How to Create an Effective Call to Action


If you’ve ever signed up for anything online or subscribed to a newsletter, or given your email in exchange for a free resource, then chances are you’ve experienced an effective call to action. A call to action – or CTA – is a piece of marketing content that is focused on getting the user to perform a specific action. A CTA can come in several different forms– buttons, links, videos, blog posts, landing pages, social posts, and more. CTAs are important because they direct customers through your sales funnel. Your content marketing efforts hinge on the success of your CTAs.

So, to help you craft the most effective call to action content, we asked 15 experts to share their best CTA tips.

Yulia Khansvyarova, SEMrush, @SEMrush
Use solid and clear CTAs and tell readers exactly what to do next. Speak to your customer's needs or desires and provide value that will lead potential buyers to take your desired action. Focus on keeping your CTA simple, but not stock (eg: “Subscribe”). Finally, reinforce your CTA with value and underline timeliness to make people act immediately (eg: “Now”,“Today”).

Use personal language in your call to action

Matthew Dawson, Joosr, @MDawson_uob
Bring the CTA to the bottom of the first fold. Any higher than the bottom quarter and conversions drop. Use personal language, you, your, etc in your CTA copy. If your call to action includes a free trial, enhance the ‘free’ and no credit card/commitment language. My biggest hack of all is to use this language twice in the first fold, once at the top, once at the bottom, it reduces stress and anxiety.

Add background images

Zondra Wilson, Blu Skin Care, @BlueSkinCare
When you collect e-mail addresses, make sure you're clearly stating what customers will get. Our customer service team is relentless in letting our clients know that e-mail updates will include product discounts and new offers. Be sure to let new subscribers know what they will receive so they stay subscribed. You can increase the visitor’s incentive to sign up for your website if you mention that there is no hassle and it's free. Don’t be afraid to brag about your strengths. Confidence helps boost conversions. Lastly, experiment with adding background images to your email opt-in calls-to-action to increase customer’s desire to sign up for your offers and convey positive emotions of efficiency and enjoyment.

Avoid using standard text on buttons

Steven Macdonald, SuperOffice, @StevenMacd0nald
Make your CTA visible. If you use a white background, avoid making your CTA completely white (can also be known as ghost buttons). Your CTA needs to stand out and be clearly visible, otherwise, no one will click it.Use both text CTAs and button CTAs. A call to action doesn't have to be a button, text call-to-actions work just as well. For example, you can include text links within paragraphs of copy and compliment it with a call to action button. In email marketing, I've found that a text CTA works much better than button CTA, especially when the emails are designed to look more personal (i.e., limited HTML). Many companies use the default form settings, which includes submit, sign up or send on their CTA buttons. Instead, use longer copy, and ideally, use the CTA to explain the task the user is performing. A great example of how to apply this tip can be found on your bank’s websites, as they use descriptive CTAs such as Apply for a loan, Apply for a credit card, as oppose to submit.

Take advantage of the CTA button on Facebook

Claire Abraham, 216 Digital, @216_Digital
One overlooked social media hack for CTAs comes from Facebook. Make sure you are taking advantage of the CTA button that Facebook offers to business and organization pages. The button is great because you can customize the message to match your goals. For example, a non-profit can have a donate now button on their page, or a business can have a call now button which is great for lead generation. You can even see stats on how many clicks your custom CTA button gets in a given month, these insights are great for evaluating the success of your social media strategy. Make sure your CTA matches the tone of the page you're adding it to. If you are adding a CTA to a high traffic sales page, go ahead and go right for the bottom line e.g. “Contact Us Now For a Consultation” or “Hire Us”. But if you're adding a CTA to a piece of content about e-mail automation that drives you a lot of traffic, try a softer CTA. Someone reading your content is still getting to know you, they may not be ready to hire you. A great soft CTA to add to a polished piece of content is “Sign-up For Our Newsletter or Free Ideas!”. Use the CTAs in paid search ads as research for your own CTAs. Paid search ads are likely the result of various A/B tests and the copy that you see running has probably outperformed competing copy in CTR and Conversion Rate. By borrowing from paid search ads you save yourself some time on researching keywords for your CTA.

Solve a problem

Melih Oztalay, Smartfinds Internet Marketing, @SmartFinds
You can have all the CTAs on a web page and none of them will work if you are not offering something of value, solving a problem or being a benefit to the reader. View your CTAs through the eyes of your target market. Your call to action will get the best results if you focus on what you are solving or the benefits you provide. You’re not likely to get attention if you focus on what you do. Think about what you’re simplifying, what results you can achieve, providing free advice. Best of all, keep your CTAs simple!

