What is a call to action in marketing communications?

7th June 2016 | Posted in Marketing communications

Calls to action in marketing communications

Despite having been asked to write hundreds of calls to actions, I can’t get that initial vision of half a dozen marines charging around an assault course out of my head.

Take a few seconds to remove that thought and let’s move on.

Actually a call to action is simply telling your customer what you to do next. And it’s what you include in absolutely any communication that you send them.

Daily calls to action

What’s your signature on your emails? If you include your phone number, email address, web site, LinkedIn details, twitter account, FaceBook name … you’re halfway to a call to action. I say halfway because a call to action is a bit more positive about that next move.

If you say “Call me on ….”, “Visit our website at …..”, “Follow me on Twitter at ….” – then that’s more of a call to action because you are specifically guiding your correspondent into your next interaction.

Why do we use calls to action?

Customers go on a journey. It’s a journey they might start when they use a search engine. Or you might initiate it with a marketing campaign – an ad, a tweet, a Facebook post or an email campaign.

This journey starts with awareness of your presence and what you’re offering. Now you need to convince and persuade that potential customer that they need what you’re offering and they need to buy it from you. As soon as possible.

Calls to action take them on that journey. Whatever they’re seeing from your business a call to action makes sure they know what to do next to find out more and make a purchase.

Where to use calls to action

Absolutely everywhere. If you’re communicating you have the opportunity to move a customer on to the next stage.

Hello. We’d like to introduce ourselves

On an advertisement

Even the biggest names use calls to action in their advertising. Take a test drive. Visit a website page we’ve set up especially for this campaign. Buy one today.

In a mailshot

If your print or html mailshot has done its job and sparked interest, the recipient needs to know what to do now to find out more or buy.

On a blog

A blog is part of your awareness and persuasion process. Your blogs help people to recognise your expertise and build trust. Now you want them to understand why they should buy from you. Some customers might want more general discussions and some will be ready to hear about your offerings.

 Let us tell you more about ourselves

On a website

Potential customers who have arrived on your website through your blog, marketing communications or a search engine are probably already interested in hearing specifically about what your business can do for them. They need to know how to find out more and start talking.

On a brochure

You may already be at the stage where your customer is reading up on your specific products and services, but you still need a call to action. If they’re interested to find out more, what do they do next.

Let’s do business

On every page of your blog, website or any other communication, offer the opportunity to move on quickly. Contact us or buy now boxes on blogs, newsletters, campaigns and websites make it as easy as possible for potential customers to get in touch.

What calls to action do we use?

That depends. It depends on where your call to action is and what stage in the sales journey your customer has reached. So rather than be specific about one action, why not offer a range of possibilities? Here are some that people use regularly.

In every case, make sure you explain why your audience should take that action. What will they learn? How will it help their decision-making process?

Visit the website

It’s a simple call to action that could be used on an advertisement, a leaflet or in an email. It works best if you just want to raise awareness in the first instance.

Visit the landing page

Not the exact words you use but the idea is that you set up a special page focused on the offer you’re promoting. So if you’ve been advertising and mailing about red umbrellas you’d set up a page with a name something like www.mysite.com/redumbrellas and send people there.

Download a brochure

A chance to find out more about the product or service you’re offering. It absolutely shouldn’t be a perfect copy of your website content.

Watch and listen

If you’ve invested in making videos or podcasts or any other media type, offer them to visitors to view or hear.

Get in touch

One to offer at any stage of the sales process where conversation is important. Invite customers to ask questions or set up meetings by providing forms, email addresses and phone numbers.


Last but not least. Make it easy.



If you found this article interesting you may enjoy:

Making every word count in promotional emails Checklist of components for emails and newsletters

Going with the flow Five tips to sharpen up your copywriting so your audience wants to read right through to the call to action

Do you have more questions? Would you like to engage help to create powerful communications that really connect with your current and potential customers? Get in touch with me at [email protected] for an initial discussion about how I can help you make your words work hard for your business.


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