default-150x150Marketers sometimes forget that our audiences don’t share our enthusiasm for our products. At least, not initially. Print and online advertisements that take only a “show and tell” approach are a case in point. Such ads assume the product value will be obvious and irresistible to readers—and as a result, website traffic will spike, email boxes will fill with inquiries and phone lines will flood with orders. The reality, however, is that ad readers need a little coaxing. A clear, compelling call to action can help pull your potential customers into the crucial “hear me out” phase.

From “pay attention” to “hear me out”

Getting your audience to the “hear me out” stage is important because most B2B product sales require an investigation process. Listing your company name, website and phone number on an ad makes you easy to reach, but, by default, it sends the message, “Call us when you’re ready to order.” In comparison, a call to action sets reasonable, less intimidating expectations that potential customers are more likely to act on.

Here are some guidelines for creating an effective call to action in your marketing communications:

Clear – Don’t bury your call to action in the middle of a paragraph of text. In an ad or on a Web page, locate it in the upper third of the page. Use color or size to make it stand out. Don’t complicate it by offering too many alternatives.

Active – Words and phrases should be strong and direct, such as “Download,” “Read,” or “Subscribe.” These are verbs that command action rather than consideration, analysis or reflection.

Compelling – You’ll get better results when your call to action is offering something your audience perceives as valuable. Few people can resist a “free” offer, especially when it has some intrinsic value, such as an educational white paper on a relevant topic, stories about peer experiences or an entry into a contest for a drawing.

Urgent – Readers are more likely to act when there is urgency in the call to action. “Exclusive Offer,” “Limited Time Only” and even “Today” are words and phrases that signal a need to act now.

Simple – If your offer requires the respondent to register online before fulfillment, request only minimal information. If you try to capture too much information, you will lose prospects who find your queries too invasive or too much trouble.

By following these guidelines for a strong call to action in all your marketing communications, you’ll get more responses to your marketing communications efforts. If you would like to find out more, ACT NOW and contact your CCC account manager or email smcpherson@cccinc.com.