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Revisiting those calls to action

There are many things we all know about, yet we forget unless we’re reminded of them from time to time. One of these is to write effective calls to action.

I’m as much of a culprit as anyone. If I’ve been reading about the subject, for the next few weeks my web pages and articles will feature great calls to action at the end, aligned with what the reader came for. Then I’ll slowly lapse back into “Find out more…” or something that doesn’t really even follow on from the content.

Anyone who can’t avoid this habit probably does the same as me, and occasionally revisits material they’ve published in the recent past with an eye to some quiet improvements. When undertaking such a review, the two things I ask myself about the call to action at the end of any piece of sales collateral are this:

  1. Given what anyone who’s read this far must be after, does my call to action explicitly offer them relevant benefits?
  2. Does my call to action describe what’s going to happen?

Bad (but sadly, rather typical) examples include an educational article ending with a call to action trying to sell products and services. The reader arrived on the page looking for some background information, and presumably was in the right place if they got to the end. They didn’t come to buy something. Instead, they should have been offered the chance to find out even more information, through a newsletter or a link to a broader range of content that might be interesting.

To describe what’s going to happen, ensure that your call to action, even if it’s a button, includes an imperative verb, such as “Read more examples by subscribing to our monthly newsletter”, or “Request a free guide to using this product”.