When it comes to written advertising, you can’t get very far without an effective call to action (CTA).

A CTA is essentially a written instruction telling readers what you’d like them to do next. This is incredibly important, because without providing clear and actionable steps on your marketing people won’t know how to go about purchasing your products or services.

So a good call to action should always lead your audience directly to the end product (whatever that happens to be).

Why Do You Need A Good Call To Action?

The call to action is, arguably, one of the most important components of any piece of marketing. In a nutshell, it’s what drives people to act. And at the other extreme, any form of B2B or B2C communication without a call to action is essentially useless.

In reality, pretty much everything comes with a CTA. Even something as simple as “buy it now” still provides a clear direction of what to do next. But the difference between an obligatory CTA and a good CTA is vast.

Essentially, it’s the difference between telling someone what to do and persuading them to do something. A good CTA convinces people why they need to do something, and motivates them to do it in a very subtle and effective way. Whereas a half-baked CTA simply gives direction to people who are already interested in the product or service.

From this perspective, it’s helpful to view a call to action as a powerful marketing tool in its own right. And as with all marketing tools, quality is essential.

How long should your CTA be?

Generally speaking, the shorter the better. But unless you’re framing it in a clickable button, your CTA doesn’t have to be excessively minimal.

The important thing to remember is that your CTA is, literally, calling on your readers’ to take some kind of action. So with this in mind it needs to be relatively concise. Chances are there’s already a reasonable amount of text leading up to your CTA anyway, so it might help to view it simply as a final push.

It’s all about being direct, to the point, and reminding your audience of what’s important and what you’d like them to do next.

Making it contextual

By weaving your CTA into the wider context of your marketing material, it takes away some of the hard-sell impact. CTAs like “sign up now” and “click here for more” are fine enough, and often they serve a purpose, but sometimes they can feel a bit direct and forced.

The more heavy-handed the CTA, the less enticing it becomes. In an ideal situation, we want to make our CTA a natural progression of the text in which it appears. If the CTA is a link to a certain product, then it helps if we can present that link in a natural way.

The hook comes first

Talking about an effective call to action is well enough, but in order to encourage readers to act on your marketing prompts, you first need to hook them. To do that, you need to know the ins and outs of effective copywriting. For an in-depth look at the written side of marketing, take a look at our guide to creating content that sticks, compels, and sells.