We’ve made a strong case for including calls-to-action (CTAs) in your videos. When viewers are moved by your message – which they will be, if everything is on point! – CTAs direct them towards a quantifiable response. CTAs translate emotion into results. We cannot overstate this point:

CTAs are vital to increasing the ROI of your film.

Now, it’s time for the practical recommendations you need to get started. What’s the most effective way to integrate a CTA into your video? Our top three recommendations are as follows:

1. Title Cards

Imagine your video playing to a spellbound audience at your fundraising gala. It’s an emotional experience that won’t soon be forgotten; everyone watching understands who you are and why your work matters. As the final image fades, a message flashes across the screen: Make a donation today!

After all the sympathy and interest that you’ve stirred up, this is the lasting suggestion that viewers will take away with them.

A title card is the simplest and most common approach to CTAs. It’s a logical, relevant image to end on; it doesn’t interfere with the content of the video itself, so it doesn’t require any special planning; and it can be incorporated after the fact, if you need time to fine-tune it. You can even create a few different versions of the same video, each with its own call to action.

Here are some examples:

The downside is that a title card is a little plain, especially next to a dynamic medium like video. You can modify the color, shape, texture, and size of the text, but at the end of the day, it’s still a fairly superficial device. It does the job, but without adding any emotional substance.

It isn’t the most actionable method, either. Viewers can’t click on a title card and find themselves immediately on your website or signed up to your mailing list. They have to look around for links to follow, which gives them more opportunity to be distracted or interrupted along the way.

2. Character Mouthpieces

Under this system, the CTA is built right into the story, interview or scenario that makes up your video. Picture a satisfied parent describing the amazing things that your program has done for his or her child. Then, with this eloquent testimony still resonating in every word, picture this same parent encouraging others to enroll their children.

As far as style goes, this is a step up from the title card because instead of turning to an external element, it unifies and crystallizes the CTA within the greater message of your film.

From a marketing standpoint, it’s even more impressive, as this tactic lets you build up an emotional context and then capitalize on it directly.

These CTAs do put a higher demand on your creative team. The planning stages become more involved, since you need to know going in exactly how you’re going to bring the video around to this grand finale. Also, it’s worth noting that you can’t adapt one film for multiple uses without a lot more work. You can create multiple versions with different CTAs, but this entails additional scripting, filming, and editing for every variation.

A verbal CTA also runs the risk of being too complicated to retain. You can name your website, and even spell it out to be safe, but it’s unlikely that viewers will pause or re-watch so they can take down the necessary information. You certainly can’t expect them to keep track of discount codes or any other technical details. This is something to consider as you weigh which CTA style is right for you.

3. Interactive Links

When you upload a video to virtually any popular hosting platform (YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Wistia, etc.) there are tools in place to integrate links into or around the videos themselves. A character in your video can, at an opportune moment, gesture towards a button that appears onscreen and suggest, “Click here for more information.”

Another advanced option is to request viewers’ email addresses before or after letting them play the video.

At the moment, these tools are still being refined. The designs are a little clunky, the process is time-consuming, and it can be difficult to get them to work exactly as you want them to. But we expect this option to become increasingly popular as the technology improves.

Of course, there’s no reason to limit yourself to just one CTA style at a time. It’s perfectly okay to pick and choose, mix and match according to the needs of a particular video. Sometimes the flexibility and clarity of a title card might be more important to you; other times, it might be essential to give viewers a link to click right away. You might choose to combine a title card with an interactive link, or a character mouthpiece with a title card. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each style will let you make an informed decision every time.

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