The ultimate guide to writing effective calls to action 

14 MINS
Claire Sy

Have you ever landed on a webpage and felt an irresistible urge to click a button or subscribe to a newsletter? That’s the power of a compelling call to action (CTA) at work. 

A CTA tells people what to do next. Think it’s rude to tell people what to do on your website? Not if you frame it in a way that benefits them! 

All you must do is explain the value they’ll get from taking that next step. The greater the value, the more likely they are to do it. Whether it’s making a purchase, downloading a guide, or signing up for updates, a well-crafted CTA turns passive browsers into active participants. 

From elements that make a successful CTA copy to impactful examples, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about CTAs. Ready to unlock the secrets of creating irresistible CTAs? Let’s get started! 

What is a call to action? 

CTAs, or “calls to action,” are prompts that encourage users to take specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or downloading a resource. They typically appear as buttons or links within website content and are designed to guide visitors towards desired actions. Effective CTAs use clear, action-oriented language and are strategically placed to maximize user engagement and conversion rates. 

Many marketing materials use CTAs including: 

  • Websites. They’re found on homepage banners, product pages, blog posts, and the end of articles to guide visitors towards taking action like subscribing or buying. 
  • Email marketing campaigns. They’re found in promotional emails and newsletters, encouraging recipients to take actions such as visiting a website or taking advantage of a sale. 
  • Social media posts. These are used to drive engagement, share content, or direct followers to a landing page, shop, or article. 
  • Online advertisements. They’re found within display ads, search engine ads, and social media ads to prompt immediate action from the viewer. 
  • Blog posts. They’re usually found at the end or within content to encourage further reading, commenting, or sharing. 
  • ECommerce sites. They’re ideally on product descriptions and checkout pages to lead customers towards making a purchase or exploring related products. 
  • Landing pages. These CTAs are specifically designed for marketing campaigns to convert visitors into leads or customers by taking a specific action. 
  • Videos. They’re at the end of video content to encourage viewers to subscribe, watch more, or visit a website. 
  • Webinars. Their target is to make people register for the event, download additional resources, or sign up for a service or product being promoted. 
  • E-books and whitepapers. It aims to encourage downloads, sharing, or to connect with the company for more information. 

Elements of an effective CTA: What pushes readers into action? 

There are plenty of ways to create a CTA, but a great call to action involves several factors. Let’s break them down one by one. 

Clarity 

CTA must not be ambiguous about what will happen once the user takes the suggested action. This means your CTA should be simple, straightforward, and leave no room for guesswork. 

For instance, a CTA button that says “Get Your Free eBook Now” tells the user precisely what they are signing up for. This transparency helps build trust and encourages users to take the next step, knowing exactly what to expect. 

Urgency 

A great CTA plays on the psychological principle that people are more inclined to act quickly if they believe an opportunity is limited. By creating a sense of scarcity or time sensitivity, such as “Offer ends tomorrow” or “Only 5 left in stock,” you motivate users to act now rather than later. 

This urgency can dramatically increase your conversion rates as it taps into the fear of missing out (FOMO). However, this urgency must be genuine; otherwise, it can lead to distrust among your audience. 

Value proposition 

Your CTA must answer the critical question of “What’s in it for me?” from the user’s perspective. You need to make it clear what benefits or value the user will gain by taking the action you’re suggesting. This could be in the form of a free trial, a discount code, or access to exclusive content. Users who understand the tangible benefits they’ll receive are more likely to be persuaded to click. 

Visibility 

A CTA that can’t be seen is as good as nothing. But visibility isn’t just about placement on the page (though that’s important), it’s also how it visually stands out through design elements like color, size, and whitespace. A CTA that blends in too much with the surrounding content or uses a color scheme that doesn’t contrast with the background is likely to be overlooked. 

Ensuring your CTA is both prominent and harmonious with your design aesthetic is crucial. You may need to use bold colors, larger fonts, or even animation to draw attention without disrupting the user experience. 

