Early in my writing career, I made a big embarrassing mistake. One that almost made me give up on this whole writing thing before I actually started. Here’s what happened…
After landing a simple article assignment from one of my dream clients, I spent a week or so pouring my heart and soul into 1,500 words. I spent three more days perfecting every line. When I was sure it couldn’t get any better, I submitted it. And spent the next few days pacing. When I finally heard back, the news was good. They had posted my article on their website!
But, over the next few days, nothing happened.
No Facebook shares, zero Twitter mentions, not even a vague comment. I was crushed. What went wrong?
I dug into my writing courses and quickly realized I missed one of the most important parts of strong writing. Luckily, the problem was easy to fix. I just needed to add one single line… a call to action (CTA).
What Is a Call to Action?
Simply put, a CTA calls (or asks) your reader to take an action (or do something).
Depending on the goals of your copy, that action might be to “call for a free consultation,” “complete a form to request an info packet,” or simply “click here for more information.”
While a CTA sounds simple, and fairly obvious, you’d be surprised at how many writers simply forget to add one.
Which is understandable, after working so hard to grab a reader’s attention with a strong headline… keep them glued to your copy with conversational writing… and convince them of your points using plenty of proof…
But all your hard work will go to waste if you don’t tell your reader what to do next.
Why You Need a Call to Action
Unless you’re writing fiction, everything you write should include a CTA. That includes every web page, article, blog post, banner ad, Pay-Per-Click ad, sales letter, and every other type of copy.
You see, clients hire us to help them achieve their goals of capturing more leads and making extra sales. If you fail to include a CTA (like I did), you’ll fail to meet the goal of the copy. Your reader won’t know what to do next, so they’ll do nothing at all. And your client will likely lose a potential sale.
So, instead of leaving your reader wondering, “Now what?”… tell them exactly what to do next.
How to Write a Call to Action
At first glance, a CTA might seem pretty easy. After all, how hard is it to write five little words… “click here to learn more”?
Unfortunately, throwing a CTA in as an afterthought probably won’t work. While a simple CTA is a good starting place and preferable to none at all, a better CTA could mean the difference between one sale… and hundreds.
So, how do you write a call to action?
Follow these four tips to help you get the best results from your CTA:
1. Know Your Goal
Before writing, ask yourself one thing: What do I want the reader to do? The answer might be to add something to their cart, visit another page, or sign up for a newsletter. No matter what that action is, get clear on it.
In fact, try writing your call to action before you write the rest of your copy. This will give you an obvious ending and a direction to travel. Remove anything that sidetracks the reader.
2. Use Action Words
A CTA is always stronger when you tell the reader exactly what action to take. Leave no room for confusion, because that leads to inaction.
Some examples of action words are: subscribe, donate, register, call, chat, click, join, or download.
3. Add Urgency
Give your reader a reason to take action now. If the readers leaves, they’ll almost certainly forget to come back later.
If you’re asking them to sign up for a free consultation, you could limit the number of available consulting slots to make your CTA more urgent. If you’re offering a free download, try adding an expiration date to inspire readers to take action NOW, not later.
4. Make It Specific
This is a common technique for headlines that also works well in CTAs. For instance, “click here to learn more” is not specific enough. Instead, try adding exact details, including facts, figures, and what will happen when they take the action, plus the benefits they’ll receive.
To help with this, ask yourself, “What do I want the reader to do?” and “What would it take to convince me (as the reader) to take that particular action?”
Remember, don’t treat your CTA as an afterthought. It’s as important (if not more so) as the rest of your copy – and deserves plenty of time and attention.
Even if you think the next step seems obvious, be sure to spell it out for your reader. What should they do now?
As for you, I’d recommend printing the list above. Keep it nearby and check off all four points each time you write. You’ll create stronger, more effective CTAs every time.