‘Tis the season of resolutions! We begin the year with the best of intentions. All too often, we come up short on the follow-through only days or weeks later.

This chasm between intention and action is where we live as communicators.

Why do our audiences sometimes balk at our calls-to-action? The reasons are complex and highly idiosyncratic. We are ambivalent about making decisions and taking action. And our internal process of cost-benefit analysis is irrational and fickle.

Motivation theory posits that an “approach system” spurs us to act towards a goal or reward. An “avoidance system” simultaneously chills action (or spurs action that is actually avoidance, i.e. procrastination.) Whether we approach or avoid is subject to biological, psychological and environmental factors. Our past experience and sense of self-efficacy also shape our expectations.

As marketers, assuming we have the right messaging and motivation, how can we increase the chance that our audience will bite at a call-to-action?

Here are 7 steps for stronger CTA’s:

  1. Communicate reasons, need and ability to act.
  2. Remove real or perceived barriers.
  3. Open multiple channels for action: web, text, phone, email, in-person, etc.
  4. Parse the customer journey into simple, achievable calls-to-action.
  5. Provide supportive role models in the form of testimonials and customer feedback.
  6. Reward action as soon as action is taken.
  7. Reinforce rewards with more opportunities to engage, or earned status and benefits.

Have any tried and true tricks of the trade? Share them below.