Action-oriented language 

The choice of language in your CTA can also significantly impact its effectiveness. Action verbs like: “Download,” “Subscribe,” “Join,” or “Start” not only make your intent clear but also energize the CTA. This type of language propels the user towards taking a specific action, making the steps they need to take obvious and engaging. The more direct and compelling your language, the more users will respond. 

6 practical steps in writing compelling CTAs 

More than anything, you want to craft CTAs that resonate deeply and drive action. The goal is to turn casual readers into loyal customers. Here’s how you can achieve this: 

  1. Understand your target audience

Get to know your target audience, what they like, what problems they face, and what motivates them. This knowledge helps you create CTAs that speak directly to their needs. 

For example, if you find out that the people you’re targeting really value saving time, you can make a CTA that says, “Start Saving Time Now.” This makes your CTA more appealing because it offers exactly what your audience wants. To them, you’re offering a solution they’ve been looking for, which makes them more likely to take the action you suggest. 

  1. Use clear, specific language

Be clear and specific. Vague phrases like “Click Here” can be confusing and don’t tell people exactly what to do. Instead, use clear instructions. You can also minimize confusion by using strong, action-oriented verbs. 

Other good CTA examples with clear language and actionable verbs are: 

  • “Subscribe Now” for instant access to exclusive content. 
  • “Download Today” to get your free guide or resource. 
  • “Join Free for a Month” to start a trial subscription without any cost. 
  • “Get Started” to begin using a service or tool. 
  • “Book Your Spot” for reservations or event registrations. 
  • “Claim Your Offer” to take advantage of special deals. 
  • “Learn More” to provide additional information on a topic or product. 

This way, there’s no confusion about what you’re offering or what they need to do, making your CTA much stronger and more likely to get a response. 

  1. Personalize when possible

Adjusting your CTA to fit the preferences or previous interactions of your audience can greatly enhance its effectiveness. This means crafting your CTAs to reflect what you know about your users, such as their interests or actions they’ve taken on your site before. 

A CTA like “Enhance Your Home Now” will likely resonate more with users who have browsed home improvement content. This tailored approach not only makes the CTA more compelling but also tells your users that you’re paying close attention to their needs, potentially leading to a higher rate of engagement and conversion. 

  1. Create urgency and scarcity

Adding urgency and scarcity to your CTAs can trigger more action from your readers. When you say something like “Hurry, Sale Ends in 24 Hours!” or “Only 3 Slots Left!”, it makes people want to act fast. This is because everyone naturally doesn’t want to miss out on a good deal or opportunity. So, using words that show something is running out or won’t last long encourages people to act right away. 

For example, a CTA like “Join the Exclusive Club of Successful Entrepreneurs” makes aspiring business owners feel like they’re getting a special chance to be part of a unique group. This makes the offer more tempting and encourages people to act right away because they don’t want to miss out. 

  1. Highlight the value proposition

One thing that captures people’s interests and triggers their fear of missing out (FOMO) is when they’re getting something valuable out of it. That’s why your CTA must clearly show what’s in it for the user. You need to highlight the benefits directly. 

You can make it as scarce or urgent as you want, but if readers don’t feel like what you’re offering is worth it, then there’s no point to it. 

For instance, a CTA that says “Cut Your Workload in Half with Our Tool” tells people exactly how they will benefit, which makes the CTA much more attractive. By directly answering the question “What’s in it for me?” with a clear benefit, you make it hard for people to pass up the offer. 

  1. Ensure high visibility

Finally, a successful CTA is easy to see. No matter how good your CTA copy is, if the design isn’t attention-grabbing or if the placement isn’t conspicuous at first sight, then it won’t do much. Readers won’t click something they can’t see. 

A “Subscribe Now” button in a bright color and placing it where everyone can see it right away makes it much more likely that people will notice it and click on it. The goal is to grab attention quickly and encourage action without making users search for what to do next. 

