As any salesperson will tell you, you are not going to make the sale unless you ask for the order. That’s why in copywriting the call to action is so important. It is the very objective of your promotional piece!
The call to action can involve a number of things, depending on what is being sold and at what stage in the selling process the promotional piece represents:
- Request more information
- Download a brochure
- Agree to see a salesperson
- View an online demonstration • Accept a free trial
- Ask for a free estimate or quotation
- Place an order
A call to action is more than just telling the prospect what to do after. As the copywriter—and de facto salesperson—your job is to motivate the prospect to take action. You need to inspire him or her to make the decision to fill out the form or make the call to respond to the offer.
Start with the Objective
The way you write an effective call to action is by starting with the objective. What is it, exactly, that you want the reader to do after?
For example, if you are writing a direct-mail letter promoting a new business directory, the objective of your call to action might be to get the prospect to fill out the enclosed order form and mail or fax it back. So, your call to action might be the following:
Complete and return the enclosed order form
That’s not bad. In fact, it’s actually more than many promotional pieces do, some of which have no call to action at all. However, the above example isn’t very motivating. What’s missing? An effective call to action has these characteristics.
- It explains clearly what the reader must do to respond to the offer • Tells the reader exactly what he or she is going to get
- It expresses, or at least implies, a major benefit
- It asks the reader to do it now, and provides a good reason why
- It says “Please”
Based on the above points, it’s time to take another look at the business directory call to action:
Need a fresh crop of qualified sales leads for your business? Please complete and return the enclosed form today to activate your subscription to Endless Leads Monthly. Don’t delay. The special price is due to expire Jan. 15th.
Does the above example meet the five conditions above?
- It clearly tells the reader how to respond: “…complete and return the enclosed form…”
- It describes what the reader is going to get: “…your subscription to Endless Leads Monthly…”
- What about the benefit? That’s in the very first sentence: “…qualified sales leads…”
- It tells the reader to do it now (“today”), and backs this up with a good reason why: “The special price is due to expire…”
- And, of course, this call to action says “Please”
Where do you put your call to action statement? That depends on the promotion. In short pieces, like advertisements, put it at the end. In a longer promotion, such as a sales letter, it’s effective to repeat the call to action more than once. However, always have one at the end.