read-nowWhen you write an email to somebody you likely want them to do something, like answer a question, buy your product, review a report, schedule a meeting, read your newest post, etc.

You get the gist.

A good email is clear about what you want the reader to do next.

When you call someone you commonly explain why you are calling within your first sentence. It’s really odd if some stranger calls you and just states his name. You want to know why he is calling, right? You quickly want to know what they want from you.

To speak in internet marketing terms, each of the two examples has a clear “call to action”.

Think about these endless sales pages, with video, customer praise, list of features and so on. It is pretty obvious what their call to action is: “Push this screaming yellow ‘buy’ button!”. All credit cards accepted.

Well, as annoying as they are, the purpose is always clear. You are not left wondering what to do. In this sense, these sales pages are perfect examples of how to communicate a purpose very clearly. Simplified, if you are a sales person this is what you want people to do: ”Buy”. Nothing else.

When you communicate with people you always, yes always, want them to do something.

The least you want of them is continue reading or listening. As trivial as it seems, asking the question “What is my call to action?” helps me to stay focused on what I want from others. And it also reminds me of why I even communicate in the first place.

To give you a personal example: I used to have a habit of writing very long, detailed emails to my colleagues. They were packed with information and as I thought very useful. However, although these emails were all opened, pretty much nobody could recall all the details. Of course not. Often people replied to these emails, but not the way I intended.

Now, I often find myself deleting unnecessary sentences, because the information doesn’t align with my call to action. “Do they really need to know that, to do this?” If the recipients of your emails have questions, they can ask. But it doesn’t help when the biggest challenge is reading all that information so that the actual call to action becomes secondary.

Let me know if you also write wordy emails at work sometimes. I am not talking about emails to friends and family, these are supposed to be long, aren’t they? Please also leave a comment if you know a good example for a website with a great call to action.

And don’t forget:


This is Quick Tip No 28