Let’s talk about the call to action.
Want more email subscribers? Contest entries? Conversions? You won’t get them without the right call to action.
Almost all of your marketing content should have well-crafted call to actions designed to drive action.
It’s an essential part of copywriting that doesn’t always get the attention that it deserves. It’s one area of writing where people get lazy, even after they’ve spent hours creating strong campaigns.
The calls to action that we use can determine whether or not people do, in fact, take action, along with how many.
And since we want all of our readers and customers here at AdEspresso to maximize those conversions- getting both more sales and better ROI- we’re going to dive deep into the call to action today.
In this post, you’re going to see 31 diverse call to action examples and how to use them, along with advanced copywriting tips to help you craft the perfect one.
What Is A Call To Action?
You’ve probably heard “call to action”, also known as a CTA, bandied around the marketing world.
So what is a call to action? It’s the sentence, or button, that closes the deal.
You’ve sold your product or company with killer ad copy and a great image or video — but now you need to make a sale. The call to action definition describes it as a piece of content intended to persuade a user to perform a specific task — which might be purchasing your product, signing up for your newsletter, or clicking through to a landing page.
So while a call to action isn’t always about making a sale — you’re always persuading your reader to leap into action.
So how do you create a persuasive and effective call to action?
Why You Need A Strong Call To Action
It’s pretty easy to stick a “sign up here” call to action on the end of a Facebook video advertisement and hope that it’s enough to drive conversions.
This is what a lot of businesses do; they put a ton of time, energy, and money into the creation of their Facebook ad and then slap a half-hearted call to action on the end of it. This is true for PPC campaigns, social media videos, email campaigns, and even blog posts.
That’s not enough. You don’t need any call to action; you want a strong one that will actually convince people to take action.
There are two main purposes of a call to action, after all: to tell someone what they should do, and give them the motivation to do so. A lot of people remember to tell people what they should do, but they forget the why part of that equation. Without that added in, you won’t see the types of conversion rates that you should.
While sometimes your content preceding the call to action will be able to answer this question, sometimes it doesn’t. Even if it does, a quick recap makes the call to action more powerful and never hurts.
How Long Should A Call To Action Be?
Can a call to action be longer than a sentence? Absolutely, yes.
I’ve noticed that since Facebook’s call to action buttons have been around (which are exceptional!), a lot of business owners I work with think that a call to action should be nothing more than two or three words at best. “Shop Now.” “Sign up Today.” While a call to action can be this short- especially when it comes to clickable CTA buttons which we’ll discuss later on in this post- they don’t all have to be.
A call to action should be concise, in general, but that doesn’t have to mean ridiculously short. It means exactly that: concise.
The brevity and directness of a well-written call to action will put the focus on what’s important and remove any distractions. It’s kind of like really good French cooking- you use good, high-quality simple ingredients to make something great, and you only use as many as are necessary.
When we’re looking at great call to action examples, you’ll see plenty of what I call “long form CTAs” and how and when to use them. We’re going to look at everything from placements to formatting, but we’re going to pay special attention to the language chosen and why it was used.
Call To Action Examples
Sometimes the quickest way to get really good at something (like writing a killer call to action) is to draw inspiration from the best.
Let’s take a look at 31 of the best call to action examples.
Unless you live under a rock, you probably know what Netflix is. It’s a service that has become a household name, like Google and Facebook.
Because they know that you know who they are, they don’t worry about overcoming objections about why you’ll need the service with their CTA and surrounding text.
Instead, they focus on a different objection:
This is their homepage, and the copy is insanely simple. “Watch Anywhere. Cancel Anytime.” lists both the biggest advantage and overcomes the biggest objectives users have when it comes to Netflix. They’re immediately letting users know that there’s no risk, either now or after the free trial.
Many consumers today are more skeptical about the fine print that businesses have gotten better at sneaking past them, so showing users that there’s no commitment and zero risks for them in the situation (aside from maybe getting hooked on Stranger Things, but that’s another story) will be sure to increase conversions.
