Having considered how to word your call to action in a previous post, I want to focus here on how to improve the clarity and impact of your call to action – without going overboard…

The call to action, particularly the response mechanism, needs to be clear and in some way stand out from the body of the communication. This is purely so that those prospective customers who have already been sufficiently convinced can respond part way through the communication, rather than being forced to see the communication right through to the end. For this reason, it is good advice to feature the call to action ‘above the fold’ as well as at the end of direct marketing communications. For example, the following Premier Inn e-mail features no less than three calls to action above the fold:


Bear in mind that the call to action is not intended to persuade the prospect (other than giving them the final ‘nudge’ to respond) – this task must have already been accomplished beforehand. You should therefore consider the following caveats when planning the structure of your call to action:

  • Using an overly large response mechanism (for example, a huge telephone number in a bold, colourful typeface) is no more persuasive than a normal sized one. More often than not it will just destroy the credibility of your offer – ‘screaming’ at your prospective customer to respond! The point is that your call to action should just be sufficiently clear to stand out, without being overemphasised.
  • A disproportionately large call to action will also fight against the other (arguably more important) ‘persuasion’ elements of your communication. At the end of the day, your prospect could always just Google your brand name in order to find your contact details – the important thing is that your communication has made its case so effectively that your prospective customer actively wants to respond.
  • Some brands believe that an understated call to action/ response mechanism projects an underlying confidence and a clear ‘brand’ focus in their messaging. Even so, if it is not made immediately clear to the prospect what to do next and how to do it, then the prospect will just move on – leaving the brand with a wasted opportunity where they could have obtained a response.

In other words, once you have made your case, you must then allow your audience the space to reach their own conclusions – ensuring that the response mechanism is clear enough should they be sufficiently persuaded to act. As John Hegarty puts it:

You don’t instruct people to do something – you inspire them.

If you’re interested in exploring this area in more detail (together with relevant examples), you might like my recent book ‘Successful Marketing Communications’.  If you have any thoughts or comments, please drop me a line below.

Written by Rob H

I’m a Chartered Marketer with over 20 years’ experience working in digital and offline marketing communications across the financial services, leisure, education and technology sectors – most recently working for a large financial services organisation, managing the acquisition marketing communications team. I gained an MSc in Strategic Marketing from Cranfield Business School in 2005 and the CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing in 2012. In 2012 I became the part-time course tutor at the Cambridge Marketing College for the CIM diploma in ‘Principles of Mobile Marketing’ – also authoring the accompanying Mobile Marketing study materials for the college. In March 2017 I published ‘Successful Marketing Communications‘ (available on Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks), which has become recommended reading for delegates at the IDM (Institute of Direct Marketing). When I’m not knee-deeping in reading/ writing the latest marketing communications articles I enjoy outdoor swimming and anything involving snow – with my goal for next year being to combine the two…

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