Back in graduate school, I was meeting with a potential advisor about my thesis. As I explained each aspect of my theory and the basis for my research, he kept responding with “so what?”
“I want to explore how professional sports teams use social media.”
“So I can better understand the value they’re providing to fans.”
“So they can learn what content resonates with fans and what doesn’t.”
This went on for nearly an hour, as my professor implored me to probe deeper into my idea and find better meaning and justification for my paper.
I left that meeting frustrated of course; I was younger back then, annoyed by the fact that my original, half-baked idea for a thesis wasn’t only not being approved without question, but wasn’t being met with a resounding round of applause.
As the years have passed since that encounter, however, I find myself repeating those words. So what?
Your social media post went viral. So what?
Your blog post is gaining web traffic month-over-month. So what?
Your article ranks on the first page of Google. So what?
The Value of a Call to Action
I don’t ask these questions to be a jerk. Rather, like my one time graduate professor, I’m prompting you to consider at a deeper level what the goal of your website is and if your small victories – like a well-ranking blog post – are actually helping you achieve those larger goals.
I often tell friends and colleagues that nobody decides to apply to a college or university because they read a particular news story, blog post, or any single web page on your article. The journey to choosing a school or college is long and arduous, and your content needs to guide prospective students along that path, one phase at a time.
And calls-to-action are how you do it.
What is a Call-to-Action?
A call-to-action, often referred to as a CTA, is a prompt, typically in the form of a button, designed to persuade a reader to take a particular action.
Your call-to-action is a signal to a web visitor, providing them direction and guiding their website experience. For example, after reading an article about your application requirements, a logical call-to-action might be to submit an application. Or after reading about important questions to ask campus tour guides, a relevant call-to-action would be to schedule a visit.
Do You Need a Call-To-Action on Your Website?
A good call-to-action guides a reader through the applicant journey, leading them to additional relevant information and keeping them engaged with your institution online. Over time, this engagement increases their propensity to take meaningful action with your school, whether that’s submitting an application or deposit, or for alumni, making a gift.
Without a call-to-action, your reader is left to self-navigate their website experience. And when left to their own devices, the odds that they’ll exit your website naturally increase.
For example, let’s examine an excellent blog post published by the Tufts University Office of Undergraduate Admissions. This piece addresses a topic relevant to prospective students and is well-written, but there’s no call-to-action at the end of the article. So what is a reader to do?