4 Ways to Write a Compelling Call-to-Action

Let me guess, you want to move customers to action without sounding “salesy.” You’re not alone. Nearly every marketer P.A.I. (post-American Idol) is focused on offering value versus a hard sale.

Pendulum swing in sales

In trying to avoid the hard sale, you might also find yourself completely avoiding any pitch or call to take action.

So the new P.A.I. rule of thumb (which is actually an old marketing rule):  Don’t send a message without employing the ever-compelling call-to-action (CTA).

What’s even better than just throwing in a CTA at the end of your message? Plan your communication around them. Whether your message is in the form of a web banner, email, video, letter, speech – plan your message around the CTA. Strategy is important here!

4 Categories: Use Any of the Four to Create a Compelling Call-to-Action

What compels people follow-through on a call-to-action? Most often it’s something your readers perceive as valuable, exclusive or free.

We’ll give you a few examples within the context of email marketing. (Oh, and feel free to categorize your CTAs like we do.)

1. Read on…

In an email marketing message, include the introductory paragraph from your content and possibly a few bullet points of what they’ll learn. Then link to the rest of the content on your website (blog or landing page). If your content is relevant and interesting, they’ll click.

2. But wait, there’s more…

In this example, readers a reward for their time spent reading your email. If your email copy gives a quick tip, consider using a call-to-action to offer more. For example, in the sidebar of the email, offer a complete how-to guide in the form of a whitepaper.

3. Don’t miss out…

Create the sense of urgency by emailing a limited-time offer. We make fun of infomercials because their tactics are so overt. They sell on the sense of urgency and the extra bonus offers when you “order now.” And it works. Just don’t make your email sound scam-y, corny or pathetic.

4. Beverly Hillbillies’ “Granny” style…

Always scheming to get her way, Granny Clampett often tried to manipulate, overrun or shoot her way to what she wanted. In your email, feel free use the shotgun approach. Offer the same call-to-action in multiple ways, scattered throughout the email: as a hyperlink in the copy, a button on the side, a registration form in the footer, an image linked to a landing page, or everywhere. Take Granny’s advice: be on the offense and fire away.

Granny Clampett with her shotgun


In the spirit of the P.A.I., keep the passion alive in your relationship with your customers and potential customers. A call-to-action is important for your marketing messages―for adding value and giving your readers an opportunity to take the next step by interacting with you.