What is a call to action and how to write one

A call to action [CTA] is a concise phrase that you include in your copywriting and marketing material that not only encourage your readers to do something but it demands it! The term itself gives it away – it’s a strong directive that ensures action. The action that you want taken are practical steps that will ultimately lead to a sale, a booking or a purchase.
Examples of call to actions include:
  • Call today
  • Email me
  • Buy now
  • Click here
  • Find out how
  • Subscribe here
 
An effective call to action offers urgency. Create urgency to play up to the natural instinct that humans have – the fear of time running out or missing out on something (also known as the scarcity principle). Tell your audience exactly what to do and when – words like today, now, straight away, before too late… 

Pick one of your benefits (not a feature) to the consumer and use that as a call to action. For example, a benefit of good copywriting would be that it improves your SEO ranking. Therefore, I could use this benefit in my CTA like this:

Improve your SEO today

Check out this video from Marketing Experiments on the power of a “micro yes” when it comes to call to actions.
Where do you include call to actions?
Include them on each page of your website, each blog post or content article, videos, social media posts, enewsletters and direct email campaigns and in person. Each of your webpages and marketing emails should have between one and three call to actions. 
Place one within the first half of your webpage/email/marketing collateral but not directly at the top, as your readers will want to read some credible information first. It’s also wise to place one at the end of your copy, to remind and instil your message.

Tips on writing a great call to action:

  1. Keep the call to actions very tight and clear – a few words at most and have a very clear action. Don’t worry about being clever or tricky with your wording – it’s better to articulate exactly what you want your readers to do than to sound like a creative poet!
  2. If there’s no verb in your CTA then how can you expect your audience to know what to do?
  3. Use interactive language.
  4. Position your call to action clear of clutter and distinctly separate.
  5. Not only should they be super clear but they should be super visible as well. 
Bonus tip:
Don’t forget to include your call to action on your webinars, infographics and presentations or slide shows. You can also verbalise one if you are giving a talk but don’t give more than one. It will most likely be ‘go to my website for more details’. 

Here are two clear call to action examples on big business’s landing pages:

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