How Do I Write an Effective Call to Action?


By: Drew Germyn

Categories: Guides

Calls to action are everywhere on the web. Every website, landing page and blog post has one – and so do many social media posts and emails. They’re a dime a dozen.
Calls to action
But, the truth is that not all calls to action are effective. Because they’re so common, they can become virtual wallpaper – easy to ignore. At that point, it won’t matter that you have first class hosting and great copy because your site’s visitors will breeze by your call to action.
The trick to writing a compelling call to action is to make it unique. That means you’ve got to stay away from the most commonly-used words and prompts. We’re talking about things like:

  • Click
  • Subscribe
  • Enter
  • Download

There’s nothing wrong with those words per se – and sometimes they might be precisely the right words to use.
But you don’t want your call to action to fade into the background. You want people to feel compelled to act when they see it. After all, it’s a call to action, not an invitation to take a nap!

The Anatomy of an Effective Call to Action

When you’re walking down the street, and you stop to look at someone attractive, you don’t look because they’re just like everybody else. You look because they’re special. There’s something about them that makes them stand out in a crowd.
That said, it’s not positive attention if you’re staring at someone with three eyes or an extra limb.
Which is to say, all effective calls to action are not alike, but they do all have some things in common. Your call to action should:

  • Use an action word that tells people what to do when they see it
  • Remind people of what they’ll get if they click
  • Be personal – targeted to the people in your core audience
  • Be immediate – compel people to act now

That’s a lot to pack into something that may only consist of a few words. If you choose the right words, though, you can see your subscription and conversion rates soar. Let’s look at some suggestions on how to make that happen.

#1: Choosing the Right Action Words

If click, subscribe, enter and download are boring and stodgy, what words should you be using?
Think about the word walk. It’s a basic verb, and there’s nothing wrong with it – but just think how much more visual and memorable these words are:

  • Trudge
  • Gallop
  • March
  • Glide
  • Stomp

Any one of those is far more descriptive than walk. They put a picture in your head. They’re interesting – special – and not boring.
Suit walking
You can apply the same idea to any of the common call to action words. For example, if you’re encouraging people to download a cheat sheet,  you might use words like:

  • Grab
  • Snag
  • Discover
  • Learn

You can do the same thing with the other basic verbs that you’ve been using. Don’t be afraid to take chances. The more memorable your call to action is, the more likely it is that people will respond to it.

#2: Turn Your CTA into an Affirmation

Some of the most effective calls to action are affirmative. You want people to click, subscribe, or download. Why not be enthusiastic about it? Putting some excitement into your call to action will make people excited about what you’re offering.

  • Yes! Send me my free report today!
  • Yes! I want to learn how to invest in the stock market!
  • Yes! I’m ready to start planning for retirement!

What these do is give the reader a good feeling. They’re making progress! They had a problem, and your call to action is giving them a way to solve it!

#3: Add Humor

Injecting a little humour into your CTA can go a long way toward convincing people to click it. Back in 2015. Nielsen did a study about the kinds of marketing that appealed to consumers around the world. Humour was by far the most popular tactic in both North America and Europe.
A good example comes from Point Blank SEO, which used Be Awesome as its call to action. Who wouldn’t want to click that?
You can also use humour to contrast your call to action with the alternative. You’ve probably seen the kind of CTA where you get a pop-up, and you need to click a “no” response to close it. Here’s an example of how you could use humour to get people to click your CTA:
Grab your awesome cheat sheet today! (No thanks, I don’t need any awesomeness in my life.)
Sure, some people may still choose to click no, but it’s a little harder to do it when you’re being forced to an agreement with a statement that suggests you’re turning down something amazing.

#4: Speak Directly to Your Audience

Finally, you should think about getting a little personal with your call to action. Using words like “your” and “my” can help make the CTA feel like a personal appeal instead of a dry marketing campaign.
Crowd Raising Hands
Some basic CTAs in this category might include:

  • Send me the coupons!
  • I’m interested in learning more
  • Grab your free trial
  • I want to grow my business

You get the idea. These calls to action function as a way of starting a conversation with the visitors to your site. Adding a personal touch can help people feel like they’re speaking directly to you – in other words, they’re already in business with you.

Why Be Boring?

If you want to generate more leads and conversions, you can’t afford to let a boring call to action drive visitors away from your site. The tips we’ve included here can help you craft a CTA that’s funny, compelling, or exciting – and most importantly, irresistible.
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