What’s your call to action?

Both amateur and professional marketers make a fatal mistake far too frequently. What mistake? Forgetting the call to action in the materials and messages they develop.

What is a call to action? In simple terms, it’s the instruction you give to the reader or viewer about the next step you want them to take. “Call now to place your order” is a call to action. So is “click here for more information.” And “contact us today to make an appointment.”

Whether you’re writing a blog post or a marketing email, your goal is probably to motivate someone to do something. That desired action (or the next step) becomes the call to action. Without it, the reader or viewer might not know what to do.

Some marketers assume calls to action aren’t needed because they believe the next action is obvious to the target audience. That’s a dangerous assumption. Because we can’t predict exactly how readers and viewers will react to messages in the way we intend, we need to give them explicit instructions as to what we expect.

Other marketers worry that call to actions sound too “salesy” and will somehow offend the audience. There’s nothing wrong with sales efforts, especially if what you offer fulfills the audience’s need. Don’t be ashamed of trying to make a sale and then closing that sale by asking for an action. Pretending you’re up to something else is actually more offensive than being honest.

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