Jon Writes

The Brand Blog

How to give your brand the best call to action

Clicks. Shares. Eyeballs. You want them.

Conversion. Sales. Brand awareness. You need them.

But without words that convince, achieving those outcomes is nearly impossible. Your storytelling efforts will be for naught. And readers — whom you need to convert into loyal, returning customers — will ignore you.

The solution: Pair every piece of content you write with a clear and compelling call to action. Always. Every time. Everywhere.

Here’s why.

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First, what’s a call to action?

Directions. 

A call to action (CTA) is a word, phrase or full sentence that tells your customers what they should do next once they’ve read your content. That could mean sharing your latest blog post on their social media. It could be signing up for your email newsletter, filling out a form or downloading a PDF. It could mean making a purchase.

And because you’re using your story to draw and connect with your customers, it’s critical you tell them exactly what you want them to do with it once they’re done. Otherwise, what’s the point? As moving as your story may be, it means nothing if your audience doesn’t understand why they’re reading it or what's in store for them. 

A good call to action communicates your value, helps your readers understand the endgame and persuades people to interact with your brand on another level.

(Self-disclosure: I learned this the hard way after spending a significant amount of time writing content without CTAs. You live and you learn).

So, how do you write a good CTA?

There’s no simple right or wrong answer (is there ever?) but here are some best practices to make your CTA effective.

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Use power words

Some words pack more punch than others. Use those.

Your CTA should start with a strong action verb —  “get,” “buy,” “shop,” “share,” “start,” “discover” — that engages the reader. Next come words or phrases that demonstrate value, evoke emotion and inspire action.

Fabricated examples: “Get hernia relief now;” “Discover new hair today;” “Beat your nicotine habit with this formula;" "Buy your way out of debt forever.”

Your CTA should be affirming and focus on what the consumer will get in return for clicking on it. Power words help because they're easy to understand. Giving people clear direction is much more effective than using passive, flowery language that might read like Tolstoy but inspires people to keep scrolling rather than click.  

Make the people feel something

Words carry weight, and that weight makes people feel certain things. Once they feel, they do.

If you can successfully tap into your audience’s motives, desires, needs, wants, fears and/or hopes, you can wordsmith CTAs that will urge them to click that button, share that post or give up that cash.

Be clear and concise

Platitudes and politeness are great but typically get you nowhere when you want customers to interact with your brand. Instead, be straightforward and clear. Let them know exactly what they need to do and what they should expect.

Fancy words and funny phrases are nice — if that’s your brand. If it’s not, then stick with clarity and simplicity.

Don’t mince words and don’t beg. Be kind, not pathetic.

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Offer rewards

If your customers take the time to read your content, you best offer something great in return. Write your CTA with the incentives in mind. Can you offer readers who visit your website a coupon or giveaway? Are you going to reward them with more content to help them with whatever?

Even if you can’t offer these kinds of benefits, let the readers know what value they’re going to get from your brand. Will your website let them compare the sugar content of different yogurt brands? Are they signing up for oboe lessons? Are they going to get organic deodorant in the mail? Whatever your value proposition, it should be in your CTA.

Make it urgent

Your readers have no time to waste. Literally. No time. Everyone’s in a hurry.

Combat the frenzy by making your CTA urgent. Use phrases like “now,” “limited time,” “get it while you can,” “be the first,” etc. to convince your customers that now is the time to act.

Fabricated examples: “Read this now if you want to boost your writing prowess.” “Give us a call to start saving today.” “Get the secret to faster weight loss, available for a limited time only.” "Clear your gutters before they clog again."

The retail industry is great at making people feel as if they’ll miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity if they don’t act now. Be that way.

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Be genuine

Every tip till now may suggest that CTAs are calculating and shrewd. Yep.

But your CTA should also be genuine and honest. You ever click on a link expecting to find one thing only to be led to something completely different? Being bamboozled doesn't feel good and it’s the quickest way to lose your customer’s trust.

Never make false promises or bait-and-switch your readers.

Their trust is everything and it should be evident in your CTA.

Offer exclusivity

Who doesn’t like feeling special? Write your CTA in a way that speaks directly to the reader and makes him feel like he’s the only one in the room. You’ll get more response from someone who feels like your product is just for them rather than someone who feels like they’re just part of the crowd.

Fabricated example: "Indulge in these custom razor rings, just for you."

Commit to trial and error

Finding your CTA sweet spot will take time. Experiment with different words and phrases. If you use analytics, A/B test which CTAs sway people to act and which repulse them. 

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Make it pretty

If you have the bandwidth and skill (or know a really friendly graphic designer), design your CTA so that it stands out. That could be creating a brightly lit (but not tacky) button for your website or landing page, or making a nifty graphic of some kind for your social media or email blasts.

If you’re like me and possess not a single visual design bone in your body, then use the free templates available at sites like MailChimp or Canva to give your CTA that added visual boost.

There are plenty more tips but I’m trying to take my own advice and write shorter.

If you want more writing help, check out these other posts on the Jon Writes Brand Blog.