Most businesses do what we can to increase email subscribers. Email addresses are immensely valuable, giving you an easy-in to a customer’s email inbox and the ability to target them directly with Facebook’s custom audiences.
A lot of businesses, however, aren’t always so great at increasing subscribers. Shoe company Rothy’s call to action can give us some inspiration for how to change that.
A lot of times, we’ll say “sign up for our newsletter to learn more!” (or just “sign up for our newsletter).
Rothy’s leverages exclusivity in their CTA to generate more email sign-ups by saying “find out first.”
Since everyone wants to be the first to know about new products, new sales, and news in general, this is a smart CTA that is sure to boost their email subscription rate.
As someone who recently went through the process, I can speak from experience when I say that trying to choose a retirement account as a small business owner is exhausting. There’s a lot of options, and you don’t want to make the wrong choice.
Vanguard’s CTAs don’t aggressively sell on their landing page; instead, they start warming up the customer by using “you” language instead of “us” language.
What I mean by this is that they prioritize the customer’s needs. They use language like “See why Vanguard’s right for you” and “See how a Vanguard advisor can help.”
Even though their site copy is designed to sell just as much as their competitors, it feels more intimate and less aggressive. For tentative, overwhelmed potential investors, this can work to their advantage.
Salesforce’s home page has some of the best call to action buttons to drive users to the correct destination on the site.A clear example of this is the top-of-the-fold content on their homepage.
This home page has a “Try for Free” call to action button that’s immediately evident in the top right-hand corner, and a “Start My Free Trial” under an explanation of why Salesforce has gotten even better.
In case users aren’t ready to convert just yet, they also have a call to action button immediately underneath prompting them to “Learn more about the partnership.” This helps ensure that if users aren’t ready to sign up yet, you’ll be able to funnel them to more information that could change that.
Further down on the home page, they also have demos to show potential customers all the different features Salesforce has to offer. They use clickable CTA buttons to make it clear that users can watch the videos, and make it easy for them to do so.
5. Daily Look
Sometimes the best way to make your call to action more effective is to get creative with the pain points that you target. Realistically, personal styling company Daily Look has very little to do with finding more hours in the day and a lot more to do with buying expensive clothes.
Their call toaction, however, gives customers a reason that they can shop guilt free– they can imagine that they will now have so much more time, freed of the huge burden of finding stylish clothes.
“Leaving you time for everything else” is a genius move. It’s creative, and it creates the illusion of a pain point that isn’t really there right before the bright blue “Start Now” CTA.
Almost all small business owners are strapped for time. I feel like that’s just a universal statement. Freshbooks really hones in on that pain point like Daily Look in their call to action, but they do it in a slightly different way…
They get specific.
They know that their audience is likely to be meticulous about tracking time and income for their business, and they appeal to that trait by having a call to action that says exactly how much time Freshbooks can save you per year (192 hours, in case you were wondering). That’s a heck of a lot of time, and it’s the kind of fact that catches your attention.
They immediately follow it with a bright green “Try it Free” clickable call to action that jumps out on the screen. Try not clicking after you read that!
Toms was recently (as of the time I was writing this post) having a flash sale. Or, as they put it in their popup, a “surprise sale.”
Their call to action shows up on a pop-up after you’ve been on their site for at least thirty seconds, and they use the bright blue call to action to stand out against the rest of the box for extra effect.
The copy is also well-written, implying exclusivity (which we know always sells). The “psssst” makes it feel like a secret, and the word “surprise” instead of “flash” makes it seem more intimate.
To top it off, they have a tiny “Limited time only!” but they neglect to say how limited that time frame is.
Is it an hour? A year? Ten seconds? Who knows?! What we do know is that an interested customer is on that site, and they now know that they can get a discount for an undisclosed amount of time. If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will.
8. Dollar Shave Club
Dollar shave club has been known for their smart marketing in the past, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the call to action on their landing page is well-written.
Their message is clear- look like a million bucks without having to spend it.
