So you’ve decided to embark on a direct marketing campaign? You’ve already got your marketing list, developed a great offer, and designed an eye-catching creative – but wait! You still need one thing: A strong, convincing call-to-action! Having an effective call-to-action is crucial in any direct marketing campaign, because prospective customers need a little guidance when it comes to taking action. Luckily, it’s not rocket science; follow these 5 steps and you’ll be writing effective calls-to-action like a pro in no time!

1. Communicate Value
When writing your call-to-action, you cannot be shy about telling people exactly why they should respond. This means laying the groundwork for your call-to-action. Before you jump right in to the CTA, take some time to explain why people will benefit from taking that action. Lay out the problem that acting on your CTA will solve. This can be short and sweet or in-depth, whatever is most appropriate for the medium, but never throw a call-to-action in someone’s face without first communicating what’s in it for them.

2. Use Strong Wording
Your call-to-action should always include, and preferably begin with, a strong verb. Action words are what drive other people to action, (big surprise, right?). A few to play around with are “register”, “join”, “save”, “learn”, “upgrade”, “call”, and “download”, but there are so many others to experiment with, so get creative. Just remember to be simple, direct, and confident in your wording.

3. Create a Sense of Urgency
People are extremely receptive to time-sensitive offers, because it motivates them to act in the moment rather than putting it off until later and (usually) forgetting about it. Always find ways to incorporate urgency into your calls-to-action. It can be as simple as saying, “Join Now!” instead of just “Join”, relating your offer to the season or other current events, or you can just say exactly when your offer expires. Either way, make sure people know that they should take this action right now and not later.

4. Place Your Call-to-Action in a Highly Visible Location
Many marketers can craft a great call-to-action, but then make the mistake of poor placement, so only a few people actually see it. This virtually negates all the hard work you put into getting the wording just right, so don’t let location sabotage your CTA! Always make sure your CTAs are highly visible, which usually means placed prominently and high up on the page, (above the fold if we’re talking emails/landing pages/etc…). Don’t forget to use bold, contrasting colors to make your call-to-action stand out from the rest of the content.

5. Minimize/Prioritize Multiple Calls-to-Action
It’s fine to have a few calls-to-action at once, but if you have too many, people often get overwhelmed and don’t take any action at all. We don’t want that, now, do we? If you have several potential CTAs, try to parse it down to 2 or 3 if you can. Then, among the few that remain, prioritize. Decide which one is the most important, and then differentiate it in some way. Choose a different color for it, make it bigger, or place it higher than the others. That way, people have options where appropriate, but they also know what to do if they are just running on auto-pilot.

When it comes down to it, the two words you should remember above all when writing a call-to-action are clarity and urgency. Don’t leave people guessing, and don’t let them procrastinate. Follow these 5 simple rules, and your calls-to-action will be able to manipulate people into doing exactly what you want them to do! (Just kidding! …Sort of).