How to design an effective Call To Action

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Engagement: Who are we talking to?

  • Who is our audience?
  • Do different nations have different methods that are popular there?
  • For example, WhatsApp calls to action in Latin America.

Volunteers, donors, crowdsourced allies/partners, activists

Methods: How do we talk to them?

Organization websites

  • Campaign websites
  • Email campaign
  • Social media (in combination with emails)
  • WhatsApp
  • Text messages
  • Person-to-person

Message: What do we say?

  • What is perfect length? Has to be succinct
  • Has to bridge opposite opinions and missions.
  • How frequent? Not so much that people start to unsubscribe.
  • The goal is to strive for relevant content.
  • What’s the purpose you want to serve by launching a call to action? State it. (Info, details, event)
  • How do people see themselves when they open your email? Think of eye eyes on the messages.


  • How to deal with unclear messages?
  • How do we collect contact information?
    • Sign up sheets in events, booths; page has a checkbox with yes/no on if people want to sign up for emails
  • Bounced email? Suspends?
    • Clean up your contact list and generally keep an eye on this. Compare list of contacts with people receiving the email, their engagement
  • Subject lines?
    • “Little puppies are being killed” vs “You can make a difference in how puppies are being killed”; can be A/B tested
  • What happens when org does not have an engagement ladder conducive to clears call to action?
    • Focus on communication mission, vision, core values, how and why you operate that way. Developing your case statement. Your vision is your most powerful hook to get people to sign up for your email. (But don’t get stale!)
  • Drive people to your website!
  • Ethical implications
    • OPT IN is the only way to go!
    • Remember you can keep different contact lists (members only, all contacts, event-specific)
    • Always include unsubscribe option (and make sure it works) — this is in law now
  • Track open, click-through, subscribe and spam rates.
  • Video content is very powerful. Make sure everybody can open it, and you can add a small caption about what is going to happen when you click.
  • When you include photos or information about events people attended, show the most flattering traits of people on your list.
  • It’s a craft: of words, images, videos.
  • Increase flow and remove barriers!