Have you ever been tempted to purchase something from an infomercial, even if it was a product you didn’t really need or want? One minute you’re watching your favorite television show and the next you’re entranced by the commercial, saying, “Yeah, I need that!” to a product you’ve never even heard of before. No matter if you’re shopping online, reading a magazine or watching television, advertisers are consistently using a technique called a "call to action." If you’re in business to sell something, you’ll need a great call to action, too.
What is a call to action?
Simply, a call to action is how you convince a customer to do something. You could say “click here,” “buy now,” “register” or something similar that tells the person you’re speaking to that there is an action you’d like them to pursue.
It’s your chance to rally visitors to your website or viewers of your ad to go further and be exposed to your message and products. And it’s a great way to turn lookers into buyers by motivating a purchase.
Why they work
People will often follow instructions, so if you tell them to do something—many will. Simple as that.
A great call to action creates a sense of urgency or limited possibilities that must be acted on right now. Or, it creates a sense of well-being or offers a solution to a known or perceived problem. It also clearly spells out how a customer can make a purchase.
A great call to action works when:
- It clearly triggers an emotional reaction (I must have that, need it, want it, etc…).
- It clearly tells someone how to make a purchase (click right here to purchase).
- It creates some urgency to purchase immediately (offer ends at midnight tonight! Buy now!).
- It provides incentives or added details that make it impossible to refuse (free shipping!).
Types of call to actions
Advertisers use all sorts of call to action methods to drive sales. The method you use depends on where you’re using it, what you’re selling and your target market. Commonly, you’ll see calls to action like:
- Buy now!
- Limited time offer!
- Click Here
- Act Fast!
- Register here!
- But wait, there’s more…
- Don’t delay!
Other calls to action may be a bit longer or more leading. You may tell a story or ask the reader pointed questions that lead them to learn more about your product.
Incentives are a great call to action method. Offer your reader something for making a purchase; offer free shipping or double the product for one low price. Shoppers love extras and incentives and the feeling they are getting more than what they are paying for. When you add in incentives, you create a call to action the many people can’t refuse.
Where to use a call to action
The beauty of call to action methods is that you can use them anywhere you promote or sell your product or service.
If you have a website, you need to make it work hard to turn visitors into buyers. Great calls to action can help. Make your homepage the most visible for your product and make sure you have a clear, strong call to action. If your homepage isn’t your main selling page, make sure it points visitors to your sales page with clearly marked ways to get there.
A weekly or monthly newsletter is a great way to connect with past customers and reach new ones. It’s also a great venue for adding incentives to your call to action. Each newsletter can have a new incentive, for example, like free shipping for the month of May, or a percentage off each sale.
Your blog is a great place to connect with your readers on a personal level. Tell stories about your product and how it has helped people. Or, let people know about good things you’re doing, like charity work or going green. Then sprinkle in little calls to action for the products or services you’re promoting. Add calls to action on your sidebars or throughout blog posts where they’ll be highly visible.
Facebook and Twitter allow you to connect with past and potential customers in real-time. You can actively update any promotions, contests or sales you’re offering as they are happening. Use clear calls to action to promote what’s going on in your store or website.
Ultimately, you may need to play around with different calls to action before you find one or two that work the best for you. Remember to craft your call to action based on your target market and what you sell, and clearly outline what you want customers to do (click here to buy!). If one call to action doesn’t seem to drum up much response, try something else. Just like any marketing technique, trial and error may be your best guide for finding the perfect call to action for your business and target market.
Justine Grey is a web entrepreneur who writes Work Life Joy for frazzled business builders who long to work vibrantly and live beautifully. You can find her on Twitter at @JustineGrey chatting about life, work and her pop culture obsession.