I think the famous duo of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy would feel right at home in a blog post about online calls to action for blog posts, e-newsletter articles, website landing pages, and so on.
You see, I’m a savant of oddball entertainment trivia who knows that MacDonald and Eddy are best remembered for a song called “Indian Love Call,” which they sang as a duet in the 1936 film Rose-Marie. Probably the most famous line from the song is this: “When I’m calling you-oo-oo; will you answer too-oo-oo?”
And then it came to me–I should blog about writing calls to action! See, this is how writers jump from point A to point B. We edge ourselves close to the cliffs of insanity but then pull back just in time with something coherent and plausible.
While I don’t claim to be the czarina (or even the grand duchess) of A/B testing for online call-to-action buttons, I do know a thing or two about writing compelling copy. Being creative with your digital calls to action is a risk I think you should be willing to take. As long as your aim is to compel or captivate, don’t be afraid to take a chance on a unique CTA:
Offer a Delectable CTA Sliver from Your Consultative Wheel of Cheese: Are you a consultant, coach, or other service provider? One desired action you probably chase is convincing prospective clients to contact you for an initial, no-obligation phone consultation (that then segues into a paying gig).
There are different ways of expressing this CTA, based on your personality, online strategy, and willingness to show some chutzpah. Allow me to demonstrate:
“Schedule your free 15-minute consultation today!” (Typical…)
“Put yourself on the path that will change your life forever–reserve your complimentary mini-session NOW!” (Not as typical…)
“Stop all soul-sucking damage and analysis paralysis–RSVP for your free consultation or SUFFER…” (Chutzpah!)
A CTA for Your Free Content Needn’t Be Dull: Giving away free content (downloadable e-book, white paper, etc.) is another way to promote your expertise. There’s the typical call to action regarding your gratis content: “Order your free e-book today!”
And then there’s something altogether different, captured live from a Mashco-Piro tribe’s remote village in Peru. Don’t be afraid to “Work it! Work it, baby…” the way Julia Roberts did in Pretty Woman:
“Want to scale Pinterest faster than a lightning strike? Download your complimentary how-to guide ASAP!”
“Aren’t you tired of screwing up your Facebook business page? Click here to make it all better…”
“If my cat can optimize its own website after reading this SEO white paper, imagine what these tips can do for you.”
Go for a CTA Home Run When Pitching Your In-Person or Online Event: There is nothing wrong with being polite when promoting your in-person event or online web clinic (don’t call it a webinar!), podcast, conference call, etc. But if you have a creative streak and see an opportunity to boost early registrations, a spiced-up CTA might be just the thing you need.
Let’s start with baby steps before drilling down to a respectfully disruptive chunk of copy:
“RSVP today for this sure-to-be-rewarding session with well-known speaker Ima Expert!”
“This exclusive web clinic will fill up faster than a free investor’s seminar at Ruth’s Chris Steak House–don’t delay your RSVP!”
“Holy procrastination party, Batman–do you really want to blow off the registration deadline and miss out?”
If You Want People to Read Your Stuff, Snag Their Eyeballs via Your CTA: The “Please subscribe to my blog (or newsletter) for advice and tips” CTA is all too familiar these days. If I offered an e-mail subscription to the By All Writes blog (my bad, I know), here are some ways I might attempt to coax you closer to my fishing boat at Lake Tahoe:
“I pity the fools who don’t school themselves with this blog…”
“I loathe spam too, which is why you won’t receive any from me–so sign up!”
“Don’t make me resort to JGS (Jewish Guilt Syndrome)–my blog aches for your eyeballs!”
If the (Online) Word Is Love, Don’t Fear Asking for Your Share: We all love to be loved online, but some of us are better at asking for such affection than others. I’m the type who throws social-media firecrackers, especially on Twitter. (Kaboom!)
Teasers and provocative statements become calls to action when you beckon visitors’ eyeballs and index fingers to collaborate and reward your blog post or article (with a like, share, or re-tweet).
I used to include “please RT” or “please share” when posting a new blog entry to my social-media accounts. But this didn’t garner much increased reach or activity for me on social media, so I stopped. Here are less invasive (and more entertaining) ways of asking for a nibble of digital love:
“Sharing is caring, so don’t be stingy…”
“I dare you to share it!”
“Ain’t too proud to beg like a certain skinny, well-preserved rock star, so…”
“It’s your turn to play nice in the sharing sandbox!”
It Takes a Tough Blogger to Make a Tender CTA (And Reap Comments): The questions I typically ask my readers and visitors at the end of a blog post are meant to elicit a “moo” without use of an electric cattle prod. However, I don’t have a CTA hovering adjacent to the comments area. Here are some possible CTAs that might stimulate the commentary you seek:
“Don’t leave me guessing–what are you thinking?”
“I’m tired of having conversations with myself; please, join in!”
“There’s too much white space here. Why not fill it up in the form of a comment?”
If a Publicist Can Use a Boilerplate, So Can You: For those of you who aren’t slick promoters of online goodies, all you might need is what I consider a “boilerplate” call to action. This very common term from the public relations industry refers to the final paragraph that usually closes out a press release.
A boilerplate doesn’t necessarily ask your reader to take a specific action, but it can if you want it to. I use an all-purpose boilerplate at the end of my blog posts (see below) because I’m not promoting a piece of content, paid subscription, or special event.
For concrete examples of high-level boilerplates that double as calls to action, please visit the lovely people at bloggingprweb.com.
From a marketing perspective, many of my examples will be deemed too long to fit on a social media or landing-page CTA button. Again, the purpose of this post is to encourage you to break away from your conservative instincts when asking readers or visitors to take action online.
For specific guidance regarding the science of copywriting for CTA buttons, please sample advice from Hubspot, the Content Marketing Institute, and Copyblogger. (The last link focuses on conversation rates and differences between “you/your vs. I/my” CTAs.)
I challenge you to do the following: Draft some brilliant calls to action, and then reduce them to their button-sized essentials. One final example before my boilerplate call to action rises up to greet you: “Answer This Indian Love-Call…”
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing or educational copy. Please call Lori Shapiro at 856-810-9764 or email By All Writes LLC at email@example.com for a no-obligation project quote today!