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Call to action 101: How to write a CTA that converts

how to write a CTA

Many factors play a role in determining the success or failure of your online presence, yet few are as significant as the one encapsulated in these three letters: CTA, which stands for call to action. We all encounter CTAs on the web all the time without even realizing it, but when you create a website it is imperative that you learn how to write a call to action that supports your site’s goal.

In this post, we will clarify how CTAs work to ensure the high performance of any website, and especially of business websites. We will then explore the key steps in creating powerful CTAs that bring real results, improve your website’s conversion rates and set you on the right path towards financial and professional growth.

What is a call to action?

A call to action is a short phrase that prompts your online audience to take immediate action. In the context of a website, they are most often clickable texts, images or buttons that encourage site visitors to follow your site’s invitation towards a certain step.

Common call to action examples include downloading files, purchasing products, subscribing to a service, signing up as members, contacting the team, starting a trial and more.

Essentially, CTAs tell your site visitors what it is that you want them to do. If the entire content of your site is doing the prep work for it, the role of the call to action is to entice visitors to take that final step and click to complete that action, to “seal the deal.” CTAs have a direct impact on your entire website’s success, and strong, persuasive CTAs can get you higher sales, more followers and wider exposure.

Why is a call to action important?

Calls to action are a critical component of any marketing strategy, because they provide your user with a clear guide for where to go. Good CTAs can help you to increase conversions, improve your website's traffic and boost your sales.

Here are some of the benefits of CTAs:

  • Increase conversions: CTAs tell your visitors exactly what you want them to do, which in turn helps them convert. When a CTA is clear and concise, it’s more likely to be clicked on.

  • Improve website traffic: Improve your website's traffic by directing visitors to the pages that you want them to see. For example, you could use a CTA to direct visitors to your product pages or your blog.

  • Boost sales: When you encourage visitors to take action through your call to action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter, you can then help boost your sales.

  • Build relationships: CTAs can help you build relationships with your customers by providing them with a way to contact you or learn more about your products or services.

  • Limit decision fatigue: Users can sometimes feel overwhelmed by too many options. CTAs cut down on confusion by giving a direct command to follow.

how to write a cta examples

How to write a CTA that converts

Here are the key steps to write an effective call to action that bring real results:

01. Define your goals 

The first step to perfecting your call to actions takes you to the very core of your online presence. You need to have a clear understanding of your goals. Let’s put it this way: Why are you setting up a website to begin with? What are you hoping to achieve? The answer to this question would determine how you use CTAs.

Your goal and the action that you are calling for correspond to each other. If, for example, your site’s goal is to advance your life coaching service, the action you’d be prompting would be scheduling an appointment, and the CTA might read something like: “Book Your First Session Here” or “Schedule a Free Consultation.”

In some cases, you might be interested in directing site visitors to do more than one thing. For instance, you want them to both purchase one of your products and like your Facebook page. In this case, you will have more than one CTA on the site and you will need to prioritize them. You may choose to have one CTA more prominent on one page and the other on another page. You may also divide your site’s layout in a way that supports both CTAs without creating competition between them.

02. Know what your audience wants

Knowing what you want to achieve is one thing, but you won’t get far if you neglect to consider the wishes and needs of your audience. What are they doing on your site? What are they hoping to accomplish? What tone of voice and what kind of vocabulary appeals to them?

To maximize your chances of success, you should start this stage by doing some research on your target audience and creating a profile of your average site visitor (or multiple archetypes of visitors). Once you get a sense of what motivates your audience, you will be able to craft more effective CTAs.

And don’t be afraid to look at what your competitors are doing, there’s a lot to learn from other people’s successes and failures.

call to action example

03. They can't miss it

A CTA has to be clearly visible. All the effort that you put into creating your CTAs will be useless if your site visitors are unable to spot it on your site. Here’s how you guarantee that they will:

  • Your color palette should make the call to action stand out. Choose a color combination that accentuates the CTA and draws attention. Obviously, you don’t want to blind your site visitors with clashing colors (and these color palette generators will help you avoid that), but you do need enough contrast for it to stand out on the page. In addition, consider which colors to use in order to evoke specific emotions from people.

  • Size matters. The proportions of CTA buttons or texts should reflect their unique role on your site. You want to go with a size that distinctively marks the CTA as a crucial segment of the site, one that shouldn’t be overlooked. But practicing moderation is a good move here too: devoting half of your page size to a button will not get you much other than frustrated visitors.

  • Location is key. Where you choose to place the CTA will have a huge impact on its performance. The guiding principles are that CTAs should be located in prominent spots, the space surrounding them should be free of clutter, and they shouldn’t compete with other buttons in the area over clicks. Don’t assume that CTAs always work best if placed right at the top of the page. Remember that you are asking visitors to take action, so the request should appear at the moment when they’re ready for it. The CTA usually follows content that prepares the ground for it.

