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Read This Now: How to Create an Effective Call to Action

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Your call to action can make or break your marketing campaign.

Call to action - stoplight

Will customers take the next step? Or will they turn their attention elsewhere? It often comes down to the effectiveness of your call to action.

Here’s one way to create an effective call to action: Think “traffic signals.”

Traffic signals themselves are effective calls to action because they’re: 

  • Action-oriented – In driving and online, confusion equals chaos. And in both instances, the best solution to a traffic jam is to give easy-to-follow instructions. On the road, red says, “stop,” yellow says, “yield,” and green says, “go.” Online, you should use similarly simple verbs, or action words. GO. JOIN. SHOP. LEARN. PAY. Like traffic lights, calls to action first and foremost need to tell users to take action.  

  • Recognizable – Traffic signals look alike. A stoplight in Maine looks an awful lot like a stoplight in Montana. Similarly, most users have seen a big, bold call to action button—and that’s a good thing. People recognize them and know how to use them.

  • Direct – Stop. Yield. Go. Traffic lights tell you exactly what to do. Drivers and Internet users have little patience, and they don’t like ambiguity. Don’t make your customers guess; tell them what you want them to do.

  • Brief – Stoplights and stop signs simply stay “stop.” They don’t take a full sentence to get their message across. They also don’t try to sound fancy—“decelerate” literally lacks stopping power. Traffic signals don’t need length or jargon to be effective. You don’t either.

  • Value-added – Traffic lights are effective because they offer something valuable—they help you stay safe. While your calls to action may not be matters of life-or-death, when they offer the reader something of value, they are certainly more effective.
So the next time you need to create a call to action, take your cue from traffic signals, and give your customers the green light to take the next step.