How to Move Your Audience with an Effective Call to Action 

 February 25, 2021

Along with your headlines, your calls to action are among the most important words you’ll write on your blog. Or for that matter, anywhere in your content marketing.

Without a call to action, your content becomes a dead end. It may be nice to read but it won’t engage readers or build your business.

A call to action (CTA) usually appears as a text link or button at the end (often in the middle) of a blog post, email, social post or ad, landing page, or other content. Images, colors, buttons, and other visuals are important elements, especially on landing pages or social media feeds.

In this post, however, we’ll focus on the words, on how to write an effective call to action at the end of each blog post.

This story is an equal and opposite partner to 7 Ways to Write the Absolutely Best Headline for Every Blog Post — on how to begin a post to get it read.

The prime directive

Like a headline, an effective call to action is clear, direct, and single-minded. There must be no doubt whatsoever in the reader’s mind about what to do, how to do it, and what will happen as a result.

In a few words, it tells the reader: “Take this action to get this benefit.”

That’s all it should do.

You wanted people to use their brains while they were reading, but now you want them to act. This is where you’ve been leading them, so don’t distract them at the critical moment.

The Secret Key: Know your goals.

In blogging as in business, knowing your “why” is fundamental.

People will be glad to click your link, but they need to know why they should. If you don’t know, how can they?

What short- or long-term goals are you trying to achieve with your blog and business? With a particular piece of content? How do they relate?

Let’s start with the specific.

What is your conversion goal?

What do you want readers to do when they’re done reading a particular post? They can click to:

  • Buy something
  • Learn more about your products or services
  • Subscribe to your blog or newsletter
  • Share the content on social media
  • Read more of your content
  • Download a free guide
  • Register for an event (webinar, workshop, etc.)

All of these relate to the question you need to answer first:

What are your real goals?

What’s the overall goal of your blog or website? Some possibilities:

  • Increase revenues
  • Generate leads
  • Build your email list
  • Build your reputation
  • Get your company more visibility
  • Spread your message
  • Move people through the customer journey
  • Build customer loyalty
  • Build a blogging empire

When you know why you’re writing, the words fall into place much more easily, at both the macro and micro levels.

A call to action tells the reader: Take this action to get this benefit.Click To Tweet

How long should a call to action be?

Unlike a headline, which should be short, a CTA can run fairly long in some situations, like a sentence or short paragraph to end a blog post.

But it’s often most effective in very few words, even one or two — like on every button you see:

  • Learn More
  • Shop Now
  • Buy Now
  • Click Here
  • Register Today
  • Sign Up
  • Get Started
  • Try for Free
  • Download Your Free Guide

Notice that the first word of each is an imperative, a blunt command to take action.

Opinions vary on whether to use the actual words “click here.” Pro: it’s completely clear. Con: it’s not necessary. Readers know by now that a link means “click.”

On this blog I use “click here” now and then for variety, but only to start a sentence that gives more information. “Click” may be clear, but it’s not as compelling as other command words.

A call for every occasion

Like headlines, CTA’s come in a wide variety to suit the occasion. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that creativity is as important as correct formatting to meet channel requirements. There are literally hundreds of ways to do it.

You can see many CTA examples here, here, and here, and also get free templates here.

Ending blog posts with a call to action

Still keep your CTA’s short and knife-like. But you can loosen up when ending long content like a blog post. If they’ve read this far, you don’t need to be curt now.

Still, be clear, direct, and single-minded. All the other advice still applies.

Here are some more tips for longer CTA’s:

• Make it personal.

First- and second-person pronouns make it easier for readers to put themselves in the picture and see themselves taking action. In the plural, they appeal to our desire to belong and form connections.

  • Sign me up
  • Send my free download
  • Join us
  • Join our community

• Ask for a response.

Encourage readers to ask questions or share their thoughts on what they’ve just read.

  • What’s your experience with this? Share it in the comment section below.

Keep it simple and ask for an easy response they can give right now, while they’re still on the page.

• Ask for a share.

If your goal is to get your blog read more widely, ask your readers to share your post. You’ll need to add sharing buttons to your site for this.

This blog uses the Social Warfare plugin (affiliate link), which I describe in my review of sharing plugins. It adds sharing buttons to the top and/or bottom of posts and pages, as well as click-to-tweet boxes like this one:

People will gladly heed your call to action, but they need a reason why.Click To Tweet

• Offer something.

Offer a free checklist, toolkit, or other download with an instant benefit. It demonstrates your value and builds your email list.

• Direct to other content.

Keep your readers on your site by sending them to related content. They may want to know what else you have to say on similar topics. You gain their confidence and hopefully they’ll take the next step, which is…

• Subscribe.

To build a captive audience, ask readers to subscribe to your blog updates and be notified when there’s new content or you have special offers, etc.

• Sell something.

Sure, be direct and ask for the sale. Don’t do this in every post and/or newsletter, though, or you’ll just sound sales-y.

But if your product or service solves the problem they just read about, they may be interested in your solution. In fact, product demonstration posts are high-converting and a valuable part of a blogging strategy.

• Create emotion or enthusiasm.

Express excitement to get your reader excited too. Exclamation points are often corny in writing, but effective to punctuate a call to action:

  • Buy now
  • Buy now!

• Help people help themselves.

My final tip: Add a call to action that will help the reader directly. For instance, ask them to apply what they’ve just learned to their own efforts. In this post’s partner, I ask readers to study headlines at the supermarket.

So that’s how I’ll end this post: Look at the CTA of the last post you published. Could it be improved? Does it even have a call to action? Add one now or update it if you need to.

Cover photo by Juliana Romão on Unsplash

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