5 successful call-to-action examples: How to write a killer CT 

“Sign up for our newsletter” 

How to turn it into a killer CTA: Transform “Sign Up for Our Newsletter” by highlighting the exclusive benefits subscribers will receive. Emphasize the value-packed content like insider tips, special offers, or even a complimentary digital product that comes with the subscription. Make it clear that your newsletter is not just another email in their inbox but a gateway to exclusive insights and opportunities. 

Placement strategy: Incorporate this CTA on every page of your website to maximize visibility, ensuring it’s particularly prominent on the home page. This constant presence reminds visitors of the value awaiting them with just a simple sign-up, no matter where they are on your site. 

“Subscribe to our blog” 

How to turn it into a killer CTA: Add a compelling header and tagline at the top of your blog. This tagline should succinctly convey the unique value and type of content readers will get access to. Whether it’s cutting-edge insights, how-to guides, or the latest industry news, make the subscription sound like an exclusive club for those in the know. 

Placement strategy: Position this CTA at the top of your blog page, ensuring it’s the first thing visitors see. A prominent placement signals to readers that subscribing is the key to unlocking more valuable content just like what brought them there in the first place. 

“Download our most popular eBook” 

How to turn it into a killer CTA: Make the offer irresistible by clearly stating the primary benefit or key problem the eBook addresses. Whether it’s learning a highly sought-after skill or overcoming a common challenge, highlight the transformative impact this eBook can have on the reader’s personal or professional life. 

Placement strategy: Feature this CTA prominently on your home page, considering high-visibility strategies like a pop-up window or lead magnets that greet visitors upon arrival. This ensures that new or returning visitors can’t miss the opportunity to access valuable content right from the start. 

“Start free trial” 

How to turn it into a killer CTA: Emphasize the no-risk opportunity to experience your product or service firsthand. Beyond the obvious benefit of trying before buying, focus on how the trial can bring about a positive change in their daily routine or business operations. Make it clear that this trial could be the solution they’ve been looking for. 

Placement strategy: This CTA should have a prime spot on your home page, possibly within a pop-up window or as a standout section. The goal is to catch the interest of potential customers early, offering them an immediate way to engage with your product or service. 

“Schedule a complimentary consultation” 

How to turn it into a killer CTA: Convert “Schedule a complimentary consultation” from a simple invitation into a compelling offer by detailing what the consultation includes and the specific benefits attendees will gain. Whether it’s personalized advice, a strategic plan outline, or actionable tips, make the value of this one-on-one time abundantly clear. 

Placement strategy: Place this CTA at the bottom of every page and prominently at the top of your contact page. This ensures that interested visitors have a clear, immediate path to taking this significant step toward engagement, regardless of where they are on your site. 

3 common mistakes to avoid when creating your CTA 

Before you get too excited and start your CTA journey right away, there are still some things you need to work on. The last thing you want is to accidentally make a mistake, which will drive your prospective customers away instead. Read through the common mistakes you might make when creating your CTA and learn how to avoid them. 

Overloading with too many CTAs 

When you’re eager to guide your users to various actions, it’s tempting to include multiple CTAs on a single page, and sometimes one CTA button may not be enough. 

However, this can backfire. Having too many CTAs can overwhelm your visitors, making it hard for them to decide which action to take. This indecision can lead to no action at all, diluting the effectiveness of your CTAs. The key is balance. 

Focus on one or two primary actions you want users to take and make those CTAs stand out. This clarity helps guide users more effectively, increasing the likelihood they’ll take the desired action. 

Using jargon or complex language 

CTAs need to be immediately understandable. Using industry jargon, technical terms, or overly complex language can confuse your audience, especially if they’re not as familiar with the terminology as you are. 

Opt for a simple CTA. For example, “Get Started” is universally understood, whereas “Initiate Your Journey” might cause unnecessary confusion. Always aim for simplicity to ensure your message is accessible to everyone. 

