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A call to action is a strategy that aims for a client or a potential client to take an action. This strategy is widely used on the web to add subscribers to various mailing lists. In its simplest form, the call to action offers something of value in return for a subscription or a purchase. Car companies at car shows use this strategy a lot when they ask you to register for a chance to win a free rental for a year, a test drive, or other prizes. So here the "rental" is the call to action. Your registration is the desired action. With this subscription, the company will be able to send you offers or information that would likely convert you into a client.

The interesting aspect of this strategy is to offer a product/service that will attract your target customers. There is no point offering a trip for two to Ibiza if you sell children's books; there is not a strong correlation between people who would be interested in going to Ibiza and children's books. A trip to Disney in Orlando would be more appropriate.

That being said, I encourage people to offer products/services they sell. In doing so, they keep participants in the company’s loop rather than take them out. For example; if you are a dentist, and you give a toothbrush as a call to action, the person is not required to come back to see you. But if you offer a free cleaning, and the client likes your service, he will return and can talk about you to people he knows.

This strategy is not exclusive to the web, but the web greatly facilitates its implementation, management and distribution. It is not uncommon now to have all kinds of professionals or retailers offering a rebate card, a draw or some other promotion in exchange for your information. Once you accept, the company will establish a dialogue with you. This is the basis of referral strategies between relatives / friends. If you like the company, and it sends you interesting communications or advantageous promotions, you will be more inclined to share it with the people around you.  Thus, the company gets a foothold into your network.

This strategy can be used in different ways: to boost sales, to move stock or sell a related or complementary product. An example of this is sales of limited duration. For example: “for this weekend only, get a 20% discount on all summer merchandise”. It is a strategy used by several clothing stores to reduce seasonal inventory (Old Navy uses it a lot).

How can you use calls to action for your business?  To start, you can use it to transfer a maximum of browsers and consumers into subscribers. In doing so, you will grow one of the most important assets of your business: your goodwill.

As we saw earlier, you can also use a stock that is unsold or that was ordered in large quantities. Another option is to use varying prices depending on the date of purchase (good for conferences or shows); the earlier you book, the lower the price is. It is always more difficult to sell the first seats than the last ones.

Also depending on what you sell, you can use a "lost leader" as a call to action. A "lost leader" is a key product or service that will lead to other sales. For example, a tax filing business could offer a free evaluation of what your tax return would be with them. There is certainly a cost to the company for this evaluation, but the potential for customer transfer is strong. The company would then promote this "lost leader" as your call to action. People coming with their tax documents is your desired action. The "lost leader" is the assessment of tax return. And the objective for the company is to have the mandate to produce the tax filing and charge the client.

Finally, you can offer freebies; 1 hour free consultation, a copy of your e-book, access to your e-learning courses, etc ... There are many possibilities. 

If you are interested in providing a call to action but don’t know where to start, contact me. I will help you identify what you can offer that is valuable to your potential customers.

Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant