A compelling call to action, or CTA, is an essential element of successful marketing strategies. While marketing strategies can vary extremely widely in style, scope, and no marketing campaign is complete without a clear call to action
In this article, we’ll show you four steps to crafting a compelling call to action. Then, we’ll look at six real-life examples from this year to inspire you for your next campaign.
First Things First: What is a CTA?
A call to action (CTA) is the part of a marketing effort where you plainly ask your audience to do something, whether that’s to sign up for a class, join a mailing list, purchase a product, or any other desired action.
When done right, the rest of your marketing content carefully leads up to the CTA, the moment of truth: after you make your appeal, will your audience take that action you’ve been trying to convince them to take?
But just because the CTA is the most up-front portion of your marketing campaign, that doesn’t mean it needs to be plain or boring. In fact, well-written calls to action can turn a waffling reader into a confident buyer.
The Anatomy Of A CTA: How to Write a Killer Call to Action, Every Time
While many copywriters settle for a simple CTA button like “subscribe,” “buy now,” or (the very worst) “click here,” choosing that route means sacrificing a lot of potential swaying power. Think of it this way: your CTA button, at the end of your pitch, is your very last chance to convince the reader to take your desired action.
Why not get creative with it?
The key to composing an effective call to action is to appeal to their emotions while offering value, all while creating a sense of urgency. Below, we’ll take a look at each component of a killer CTA in greater detail.
Step One: Attack On An Emotional Level
First, make it your goal to provoke or capitalize on emotion in your readers. What emotion would best serve your campaign? There are many angles you can approach from, such as:
Of course, you don’t want to scare your customer off—but if you know your target audience is worried about something, how does your product or offering help alleviate that fear?
For instance, maybe you’re trying to get signups for a webinar on SEO strategy. A great CTA might include the phrase: “are you confident in your SEO strategy?” or “are your competitors about to leave you in the dust?”
Capitalize on your target audience’s fear of failure or being left behind—and make them connect the dots that if they sign up for your webinar, they may avoid their worst nightmare.
On the other end of the spectrum, people love to try new and exciting things. What about your product or offering could pique your audience’s interest?
Capitalize on the sense that something fun or interesting is just out of reach. You’d be surprised what a little mystery will do for your conversion rates.
Don’t underestimate the power of contagious excitement! If your CTA uses enthusiastic language (“learn powerful new SEO skills today!”), some of that energy will naturally rub off on your audience.
Use language (and punctuation) that plays on your audience’s eagerness to get the benefit you’re offering. A well-placed exclamation point can really set the right, engaging tone for your CTA.
Step Two: Offer A Benefit
If you’re a marketer, you probably already know the difference between being benefit-led rather than product-led in your language. Your readers don’t really care about you, your company, or whatever product you’re selling.
Instead, they care about themselves and what they need. If you can keep the focus on your audience and how their lives will change if they take your desired action, you’re much more likely to be successful.
So in your CTAs, ask yourself: what’s in it for the reader? If they click that button to sign up for your webinar or purchase your service, what will it gain them?
For example, your SEO strategy webinar will teach audience members about SEO. But go further—how will that newfound knowledge impact their lives or businesses?
A better SEO strategy will get their websites seen by more online visitors, which will lead to increased sales and revenue. So in that case, a benefit-led call to action might look like “let’s start driving more traffic to your site!”
Step Three: Provide A Reason To Act Now
Next, don’t forget to convey a sense of urgency. If you’re advertising an event like a webinar, it’s probably time-sensitive. Your audience only has a limited time to sign up if they want to watch it live.
Or maybe you’re providing a limited-time offer or discount. Remind your audience of that fact with a quick “claim your 15% off today! Sale ends in 24 hours” or “buy now while supplies last” somewhere in your CTA box.
When in doubt, gravitate towards words like “now,” “today,” and “immediately” to get that sense of urgency across.
And not only do you need to encourage readers to act quickly; you need to use strong action words in the first place. You probably already know to avoid passive voice in all of your copy, but at CTA is especially no place for such weak language.
Passive voice is almost always the worst way to phrase something—and it’s all-too-common in corporate writing. In passive voice, the verb takes action on the subject, instead of the subject being the one to take action. For example:
- Active voice: “View offer details”
- Passive voice: “Offer details can be viewed here”
See how the passive version is not only wordier, but it’s more boring? Keep the focus on the active verb—and tell the reader to take the action, don’t just vaguely point out that someone, somewhere could do this thing.
Step Four: Be Creative with Your CTA Button
This is the hardest part: to stand out, it helps to be different, imaginative, and witty.
Many marketers and landing page designers settle for overused CTA button wording like “subscribe” or “sign up.” But for maximum conversions, the button should continue highlighting the benefit of taking the prescribed action.
Don’t be afraid to be irreverent or unexpected. A CTA for a website design company that says “Your website sucks—let us fix it” takes a risk, but it might elicit a chuckle and a curious click from the reader.
And when designing your CTA button, don’t forget this little trick: use first-person language instead of second-person.
Your first instinct is probably to speak from your own point of view, referring to the reader as “you.” But a better approach is to get inside the reader’s mind. So instead of “get your free trial today,” it would be better to say “sign me up!”
6 Best Call to Action Examples of 2021
Even though Contentware’s audience is almost exclusively B2B, there is much that can be learned from our B2C counterparts. Crafting crisp, impactful CTA’s is one of them. In that spirit, here are the some of the best calls to action from 2021.
Now that you know the basic tips for creating a killer CTA, let’s take a look at six landing pages or website CTAs that really put those tricks into practice.
This streaming giant gets straight to the point with the powerful promise of “unlimited” movies and TV shows.
The colors are bold, the CTA button stands out with an admittedly generic but still action-oriented phrase of “get started,” and the copy is chock full of value: “watch anywhere. Cancel anytime.” What does the reader have to lose?
OptinMonster is a digital marketing tool that really knows how to craft compelling CTAs. The one above leans heavily on the value to be gained from signing up, with words like:
- #1 most powerful… in the world
The CTA goes on to list not one, but eight specific features that come with the product. The CTA button itself stands out thanks to its coloring, and it includes the word “now” to convey a sense of enthusiasm and urgency.
And that’s not all; when you try to click out of the browser tab, this pops up:
This CTA capitalizes on visitors’ need to generate leads on their own websites by pointing out what “abandonment” feels like. It forces readers to put themselves in OptinMonster’s shoes and think of how they would feel if a visitor to their own website clicked away.
This ingenious strategy encourages readers to commiserate with OptinMonster and, at the same time, remember their fear of losing traffic on their own website. That fear might be what it takes for readers to reverse course and create an account with OptinMonster, after all.
Spotify focuses on what’s in it for the customer if they sign up for a Premium subscription.
This CTA button lays it all out: get three months of Premium, free of charge. The design is simple, brightly colored for maximum engagement, and the copy doesn’t beat around the bush.
Brooks Running, a sports apparel company, uses emotion well in this popup. The copy creates enthusiasm while playing on visitors’ fear of missing out.
The CTA button itself is simple, and while it could be more creative, the word “continue” cuts to the chase by being a standalone action verb that generates curiosity about what comes next.
This simple CTA from Crooked Media doesn’t bother with flashy words—or even any words on the CTA button itself.
Instead, they embrace their irreverent brand voice with a chuckle-inducing caption: “you didn’t scroll all the way down here for nothing.” The suggestion is that since you like their content so much, you might as well sign up for more!
Warby Parker uses an elegant CTA design that puts the value (a free trial) front and center.
This call to action also uses not one, but three CTA buttons. Visitors are prompted to either start shopping men’s or women’s designs—or click the creatively gamified “take a quiz to find frames” option. Everyone loves a quiz!
Bonus Tips For Writing Good CTAs
Optimize Your CTA Button for Mobile
All of your website pages should be mobile responsive, and a landing page is no exception.
But you should also consider the user behavior and search intent associated with each type of device.
While desktop or tablet users are generally more leisurely about their product research, mobile phone users want instant results. And those who view your ad or landing page on mobile can easily call you for more information since they’re already on their phone.
Capitalize on these phone-specific user characteristics by adding a “call now!” CTA button for mobile versions of your pages.
Keep an Eye on Design
Copy is crucial, but don’t forget your CTA’s aesthetics. Make sure to:
- Use white space; your button should stand out from the space around it
- Make the CTA button big enough to click on, but not so big that it’s overwhelming to the reader
- If possible, keep the CTA above the fold (visible without your viewers needing to scroll down)
- Use bright colors that are eye-catching but not grating or distracting
Finally, you won’t know what’s working and what isn’t unless you test out a few versions. Use A/B testing to experiment with CTA wording, button design, links, placement, and more.
Start by testing two nearly versions of your CTA—with only one element changed—on a split audience. Whichever design sees the highest conversion rate should be the winner; then, you can change another element and try again.
Crafting a Compelling CTA: Time-Consuming, But Not Rocket Science
The call to action is your last chance to convince a reader to move forward—whether it’s with signing up for a webinar, subscribing to a newsletter, or purchasing a product. That’s why it’s so important to get your CTA right.
Maximize your chances of landing conversions by appealing to readers’ emotions, offering a benefit, and conveying a sense of urgency. And of course, the best CTAs are also creative enough to stand out and stick in the reader’s memory.
Writing CTA’s and the remainder of the marketing copy is time-consuming. And if you’re promoting an event or webinar, that’s only one dimension of a multi-pronged effort. Contentware uses AI and your event landing page to create an entire marketing campaign of emails and social media posts – in minutes. Click here to sign up for a free trial.