation in mind, Old Spice created a musical spot with Terry Crews making music with his muscles. At the end of the video, he encourages viewers to use their keyboards to make their own muscle mix:

Old Spice Muscle Music from Terry Crews on Vimeo.


Pop On Out

There might be a key moment in your video where a pop-up would work wonders. Pop-ups are essentially text overlays, or links to other videos that appear on your YouTube videos. If you’ve launched a new product or there’s a special time-limited offer on tap, a pop-up CTA can direct viewers to how and where they can purchase right away.

In this Greenpeace video, keep an eye out for the 1:20 mark, when a “Sign the petition” pop-up makes an appearance:

Grab Them With In-Video Graphics

While text annotations can do wonders, you can also create in-video graphics that will encourage the viewer to take specific actions. These graphics, asking your viewer to subscribe, share, etc., can be created with YouTube’s spotlight annotation feature. They’ll add a whole new dimension of interactivity to your already engaging video. Your video could feature a pop-up CTA that emerges from the side of your video player – then your on-camera spokesperson can work it into the video, by mentioning the CTA in an interactive way to get your viewers to follow the call.

Maybelline New York created a makeup tutorial in the form of an interactive Call to Action video inspired by the “make your own adventure books” we all loved as kids: http://www.theglamourai.com/2013/07/beautyadventure.html

So remember, your video is missing most of its usefulness without a CTA. Whether served up in the form of a pop-up, an engaging host’s comment, or a line of visually engaging text, make sure viewers are not only hearing your message – but also following through with action!

This article was posted on August 26, 2014 at 16:04 in the Corporate category.

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