How to Write Calls-to-Action
The only reason you're sending email to people is to drive some sort of action...
....that is, unless you're writing an apology like CEO Reed Hastings of Netflix did when he spontaneously increased prices and decreased value in 2011.
So, because you want your reader to do something, you need to tell them to do it.
That's right. You're not asking them to do anything -- you're TELLING them what to do.
There's a reason for this. Studies have shown that people tend to react more favorably to language that gives them a strong call-to-action versus a subtle request.
Think about it.... which one compels you to act more:
If you'd like to hire me, please click here.
Click here now so we can get started!
The bottom line is the second approach drips with confidence, enthusiasm and urgency.
The first call-to-action sounds like a whiny freshman asking the head cheerleader to go out on a date:
"So, maybe can you -- if it's not too much trouble -- perhaps we could, maybe, if it's okay, go out sometime?"
Sorry loser, she's getting into my back seat, not your mom's basement.
So, ensure your call-to-action is strong, and tells the recipient of your email exactly what you want them to do.
Here are a few examples (don't forget to embed a link to your contact form on each call-to-action):
You are a plumber looking to drive more seasonal contracts from customers:
"Click here and save money on your Heater and A/C Year Round!"
You are an accountant looking to get new clients from your list of newsletter subscribers:
"Click this Link so I can Get Started Fighting for Every Penny You Make."
You are a politician looking to drive donations for your campaign:
"Click Here Now to Take Your Country Back with Just a $10 Donation"
As you can see, I included the benefit for each service into the call-to-action. This has been proven more effective, especially for the the people that like to skim text.
Few more things I'd like to add before we part for the day:
- You can use the same call-to-action multiple times (at the top, middle and bottom of your email), by do NOT use multiple calls-to-action. This includes using different language or benefits, or asking them to email you back, call you, etc.. This array of inconsistency can be very confusing to readers, even though to us it may make perfect sense.
- You can use all sorts of wonderful formatting to emphasize your calls-to-action, such as highlighting the text in special colors, underlining the text, italicizing it or even making it all caps. Have fun, but always ensure you're measuring which call-to-action is more effective. I always found that you want people to look at it, and want to click it because it looks fun. This idea gave birth to the 'mouse-over' code which makes calls-to-action change color, disappear, shift, etc when you scroll over them.
- Try to use the word: "because" in your call to action. You'll notice I use that all over this site. That's because that word has been empirically proven to increase a person's response by 36%. Consider which one you'd respond to?
- If you're going out, can you get me some ice cream?
- If you're going out, can you please get me some ice cream because we're all out?
That's all for today. Good luck in writing your calls-to-action.
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