5 Quick Guidelines For Calls To Action That Actually Work

4 min read · 7 years ago


If you want someone to take action – whether it’s signing up to your list, buying your product, or downloading your resource – you need to entice them with a call to action.

Calls to action play the pivotal role of closing a deal by moving the reader out of passive apathy and into active participation.

Now, if I were to sum up how to write a call to action in a single sentence, it would be: “Send the right offer to the right person at the right time.”

But if you need more to go on (and let’s be honest – most will), I’ve broken out five different criteria for effective calls to action.

1. Specific

You’ve got to tell people exactly what you want them to do, so start your call to action with a strong verb.

For example, “Now is the time to contact us!” is not nearly as compelling as, “Schedule your appointment now!” The second option is much more explicit about which action the user will actually be taking (booking an appointment).

“Get, download, buy, schedule, book…” The list goes on, but no matter your verb choice, it should be strong and appropriate for the step you’re asking them to take.

Your call to action should also be directly tied to your goal for any landing page you’ve created. For example, is it a sign-up you want, or a download? Are you trying to get them to buy?

Also, don’t be afraid to be a little bit bossy (so long as the rest of your content establishes rapport and trust).

2. Transparent

Transparency means that the reader knows exactly what will happen once they take action. Ambiguity breeds fear, and fear paralyzes people who aren’t completely comfortable with the action in the first place. For example, “Click here” might be a specific act, but the customer needs to know what will happen once they do.

If necessary, use a bit of text to explain what will come next. Just make sure you’re concise and to the point. In other words, there’s no need to spell out your entire process, but at least let them know what’s behind the mystery door.

3. Inviting

Your call to action should double as a call to value, or an offer to receive something that your lead already wants.

Words like “submit” or “send” might be functional, but they aren’t particularly compelling or inviting. Instead, your call to action should be an invitation to a better future.

For example, “Download this eBook” is way less inviting than “Get My Free eBook.” “Make an Appointment” is less appealing than “Schedule My One-on-One Consult.”

Get the idea? Let’s try an exercise then: Which do you think performed better out of “Order Information” or “Get Information”? (Find out here.)

When it comes time to write your own, use this simple rule of thumb: Your call to action should be able to finish the sentence, “I want to ___________.” Completing this exercise places you in the reader’s shoes. Plus, prefacing it with “I want to” ensures you’re promising an outcome that the customer actually cares about.

You should also keep in mind that nobody likes doing work. Your call to action shouldn’t sound like a chore. You’d be surprised how many people don’t want to “Learn More” but are excited to “See Why.”

4. Urgent

Your call to action should create a sense of urgency. This can be challenging without sounding like a slimeball (i.e. creating a campy ask that sounds like your hocking used cars).

To use urgency correctly, you must have already established the customers’ need for what you want and the credibility that you can give it to them.

Then make sure your urgency has a “Why.” In other words, will your readers know why they should act now?

You can accomplish this with:

  • Genuine scarcity – If you only have X number in stock, say so. If you can legitimately handle only X number of people in your course or program, state it plainly.
  • A specific deadline – Don’t say “Expires soon.” Instead, give a hard and fast deadline, whether it’s a date on the calendar or a number of hours until the offer expires.
  • An added incentive – We’ve all seen or heard the “If you buy now, you’ll also get…” pitch from infomercials. Well, there’s a reason it’s so commonplace: It works. Added incentives make the viewer feel like they’re getting even more in exchange for acting quickly.
  • A reminder of incompletion – Our brains don’t like when we leave a job unfinished, and we certainly don’t like feeling like we’re incomplete ourselves. You can create ownership in the outcome by stating things like, “You’re this close to accomplishing ________. All that’s left to do is download this resource!”

5. Safe

This one might feel a bit odd (especially after “urgent”), but your call to action has to feel risk free for your reader.

Just like they won’t tolerate ambiguity, a lead needs to know that whatever you’re asking them to do has a safe and proven outcome. Let’s make that tangible:

  • Display social proof and testimonials near your calls to action. This will tell your reader that people just like them have taken the same action and are thrilled with the results.
  • Place any of your security measures near the call to action, especially if it’s a purchase. This will inform people of any security measures you have in place to protect their data, money or identity. These can be security seals, promises to not share their information or clear statements that they will not be remarketed or spammed.
  • Don’t ask for too much information. In other words, take only what you need. If you aren’t going to use their phone number, don’t collect it. If you don’t need their full name, don’t ask for it.

That’s not every tip there is – but it’s a really good start.

As you practice and test your calls to action, you’ll learn the subtle art of writing for context (mobile users may want something more immediate than desktop users), reciprocity (giving people something awesome for whatever they offer you in return) and the power of individual words.

But if you at least follow the five tips I’ve outlined above, you’ll already be ahead of the game writing better, more compelling calls to action that actually work.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: 5 Quick Guidelines For Calls To Action That Actually Work

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