You’ve built a great website, created catchy ads, and invested in an engaging email campaign. But you need your audience to do more than enjoy good copy—you need them to take the desired action.
That could be making a purchase, joining an online community, or following a blog. In any case, a compelling call to action (CTA) will be helpful to move your audience through the buyer’s journey from prospect to customer and increase your conversion rate.
Read on to learn how to enhance your marketing campaigns with effective calls to action.
What is a call to action?
A call to action (CTA) asks the reader to take action. It’s usually a prominent button that entices the reader to “Learn more,” “Try it for free,” or “Add to cart.”
The type of CTA used can vary based on the goal you’re trying to achieve. They all have the same result in mind: to create a connection with audience members and encourage them to do something.
CTA best practices
A CTA should be compelling enough to cut through the clutter and get potential customers to engage. A clear CTA makes it easy for the reader to understand what their next step should be.
Without clarity of the desired response, readers are likely to leave the page without taking any action. As a result, you’ve lost the opportunity to get them to do something. Here are some best call-to-action practices.
Add strong action words
CTA copy should be short but powerful. Use action verbs to direct the reader. To be clear and persuasive, a strong CTA should include a verb followed by an adverb or an object. Examples include “Subscribe today” and “Download this guide now.”
This webpage from email marketing company Mailchimp piques the reader’s interest with the promise of a beautiful website at no cost. The simple CTA invites you to “See how.”
Evoke an emotional response
Use a longer CTA when you want to create enthusiasm or draw out an emotional response from your audience. Some marketers recommend an indirect approach. Rather than a simple CTA like “Buy now,” they might use a phrase that appeals to the reader’s aspirations, like “Find your dream home.”
This CTA for Vrbo, a company that markets vacation rentals, is “Discover your escape.” The imperative expression captures the feeling of planning a vacation. This CTA packs much more punch than the actual action needed from the user—“Search for a rental.”
Include no-obligation statements
Some of the best CTAs include a no-obligation statement. Readers perceive less risk in taking action when they don’t have to commit to spending money.
With the rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zoom video conferencing platform became a household name. Two prominent CTA buttons on the Zoom homepage remind users to “Sign up, it’s free.”
Provide a sense of urgency
Many of us get more done when a deadline is looming; think of how fast you can clean the house when company is coming. A “do it now” approach can also lead to fear of missing out (FOMO). If readers don’t take action right away, an opportunity might be gone forever. For a potential customer, an urgent marketing message can trigger action now.
Some phrases that can create a sense of urgency include:
- “On sale now for 30% off”
- “Only a few tickets left”
- “Limited-time offer”
This offer from the home furnishing store Bed Bath & Beyond expires so soon that the website includes a countdown clock. The action phrase in the CTA is “Sign me up” for the 30% off discount. The urgency and value proposition are clear. The button color, white on a blue background, stands out on the page.
Show a clear directive
No matter how engaging your copy and graphics are, the campaign has failed if your visitors don’t know why they should take a specific action. When developing a CTA, make clear to a customer who might be scanning a page why they should pay attention and do something.
For example, consider this Facebook ad from 100% Pure, an organic makeup company. There’s nothing ambiguous about the offer. Consumers can purchase clean beauty products with no harmful chemicals and save 50% at the same time. The simple CTA is “Shop now.”
Main types of CTAs
The first step in creating a call to action is deciding what you want to achieve. Do you want to:
- Generate leads for future email campaigns?
- Increase sales?
- Gain subscribers?
Once you decide what you want to do, create a great call to action to support that goal. Consider these very common types of CTAs.
This type of CTA encourages readers to sign up for something (e.g., an event, webinar, newsletter, email notification, free trial, or online course).
Company blogs often use subscribe CTAs to add to their email lists and build relationships with potential customers. A purchase isn’t usually required with this type of CTA.
This CTA requests a number of behaviors from the consumer. You may invite them to engage with your business with actions like starting a free trial or completing a quiz.
With this CTA, you’re asking the reader to engage with your business. For example, you might use a joining CTA to invite readers to follow your social media, participate in an online community, or connect in other ways. Online groups are good sources of lead generation and target audiences for digital marketing campaigns.