Neglecting mobile users 

Nowadays, over 55% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Neglecting this audience can be a costly mistake. CTAs that work well on desktops may not translate effectively to a smaller screen, leading to lower engagement and conversion rates from mobile users. 

Ensure your CTAs are designed to be just as clickable and visually appealing on mobile devices as they are on desktop. This means considering factors like button size, screen placement, and overall mobile site design. Making your CTAs mobile-friendly ensures that you’re not missing out on a vast segment of your potential audience. 

Testing and optimizing your CTAs 

So, you’ve just finished creating a great Call to Action. You’re finally done — right? 

Well, there’s always room for improvement as your readers evolve over time. By following these steps and embracing a cycle of continuous testing and optimization, you’ll enhance the effectiveness of your CTAs, leading to better engagement, higher conversion rates, and ultimately, greater success in achieving your business objectives. 

Step 1: Set up A/B testing for your CTAs 

Start your journey to the perfect CTA by setting up A/B testing. This means creating two different versions of your CTA to see which one performs better. You might change the text, color, overall design, or where the CTA buttons are placed on your landing page. 

It’s crucial to change only one element at a time (for example, first test two different colors, then try changing the text). This methodical approach helps you pinpoint exactly what works best. To get started, select your two CTA variants and prepare them for testing on your site or in your marketing campaign. 

Step 2: Monitor key performance metrics 

Once your A/B test is live, it’s time to keep an eye on how each version of your CTA is doing. Use analytics tools to track important metrics like click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates. These numbers will tell you how effectively each CTA is at getting visitors to take the next step. 

Make sure your tracking tools are set up so you can easily compare these metrics side by side for each version of your CTA. This step is crucial for understanding which CTA variant is closer to achieving your goals. 

Step 3: Analyze the results 

After your A/B test has run for a predetermined period, analyze the collected data to see which version of your CTA came out on top. Look at your metrics to determine which CTA had higher engagement and conversion rates. 

Be sure to consider statistical significance when comparing the performance of your CTAs; this ensures that the results are reliable and not just due to chance. The analysis will guide you in choosing the more effective CTA variant to move forward with. 

Step 4: Implement the winning CTA 

With the analysis complete and the more effective CTA identified, the next step is to implement this winning version across your website or marketing campaign. This adoption means replacing any instances of the less effective CTA with the one that performed better in your tests. 

However, remember that optimization is an ongoing process. Even after you’ve found a winning formula, there’s always room for further refinement and improvement, so don’t stop the testing process here. 

Step 5: Plan your next test 

Finally, based on the insights gained from your initial A/B test, plan your next set of tests. Consider what other elements of your CTA could be optimized. Maybe there’s another phrasing that could work better, or perhaps a different color could make the CTA even more noticeable. 

Use the results of your previous tests as a guide to develop your next hypotheses and continue the cycle of testing and optimization. This continuous improvement approach ensures that your CTAs remain as effective as possible, adapting over time to changes in your audience’s behavior and preferences. 

Integrate the best CTAs into your digital marketing campaigns 

Mastering the art of the Call to Action is essential for anyone looking to boost their online presence and conversion rates. By focusing on clarity, urgency, value, visibility, and action-oriented language, you can create CTAs that resonate with your audience and inspire action. 

Remember, a great CTA is clear and compelling, and leads the user on a journey towards your desired action. So, dive in, start experimenting with your CTAs, and watch as your engagement rates start to climb. With this guide and Web.com’s DIY website builder, you can easily control your site’s navigation and design to optimize your CTAs for maximum impact. 

  • Claire Sy

    Claire is a Content Marketing Writer at Web.com. Although she’s just started her content marketing journey, she’s eager to write compelling articles while learning more about the SEO and marketing world. Growing up, Claire had always loved reading, but she started taking an interest in writing through poetry and stories. She also likes playing chess in her spare time.

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