How to write a “call to action”

    Posted on October 6, 2020

     

    A call to action (CTA) is a marketing device that prompts a reader to, as the name suggests, take action. It can be used in both print and digital advertising, and is a highly effective tool to persuade the reader to, essentially, do what you want them to.

    CTAs can be used for a variety of purposes, such as to encourage a reader to purchase a product, to request more information, to book an appointment or to sign up to a mailing list.

    Two weeks ago, I wrote about the AIDA principle*, and how this can be used in sales copy. The fourth pillar of the principle is ‘Action’, and this is commonly achieved by using a CTA. A strong, persuasive CTA will alleviate any uncertainty a reader has and spell out the action they must take in simple terms. The reader will therefore finish the piece of sales copy or the advertisement with the knowledge of what they must to do next to become a customer, and they will also feel like they need to do so.

    So, how do you write a CTA?

    1. Strong command

    The most important factor to consider when crafting your CTA is that it includes a strong, clear command. Using a command verb – a word that tells the reader to do something – is essential. Examples of these include “buy”, “order”, “click”, “subscribe”, “download”, “call” and “contact”.

    2. Incentive

    You’ve told your reader what they need to do, but why do they need to do it? With a CTA, you need to spell it out exactly for the reader, keeping it brief and simple. “Call us to place your order” is a basic CTA that outlines what that the reader needs to do (call) and why (to place the order). If this isn’t persuasive enough, an additional incentive could be included, such as “subscribe to our mailing list for 10% off your next purchase”. Here, not only is the reader being added to the mailing list, but they’re being rewarded for doing so, adding to the sense of need to respond to the CTA.

    3. Immediate action

    Once you’ve outlined your command, and you have an incentive in mind, you should also ensure you prompt the reader to take action immediately, or at least in the near future. This is achieved by using phrases like “click here now to find out more information”, or “contact us today to receive a free quotation”. With these CTAs, the action, incentive and time frame are all outlined.

    To increase the sense of urgency, time-sensitive incentives are a common persuasive technique employed to encourage the reader to take immediate action to avoid missing out. “Subscribe to our mailing list today – the first 50 subscribers will get 10% off their next purchase” outlines what the reader has to do, why they need to do it and encourages them by creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity, with the offer only available to the first 50 subscribers.

    4. Relatable

    Some CTAs are effective with just a simple phrase of “call us today”. Others, however, might take a little more persuasion, in addition to an incentive. One way this can be achieved is by relating to the reader, and directly targeting their needs.

    For example, let’s imagine we’re writing a CTA for a logo design company. “Contact us today for a free quotation” could work as an ending to their piece, but to really solidify the CTA, the company could consider further its connection with the reader. A revised version could be:

    “If you’re in need of a quality logo design that will redefine your company, contact us today for a free quotation.”

    Here, the reader is addressed directly with “you”, making it more personal, and it’s addressing their need, inferring that by acting on the CTA, their need for a quality logo design will be satisfied.

    5. Don’t overload

    When writing CTAs, it can be easy to get carried away and try to cram in every single persuasive technique to get a sale. However, there’s a fine line between being persuasive and being pushy, overloading the customer with information, so you want to make sure you’re on the persuasive side.

    Returning to the logo design example, the company could look at its CTA and the list of persuasive techniques and realise it hasn’t included a time-sensitive technique. Wanting to make its CTA as attractive as possible, it might write something like:

    “If you’re in need of a quality logo design that will redefine your company and boost your sales, why not contact us today for a free, no obligation quotation, as the first 20 enquires will receive a whopping 20% discount off their first design.”

    While this CTA does outline incentives in a persuasive manner, it’s also far too long. Remember, a CTA should be clear, concise and straight to the point. If the company wanted to still include all of this information, it could cut it down to the key points, and write:

    “If you’re in need of a quality logo design, contact us today for a free quotation – the first 20 enquires will receive a 20% discount.”

    This CTA not only addresses all of the persuasive points, but also communicates them in a simple, no-frills manner, with the action and incentive clearly communicated.

    So, the main point to take away is to ensure your CTA is clear, concise and commanding. It should tell your reader what they need to do, when and why they need to do it, with a time-sensitive incentive where fitting. As a fitting conclusion, if you need help in writing your content or CTAs, speak to us at Engage Web today.

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  • […] so long ago I wrote about calls to action (CTAs). CTAs and deadlines go hand in hand, and are commonly used together. As with CTAs, when writing […]

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