Do You Need a Call to Action in Your Writing?

A call to action or CTA in the advertising world is a request or a suggestion to do something. It’s somewhere in the copy or on a web page.

“Remember to call the law office of Smith and Jones if you are injured in an accident.”

A CTA makes sense in advertising because you want the customer to get in touch. A CTA is a small part of a page where you are, for at least search engine optimization purposes, providing engaging content.

But are these needed for personal or editorial writing? Or is it better to lay out your argument without penning a CTA, without directly advising someone to do something?

I rarely if ever use them.

This CTA is in an article at a McGill website. (Many call McGill Canada’s Harvard.)

The woman writes how bothered she is by the lyrics of Blurred Lines (internal link) but that she and her friends have great fun dancing to it.

She concludes an otherwise well presented article with, “But that’s later. We’re young now, right? We’ve got energy. So sure, go dancing. But keep your brain turned on.”

Keep your brain turned on. Sigh. As if her reader’s brains are off. Unlike her brilliant brain which is undoubtedly always on.

So many self-help gurus and preachers and politicians have personal lives that are garbage dump fires but they want to tell you what to do.

They are too eager to advise you when they know nothing about you and they themselves are personally flawed.

Using a CTA puts the writer at risk of seeming preachy, arrogant, or a know it all.

Here’s my approach..

I think a COVID vaccine requirement is a way to control people and to weed out those who don’t go along. You can read my post here. (internal link)

Despite my strong feelings on the subject, I don’t tell the reader what to do. Instead, I conclude with this paragraph and then I have an extended quote by Orwell.

“They know their crippled arguments for things like the vaccine won’t convince you. They can’t win you over with their ill motivated reasons. So they put the fist in like a bully. And they enjoy it.”

I could have ended my article by telling people to avoid the shot. But I would rather lay out my reasons and let the reader decide.

I clearly state what someone should do when it comes to best practices in business writing. But that’s far different than telling someone how to live their life.

Is your writing hurt or helped by telling people what to do?




By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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