We’ve all seen it: encased in glass, shining, and enticing passersby to give it a satisfying tap. In fiction, few can resist pushing the iconic “big red button,” despite any warning signs telling them not to. As it turns out, the temptation to click isn’t just a classic trope in movies and cartoons—there’s actually a psychological reason behind it. In some cases, it boils down to the forbidden fruit factor. But even without the “do-not-touch” element, seeing a clickable button elicits a kind of Pavlovian response. In fact, being encouraged to click may make people more likely to do it. (Just look at this button-based social experiment from 2015.) This is especially true when we think about a modern equivalent to buttons: notifications. When we see a Facebook notification or a text message, we think, “I need to check this out real quick”—and doing so usually gives us a little rush of endorphins.

For this reason, clickable calls-to-action (CTAs)—like the ones presented in this HubSpot article—are a super-effective way to catch people’s attention and get them to do whatever you want them to, whether that be scheduling an appointment or leaving a review of your practice. To that end, here’s the rundown on using CTAs for physical therapy marketing (along with a few call-to-action examples):

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What are CTAs?

Simply put, a CTA is a short, clear directive that asks the reader to take a specific action. It’s the nucleus of an advertisement, landing page, or marketing email. Without a CTA, your message is at best, incomplete—and at worst, a waste of time. (Some common CTAs you’ve probably seen include phrases like “Schedule an Appointment” and “Contact Us.”) It's a simple concept—but one many PTs don't incorporate into their marketing: to get prospective patients to do what you want them to do, you have to ask. Furthermore, you have to ask in the right way and in the right places (and make sure you actually provide a link!).

So, what is the right way to ask? Here are the essential guidelines:

Entice patients with an offer they can’t refuse.

Instead of telling people to give you something (e.g., “Schedule an Appointment”), make them feel like clicking that button will give them something they can’t get elsewhere (e.g., “Get a Free Consultation”). Even if you can’t actually offer them something free, your CTA should communicate the value of the desired outcome and commodify your time. For example, “Reserve a Spot” creates a sense of urgency, whereas “Sign Up” is easier to ignore. Ultimately, think about who your patients are and what they want; then, frame your CTAs to meet their needs.

Grab reader attention with powerful word choice.

Not all words are created equal. In fact, some words empower people to take action and, ideally, convert them from prospective patients to active patients. You might be tempted to make your CTA button say something like “Submit” or “Send,” but considering the fact that people are more likely to scan your website, articles, and emails (rather than read them), you want your CTA to be more conspicious and engaging. Incorporating words like “try,” “now,” “free,” or “start/stop” not only convinces the reader to follow through on your CTA, but it also compels them to do so more quickly (before it’s too late).

Here are a few attention-grabbing examples that every physical therapy practice can use (borrowed from some of the most marketing-savvy brands out there):

  • “Get Started”: This can be a powerful CTA for healthcare providers, as it indicates an immediate start to the reader’s healthcare journey.
  • “Book an Appointment/Class/Visit”: Most of your offers will likely focus on driving new patients through your doors, so a straightforward directive prompting patients to get their names on the books is far more actionable and inviting than “Contact Us.”
  • “Learn More”: This CTA is great for advertising some of your niche services (i.e., those that may require more explanation than a short description can provide). It allows you to tease the benefits of a service while also communicating that the reader will be taken to a low-commitment page to get more information.
  • “Get Your Free X”: As I mentioned in the previous section, offering something free (e.g., a phone consult or sports physical) is a nearly-foolproof way to spark interest in your services. People love free things—and that’s especially true when you communicate the value of that product.

Put your CTA front and center.

Of course, your CTA won’t be effective if no one sees it. For that reason, you should place your button in a location that draws the eye and doesn’t have a lot of other elements competing for the reader’s attention (usually directly beneath your offer, but not too far down the page). A great way to ensure this is by making your CTA button a color that stands out against the background. (Think back to the big red button.)

Make it clickable.

Even if your physical therapy marketing software doesn’t allow you to create a literal button (like the examples here), you can still deliver your CTA in the form of hyperlinked text. While the desire to click is stronger when the user sees an actual button, providing a link is still far more effective than having no CTA at all—and hyperlinks still stand out against the rest of the text.

Test its effectiveness.

Marketing is an ever-evolving game, and just because one strategy works well for one clinic, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work well for another. Furthermore, the strategy you use this year may not have the same results next year. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative. And when you do, make sure you test the effectiveness of your strategies against each other to see which ones your audience responds to more. Something as simple as changing the color of your CTA button can produce dramatically different results—a blue button might get lost on the page, whereas a green button stands out without being visually affronting, and thus, gets more clicks.

In Saturday morning cartoons, the “big red button” is usually accompanied by a sign cautioning the character against pushing it—lest there be dire consequences. Fortunately for your patients (present and future), pushing your buttons (literally) will get them one step closer to their health and wellness goals. Have any questions about CTAs? Drop us a line in the comment section below!

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