When someone visits your author website, or reads a post on Facebook, or checks out your book, there is a goal behind it—something you would like them to do next. You want them to read, comment, share, buy, subscribe—something. But are you actually asking readers do it?
This request statement is called a call to action. And it can make a huge difference in your conversion results.
Why use a call-to-action?
It’s easy to overlook the call to action when creating your platform—after all, you think, if someone wants to join your email list, they will. But you’d be surprised how many simply don’t think of it on their own.
Consider: You have a guest over for dinner, and as you all sit down, you place salt and pepper on the table. It’s right there, in easy line of sight for whoever may want it. But it’s on the other side of the table from your guest, and she simply starts enjoying what’s on her plate.
Left on her own, many guests won’t bother to ask or reach for the salt and pepper. But if you offer it and hand it to them—“Sue, would you like the salt or pepper?”—the answer is almost always yes.
This is why the call to action is so important. It draws specific attention to the action you would readers to take, and makes it as easy as possible for them to complete that action.
For any remaining doubters out there, let’s look at the numbers:
- Adding a call to action to emails increases click-through by an average 371% and sales by 1,617%
- Adding a call to action to a Facebook page increases click-throughs by an average 285%.
You are reading those numbers correctly—simply making a clear ask to readers to complete an action can increase the likelihood of readers doing it by threefold.
The Rule of Easy
When it comes to building an online platform (or any promotion anywhere, ever), don’t assume your reader will know to take action. It is up to you to make the desired action as easy and obvious as possible. This is where a call to action comes in.
The call to action is extremely simple—so simple in fact that many of us are prone to skip it completely. But as the stats above indicate, it is extremely important and wildly effective.
The simple truth is, readers tend to be passive when reading online, and also deeply distracted. The combination leads to an audience that often won’t take action on their own.
Instead of thinking of your call to action as marketing, consider it a way to help your reader help themselves, by making it really easy to take the next step in engaging with you, this awesome new author they just discovered.
How to Write a Call to Action
In the simplest of terms, a call to action is just you asking readers to complete an action. Example:
Join my email list:
This simple request will go a long way to increase your conversions. But there are methods you can use to increase your conversion rate even more. To start, the more specific you can be in your request, the better:
Enter your email here to join my email list:
Another way to improve your results is to offer an incentive, or if you don’t have something to give away, emphasize how completing the action will benefit the reader.
Get weekly updates by joining my email list! Enter your email here:
See the difference this can make? The more you can be clear and specific about both the action and the benefit, the more effective your call to action will be.
What Should Your Ask Be?
It’s best to focus on a single call to action—giving your readers too many things to do is just as bad as not giving any. Which begs the question: What should your call to action be? Focus your call to action on something that will grow and/or strengthen your readership, such as:
- Join your email list
- Share your content on social media
- Follow you on social media
- Buy your book
- Comment on a blog post
I strongly recommend using your call to action to ask readers to subscribe to your email list, as your email list is one of the best ways to reach readers directly for long-term relationships—so it doesn’t just help you now, but also down the road.
You may think that what you’re asking for is obvious, but for distracted online readers, a call to action is a helpful tip on what to do next.
So help your readers out by making it clear and easy—you’ll help yourself along the way by growing your platform, too.
By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.