A Call to Action (CTA) is typically defined as:
- An exhortation or stimulus to do something in order to achieve an aim or deal with a problem.
- A piece of content intended to induce a viewer, reader, or listener to perform a specific act, typically taking the form of an instruction or directive.
Said more succinctly, writing a strong call to action is what you do when you want a shopper to stop wasting time and get off the dime.
Here’s how you do it…
Know What You Want
Before you can stimulate someone to take any sort of action, you need to know what the desired result is going to be. Do you want them to buy from you? Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? What do you want them to do? Let’s say you’re considering how to start a furniture store and you want to build up a mailing list. Knowing this before you start writing will help you determine the best way to get people to do it.
With that said, there are some basic guidelines to follow, regardless of your overall goal.
Start with a Strong Command Verb
Whatever your goal might be, always lead with it. If you want people to sign up for your newsletter, lead with “Sign Up.” If you want them to download your white paper, lead with “Download.” If you want them to make a purchase, lead with “Order.”
Either way, whatever the first word happens to be, the next word should be time-related, like “Now.”
Always Offer a Reward
“Sign up now and get a free…” “Download now and you’ll also get…” “Order now and you’ll also receive…” People love gifts and unexpected discounts. Tie your offer to such an incentive and you’ll see more responses than if you neglect this step.
Introduce Fear of Missing Out
Instill a sense of urgency by implying they’ll miss an opportunity to get something else that’s equally desirable if they fail to act right away. “Order now and you’ll also receive a free gift—if you’re one of the first 25 customers.” When you introduce the idea of limited access, people are more likely to respond right away so they can get in on the deal. If you allow your prospect to think they have all the time in the world to take advantage of your offer, they’ll take all the time in the world to do so.
And who’s got that kind of time?
Keep It Short & Simple
Anything over 150 characters is too long. Keep it short and to-the-point. Also, make compliance simple and easy to understand. You want it to be so compelling shoppers don’t take time to think—they just respond. If you make the call to action too wordy or too complicated you’ll make them think.
You don’t want them to think, you want them to act.
If It’s Complicated Let Them Know
If signing up or placing an order involves filling out a form, let them know it’s going to take a bit of time, but assure them it won’t be a whole lot of time. “Sign up in less 60 seconds to get your free gift. Supplies are limited, so do it right now!”
Incorporating these devices will move more shoppers toward your desired goal. Just keep the nature of your customers in mind when you’re writing a strong call to action. Be careful to craft messages capable of driving their behavior without irritating them or making them feel manipulated. Master this and you’ll be well ahead of the game.