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A call to action

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday December 10, 2006 )

There are all sorts of calls to action; some subtle, some quite pushy – you’ll need to figure out what works best for your audience. Slowly turn up the persuasiveness until it no longer works, then backtrack one step – and there will be your sweet spot :). Go overboard from the outset and you may alienate many people.

Learn more about writing effective marketing copy.

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You’ve probably seen the term “call to action” mentioned frequently in marketing lingo – so what does it mean?

In web marketing; a call to action is simply an instruction from the marketer/site owner to the reader/viewer/visitor regarding what that person should do; and the desired action is of course stacked in the marketer’s/site owner’s favor; e.g. – a sale, a subscription, a newsletter registration or a click.

The simplest and probably most commonly used call to action online is “click here” – over 1.5 billion instances of this occur on the web the last time I checked.

If you have an ecommerce site, you don’t want people to just browse or just click, you want them to buy; and to tell others about you.

It may seem odd, but generally speaking, people *need* to be told what to do. It’s rooted in our upbringing where for many years, we are instructed on what to do and when. It continues on in our working life and relationships. We might like to think we are individuals who answer to no-one; but even the most rebellious person can be persuaded to take a course of action they may not have chosen to otherwise.

As a very basic example, let’s say you have an item for purchase on your site with all the details and a price, and a button that says “buy”. That’s a call to action.

But it may not be enough. When should the person buy? Next week, next year perhaps? You want them to buy it straight away before they drift off to another site and purchase the item there. So, in this example, “buy now” would be a more powerful term to use. “Limited stock, buy today!” is even more powerful; but just remember to keep your call to action truthful.

In another example, if you have an email newsletter, you might assume that people will forward it onto others. Sometimes they will; but often they are focused on themselves rather than on their friends. Mention this in a prominent position:

“Forward this newsletter on to your friends and colleagues!”

.. and believe it or not, it does actually work.

There are all sorts of calls to action; some subtle, some quite pushy – you’ll need to figure out what works best for your audience. Slowly turn up the persuasiveness until it no longer works, then backtrack one step – and there will be your sweet spot :). Go overboard from the outset and you may alienate many people.

Learn more about writing effective marketing copy.



 

 
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