They also use the word “try” instead of “join,” which is slightly less committal and will make more site visitors comfortable when clicking the “Get Started” button.
It doesn’t seem like you’ll have to immediately enter in your credit card or be sucked into a subscription, but the benefits as to why you’d want to try it are clear.
When you first visit Shakr’s homepage, the first thing you’ll see is two lines of copy telling you exactly what Shakr can do for you- help your business make great videos. Immediately underneath this, they have a call to action to “Sign up for a free trial account now” and an email subscriber box with a green “Sign Up” call to action button.
The button draws the eye in, and having the email sign-up box on the home page instead of having the call to action take them to the sign-up page is a great move.
It makes it exceptionally easy to take the desired action, strengthening the effectiveness of the call to action itself.
Purple’s home page uses call to action buttons that don’t just encourage to sign up for a free trial, they really make sure to emphasize the “free” part of the equation.
A lot of businesses will mention the free trial in the copy above the call to action, but Purple’s smart decision to add “Free” to both call to action buttons (the one up top in blue, and the one center-stage in purple) emphasizes that this is a no-risk/high-reward situation for new customers.
That makes it much more effective, and is guaranteed to increase conversions.
11. Simple Pin Media
Simple Pin Media makes great use of call to actions in their blog posts, and an example can be seen here.
Towards the end of her post, pictured above, she highlights the CTA to “download the Simple Pin Planner” so that it stands out on the page, making it more effective.
It’s placed at the end of the post, once her readers know that she had valuable insight to offer and that the planner would be beneficial to them.
She also makes sure to explain why users should download the content in her CTA: “Want more info?” and “for all these tips, trending topics, and more” tells users exactly why taking this action would benefit them.
It’s still exceptionally concise, but it gets the point across.
Videos can be great for brand awareness, but it can be tricky to get even the most engaged watchers to move from the video to a secondary site. Allure found a remedy to this; they showed the beginning of a cosmetic procedure where a woman had lip color tattooed on her lips, but then stopped short of showing us how it actually turned out. They showed us the call to action pictured below:
In bright pink blocks with white text (directly contrasting the background and styled to look like a clickable call to action even though it isn’t), the end of the video teases the ability to see the full transformation and learn more. All the users have to do is click on the video.
Using snippets of video to capture interest and real users in, but then keeping the end result or more information and using the call to action to get them to the next digital location is incredibly effective.
The word choice is also good here. They don’t say “see the new look,” they say “full transformation.” This sounds dramatic, like it’s so different you must see it.
This call to action from Fairwinds credit union below is creatively written, uses bolding to emphasize the main point, and clearly explains the benefit of the program even though we don’t know what the program is yet.
“Sign up today and make saving money effortless.” You can’t really go wrong with saving more money, right? They also use “cents” as a pun on “sense,” and they bold the “cents” and the name of the program to make sure that you’re taking in key parts of the message.
How do you not want to learn more about making saving money effortless, after all?
There’s a ton of food subscription boxes out there right now. I can think of six direct competitors to Plated off the top of my head.
They make sure to use their call to action to drive home what makes them different: the is the food box for foodies.
They aren’t emphasizing convenience or health value the way some of the other boxes do; they make it clear that you will “get everything you need to make amazing meals- delivered in one perfectly customized box.”
It feels luxurious, and the use of “customized” makes it feel like you’re getting a luxury service from a personal chef, even though they’re still mass-produced in a facility somewhere. The “Sign Up Now” call to action is a bright pastel green that stands out immediately on the page, which again, is a huge bonus.
Mint knows that many individuals might be skeptical about their service, whether about security or how long it would take or whether it would actually be useful. Their call to action is about overcoming objections.
It only takes seconds, their CTA tells us. There’s nothing to lose (which they say right before adding a link in blue taking you to the security overview of the app), and financial freedom to gain.
Again, this is that high reward/low risk set up that businesses want to use to convince you to give them a shot. They finish off the sentiment by reminding you that you can, in fact, sign up for free with their clickable call to action button.
This is a CTA that incentivizes one specific reward.
