Call to Action: How to Write and Optimize Your CTA + Examples

David Gargaro

Your marketing and lead generation strategies are designed to direct people to your website and lead capture page. Once a visitor arrives on the page, you want them to take the desired steps to become a lead and eventually a customer.

However, you need to tell website visitors what you want them to do at different stages along the way. If they don’t take that next step or make the right choice, then your marketing efforts will be wasted.

That’s where the call to action comes into play. This tool plays a key role in your marketing strategy, as it provides direction on what you want a website visitor to do to become a lead and then a customer.

What is a Call to Action?

A call to action (CTA) is a prompt that tells a person (i.e., website visitor, email reader) what action to take or what will happen when they perform that action. The prompt is usually written as a verb or an action phrase, such as:

  • Get a Demo
  • Click here
  • Download my PDF
  • Sign up today

For example, the CTA on Chili Piper’s homepage states “Get a Demo.” It’s pretty clear the visitor will be able to get a demo of our scheduling software when they click the button.

The CTA text generally appears on a button or within a hyperlink. Clicking on the CTA completes the requested action or takes the visitor to another page to complete the action.

The CTA is an important element in capturing and converting leads. It tells potential customers what you want them to do and removes friction from moving them through the sales funnel.

If you do not include a clear CTA on your landing page or lead capture form, visitors might not know what steps to take to sign up for a free demo or purchase a product. They could take the wrong step or get frustrated and end up leaving the site without performing the desired task.

How to Write a Call to Action

There are many ways to write an effective CTA. How you write the CTA copy (as well as how you design and place the CTA) can significantly impact how many website visitors you turn into leads and customers. 

Consider the following tips and strategies when writing your CTA.

1. Set a Goal

Before creating any marketing materials (e.g., landing pages, blog posts), determine the goal of what you plan to create. The same goes for writing a CTA.

What is the goal of your CTA?

  • To attract email subscribers?
  • To encourage prospects to download an eBook?
  • To increase product sales?
  • To set up more meetings?

Once you set a goal, you can write a CTA to help you achieve it.

2. Use Strong Command Verbs

Tell the visitor exactly what you want them to do. Start your CTA with the action you want them to perform.

For example:

  • Do you sell goods or services online? Use “Buy,” “Purchase” or “Order”
  • Do you want the visitor to download a white paper or report? Use “Download,” “Get” or “Subscribe”
  • Do you want the prospect to reach out for more information? Use “Fill out this form…” or “Click here to contact us”

3. Use Words That Evoke Emotion

Include words and phrases that provoke emotion to get a strong response from visitors. A simple way to show enthusiasm is to capitalize certain words and include exclamation marks (e.g., Get 50% off TODAY!).

Consider how the visitor will feel when they receive whatever follows after completing the CTA. For example, if you are promoting healthy meal planning, focus on the benefit to the visitor (e.g., Build your healthy lifestyle).

4. State a Key Benefit

Tie the CTA to your value proposition or unique selling point. Focus on the benefit they will receive once they click on the CTA.

For example, if your service helps companies to reduce their expenses, the CTA could state “Cut your operating expenses by 15%.” The text states the benefit of clicking the CTA.

Combine the CTA with the benefit. For example, the CTA could state “Sign up for a free software demo.” It tells the visitor what to do and what they will get in return.

5. Create a Sense of Urgency

Motivate your visitors using the fear of missing out. Use dates and words that indicate there is a limited time to take advantage of an offer, promotion or sale.

For example, use words like “Today” or “Now,” or phrases such as “Sale ends on…” or “While supplies last.” 

6. Keep It Short

If you want to support a sense of urgency, then keep the CTA short and sweet. Wordy CTAs are less effective than short CTAs.

The ideal length of the CTA is 4-5 words. As stated above, use strong verbs and write in an active (rather than passive) style.

Get to the point. Tell the visitor what to do (e.g., Buy Now, Get Your Demo).

How to Optimize Your Call to Action 

Once you’ve created a CTA, your work is not done. You’ll want to find ways to increase the number of website visitors who click the CTA to become leads and customers.

Consider the following strategies to optimize your CTA.

1. Button It Up

You can place the CTA within hyperlinked text or a graphic. However, buttons are the most effective for encouraging visitors to click on the CTA.

According to research, the average CTR for CTAs is 4.23% percent across all industries, and this number increases to 5.31% for buttons. For example, Copyblogger found that making CTAs look like buttons increased clicks for CreateDebate by 45%.

People react to buttons — they know that something will happen when they click them. We have a psychological need to press buttons, as we expect a rewarding payoff as a result.

