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Douglas McPherson

Director, 10 ½ Boots

Getting the call to action right

Getting the call to action right


However good law firms' content is, it won't generate the level of response it deserves if it doesn't tell readers what to do next, says Douglas McPherson

Over the last 18 months it has been a joy to see not only the increase in the volume of content law firms are producing but also the increase in the quality of that content. It’s also interesting to see how many firms are experimenting with format, eschewing the traditional article for shorter blogs, email bulletins, LinkedIn posts, opinion pieces, and even (and apologies for using what is marketing’s most offensive word) the ‘listicle’.

Tone has improved too. Solicitors have grasped that they are writing for the reader, using the word ‘you’ to personalise their delivery and adopting a more conversational tone. This undoubtedly makes the finished content more engaging and more easily accessible to a lay audience (not to mention framing the firm as a more attractive option than its more staid competitors).

However, the one area which still needs improvement is the call to action.

A call to action is a vital piece of the content marketing jigsaw. It is the part that tells people what to do next; gives them the information they need to take that next step; and makes it obvious what the benefit of taking that next step will be.

However wonderful your content is, if you do not maximise your call to action, your content will never generate the level of response it deserves.So what makes a good call to action? Well, it isn’t just putting your name and a one line bio at the bottom. The average human response to that is to nod appreciatively then promptly forget it. Adding an email address or phone number is better, but it still doesn’t really call the reader to take action.Here are six examples we have seen work well:

  • Offer to sign them up to relevant circulation lists: While people may have found you on the back of one of your circulation or newsletter lists, I’m guessing there are others they’d be interested in (whether these are defined along sector or practice area lines). Give people the chance to sign up to these others; they’ll get more value and you get more interested parties to send your content to.

  • Offer a white paper or special report: Many pieces of content are a precursor to a longer, more detailed piece of work. Get in the habit of using a summary or a snippet as an appetiser, then provide an option to request the full report (and, if you’re a bit more savvy, the opportunity to sign up for all future reports on topics related to this area).

  • Offer of a free consultation: If your topic is one people might want a confidential slot to explore in more detail, offer them the chance to discuss it with you for, say, 30 or 45 minutes. And if you specify that consultation would be on the phone or by email, it’ll be much more time efficient for you.

  • Offer more in the same vein: Make sure people can see that, if they email you, you’ll be happy to respond personally and give them more information. This works particularly well if you are publishing ‘listicles’; if your piece is on ‘Seven things you must consider when…’, offer a further three things in return for an email request.

  • Offer free in-house (or online) training: As your content will be directly related to a specific subject, there is always scope to build on the interest it will generate by offering a more detailed examination in the form of a workshop you can deliver either in person or online.

  • Invite them to join you at a social event: Sometimes it’s better to forget about the legal side and concentrate on the other side of building a working relationship – the personal connection. One way to do that is to offer a limited number of free tickets to a social event (wine tasting, summer or Christmas parties, or a place in your gazebo at the cricket are all examples we’ve seen work well).

It is better to use two different response options than to use one. Doubling your options doubles the chance you’ll hit the recipients’ preferred response mechanism and, by extension, the likelihood they’ll respond. Given that the majority of communications are now executed either online or from your mobile, one option offering an email address and one driving traffic to a URL can prove to be the best combination.

And if you are looking for two more tips, please email me at, or for more free BD and marketing tips please visit I could hardly finish this off without a call to action, could I?

Douglas McPherson is a director at 10 1/2 Boots