Buy button on computer keyboard

Copywriting tip 19: The call to action

Buy button on keyboard - trimmed

It must be the direct marketer in me.

In the early to mid 1990s, I was heavily involved in direct mail (not even direct marketing. It was mail back then).

So, getting a response is ingrained. I can’t write without a call to action.

Even in a blog such as this, there’s a call to action: download the slides. Watch the video. Think of me in a more positive light.

Everything we write should have purpose.

That’s what makes us copywriters, not journalists or novelists.

What is the call to action?

Well, it’s rallying cry. A call to do something.

That something could be ‘consider us’. ‘Don’t think of us as badly as you did before’. Or a more blatant ‘Buy me’.

When writing the call to action, a couple of things to bear in mind.

1. Make it easy

I once had to write a marketing email for a major bank. Going out to a million customers (something they do twice a month).

They were worried about phishing and spoofing.

So the only call to action they would allow (no links, mind you) was a phone number, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.

How many calls did they get? None.

Why make it so difficult for people to respond?

Give your audience every option.

2. Make it logical

When you give those options, make it logical.

Let’s say we’ve got a phone number, a website and social.

Rather than just list them, give a logical reason why someone might choose one over the other.

Why would I phone, rather than visit the website or engage in social? Because I want to talk to someone.

‘To discuss your needs, please call our customer support team on …’

Why would I visit the website, not call the phone number or visit social?

‘To see the full range of options, please visit www …’

And why might I – logically – engage in social, not visit the website or pick up the phone?

‘To keep up to date on what we’re doing …’

Not just a list of options, but a logical reason for which one to choose.

3. Make ’em do it now

Don’t worry. I’m not stalking you. But I know that – somewhere at your place – there’s a pile of ‘I’ll-get-to-it-later’.

Usually on the kitchen bench.

Bills. Offers. Books you’re meaning to read.

I don’t want my call to action sitting in that pile. Real, or digital.

How do I get you to do it now?

Time limits. Number limits – ‘be one of the first 100 …’.

Give ’em a reason why.

And I’ll end with my call to action …


This tip is based on my 30 Tips in 40 Minutes webinar.

Feel free to download a version of the slides and watch a video of the one-hour webinar.

Image source: Pixabay


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Jon Maxim

Jon is a multi-award winning copywriter. For over 30 years, he’s helped clients – large and small – develop engaging concepts, content and copy. For 25 of those years, he’s been teaching people how to do it themselves. His courses on copywriting, ideation and presentation skills are highly sought-after and highly effective. Jon lives in Sydney, Australia: but is often found on a plane, heading to where he’s most needed.