business storytelling

Compelling content needs a beginning, middle, end and a call-to-action

I remember my first successful attempt at storytelling. It was way back in my junior school days as a snot-nosed nine-year-old, writing a short story for an English assignment.

My teacher, Mr Evans, called me up to the front of the class as he proudly read aloud Lock and Key to a very uninterested audience. It was a not-so-thrilling tale about intrigue, deception and a robber’s dog named Trouncer.

To be honest I can’t really remember what it was about, but there was definitely a dog in it called Trouncer. I’m not sure why.

Now, not only did my young mind manage to conjure up that curious character, apparently it also succeeded in forming the key components of a linear narrative – namely, a beginning, a middle and an end, with a running theme throughout. Although this was a crowning moment in my English school career, I can assure you it was entirely unintentional. The only running thing I was aware of back then was my nose.

Even though Lock and Key turned out to be just a flash in the pan (you’ll be shocked to hear my book deal never came through) its – albeit accidental – plot structure remains fundamental to all successfully constructed stories.

Considering that content marketing is the storytelling of the business world, these key components should be incorporated into your content marketing strategy just the same.

But unlike my childhood tales, for your content marketing strategy to achieve its target and ultimately increase your company’s revenue your business storytelling technique needs a call-to-action that prompts your audience to take a step further along the sales path.

What is a call-to-action?

A call-to-action is the last word on your company’s opening gambit. Typically positioned at the foot of a website landing page, the CTA is an icon, image or line of text that would-be customers click on after being drawn in by some compelling content. It’s literally a call to complete an action.

No doubt you’ll have noticed those ‘Click Here’ or ‘Sign up Now’ buttons that accompany almost all online pop-up ads. Well, those annoying little things are call-to-actions. But fret not, as CTAs can be utilised in all manner of clever ways.

Whether you’re directing visitors to sign up to a newsletter, start a free trial, complete a sale or, um, download a free whitepaper *cough cough*, the CTA is a potent tool to help convert window shoppers into paying customers. Whenever you hear content marketing types talk about increasing conversions, this is where it all happens.

There are many factors that influence the conversion rate of a CTA button but it’s important for your call-to-action to both smoothly segue from the copy’s subject matter and align with your users’ requirements.

It should be taken into consideration that whoever is reading your content is doing so for a reason – and that reason must be addressed by your CTA. Presumably, as a company, you will want your story’s running theme to be that you are the guys to go to for a first-rate service or high-quality product. So if this is the case, you will also want your CTA to offer that service or product in an obvious and attractive way.

This brings me to another factor for consideration: clarity. While Lock and Key might have been a whirlwind of deception ending in a nail-biting twist, it will better serve CTA ads to avoid such techniques. Consumers are more sceptical than ever and definitely unwilling to click through to ambiguous links that don’t directly address their objectives. This kind of misleading chicanery will only deter visitors, diminish your credibility and nullify the value of your CTA.

Be clear and concise, and spell out your intentions with conviction. Failing that, you could always include a robber’s dog named Trouncer. I’m not sure why.

About Southerly

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