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What is a call to action?

A call to action in the marketing context is a piece of content (graphic or text) intended to get a prospect to perform a specific act. This can be in the form of calling, clicking, submitting a form, etc. to get more information or make a purchase.

Every advertisement, web page, and email should have a call to action. This is the “ask”. It’s the thing you want people to do.

What makes a good call to action?

We measure the effectiveness of a call to action by looking at what percentage of people actually take the necessary next step. If your call to action is intended to get people to call, how many people actually did? If your call to action is intended to get people to visit your website, how many people actually did?

A good call to action is:

  1. Clear – it should be obvious what you want me to do next.
  2. Concise – keep it short and sweet.
  3. Captivating – it should grab my attention and get me to act.

A good call to action is active. What I mean by that is that it makes the prospect the subject of the action, and it suggests doing something. Let’s look at a few examples to better understand active calls to action:

  • Free Trial (this might sound like an enticing offer, but as a call to action is not active)
  • Sign Up for Your Free Trial (see how much better that is?)
  • Learn More (this is active, but “learn” is not an activity that is easy to measure or quantify)
  • Click Here to Learn More (this is active, and includes a direct activity in “click”)
  • Next (not active)
  • Continue or Submit (this is technically active, but it’s dull)
  • Get Started (much better)

You can see from the examples above, and the thousands of other examples all over the web, that there are a variety of different calls to action companies use – both good and bad. But when you make your call to action active, you entice a person to take that next step. You put them in control, and add a level of engagement that non-active calls to action do not match.