Call to (In)action

This post was written by John White on Thu, 13 Nov 2008 10:31:16 +0000
Posted Under: call to action,case studies,persuasion,white papers

“Who is the audience?”

“What do you want them to do after they’ve read the piece?”

One of our writers systematically asks these questions at the outset of every project. It’s a bit oppressive at times – I can remember when it was refreshing – but it does keep us on our toes. She’s particularly manic about the second question.

“If you don’t have a clear, specific call to action at the end of the piece, you’ve wasted an opportunity to capitalize on the reader’s attention,”  she intones. She’s right, but we still manage to squander the chance most of the time.

She’ll write a business-to-business case study or white paper, and draft a “For More Information” section at the end with a link to a newsletter sign-up, or a podcast, or a landing page for a demo of the product. None of which exists, but any of which is relatively easy to cobble together.

“Too much work,” says the Web group.

“We’d have to feed it with new content,” say the folks in Marketing.

“Never mind that; we just want them to buy,” bawls Sales.

So the 24-karat calls to action in the draft degenerate into a link to a verbose product page or – ack! – a link to the company’s home page or – gasp! – a phone number.

It’s like a Bridge to Nowhere. Sink time, money and effort into good, persuasive content in a Web medium, then ask readers to follow up the way they did in 1977: by calling a toll-free number.

What calls to action do you use? Are they a hard sell in your organization?

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