Pity the poor ‘Call-to-Action’. It’s something all copywriters learn about, but when it comes to editorial writing it’s often neglected.
A call-to-action is where you urge your reader to click on a link, pick up a phone, visit a website, change a habit or think in a different way.
Many bloggers, email publishers and marketers save their calls-to-action for their promotional copy only. They believe the editorial’s job is to pass on information, while the sales copy’s job is to push the reader to act.
This is a mistake on four levels:
ONE: You’re viewing editorial and sales as two different entities.Your editorial IS sales. If you don’t write engaging editorial, your sales messages won’t get read in the first place. Each editorial must resell the benefits of being a subscriber, follower or regular blog visitor
TWO: You deepen your engagement by getting a subscriber to do something. If a piece of copy moves someone to physically act, your service it’s elevated to something important and crucial to their lives. You have, in effect, reached out and touched the subscriber. In return, they’ve responded with real action.
THREE: If you don’t put calls to action in regular editorial emails, you’re conditioning your reader to be passive observer, not an active participant. When you then ask them to buy a product, subscribe to a service or go to an event, they’re less likely to respond. They may find it weird that you’re suddenly urging them to get up and do something. Many will rightly decide that you’re only pushing them to act so that you can make money.
FOUR: Calls to Action give you an opportunity to gauge the interest of your readers in the subjects you discuss. Measure the response by monitoring clicks and page views. This is invaluable feedback when you’re developing new products and services.
All your tips and recommendations should have a call-to-action. To take a basic example: “Lemon juice mixed with warm water makes an excellent allergy-free window cleaner.”
This is a tip. But for it to be useful, it needs to be followed by a call-to-action.
“Lemon juice mixed with warm water makes an excellent allergy-free window cleaner. Squeeze the juice of a whole lemon into a bowl through a sieve, so any bits are strained out. Boil a pint of water. Let it cool for 5 minutes. Now add to the lemon juice. Apply this to the window with a cloth, just as you would any regular window cleaner.”
As well as encouraging the reader to act on your information, your editorial should finish with a call to action. Some options:
- Send the reader to a website to find out more
- Ask the reader to write a comment or email you with their own ideas and tips
- Drive the reader back to a previous blog or article you’ve written
- Sign up for a free report, service or download a PDF
- Urge them to think about the information you’ve just given them and view the subject in a new way
- Encourage them to try out the tips and advice you’ve just provided
- Push them to change a habit or mind-set (but remind them of the potential benefits of doing so)