04. Keep it short and clear

This is not the place for witty observations or lively descriptions of the benefits you promise. CTAs are brief and to the point. They describe the action in a straightforward manner – Download Your Copy, Register for a Free Trial, Buy This, Sign Up and Get $50 Off, Reserve Your Seats, etc.

This type of copywriting may sound a bit bland, or even off-putting in its directness. Don’t forget, though, that the CTAs are just that final step in a process. Your site’s design, images and content provide the atmosphere, information and motivation to follow through the journey, while the CTA is there to give it a final push.

05. Use action-oriented language

Compelling site visitors to take action requires proactive language. It’s no coincidence that CTAs begin with a powerful imperative verb that assertively determines what happens next. This type of explicit invitation increases people’s motivation to follow your CTA and complete the action. It puts the focus on them and their decision and strengthens their confidence in the choice to click onwards.

how to write a call to action example

06. The time is NOW

Similarly to the use of power-verbs, adding a sense of urgency strengthens the CTA’s impact. An effectively-written call to action motivates site visitors to take the next step immediately, rather than giving them time to think about it and probably forget all about your site.

Adding words like “Now,” “Here” or “Today” to your CTAs can help prompt quick reactions. Other phrases that elicit this type of determination are: “Get Instant Access,” “Grab Limited Discount Code” or “Take Advantage of Our Best Deal Ever.”

07. Lead with incentives

When you’re asking your site visitors to do something for you, you better be willing to do something for them in return. With an abundance of options and information available online, web users have the power to consider costs and benefits and make informed decisions. If you want CTAs to appeal to that mindset, you need to make sure the value that you are offering is clear, and that it actually appeals to your group.

For example, CTAs like “Start My Free Trial,” “Create a Blog” or “Download Straight to Your Device” all offer a certain incentive that allows visitors to visualize what they are getting out of this deal.

08. Don’t neglect the rest of your site

This article focuses specifically on the art of creating CTAs, but just as important is the art of creating a good CTA environment. Remember, the CTA is a culmination of your pitch to your site visitors. Even the perfect CTA will fail if the site that surrounds it does not lead visitors towards completing the action.

To begin with, your entire site design should support the CTA. This means that the layout of the page should direct the visitors’ view towards the CTA in a natural browsing flow. Subsequently, you should also free up some white space around the CTA, to make sure that nothing distracts from it.

Your site content is also crucial for the elimination of FUDs – fears, uncertainties and doubts. Because CTAs are short and can’t address all the concerns or questions that site visitors might have, you need to make sure that your site has all the answers.

09. Track and analyze success

No serious website owner would be satisfied with following all the steps mentioned above without tracking their impact, too. Analyzing the success rate of your CTA is crucial in evaluating your site’s overall performance and is a vital step towards improving your strategy for growth.

An important metric that can help in guiding your evaluation is the conversion rate, which is the percentage of website visitors who convert. For example, if you have 100 visitors to your website and 5 of them make a purchase, your conversion rate would be 5%. The way you define conversion depends on what your goal is, but it could include actions such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter or downloading a PDF. The higher the conversion rate, the more effective your CTAs are at driving conversions.

10. Test and improve

After tracking and measuring your CTAs’ performance, you have the knowledge required to experiment, compare and improve various call to action schemes. For example, your analysis may show you that some colors bring in more clicks than others, or that the phrasing “Buy Now” is more effective than “Purchase Now.”

Keep track of your different tests to better understand what triggers action with your target audience and continue to improve your CTAs accordingly.

Where to include a CTA

When it comes to mastering CTAs, you also need to know where to include them. There are many places where you can integrate a CTA, but some of the most effective spots are:

On your website: CTAs can be placed on your website in a variety of places, such as:

  • The homepage: The homepage is a great place for your CTA because it's the first page that visitors will see.

  • Product pages: CTAs can be placed on product pages to encourage visitors to buy your products.

  • A blog: Try including CTAs on your blog posts to encourage visitors to read more content, subscribe to your blog or buy your product.

  • Contact page: A CTA on your contact page encourages visitors to contact you.

In your email marketing: CTAs can be included in your email marketing campaigns to encourage subscribers to take action, such as clicking on a link, opening an attachment or making a purchase.

On your social media: CTAs can be included in your social media posts to encourage followers to engage with your content, such as liking, commenting or sharing your posts.

In your advertising: CTAs can be included in your advertising campaigns to encourage viewers to visit your website, sign up for a free trial or make a purchase.

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