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Imagine a blog post with a catchy lede that immediately hooks the reader. The post is concise and well written, with fresh prose and a couple of perfectly illustrative metaphors.

The reader is riveted: he gets to the end without clicking to another tab or checking his email.

But then, at the end of the post, there’s nothing.

The post doesn’t ask him to do anything (subscribe to a newsletter, sign up for a free trial, click a link to learn more).

Instead, the post just… ends. And the reader navigates away, on to the next task of his day.

This is a classic marketing “fail”—but one that over the past decade has become increasingly uncommon.

Marketers have perfected the “call to action,” or CTA, in blog posts and text-based emails. There are countless how-to articles on how to write and design an effective CTA: use actionable language, make the text stand out visually, make sure that the button looks clickable, personalize the message, and on and on.

But what about online video? In this relatively new medium, some marketers are making the same mistakes they made years ago with written content: leaving out the call to action. This is a huge missed opportunity.

The Power of Video Marketing
Video can be an incredibly powerful channel for online marketers. According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, a single minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. In seconds, a video can use sound, images, and text to convey a message that would take pages to get across in writing.

There’s an enormous market for online video. One hundred million internet users watch online videos every day. Watching video accounts for a third of all online activity. Compared to print content, videos are 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google search results.

Videos can work across many different industries. In retail, website visitors are 64% more likely to buy an advertised product after watching a video about it. In real estate, listings that include videos have been reported to receive 403% more inquiries than listings without videos. Manufacturing marketers report that video is their most effective tactic to engage customers.

With the right call to action, videos can be enormously persuasive. While 20% of online visitors will read a full blog post or text email, a whopping 80% will watch a video. An impressive 75% of users visit a company’s website after viewing a marketing video. Emails with videos tend to have two to three times the click-through rates of those without.

Crafting an Effective Call to Action

But not just any video will get these kinds of results. For your campaign to be successful, you need to make your video actionable.

1. Figure out what your video is asking people to do.

You can’t create an effective call to action if you don’t know what the action is. Do you want viewers to click to learn more? Buy a product? Subscribe to your newsletter? Figure out how you will define success for this campaign, then craft the CTA accordingly.

2. Create the script, video, and voice-over with this CTA in mind.

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Know what your CTA will be before you begin producing your video. The call to action will inform how you structure your video and what information you include.

3. Add a clickable link to the video.

With over three billion searches per month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine—making it a great tool for businesses. But it’s not enough to simply have people watch your videos on YouTube. You need to get them from YouTube to your website. Adding a link within your video makes it much more likely that viewers will perform the intended action (buying, subscribing, reading more, etc.). You can put a link at the end of the video, or have it appear throughout. Tools from video hosts like Wistia make this easy to do, or you can use YouTube’s Call-to-Action Overlay. In this screenshot below you can see a CTA we use at the end of a marketing video, with the help of Wistia.

cta

4. Hone and test your CTA.

The same rules apply for CTAs in videos as in text. Make the language actionable and concise. Design the button so it stands out and looks clickable. And finally, test the language of your CTA to find what works best for your intended audience.

5. Add text below your video with a clear CTA and link.

Some people still prefer text to video. Others may not be able to watch a video at work or on the go. You should always provide a text blurb underneath your video, summing up the main message and providing another clear CTA and link.

Often, companies fall into the trap of thinking that videos are merely branding exercises. But video is rapidly maturing into a powerful sales and marketing tool. With the right call to action, videos have enormous potential to help gather leads, move customers along the sales funnel, and increase conversions.