Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Business Chat - Call to Action

A call to action is a marketing term that boils down to this:

Decide what action you want readers to take. Ask them to take that action. Ask them clearly, succinctly and unmistakably.

The "call to action" is one of the most important concepts in marketing and promotion.  Simply put, in every communication you have with your audience you should know what you want them to do. You tell them what you have to offer, you tell them why you are the best one to offer this, and then you ask them to take the next step.

You've seen millions of calls to action, and may not have realized what they were. Here are some examples:
  • Call Now!
  • Call our 800 number to find out more
  • Click here!
  • Add to cart
  • Bring this coupon in for a free soft drink
Keep it Simple

Calls to action work best when they're not too complicated. And don't give multiple options. Don't ask people to "check out our new Web site or call to order a catalog." Figure out which single thing you want prospects to do.

Make it specific. Having a good call to action in your communications is not sleazy or sales-y, it’s just good business. Your reader is busy and distracted by a thousand other things competing for their attention. Even though they may be very interested in you, while reading your copy they are only paying attention with part of their brain. If you are subtle and quiet you will lose them.

5 tips on using Calls to Action

  1. Use call to action buttons in text – Call to action buttons are a great deviation from an email comprised of all text. Think of a Buy Now button. Not only do they let the reader know what to do, visually they really stand out.
  2. Use text call to action phrases – to change the pace from always using buttons, and to not abruptly change the flow of an article, inline text call to action phrases should be used. Vary the color of the text, use bold or italicizing it will help the call to action stick out next to standard type.
  3.  Social media integration – Not all call to action prompts have to involve selling products. A call to action persuading users to “Follow us on Twitter” or “Get updates on Facebook” helps further your relationship with the reader. A closer relationship may lead to sales; it could also lead to the individual sharing your content with more people, thus building your audience.
  4. Location, location, location. The most obvious place to put a call to action is at the end of your copy. But readers jump around a lot so if your copy is longer than a screen then repeat your (single) call to action in several places.
  5. Try using coupons as a call to action. “Bring this coupon to my next show for a 20% discount”.

Go and look at what you’ve been sending out to customers. Do you make it clear what you want them to do?

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