How to Write an Effective Call to Action

If you need a favor from a friend, how do they know you need help? You certainly don’t wait around for them to read your mind, or for them to approach and ask if you need a favor. They need to hear from you what they need to do. While this seems logical and obvious, that crucial call to action is sometimes omitted in marketing content produced by businesses.

Simply defined, a call to action (abbreviated as “CTA”) is a word or phrase that guides people to take a desired action. In digital content, the CTA is frequently seen in the form of a button that a user clicks to move further along the path of a sale. This can be signing up for a newsletter or text club, sharing content, registering for an event, downloading an app, seizing a limited-time offer, purchasing a product/service, etc.

It turns out that CTAs are an integral part of marketing content. While there’s no guarantee a potential customer will read all the written content they come across, more than 90 percent of people who read a header will also read a CTA.

Of course, simply seeing the CTA doesn’t mean a consumer will act on it. That’s why specificity is key to any effective CTA. Your button can’t just say “Click Here.” It needs to excite and entice someone enough to get clicking.

If you want more people following through on your CTAs, read on to review our top five best practices that will help give prospective customers the final nudge they need.


Do your research

What is important to your target demographic? What challenges or frustrations do they have? What problems can your business help them solve? What drives their purchasing decisions? What are their biggest objections to using your product or service? Understanding what your audience needs will make it much easier to develop specific, effective CTAs.


Command your prospects

A good CTA tells a prospective customer exactly what they must do. Your CTA buttons should be bossy. Use active language to deliver an order that reads like it must be acted on immediately. Start strong with a commanding verb as your first word (e.g., buy, reserve, grab, donate), and let the rest of your text communicate value or time sensitivity.

These are just a few examples of CTAs that went from blah to BOOM through the use of direct, active language:



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Even small content changes that turn requests into commands can have a big impact on your click-through and conversion rates.


Foster FOMO

Include messaging/visuals that indicate urgency and scarcity and imply someone will be missing out if they don’t act IMMEDIATELY:

  • Promote a special, limited-time offer
  • Use a timer ticking down to a price increase
  • Show how many people have already signed up for an event in real time

A prime example from the past: Television ads for CD sets or kitchen appliances that enticed the person watching with the phrase, “Call in the next 30 minutes, and we’ll throw in a bonus!!!”


Elicit emotion

The prospective customer should feel urgency to act, and they should feel like they need to act because they’ve been impacted on an emotional level. The most powerful CTAs strike a chord with a person’s values, concerns, or interests. For example, if the CTA is to buy insurance, tell the consumer to “protect your family today.”  If you sell sports memorabilia, remind your prospective customers that only a limited number of Milwaukee Bucks championship medallions were made, and they can’t miss out on owning a piece of basketball history. In both cases, the CTA stressed urgency and described things important to the prospective customer.


Make the CTA easy to find

No need for camouflage here. CTA buttons should look like buttons, and don’t be afraid to GO BIG with the design. It should contrast with the rest of the content and have some extra space around it to naturally draw a person’s eye.


Test, Test, Test

It doesn’t matter what you hope to accomplish with your marketing—a clear CTA is a fundamental building block to success. Also, be sure to put your CTA to the test! Using A/B tests to evaluate messaging, placement, color and size will help you improve your CTAs one click at a time.


Does all this make sense, but you’re lacking the time or resources to put it into action? Baer Performance Marketing’s team of copywriters, graphic designers, and online strategists are at your digital disposal. Drop us a line to start maximizing conversions today!