Let’s say you’re invited to a swanky dinner party at an estate.
After knocking on the massive oak doors, a butler, who looks just like Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey, opens them and leads you through a hallway maze and into a huge drawing room where other guests are mingling.
As your eyes take in the beauty of one gorgeous oil painting after another and lingering on the fine one-of-a-kind antique pieces of furniture, you imagine that the food served at dinner will be just as exquisite and memorable as the luxuriant surroundings.
Suddenly, a small ripple of voices begin to roll through the room as the guests think that someone may have announced that it’s time to eat. But there’s only one problem.
No one told anyone where the dining hall was.
Open and close it right
Kind of crazy, right?
But this is often what businesses do when they write their copy.
They get so excited about telling their story and nailing the emotional triggers of their prospects that they forget to show them the next step, whether it’s clicking to buy an item, signing up for a subscription, or contacting them through a phone call.
In other words, my dad who was a manufacturer sales rep for years would call it “knowing when to close the deal.”
Every salesperson worth their salt knows that it does no good to make a presentation to a prospect and then to meekly shrug and say, “Well, if you don’t have any more questions, I’ll be leaving now. Thanks for your time.” And then slink out of the room.
That would be a lousy sales approach.
When you write persuasive copy that is meant to sell something, you need a “close.” And that’s called a call to action, often shortened to CTA by digital marketers.
You won’t get to dance unless you do this
I contend that the goal of content marketing is to get your prospect to take action. I understand the trend right now is for marketing copy to “engage” your audience. I have no problem with engagement. But at some point, you’re going to have to ask for a commitment. Otherwise, what’s the point of marketing?
The call to action doesn’t have to be over-the-top. But as a business, you’re asking your prospect to trust you, to invest their money into your offering, and to believe that it’s going to make their life better.
The operative word here is ASK.
You’re not going to get anywhere unless your copy, whether it’s a blog post, a case study, a white paper or a data sheet asks the person to make a decision for the next step. This “asking” is NOT just for the sales page.
You want to get your prospect to take action. And in order to do this, you have to tell your prospect exactly what to do. You can’t be cryptic. You can’t “hope” that your prospect will “get it.” You must be crystal clear about what the next step is so that your prospect will understand it – and then do it.
Why you need an effective call to action
At the end of your marketing collateral, you want to give your prospect a detailed reason why they should immediately respond. Sales letters have a strong sense of urgency and many use the principle of scarcity to nudge their prospects toward making a purchase.
However, even if you’re offering a case study, you want to have a small section of copy after the study to take advantage of the emotions the prospect is experiencing by reading about a client’s success story.
Think of it… a prospect just got finished reading about how the XYZ Company used your brilliant solution and saved a whopping 348% in operating costs. She’s probably having this type of conversation in her head:
“Wow. That’s a huge savings. If this solution really does that, my manager is going to adore me. And my name just may get mentioned in the next C-level meeting. I’ll be seen as the hero who saved this company a truckload of money. Maybe even save some jobs in the process. Plus this solution will make things so much easier for the IT folks, who I know are always grumbling about the software we now use and how they have to babysit it constantly…”
Get the point?
Your prospect is imagining how your solution will affect her life for the better (and of course, the company’s). Do you really want to allow all that good juju to disappear by offering a bland phone number at the bottom of the page?
Yeah. If you said “hell, no!” – then you’re on the right track.
How to write an effective call to action
You want to give your prospect a reason to act now. So don’t tip-toe around this very important part of your copy.
You want your reason to make sense and speak in terms of your prospect’s wants and needs.
An example for the above would be:
Right now, I’m inviting you to learn how the Top-Notch System can help your organization save money on your operating costs and decrease IT hours spent on babysitting inefficient systems. Why not give us a call today to set up a free demo? We’ll be happy to answer your questions and show you how it will make a big difference to your bottom line. Call 123-456-7890 and ask for Chris Smith. He’ll schedule your appointment and give you the information you need. Give us a call today.
You’ve used the call to action to restate your most important promise or benefit. You’ve also taken advantage of the emotions a prospect may be experiencing. It’s friendly, helpful, and not too bold but yet strong enough to prod the prospect into action.
Sentences such as “Don’t wait…,” or “Grab this deal while it lasts” are CTA’s that include a sense of urgency. But if those strike you as too strong, you can still communicate the need to act now with wording that is similar to what I used above. Here are a few more:
Complete the form at your earliest convenience
For even faster service, call…
Take this important first step…
Come by for a visit and let us show you around…
Going back to my opening example – you are essentially asking your prospect to dine with you. You’re reminding them that the gorgeous waiting room is just the beginning of a delicious dinner experience that awaits them. You’re giving them the message that no detail has been left undone and assuring them that whatever else you offer will be of equal value.
The call to action is you extending your hand to your prospect and inviting them to the dinner table. Your prospects will be grateful for the clear instruction.