Call to Action? Or Inaction?

Call to Action in Content Marketing

“Who is the audience?”

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

One of our content marketing 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.

Never miss the chance for a call to action

“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,” moans 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.

Or end up with a call to inaction

So the writer’s 24-karat request for a call to action in the draft degenerates into a link to a verbose product page, which is almost a call to inaction. Worse yet, into a link to the company’s home page. Worst of all, into a phone number.

It’s like a Bridge to Nowhere. Sink time, money and effort into good, persuasive marketing content for the web, then ask readers to follow up the way they did in 1991: by calling a toll-free number.

What kind of call to action do you use? Is a call to action a hard sell in your organization?


photo credit: J. Albert Bowden II


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”