Design the button to stand out from the rest of the text. Make it a different or bright color, and ensure the text is easy to read.

2. Adapt to the Device

It’s common practice to create responsive websites and landing pages that adapt their layout to the device being used to view the page. Do the same when designing a CTA.

According to Statista, more than half of the world’s website traffic is done on a mobile device. That means that a good percentage of your website visitors are viewing your web page (and CTA) on their smartphones or similar devices.

Use responsive design to make CTAs easy to read and identify on small screens. During design, check CTA placement and appearance on different screen sizes and using different web browsers.

When your website is viewed on a smaller screen, the CTA can also be scaled down with the rest of the site. Make sure the CTA remains visible and stands out from the rest of the text.

Set mobile preferences for ads with a CTA so they only appear in searches involving mobile devices. Enable call extensions to display your phone number next to the CTA.

3. Make It Personal

Personalization is an effective strategy in all types of marketing. It’s been shown to work incredibly well in email marketing, banner ads, and other forms of advertising and marketing.

Personalization can also improve your CTA’s conversion rate. According to Hubspot, personalized CTAs perform more than 200% better than basic (or generic) CTAs. 

This does not mean including the visitor’s name in every appearance of the CTA. But you can use collected data (e.g., location, software, lead vs. visitor) to adjust the wording of the CTA for different visitors.

4. Put a Number on It

People react to numbers in different ways. Numbers are concrete and definite, and people can visualize what they mean. 

Repeat a key number from your ad or landing page in the CTA. This emphasizes your offer and demonstrates interest from the person who clicked on the CTA.

Examples of numbers to put on a CTA include:

  • Prices
  • Discounts
  • Percentage saved
  • Time saved

5. A/B Test Everything

A/B testing is essential for all types of marketing, such as landing pages and banner ads. It provides real data on what elements of your marketing get more responses from visitors.

You should also A/B test your CTAs. Test “traditional” words and phrases in CTA copy against more creative versions of the copy to see which CTAs get more clicks. 

Test colors, fonts, button size, and button placement. Also test different offers, as your audience might react more positively to one offer than another (e.g., free eBook versus one-hour consultation).

6. Optimize with AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in more and more applications and software. It can now be used to optimize CTAs in real-time.

Rather than doing an A/B test, AI can conduct A/B/C/D/E/F… tests of numerous elements on the page and within the CTA. The AI analyzes individual visitors’ actions as they see different versions of your lead capture pages and CTAs. 

The AI does not value different visitors equally in its testing. It weighs visitor behavior, demographics, customer status, and other factors when displaying different pages and CTAs to different users.

AI is more effective than A/B testing because it can test multiple elements on the page more quickly. It optimizes CTAs and other site elements in real-time, which reduces the time to get feedback on what’s working.

Call to Action Examples

As you’ve just read, there are several strategies for writing and optimizing your CTA. However, you don’t have to create a CTA from scratch, as there are many websites with effective CTAs that can inspire you.

Check out the following five examples of effective CTAs.

1. Evernote

Evernote provides a central location to store notes and context for those notes. The CTA tells the visitor to download the software for free.

The color of the main CTA button matches the color of the logo, which makes it stand out on the page. The wording is clear and is supported by the benefits below the CTA.

2. GiftRocket

GiftRocket enables people to send a thoughtful type of gift card. The CTA invites the visitor to send a GiftRocket to someone they know.

This CTA is effective because it takes a different approach: it does not ask the visitor to provide something or get something, but rather to send a GiftRocket to someone else. It is also supported by social proof and strong, positive language.

3. Basecamp

Basecamp is a project management tool that enables teams to work remotely. The CTA encourages visitors to try it out for free.

The text of the CTA emphasizes the risk-free nature of the free trial with non-intimidating wording. The button stands out visually and is directly followed by social proof.

4. My Perfect Resume

My Perfect Resume is an online resume builder. The CTA invites visitors to build their own resume.

The CTA is supported by the three simple steps that a visitor must take to build their resume. The text is inviting and encouraging and makes it seem like a simple process.

5. Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh sells meal kit subscriptions. The CTA tells visitors to check out their available plans.

The wording of the CTA is inviting, asking for nothing from the visitor in return. The button is centrally located and set within a very clean design.

The Bottom Line

The CTA is an effective and essential tool for converting visitors into leads and customers. It guides people to perform specific actions and take a set path through your sales funnel, thereby enhancing the user experience.



About the author
David Gargaro

Freelance content writer & copy editor | I help businesses gain more attention by writing better stories | Articles | Blog posts | Case studies | Website content | Marketing materials

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