Claim Your Call to Action

by | Copywriting, Wordplay

Say “call to action” to folks who have seen too much pushy marketing you you might get an eye roll. But let’s look at how you can do it right, and what happens when you avoid it.

A well-known writer and blogger with a sizeable following starts an online community.

Smart, creative, engaged people join in healthy numbers, but the conversation quickly fizzles out. A community member asks the group about ways to get people talking, or even better, collaborating. There are a few replies, then silence.

A professional artist hires a designer to build a visually stunning website. Visitors wanting to buy the work have to scour every page until finally, near the bottom of the artist’s CV, is a single line listing a gallery.

Another artist has a website with an extensive portfolio, but no indication if the work is for sale at all.

These are lost opportunities.

There are a number of reasons it happens:

  • the fear of being labelled pushy or manipulative
  • an overwhelming feeling of vulnerability
  • or the belief that all you have to do is build something and business will take care of itself

What’s missing in all these examples is a call to action. The business owner has avoided it, forgot, or didn’t understand the benefit.

Cut through customer distraction

To borrow a frequently misquoted phrase: You can build it and they can come*. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll always know what to do when they arrive.

We’re overwhelmed by information. We’re often short on time and way too distracted. You know that. 

It’s just fine to tell people about the step they can take next.

People need structure, direction, a call to action, or sometimes a simple nudge.

Building an enthusiastic audience is a smart investment in your business. But to have a sustainable business, you need to turn some of the people in your audience into customers. 

When you spend the time, energy, and money to create an online presence, consider your goals.

Your mission — and you should choose to accept it

How can you make it easy for your customers to get to know you? Your work?

How can you make it easy for people to buy from you?

A community moderator can spark conversation by asking leading questions. A theme for various days of the week gives people ideas about how to contribute, or ask for help. That’s a call to action, even though the intent is to prompt participation instead of a purchase.

A well-designed website with an appropriate call to action works for you when you’re not there.

On a website, a subscribe button for a newsletter helps build your email list, which is still the best way to reach prospective customers. That button doesn’t have to be part of an obnoxioius pop-up window.

If you love pop-ups, there’s a way to delay their appearance to give your visitors time to read your content first. 

A call to action doesn’t have to be “BUY NOW!” The message can be more subtle. And it should be, if you and your ideal customer don’t respond to shouting or hard-sell tactics (see note about obnoxious pop-up windows above).

The average time spent on a website is 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Only the most committed visitor will go digging to figure out how to buy from you if it’s not immediately clear.

Make your call to action in your own style

If the idea of a call to action is off-putting, then redefine it. Call it something else. Make it into an elegant piece of direction, a wayfinding device, or an invitation to explore what you have to offer.

Burying your intent to sell, whether it’s a product or service, isn’t an act of humility — it’s a waste of time, energy, and money.

You’re in business. People expect you to be selling products or services. Deliver your best and they’ll love your for it.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

*The quote “If you build it, he will come” is from the movie Field of Dreams, but is often misquoted as “If you build it they will come”. Which, by the way, is a myth. You can build anything. No one has to come. But that’s a story for another time.