They don’t talk about how good their coverage is, or how their prices are competitive, or the amount of data or hotspots you can get like most plans. Instead, their call to action is focusing on something else: get a plan with us, and you get Netflix for free!
The emphasis is much heavier on the reward than the actual product you’d be buying in this landing page call to action, which I think is interesting and smart.
They talk about “binging your favorite shows at no extra cost,” instead of discussing something like “and never struggle with service again.” Their CTA is exceptionally focused, which is a good thing- it avoids confusing or distracting users with too much information at once.
Their “Get the details” clickable CTA is the right choice, too, sending users to more information about what types of lines qualify.
Some people dread doing taxes (me included), but I could never put it off until the last minute. My poor CPA has to send me so many updates that I send him a Christmas present every year. The reason why: I dread taxes, but I dislike not being ready come tax time even more. I think a lot of us have been in the position where we wait and scramble.
TurboTax’s call to action reminds us this while simultaneously giving additional motivation to sign up now.
You’ll be ready for tax time, they say, because you’ll have a head start. And even better- you’ll save $10. They say to buy the software and have it ready, so you’ll be ready come tax time (as if any of us ever are).
It offers an external incentive and intrinsic motivation at once.
18. Bed Bath &Beyond
One of the best things you can do for your call to action in an email message is to put the text on what looks like a clickable CTA button.
A great example can be seen here from Bed Bath & Beyond:
They use smart formatting- which is an important part of the CTA- to make a blue banner look like a clickable button. This, unsurprisingly, increases the number of clicks that it will get.
VoiceNation makes their call to action about you. You deserve more. The best. And now, you can experience the difference.
This is an excellent CTA. “Experience the Difference” is one of those lines that are really powerful as a CTA here.
It displays confidence that you’ll really see the superior quality, and they don’t just want to give you the bullet points, they want you to experience it yourself with their free trial. Supported by smaller, subtle text demonstrating their high ratings, it’s hard not to want to check it out for yourself.
Sometimes a CTA isn’t about an immediate conversion, but getting users to take an action on your site.
Bigstock’s CTA in their image search box is a great example of why you should give all CTAs equal importance- not just the ones that sell directly.
A lot of similar sites will say “Search images” in the search box. Bigstock, by comparison, encourages users to “Find the perfect image…” T
his implies that you’ll find the exact image that you’re looking for and you won’t have to settle, and the ellipses at the end is a good touch to make it feel like the images are just there waiting for you. All you have to do is search.
This will drive engagement on their site, which could result in paying customers.
A lot of marketers put their CTA underneath the image on their Facebook Ads, but this is an instance where it worked to place it above, in the larger and more immediately visible text:
CanvasPop’s “Get 60% off when you order today” is immediately evident, giving it a lot more visibility and power than if it were buried towards the bottom in smaller text.
They also preface it with a quick explanation of what you can get from CanvasPop so the CTA doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
Sometimes the shorter the statement, the more powerful it is. Monster’s “Find Better” is an excellent example.
The immense shortness of just those two words is powerful, especially to job searchers who almost definitely frustrated with their current jobs or the other listings they’ve seen online. They go on to elaborate “Monster can help you find the best jobs, employers, and career advice,” explaining what “better” they can offer you.
Just in case you’re not a candidate, and are instead an employer, Monster has a smaller call to action in blue for you down below encouraging you to start searching for -and finding- the most talented people right now.
Suntrust’s call to action does something a little bit different that likely wouldn’t work for a lot of businesses, but it works for them.
They start with a negative in the form of a problem, saying “you can’t buy financial confidence.” They then immediately offer themselves as a solution with “but you can build it up at onUp.com.”
Problem/solution selling is a highly effective sales technique and it works, here, too.
The CTA button is what’s so unique. They say “Confidence Starts Here” instead of “Start Building Confidence Here.”
I think for most businesses (especially B2B businesses), using a more passive CTA like this one would not be the right choice. Given the context, however, and the subject it works. “Confidence Starts Here” is a pretty solid statement, and I know I clicked to learn more what it was about.
