How to write a call-to-action: slaying the big bad 'so what?'

Updated: Apr 13




If you want your marketing materials to earn their keep, here are some things you want people to do after reading them.

  • Call you for a quote

  • Sign up for your newsletter

  • Make a purchase, online or in-store

  • Book onto an event

  • Download more information

  • Request a call back

  • Send you an email


Because when your marketing materials inspire action, it means they’re worth producing. They deliver a benefit for your business and, hopefully, pay for themselves in the business they win.


What you don’t want people to do is:

  • Click away from your website empty-handed

  • Think ‘that was nice’ and bin your brochure

  • Shrug and think ‘so what?’

What's wrong with 'so what?'

'So what?’ is the enemy of action.


'So what?' is the sound of potential customers walking away with their money still in their pockets.

It is the gentle weeping of unsold products, wondering when they’ll find their forever home.


It’s contractors twiddling their thumbs as they wait for work to come in.

It is the swoooosh of the tumbleweed blowing through your bistro.

‘So what?’ moments happen when content doesn’t do anything to move a customer forward through the sales process.


They read your webpage or brochure, maybe they find it really interesting. But then...nothing. There is no next step. There is nothing else to do. So they leave.


Bye-bye sales. Bye-bye early retirement. Give them a wave on their way out…


You making money or wasting trees?

If you don’t want your marketing materials to bring in business, feel free to print flyers and drop them in your nearest recycling bin.


Or continue posting boring blogs that add no value to your business.

But if you’re in the business of...well, doing business...then you need to make your marketing materials work harder.

And you do that through calls to action.

The call to action is the subtle nudge or a great big kick up the backside your reader needs to take the next step.


Read on for actionable CTAs

Clickworthy CTAs look like this:


  • Call now for your free, no obligation quote

  • Sign up now for 50% off your first meal

  • Join 1,000s of others receiving our weekly tips by email

  • Book now to avoid disappointment

  • Download your free holiday guide and start dreaming today

  • Click here for exclusive access to our next VIP event


Or plain and simple next steps like this:


  • Call us

  • Read more

  • Buy now

  • Add to basket


Whether they’re exclusive time-limited offers or simple invitations to give you a ring, calls to action give your customer somewhere to go.


They shepherd your reader through your content to a desired action, and they stop them disappearing off to a new distraction.


  • Like a competitor

  • Or the cinema

  • Or petting a cute cat that’s walked by


You need to lasso your easily distracted, often fickle readers and pull them along with you, delighting their socks off until they're ready to commit.


Take a look at my tips

Here are my tips to get started with compelling calls to action:


  1. Work out what you want your customer to do. That’s the whole point of your marketing materials, after all. Don’t leave them with nowhere to go when they fall in love with what you offer.

  2. Think about the most effective call to action for your business. Don’t invite people to call you if you’re never near a phone. Ask them to email you instead. Or to download your brochure.

  3. Have a destination in mind and work out how to get them there. For example > Read website > Email for info > Receive brochure > Book service

  4. Pepper calls to action throughout your text but, as a minimum, make sure every page of your website or publication finishes with one. No-one should get to the end of the page and have nowhere to go.

  5. Create a sense of urgency to encourage people to take the step straight away ‘Limited offer’ ‘Book now’ ‘Start today’

  6. Start your CTAs with active verbs like the ones highlighted in bold here. They are compelling and give clear instructions about what to do next.

  7. Ditch your waffle. A call to action is quick and clear. If your call to action looks like this – Please kindly consider signing up for our insightful newsletter which is delivered to your inbox on a bimonthy basis – change it!

  8. Be aware of GDPR laws if you plan to ask people to sign up for information by email or post. Creating a mailing list is massively valuable to a marketer but there are legal responsibilities to consider. Visit ico.org.uk for info

Need help nailing your marketing materials? Want to create great content? Get in touch today.



About the author

Libby is a freelance copywriter and content marketer from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She worked in marketing and communications for 18 years before turning freelance in 2019. She's written for big brands and boutique businesses, crafting customer-friendly marketing content for print and online.

#CopywritingServices #Copywriter #Newcastle #ContentMarketing #ContentMarketer #BusinessBlogging

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© 2020. Design and text by Libby at Write on Tyne. Yup, I design stuff too.