Try for free
This CTA features the magic word “free” and encourages potential customers to try out a product or service before purchasing. In the example above, Zoom lets users download its video conferencing software for free.
Discussing all the features and benefits of a product or service isn’t always feasible when you have a lot of information to communicate. A “learn more” CTA lets your audience opt in to gain enough information to make a purchasing decision.
10 engaging CTA examples
Now that you know the elements of an effective CTA, let’s look at 10 CTAs and the reasons they work.
Using icons and minimal words, this promo speaks to three target audiences: Uber drivers, Uber Eats customers, and Uber riders. Each type of customer can connect using the appropriate link at the top of the text box.
The headline message, “Get in the driver’s seat and get paid,” speaks to people’s motivation to drive for Uber. The primary CTA “Sign up to drive” is to the point, no-nonsense, and impossible to miss, with a black button on a white background. The button become “Order now” and “Request now” for the Eat and Ride options.
The image adds to the communication by showing a mature woman wearing a face mask and gloves. The message conveys that a wide range of people can drive for Uber and that the company protects the health of its drivers and passengers.
If prizes were awarded for brevity, Spotify would win with this webpage. The simple, three-word headline is enough since most people are already familiar with the service.
The subhead reminds users they can enjoy music or podcasts on the service. The blue and green color scheme is simple and bold. The CTA button has a short, strong message: “Get Spotify free.” Subscriptions are available, but customers can opt for the free version.
For the online streaming company Netflix, the CTA button is the most prominent part of the page. It’s a bright-white email box with a red CTA button reversed out of a dark picture showcasing the company’s products. Here, the “Get started” CTA means sign up now. A subhead minimizes risk by reminding readers they can “cancel anytime.”
Square supports businesses with point-of-sale (POS) software and other accounting and financial services. This message, describing a point-of-sale software solution for every business, is simple. The CTA is the only pop of color and gives a compelling free trial offer. A second CTA lets you contact sales if you’re not quite sure.
Notice the unusual feature of two call-to-action buttons at the bottom of the screen. Instagram is used as a mobile app, so these CTAs give users the choice of downloading the app from either the App Store or Google Play. This is a good tactic for any business that offers an app. There’s also a “Log in” CTA if you’re already an Instagram user.
Slack, a business communication platform, addresses two audiences with this webpage. The “Try for free” CTA is for potential customers to begin a free trial. Another CTA is beside it and in a different color: “Sign up with Google.” Using two CTA buttons in different colors is one way to invite two different audiences in one promotion.
7. Brooks Running
Brooks Running specializes in running and hiking shoes and apparel. Their broad selection of specialized shoes can cause analysis paralysis in a new customer. Brooks Running offers a quiz on a landing page to help runners find the best shoes for their training regimen. Both the headline (“Find your perfect pair”) and the CTA (“Take the quiz”) are strong and simple.
As a case study in e-commerce, the homepage for Apple shows that less is more. The headline is simply the name of the new iPhone. Note the CTA is just a link in a different-colored text. Website visitors have two options: “Learn more” or “Buy.”
Peloton is known for its home fitness equipment and web-based instruction. But visitors to its website find a variety of ways to get fit. This product page for the fitness app includes an offer for a 30-day free trial. The CTA “Get the app” is in a bright-red button, which stands out against the muted colors of the photo.
Webflow is a software as a service (SaaS) company that builds and hosts websites. This web copy removes the barriers potential customers might face when signing up for the service. The word “free” is mentioned three times, including in the persuasive CTA: “Get started—it’s free.”
Make the most out of a brand
A good CTA can be effective in getting potential customers to take the desired action. The challenge, though, is coming up with a strong and persuasive CTA in the first place. Fortunately, you can find an expert to help.
If important but somewhat challenging tasks like copywriting and A/B testing aren’t your areas of expertise, you may want to leave them to the professionals. Search the Upwork Project Catalog for independent content marketing experts who can help you attract and engage your target audience. Get started now.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.
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