The Coffey Blog

Hospital publication CTAs: Lure them in by design

Posted on: Monday, January 29, 2018

Maureen McManaman, Senior Graphic Designer

Someone just finished reading your hospital publication. What do you want that person to do next? Calls to action (CTAs) can make that next step clear to your readers. And a great CTA is more than a collection of words and numbers.

Designers play a key role in the effectiveness of your CTAs. We make sure your prompt doesn't get lost within the design of your healthcare publication. In fact, CTAs are arguably the most important part of the work we do while working on your page design.

While we're experts at making those CTAs shine, there are some common hurdles we face during the design process. And as a healthcare communicator, there are a few things you can keep in mind as you plan, so everything comes together smoothly.

CTA fundamentals: What should happen next?

We've covered CTA writing on this blog before, so we don't need to get into specifics here. But there are a few basic features we love to see when we're working with CTAs. And those features all come in the form of a question.

Every call to action should quickly answer:

  1. How does this apply to me and my life?
  2. What's the solution presented?
  3. What should I do next?
  4. Why should I bother?

Answering these questions means using an active voice. Steering clear of vague terms like "learn more" or "ask us" is a good place to start. Expand your vocabulary and try to use active, evocative terms. This will make the design process so much easier.

But: a word of caution. Your CTAs should also remain brief—like an advertisement with minimal words. Designers need space to bring those words to life with color and art and text treatments. If the text is too long, our toolkit of solutions shrinks.

CTA superstar: How to think like a designer

Whenever you're planning your publication, think about where your CTA should sit. Designate a space on each page for your CTA. And don't be afraid to experiment.

For example, many people suggest that calls to action should be placed above the fold (in the upper half of the page). But that might not always be true. It should be placed where it best supports the decision-making process your readers will go through. Sometimes that's high on the page. But sometimes it's not.

Read and understand your story, and think about when your reader will be ready to act. You might need space to talk a test or procedure through in detail before you ask your reader to sign up. You might need to fully introduce a doctor before you encourage people to make an appointment. Think about the value and when it becomes clear. That's where your CTA should appear.

From a design perspective, we'll want to use a bold design that is in keeping with your branding but is different enough to be noticeable. And we'll want to experiment with size. We want things to be large enough to be noticed, but small enough that it doesn't turn people off.

We'll also want to use contrasting colors and an eye-catching art element. It's the most important thing you want readers to notice. If your CTA blends in too much, there's a good chance your readers won't see it or take the action.

While you may never design these elements yourself, it's always a good idea to have an open dialogue with your design team. (We talked about that in a recent blog post.) Give feedback about the designs you like—as well as the innovations that might not be right for your readers and your stakeholders. That will help your designer to bring the right ideas to the table next time.

When you see your publication after layouts, do a quick spot check for impact. One simple way to determine whether your CTA hits that sweet spot is to look at it objectively (or ask a coworker to do so), and ask yourself how you'd respond if you were presented with something similar. If it's not quite on target, another conversation could be in order.

Working together to drive action

The perfect CTA comes about due to collaboration between artists and writers. And open lines of communication help that partnership to blossom. At Coffey Communications, we believe in fostering that kind of relationship. That's why our clients have dedicated Client Advocate/Project Managers to help smooth the production process. And it's why we stay in touch with our clients after our publications hit the mail stream—so we can ensure that those CTAs are actually driving action.

If you're not seeing this level of partnership, you need to talk with us. Let us introduce you to our team and show you how we can make a difference. Email marketing@coffeycomm.com, and let's get started.

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