Business Letters and Call to Action
A very easy way to increase the effectiveness of a business letter is to conclude your message with a call to action. This suggestion will either implicitly or explicitly direct readers to undertake certain actions, as stipulated by the letter writer, in order to reach a desired goal. The strongest calls to actions are those which fulfil an obvious need for the letter recipient, are advertised with the most appropriate vocabulary and offer the reader worthwhile incentives. When proposed correctly, calls to action are also great standards by which to measure the effectiveness of any type of business letter.
Identifying a Need in a Call to ActionA call to action is most often included in a sales letter. These conclusions direct the reader to physically complete an action so as to benefit from a specific product or service. For most readers, however, the idea of investing their time and energy into an action they may not need to undertake is off-putting so it is up to the letter writer to point out to them how the product or service will benefit their lives. Many people are motivated to try something new when they realise that one simple action may help them:
- Save time.
- Save money.
- Expend less energy on necessary tasks such as cleaning, home repair or auto maintenance.
- Increase their income.
- Further their training, education or career.
- Take pleasure in life, for example in the form of food, travel or entertainment.
- Enhance their social lives.
Call to Action VocabularyWording a call to action can be tricky since you won’t want to make your letter sound too much like an advertisement but at the same time you want to end your message on a positive, motivating note. Use strong, specific verbs to help the reader understand what (s)he should do and make sure that the instructions are no more than one simple sentence. Common calls to action include phrases like “call now,” “email as soon as possible” and “sign and return the enclosed form”. Making the action as quick and simple as possible for your letter recipient should increase the chances (s)he’ll actually complete it. If possible include only one call to action per letter so that readers don’t feel overwhelmed or undecided about the best course of action to take.
Call to Action IncentivesFor best results you will want to offer letter readers an incentive to spend their time and energy completing your call to action. After all, when readers can see a clear benefit to following your instructions it make sense that they will then follow them as directed. By offering the reader an incentive you are also expressing confidence in your product or service, as well as your company to fulfil the readers’ need. Common incentives offered with calls to action include:
- Discounts on a product or service, even if only for a limited time.
- Additional products or services offered for the price of the original items offered.
- A free gift.
- Entry into a drawing for a free gift.
- Gift certificate/card included with a first order.
- Points awarded to an account.
- Discounts within a chain of associated retailers or service providers.
- Greater choice regarding the type of goods or services offered.
Measuring the Effectiveness of a Call to ActionIncluding a call to action within a business letter is also a great way to measure the effectiveness of the communication. Even if all you track is the number of letters sent and the number of letter recipients who complete the call to action you can find a basic percentage of how well this sales strategy works. Further analysis might also reveal whether the strategy works better with recipients of a particular age, gender, race/ethnicity, geographic location or other identifying factor, based on recipient and/or response. Gathering such data can come in handy when statistics are needed for reports and presentations, as well as when evaluating the effectiveness of current sales strategies and brainstorming plans for the future.
Including a call to action in a business letter is a smart method of inviting customer or client interaction. For best results, close your business letter with a call to action which fulfils an identified need for the letter recipient, is worded with appropriate vocabulary, offers the reader an incentive and can be easily measured for effectiveness in the future.