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call to action

Contributor(s): Corinne Bernstein

A call to action, in marketing, is an image, a line of text or a combination of the two that is aimed at encouraging readers, listeners or viewers to take the next step.

An effective call to action comes after the marketing message and makes it clear what the marketer wants the audience to do (such as “liking” something or making a purchase) and can be included anywhere in a marketing message in a print communication, on a website, in an e-book, in an email, at the end of a blog post or on social media. A marketing message may have more than one call to action.

Calls to action use action verbs in the imperative form -- such as "click here," "sign up," "call now," "subscribe" or "download" -- and typically use words to encourage the audience to act quickly such as "limited time offer" or "act now." Effective calls to action should have compelling copy and eye-catching design and be relatively simple. Writers of calls to action should avoid multisyllabic, complicated words or terms that point to complex processes.

In calls to action, the audience should know what they are getting for their efforts, for example, an e-book. Calls to action should make it clear if the audience has to pay for something or provide personal information. Marketers should also make sure to deliver on anything they promise.

A link might be included if the goal is to send someone to a website. In online marketing, it is recommended that readers be taken to a dedicated landing page after clicking on the call to action.

Analytics can be applied to measure the performance of online calls to action. These tools can gauge the click rate in an email, on a blog or in social media. Marketing analysts might also look at the rate of clicks to submission, or how many of those who click on the call to action to reach a landing page submit the landing page form. Analytics can be also used to examine the percentage of those who view a call to action and become leads.

This was last updated in April 2017

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