The Call to Action: Take Customers by the Hand


Few businesses realize the importance of a strong call to action. In addition to a compelling marketing plan, you must take customers by the hand and lead them to action.

What is a call to action? The call to action, simply, is telling people what to do to obtain your product or service. It’s a clear instruction of what steps to take, leaving no ambiguity about where to go. After every sales call, letter, advertisement, or personal contact, once you’ve worked at educating the customer, you need to include specific actions for people to take.

Why a Call to Action?

Many people worry about coming across too strong, and try to be subtle about selling their product. After an advertisement or long write-up about a product, they hope that customers will naturally know to come to your store or call to purchase your service. But without a clear, concise call to action, the reality is many people will simply set your product aside in their mind, without doing anything.

Related: [eBook] Customer Communications — Business Writing Fundamentals

You need a call to action not because customers aren’t smart enough to figure out what to do, but because they have a lot of things on their mind, and are distracted by all the other concerns of their lives. With limited time each day, customers will often go through your information, and if there isn’t a clear call to action, set it aside for later, when they’ll have time to figure out exactly what to do next. But when you include specific actions for customers to take, they don’t have to worry about it and can simply follow the instructions.

Be Specific

Your call to action needs to give clear instructions on what you want customers to do. Do you want them to call you? Give them the number they need, and tell them who will be answering, whether it’s a certain individual or a general number for a department or for your business. Do you want them to visit your website? Give the web address and tell them what specific sections to look at. You can ask people to subscribe to a newsletter, contact an email address, visit your store, or download a coupon. Just make sure that you’re directing people to a specific action, and that this direct response is clear and obvious for customers to achieve.

Call for Action Every Time

You need to include a call to action in every piece of persuasive communication with customers, whether it’s a media commercial, a printed advertisement or business letter, or personal interaction. Taking customers by the hand every step of the way will help ensure that you don’t accidentally lose someone who was interested, but didn’t know what to do.

Use a variety of calls to action, too. Not every piece of communication is directed toward the same audience. For the customer you’re only interacting with for the first time, you might want to direct them to visit your website or subscribe to a newsletter before you give a hard sell. Then in the newsletter or on the website, you can give a different call to action, until you’re in a forum where you’re dealing with customers you’re ready to sell to. As well, giving different calls to action allow you to track which of them are more effective, because you can compare how many people are calling as opposed to visiting your website or whatever other actions you’ve directed customers to take. Because you know which calls to action come from which advertisements or other communications, you can judge their relative effectiveness and adjust your strategy as necessary.

Edwin Bevens

Edwin Bevens

Edwin Bevens is the Head Writer and Editor for Tarkenton Companies, and the Editor of With a background in journalism and publishing, Edwin received a 2008 South Carolina Press Association Award for reporting. Developing, producing, and maintaining content across multiple websites, Edwin focuses on helping small business owners find the right match of voice, audience, and medium for every message.