Mobile ad space is limited. This is where you want to get ultra-concise and fast. Shopify was able to do that in this Facebook Ad that popped up in my mobile newsfeed:
I’d almost be surprised if this wasn’t a mobile-only ad. “Sell Your Crafts on FB!” and “Sell online, in-store, and on Facebook…” are all incredibly brief, which works as a strong advantage on this platform where brevity is key.
The ellipsis following Facebook that leads right into the “Learn More” button is also a smart move, taking you from one thought right to the clickable CTA button.
It’s not much of a surprise that graphic design software Snappa has a perfectly-crafted call to action.
Both the visual design aspects and the copy of this call to action are perfect.
There are two main areas of focus, both of which are in bright contrasting colors to the background to help them stand out. “Create online graphics in a snap” and “Create my Graphic Now” are both clear, concise statements telling users what they can do with the software, and that they should do it.
Since this is on a landing page, they put a brief introduction into the tool in between these two lines, explaining more about the service to strengthen the call to action.
MOO has outstanding business cards, and their quality is second to none. But if you haven’t seen one first hand, you might not believe them when they make this claim. It’s like how every diner in the world claims to have the world’s best cup of coffee; we all know that 99.999% of them are lying.
To overcome this and prove that they are actually superior, MOO has an offer on their site: “Get a feel for MOO” by ordering a free Sample Pack.
This is an ideal call to action for customers who are on the fence and looking at competition, especially since MOO is more expensive than most of their competition. They have to prove that they’re worth it first, and this is an excellent way to do so– especially since the literal feel and texture of the cards is what’s so important.
If you go to most insurance sites, they just have a box for you to enter your zip code and a “Get Quote” call to action. These work, but Allstate’s call to action stands above the rest.
They turned “Get Quote” into “Get a quick, personalized insurance quote today.” This will resonate well with potential customers, who are sick of seeing estimated projections on other sites (speaking from experience here).
28. Williams Sonoma
Call to actions don’t just belong in direct-sales content; regular social media posts can have them, too.
Encouraging users to sign-up, follow you on other platforms, engage in a contest, or visit your site will all be more effective when you spell out what they should do.
This post has a call to action to “get the recipe in the bio” instead of just hoping that customers will be interested enough to realize that the recipe was online. They also give detailed instructions by noting that the link is available through the bio, instead of just noting that it was available.
It’s specific, and actionable, which all great call to actions should be.
Facebook advertisements don’t give you a whole lot of space (and users don’t always like to give you a whole lot of their attention) so it’s to your benefit to get right to the point. This is particularly true with video ads; users only want to read a brief description before deciding to watch.
Animoto took note of this in their latest ad:
Their call to action is clear. “Watch our Summit with these big influencers, and get 25% off our plan. Learn more about this here.” That is super direct, and it uses what I call the “Do this Because This” formula (we talk about that more later on).
Basically, they’re saying “take this action because you’ll get this benefit.” It’s clear, it’s to the point, and it’s effective.
This call to action is big and in-your-face, but it’s clear. It uses strong action verbs like “drive,” “build,” “protect,” “grow,” and “power.”
They also emphasize “faster,” using it twice to emphasize the rapid growth your business could experience thanks to their platform. It’s hard to say no to that.
Instead of encouraging you to immediately sign up, they know that you’ll want to learn more about the details and what they can offer, so they smartly chose “See Our Plans” instead of pushing for an immediate signup.
Houzz is a new design site that’s ready to help you redo your house. Because there’s a lot of interior designers, home remodelers, and sites out there that can help you find something you like it buy it instantly (um, Pinterest anyone?), they knew they had to use a call to action that would make them stand out.
“The New Way to Design Your Home” feels exciting and innovative. You can’t help but wonder what this new and improved way is.
Underneath it, they immediately offer several benefits to using Houzz and showing how it can help you. You can draw inspiration, shop, or find professionals to help you. No matter what you came to the site looking for, they can help.
