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How to Write a More Effective Call-to-Action

Have you ever wondered why some of your competitors are absolutely killing it with their direct mail and social media marketing campaigns? Chances are, they have a great understanding of how to create an effective and persuasive call-to-action in their direct mail pieces, email campaigns, or social media posts. Read on to learn more about what a call-to-action is and how you can start to write better and more persuasive ones in the future.

What is a Call-to-Action?

A call-to-action (CTA) directs the reader to perform an action. It’s included at the end of the marketing copy. Examples of a CTA can include:
  • “Buy now!”
  • “Click here for a 20% off limited-time coupon offer!”
  • “Leave us your contact info down below!”
CTA’s work so well because they tell people what they need to do next. If you send out a direct mail piece that has an offer—but doesn’t tell people how to go about redeeming that offer (via a CTA)—it won’t be anywhere near as effective as one that ends with: “Bring in this flyer to receive 25% off your next oil change!” You can take advantage of and use a CTA anywhere you have advertising copy, such as: Five essential elements comprise a good CTA:


Urgency or “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) is a powerful psychological phenomenon that triggers the human brain to react quickly—or miss out on something of value. Try to use time-sensitive words in your call-to-action, such as “today” or “now.” These “action words” will give off subtle yet effective psychological cues that the requested action should be performed as soon as possible. Try to avoid using passive language as much as possible in your CTAs. If you’re unsure what passive language is, take the call-to-action you just wrote and head to Grammarly. They have a free tool that you can cut and paste your CTA into. It will automatically flag passive language and provide an alternative example.

Action Words

Action-oriented CTAs include an action verb in the front. For example, instead of saying “Free Coupon!” consider saying “Get My Custom Discount.” Try to make the CTA and copy about the reader as much as possible. Consider how you talk to a 2-year-old child. In their minds, the entire world revolves around them. This is sometimes referred to as the “me phase” of a human’s life. Try to write your copy and CTAs with the reader and only the reader in mind.


“What’s in it for me?” Try to convey as much value as you possibly can with your CTAs. There’s a fine line between coming off overly salesy and conveying value. Using as few words as possible, try to paint a picture of what value people will get if they perform the requested action of your call-to-action. When writing the copy of your email or direct mail, consider starting off with the value people will receive. This will catch their eyes and cause them to continue to read on. You should only talk about how great your company is towards the end of the piece—and keep it limited to the benefits that are unique to your business.

Keep it Simple (Stupid)

The acronym K.I.S.S. should be applied to every call to action you write. Don’t go into a 50-word, long-winded diatribe when 10-15 words will suffice. People tend to skim when they read, and if the CTA is a massive wall of text—they’re most likely going to skip reading it. Protip: Try to bold the important parts of your CTA (or altogether). This will naturally draw the human eye to the requested action.

Write in 1st Person Only

Use 1st person when writing both your copy and call-to-actions. It’s much more effective. Think back to your middle school English class:
  • Speaker (1st person)
  • Spoken to (2nd person)
  • Spoken about (3rd person)
Which of the two below CTAs sounds better to your ears?  “Start your free 30-day trial” (2nd person) Or “Start My Free 30-day trial” (1st person) Writing your CTAs in 1st person helps keep them personalized and more persuasive than writing in 2nd person.

Marketing Experts in Alexandria and Arlington

Call-to-actions are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to increasing sales and engagement from your direct mail and email marketing campaigns. If you need help fine-tuning your marketing channels, give the experts at AlphaGraphics of Alexandria and Arlington a call. We can help you dial in your campaigns and provide you with a wide variety of marketing resources. If you’d like to speak to a marketing expert about your business, give us a call at (703) 549-2432 or contact us on our website.

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