The call-to-action. For most of us, it has been beaten into our brains that the call-to-action is a critical element of each and every marketing tactic we implement. If you are in the sales world rather than the marketing world, this is similar to the “ask”… just as you have to ask for your customer’s business, you also need to ask your potential customers to take the action you are trying to convince them to take (e.g. sign up for a demo, try your product, attend an event, join your mailing list, etc.).
Just for argument’s sake, are there any situations where a marketer would NOT want to include a call-to-action? In this post, I’m going to argue that there are situations where the CTA should be extremely subtle, but that there should always be one. Prove me wrong in the comments below.
Situations where you may want a subtle call-to-action:
Your marketing tactic is designed to be helpful and to create good will. You could say that all marketing, particularly content marketing, is about providing helpful content to your potential customers so that they will turn to you as an expert. That is true. But depending on your brand, there are probably situations where your target market will respect you more for providing that information without a hard sell. They will appreciate that you are helping them just because you want to help. In those cases, you should still be providing interested parties with an easy, clear way to learn more/join your community/make a purchase/etc., but beating your audience over the head with a loud call-to-action would be counter productive. If you are trying to be helpful, then BE HELPFUL, and trust that your targeted content and clear brand will speak for itself.
A charity or cause is involved. Similar to the reason above, overselling in certain situations, like supporting a cause, will often be counter productive. Your target customers can smell if your team is participating in a cause event because they authentically support it, or if they are just there for a photo opp. By all means, put your volunteers in branded t-shirts, give out branded samples, and make sure that your URL is easy to find. Beyond those efforts, trust your brand to do the work and focus your energy on supporting the cause.
You are selling to a c-level executive. This is an example of a situation where a call-to-action is definitely still needed, but it should A. not scream in your target customer’s face and B. it should be highly personalized. A c-level executive should not be joining your mailing list – he or she should be requesting a phone call or a customized proposal. And the call-to-action should absolutely only enter the picture after you have provided the executive with exactly the information he or she needed.
Here are a few other recent resources for you to consider:
We could probably do a whole series of posts on calls-to-action. Please share your thoughts below!