After addressing that they can do everything any other site would do, but that they do it in a new way (which implies a better way), they place their call to action button that easily stands out against the backdrop.
How to Write the Perfect, High-Converting Call To Action
We’ve looked at a ton of examples, and now it’s time to learn how to take the inspiration and spin it into gold for our own businesses.
Fortunately, writing a CTA isn’t that difficult once you know what to do. And really, all you have to do is follow these five steps.
1. Focus on One Goal
The importance of this can’t be overstated. Each ad campaign should focus on one primary goal. Maybe the goal of your Facebook video ad is to drive brand awareness, for example, so it was created for a cold audience. That’s great! While other secondary results can occur as a result of the ad- like people clicking to your site or purchasing from you- these things should not be the focus if you’re trying to drive brand awareness. Your call to action should directly reflect that.
In the example above, you would want all call to action copy to reflect towards that singular goal. You’d choose a Facebook CTA button of “Learn More” instead of “Shop Now” or even “Sign Up.” It’s about brand awareness at this moment. If someone happens to click to your site and decides to purchase, excellent! But if you want conversions, run a separate campaign (with a separate call to action) for it.
Let’s look at what happens when you don’t follow this rule. Apple has the following Facebook Ad running to promote the new iPhone:
In addition to the ad copy being a little bit too receptive and lacking on the features, there’s a disconnect between the headline and the call to action. I love the headline “Say Hello to the future. Order iPhone X.” But then, instead of selling the phone in the description by listing features, they just say “Meet it. It’s here.” Then, the call to action says “Learn More,” when “Shop Now” would have been a much better choice when encouraging users to order it. It feels a little confusing and lackluster. While customers may not dissect this consciously the way we just did, you know they’ll register at least most of it unconsciously.
2. Use Action Words
Also known as verbs, action words are specific and motivating. “Shop,” “Sign up,” “Discover,” “Try,” “Watch,”and “Start” are all examples. They’re direct in telling customers what they should do next; there’s no question about what you’re supposed to do, which is kind of the point.
You want to be really specific with the action words you choose and the instructions that follow them. A dog rescue’s campaign, for example, wouldn’t be effective if they just said “help us today.” Instead, choosing “sign up as a volunteer dog walker today” or “donate money or puppy food to help us take in the new litter” are more specific, giving people exact ways they can help. This increases the likelihood that they will.
You should also support your action words and instructions with descriptions that help explain why it’s so beneficial to the customer. “Start your 30-day free trial” sounds better than “Start your trial,” after all.
3. Choose the Right Formula for the Right Medium
Sometimes, you’ll want to keep your call to action incredibly short. CTA buttons, for example, should ideally contain six words or less. Anything more than that just doesn’t look quite right on a clickable button, and it can be overwhelming and take away from the visual impact. Meanwhile, a call to action in a blog post and on landing pages will typically be longer, and may include two sentences to build up to the actual action part and make it more persuasive.
There are three basic formulas that you can use to get started when creating your call to action. These are:
- Do this. These CTAs are as simple as they come, and work well on clickable CTA buttons. Examples include “Sign up today” and “Discover why here.”
- Do this by Doing this. This suggestion gives detailed instructions, which can make users more likely to click. Think more along the lines of “Help us rescue more dogs by making a cash donation” or “Get a 10% discount by subscribing to our newsletter.”
- Do this because of this. In a lot of cases, this may be the best formula to use because it answers the “why” question. If your answer is persuasive enough, users will click and convert. “Donate to our rescue to help save dog’s lives” and “Never waste your ad spend again. Hire our ad agency to run your campaigns today” are both examples of introducing benefits and incentives to take action, instead of just the instructions.
4. Decide if You Want to Go Positive or Negative
This is an important part of the equation that plenty of people forget about. You can make your call to action a positive one or a negative one. Both are effective.
