Think back to a time a friend invited you to do something. You might have agreed immediately, or you might have felt a little hesitant. Why?
In online marketing and communications, we’re always inviting our friends and followers and clients – to join us. Sometimes, we’re inviting them to subscribe to a newsletter. Other times, we’re inviting them to a member rewards program. Either way, we have to put thought into the invitation if we hope to get a positive RSVP.
This is where your call to action, that word or phrase that prompts your audience to do something, comes into play. Some marketers may leave out the call to action, thinking clients already know what to do next. That’s not recommended. Others might fear a call to action will come off as gauche or inappropriate. It won’t.
What would you do if a friend mentioned an upcoming party, but then offered no further details? How would you know they wanted you to join them? How would you know where to go or when?
If they don’t invite you clearly, you won’t know what to do next. It’s no surprise a proper invitation comes first on the list of the “Six Ways to Be a Good Host” outlined by the etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute:
1) Invite clearly. Include necessary information for your guests in the invitation: the date, the time, the place, the occasion, the host(s) and when and how to respond “yes” or “no.” Add any special information such as what to wear or what to bring, say, for a pot-luck.
Like any good invitation, calls to action work best when they are direct, personal, and generate excitement for something more to come. Establishing a clear next step is a key part of continuing the conversation, and that step can be tweaked depending on the person and subject. Your call to action shouldn’t interrupt your message or alter your tone, but carry it home.
Even though it may be only a few words, a call to action can:
- Anchor your message
- Further existing relationships
- Build key connections
- Help you identify goals
Ask yourself these questions the next time you are trying to come up with a call to action: What do I want people to do? Why do I want them to do it? How do I want them to do it?
It’s so easy to fall back on what are becoming well-loved calls to action. How can you make your message stand out in a sea of “subscribe” and “donate” and “click here” buttons? This is your chance to have fun with language and truly hone your message. (HubSpot has assembled a great list of 31 examples of various calls to action if you are looking for inspiration.)
Play with using supporting copy, like a question, and offer readers different paths to take. Use A/B testing to see how your viewers respond to buttons versus links in the text. Try one phrase and then come up with another way of saying the same thing. Think about what words will matter to your specific audience.
How would you like to be invited?