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Button blindness: the dreaded Learn More

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(Or, why you should avoid bland CTAs and button copy.)

In some side work I’m currently doing involving content management & strategy, I’m on the hunt for ways to reach new “untapped” audiences.

This article content we’re working with lives in the digital media world, however, where any sort of promotional messaging that might dilute the integrity of the content is something to grapple with.

Be different… not just better.

Publicity, though – that’s different. Sure, great content should speak for itself. But in a world where millions of media sources are competing for users’ attention spans, you can’t just be better.

Your brand, and how it represents itself through great copywriting, necessarily should be different.

To reach beyond a small-but-loyal user base, I put out the idea of a writing contest that might attract a larger circle of readers – and new writing talent while we were at it. The trick was that the promotion had to actually produce better content.

While putting together a couple paid social media campaigns, I noticed how limiting Facebook and Twitter were in their calls-to-action (CTAs). But if I put myself the shoes of the user I wanted to attract, I didn’t want to just “learn more.” There was some excitement that could be conveyed in this small space (“Enter the contest,” “Win $500 in airfare”, etc.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.38.44 PM
Insert ‘Learn More’ here?

When does a bland CTA work (and not work)?

Twitter’s paid card promotions, for example, had limited your choice of CTAs (button copy) to “learn more,” “read more” and the like. Pretty generic stuff. But tonight (as of 3/9), I saw what looked like a feature update: now when you buy a Twitter campaign, you can customize the CTA to whatever copy you like.

This is a smart move, I think. Allowing campaigns to better be themselves with creative copy lets you target more memorably and leave a lasting brand impression. A CTA like “learn more” is a blanket cue I’ve been trained as a web user to interpret more than any sort of meaningful directive.

On the other hand, of course… “Learn more” is obvious.

You don’t have to think at all as writer to use it; other than to know that it’s tested and it works. Is a generic CTA your failsafe option for digital ad campaigns? Twitter doesn’t seem so sure about that anymore.

What do you think?

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