Copy or content… whatever you’re writing, ultimately you want your reader to take an action.
You want them to buy something or sign up for something… or to share or comment or try something.
At the very least, you want them to keep reading… and ideally come back for more.
But, let me ask you this…
Do you have a hard time asking for your reader to take action?
A lot of writers are completely comfortable with their writing, until they reach the call-to-action… and then the worry creeps in.
Am I being too pushy?
What if they don’t like me?
What if they don’t get the expected result?
Am I being annoying?
The truth is, if you’ve written content or copy that is compelling, useful, and entertaining to read, then your reader is going to be wondering about the next step. When you’re up front and clear about what that is, your reader will find it helpful. And, if they don’t… well, chances are they weren’t part of your target audience anyway… and you’ve avoided a future headache.
Once you recognize that you’re helping your reader, writing the call-to-action gets easier.
Another way to make your call-to-action come more naturally is to get really clear on the value you’re offering your reader versus what you’re asking for in exchange.
If you sincerely believe in the product — and you’re excited about how it can change your reader’s life for the better, even in a small way — asking them to take action happens almost effortlessly.
And, in the case of content, when you aren’t asking for a sale, but inviting them to read more or to sign up for your email list or follow you on social media… again, if you believe in the information you’re providing in that content, the ask becomes easy.
Getting comfortable with the call-to-action is the first big step in writing one that will get a good result.
But, it’s only the first step.
You can do a lot more to help your reader follow through on your call-to-action. Below you’ll find five steps to help you write a rock-solid call-to-action.
#1: Don’t Leave Them Guessing
The most important rule of writing a strong call-to-action — no matter what its purpose — is to be absolutely clear about what you want your reader to do.
If you want them to call to place an order, say, “Call this number to place your order,” and then give them the number.
If you want them to sign up for your email newsletter, tell them exactly how to do that.
If your call-to-action has multiple steps (not ideal, but sometimes necessary), make sure you tell them how many steps to expect and what each step entails.
In short, be clear on how to act.
Also be clear on exactly what will happen next.
If they place an order for a product, how will they know it’s shipped?
If they sign up for your email list, what will happen next?
If they decide to share your post on social media, tell them who will be able to see it.
People balk at doubt. When doubt creeps in, action stops.
If your reader is worried they’ll be charged before they’re ready… if they’re worried they’ll do something wrong… if they don’t know the outcome of their action… even if they really want to do what you’re asking, they’ll stop. They’ll think about it. They’ll walk away with the intent of coming back later. (Most of them won’t.)
The easiest way to make your call-to-action stronger is to make it clearer.
#2: Do You Have Their Attention?
In addition to being clear, your call-to-action must also be compelling.
So, what makes copy compelling?
Compelling copy uses action-oriented words that stir an emotion in your reader.
Compelling copy grabs the reader’s imagination and sets it off on an adventure.
Compelling copy is interesting, unexpected, surprising.
If you want to make your call-to-action more compelling, try leading with a strong action verb.
“Grab your copy…”
“Launch your career…”
“Multiply your income…”
Or, stir your reader’s curiosity by asking a question they don’t know the answer to. “Are you making these email marketing mistakes?” “Does your health insurance cover this? Find out…”
Or, promise them something that’s simply too good to pass up (and that you can actually deliver on, obviously)… like, “Get 50 headline formulas that work every time” or “Download your easy keto shopping list.”
Remind your reader of the benefit they’ll enjoy and do it in language that stirs emotion and isn’t boring. Then you’ll have a compelling call-to-action.
#3: Great Power, Great Responsibility, and All That…
Scarcity and urgency can strengthen any call-to-action.
When you make it clear to your reader there’s a chance they might miss out on something good, they’re more likely to act without delay.
Scarcity and urgency are two of the most effective ways to increase the response to your call-to-action.
But, you have to use them honestly.
If you say, “This is the last time we will ever offer this at this price,” then you better not offer it at that price three weeks later. That will destroy your credibility.
If you say, “We only have 100 of these, and when they’re gone, they’re gone,” make sure that’s a fact.
Look for true sources of scarcity and urgency to use in your call-to-action. Be wary of arbitrary scarcity and urgency — your reader will catch on to you pretty quick.
Always, always tell the truth… and when you call on urgency and scarcity, it will be that much more effective.
#4: What’s Really Holding Them Back?
Often, there’s something that’s keeping a good portion of your audience from moving forward with you.
If you can figure out what that is and then address the objection and remove the barrier… well, you’ll see an instant increase in response.
So, what is your audience worried about? That the product won’t work as promised? Give them social proof right there in your call-to-action. That they’ll have a hard time returning something they don’t love? Clearly state your return policy. That they’ll want to cancel their subscription and they’ll get guff when they try? Tell them you hate it when that happens, too, and you would never do that to them.
Figure out what’s keeping them from taking action and then address it head on.
#5: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Small changes can yield big results.
In one test, Unbounce changed their call-to-action button from “Start your free 30-day trial” to “Start my free 30-day trial.”
That one little word — my instead of your — increased the clickthrough rate by 90%. Almost double! And, they never would have known if they hadn’t tested.
If you really want to improve the response to your call-to-action, then one of the best things you can do is fall in love with testing.
The call-to-action in your copy or content has a big impact on whether or not your reader decides to continue engaging with you.
Strong, clear, honest calls-to-action will help your reader continue their journey with you. And, the more readers that make that choice, the better off you — and your clients — will be.