Master Hard and Soft CTAs for Superior Sales Writing
There’s a big difference between hard and soft selling. Hard sales tactics are pushy and aggressive, meant to shock people into a purchase without giving them time to second-guess it. Soft selling is more passive—it often involves presenting information along with a suggestion, relying on the buyer to connect the dots and convince themselves to buy. Both are effective methods of selling—but only when used in the right situation.
As a copywriter, you’ll need to master writing both hard and soft calls-to-action (CTAs). More importantly, you’ll need to know when to use them for maximum effect. Sticking a hard CTA at the end of a passive, informative piece of content can be jarring and turn readers off to a sale. Conversely, being too soft with your CTA at the end of a heavy sales pitch could also mean losing a sale.
Choosing between hard and soft CTAs is something good copywriters will naturally get better at over time. If you’re just starting out, here are some tips to get you in the right frame of mind.
What makes a good CTA?
Before choosing between a hard and soft CTA, know what a good CTA looks like. Here are the hallmarks of an effective call to action:
Hurt in an accident? XYZ Law Firm will help you get the settlement you’re entitled to. Call us today at 555-555-5555 to speak with an attorney about your case. There’s no cost for consultation and no fee unless we win!
There aren’t any questions about that CTA. The message is clear, as well as the value proposition and the resource for action. There’s also mention of the provider, to create cohesion between the CTA and the company offering it.
How do ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ CTAs differ?
The example above is fairly generic—neither hard nor soft in its tone. Depending on the type of copy you’re writing or the tone of the messaging, your CTA might skew harder or softer.
Hard CTAs introduce elements of urgency and importance. They’re also more emphatic and upfront. When paired with aggressive sales copy or messaging, a hard CTA acts as a capstone: the element that brings everything together in a meaningful sales pitch. Here’s the example above, reimagined as a hard CTA:
If you’re injured in an accident, waste no time calling XYZ Law Firm. We fight for the maximum settlement you’re entitled to. Don’t let the insurance company lowball you! Call us right now at 555-555-5555 for a no-cost consultation with an accident attorney!
The urgency, aggressive language and emphasis on value make this a hard CTA. The intent is to get someone to stop thinking about acting and act right away! It’s a useful tactic when the core message is purely sales-driven.
Soft CTAs have more passive language and more finesse to them. It’s not ‘buy, buy, buy!’ It’s more of a conversation that says, ‘hey, here’s some information, we trust you to make the right choice.’ Here’s the law firm example, reimagined as a soft call to action:
XYZ Law Firm understands the stress after an accident. Let us help you get a settlement that brings you relief, so you can move past it. Call us at 555-555-5555 for a free, no-obligation consultation with an attorney about your case.
There’s no real urgency here. Instead, the message is compassion and connection. This CTA doesn’t say “I’m selling to you” it says “I’m here for you.” These CTAs are most useful for brand building and passive revenue generation.
Choose the right CTA for every piece you write
Any experienced copywriter will tell you that the CTA is make-or-break. An amazing, well-crafted CTA will close a sale; a weak or misappropriated one will lose it. Choosing between hard and soft approaches is the first decision you need to make, before you even begin to write the copy. Follow these tips and practice identifying opportunities to use each.
Mastering how to write hard and soft CTAs is one thing; knowing when to use them is another.