Ensure your CTA is the only clickable element on your landing page

Victoria Pavlova, Starlight MG
A killer call to action should create a feeling of urgency or curiosity. When users get curious about your offer, they can’t resist clicking on your CTA. Make sure your call to action is the only clickable element on your landing page. You don’t want to distract your user’s with other links and elements – keep your CTA page clear and simple. Remember, a CTA is not just a button; you should consider background color, images and text surrounding it. Make sure your images are relevant, that your content is straightforward and the CTA stands out. If you are using cool colors like blue, your CTA should be a warm color like red or orange.

Entice viewers with learning material

Jason Parks, The Media Captain, @TheMediaCaptain
Provide something of value (like an e-book or a video). In order to view or download it, the reader should have to enter contact information so you can capture this data for lead generation. People always want to learn, so this strategy will lead to a higher conversion rate. Select copy that your competitors aren't using. People are used to the “Learn More” and “Download Now” buttons. When your copy on the actual button is more enticing, your CTA will be more effective. “Don't Get Left Behind” is an example of compelling copy that is a differentiator.Create a video that delivers a personalized message. People are accustomed to verbiage and a button when they are debating whether they should enter their contact information. If you include a customized video specifically for your promotion, you can obtain a higher conversion rate and better results. Videos on landing pages perform very well.

Include an action within the CTA text

Alex Moher, Parqa, @FINNdividual
CTAs should be as concise as possible while still conveying what you want the user to do. This should be something as simple as “Download Our Guide”, or “Join Our Insights Email List”, etc. Always have an action within the text. You should also make the CTA stand out on its own, preferably making it a button that visitors can click and take the action right away. However, you can also have too many CTAs.

Provide clear directions

Eric Brantner, Scribblrs, @Eric_Scribblrs
First of all, put your CTA where readers can see it. Include a quick CTA up top, and then lead those that want to dig deeper through the copy to the main CTA at the end. Your CTA has to be urgent. Bottom line, you want people to click now, not later or else you might lose them. And finally, make sure the CTA gives clear directions. Don't assume anyone knows what to do–spell it out for them.

Make a promise

Bryan Clayton, GreenPal, @YourGreenPal
We rigorously test our CTAs and what we have noticed is our best CTA copy makes a promise to the user. Make a promise to your users with your call to action copy and you will most certainly get more users to click on your offer. For instance, in our case, we noticed our original CTA “Get Started” was beaten by 38% click through by our new CTA “Get my lawn mowed”.

Use Heat-mapping Software on your CTA pages

Zaki Usman, Pagezii Marketing, @PageziiApp
Heat-mapping shows areas of a page where users tend to interact and focus the most. Place your CTAs in hot areas of your page that get the most attention. Use actionable keywords in CTAs. Try to use active labels in CTA buttons that quickly convey the message. Stick with labels that your users would be very familiar with like Download, Buy, Free Trial, etc.Don’t be afraid to try out different CTAs, label text and button colors through A/B testing. There are many tools (including a free one from Google) to help experiment and derive the optimum CTA for your landing page.

Empower customers to share their own content

Lance Trebesch,
Empower customers to share their own content with a ’share’ CTA. For example, when a reader takes action, prompt them to share it with friends on Facebook or Twitter. Also, consider experimenting with subtle CTA icons in email subject lines.

Speak in the first person

Jason Roberts, Odd Jobs London, @JasonRoberts328
Try speaking in the first person in your CTA copy. Several tests run by digital marketers proved that changing your CTA button copy from the second person (ex. “Get Your Free Book”) to the first person (ex. “Get My Free Book”) will lead to a better click-through rate. However, perform A/B tests just to double check whether it will work for your niche. Add a picture of your product/service above the call to action button. By doing this you will eliminate confusion and help people better understand what they are adding to their carts. Also, leave white space around your CTAs. Whitespace is an essential element when it comes to web design. So, by adding in white space around your call to action buttons you will make them stand out and provide better user experience.

Use timed CTAs

Nico Sanchez, Fit Small Business, @FitSmallBiz
Having a timed CTA rather than a static CTA, will work better and convert more, especially in video. If you implement this, make sure that people are not able to skip through your CTA. it should also pop up when you specifically mention it within the video. While it requires some additional work, you can easily do a search to find out how to implement a timed CTA.