A negative call to action will leverage a customer’s fear, pain points, and risk aversions, and offer you as a solution. “Tired of not getting enough sleep? Try our new chamomile tea supplements,” for example, utilizes a negative memory of a pain point to highlight why customers need to click. A positive version of this might say “Get the best sleep of your life with our chamomile tea supplement and wake up refreshed every day.”
This is an example of a positive call to action…
Both can be effective. In this particular case, the negative take might win out, however. The thought of getting great sleep just isn’t as powerful as the dread of not getting any sleep. Sometimes, what we can lose by not using the product can speak to customers even more than what they can gain (even if it’s the same thing).
And this is an example of a negative angle for a CTA.
The best way to figure out angle works best for you is to craft a few call to actions and split test them on the same offer. It’ll be pretty easy to see which gets more results quickly.
5. Prioritize Brevity
I studied writing in college, and the first lesson I learned was a big one: write the story, article, or site copy as you think you should write it. Then chuck the first paragraph and about half of the rest of the text away. Most of us are over-explainers, and there are a lot of fans of purple prose out there. (Seriously. You would not believe some of the wanna-be-Shakespeare messages I got when I was online dating).
All of the best call to actions prioritize brevity. This doesn’t mean you have to follow a character count, but it does mean that your call to action and surrounding text never has any more words than are needed. Some descriptions: beneficial. Too many, and things get muddled and distracting.
Let’s look at the following example from Movement Mortgage, where they’re promoting their mortgage app.
The call to action is breathtakingly concise. “Your mortgage. At your fingertips. Learn more about Easy App.” They could have had a million bullet points listing “Pay your mortgage on the go. Check your interest rates. Never miss a payment. Highly secure.” Instead, they kept it simple, knowing that no further information was needed to get users to click to learn more about the app.
It’s a hard balance to strike: you have to give customers enough information to get them to click, but not so much that the information becomes overwhelming. When in doubt, ask a copywriter or marketing friend for a second opinion.
Having a strong, intentional, well-crafted call to action will breathe new life into your campaigns, but not having one could sink even the best content. It’s also important to remember that the call to action shouldn’t just be kept to a PPC campaign or an email blast; they should be used in as many types of marketing content as possible. Your blog post can encourage people to leave comments, or to subscribe to the newsletter, or try a new product; your Instagram post can encourage users to “check the link in our bio for more!”
A lot of businesses are actually underusing call to actions from this standpoint, so take a look at your content and see where you should make an effort to incorporate them more often. Just take note of the examples in this guide and follow the steps to writing the perfect call to action and you can watch the positive effect on your business.
What do you think? Which do you think are the best call to action examples? Which brands used them best? How do you write the perfect call to action for your campaigns? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below!
You could write the most effective, emotional, efficient copy for your printed marketing media, and it wouldn’t amount to anything if a call to action wasn’t clearly defined.
In written advertising, a call to action (by definition) is an imperative sentence that instructs the reader to perform a task. They’re absolutely crucial because once you’ve hooked your audience on your brand, they need to know what steps to take in order to obtain your product or service. Good call to action phrases act like a trail of breadcrumbs leading potential customers directly to your business.
Know your audience’s needs
Before you can begin writing your call to action, you have to understand what you can offer your audience and more importantly, why they need it in the first place. The best practices for accomplishing this are to identify a problem your audience can relate to and position your brand as a solution to that problem. This makes the call to action more enticing to the audience because it gives them a reason to follow your instructions.
This flyer begins by offering a benefit (a happy reaction from your mother) and follows up with a call to action: “Send us her photo.” Photo Credit: LeighAnn Loftus
A call to action is only as powerful as the surrounding copy. If your copy doesn’t tell the audience exactly how they can benefit from using your brand in a clear and engaging way, they won’t even care about the call to action.
Use actionable verbs and phrases
Almost every call to action includes a verb–but some verbs are stronger than others. Action words and phrases compel the reader to perform a task, which is the entire point of a call to action to begin with. Actionable verbs are ones that can actually be carried out by a person in a literal sense.
Good: “Call us today for a free sample” – this is actionable because “call” is a verb that can be carried out by a person.
Bad: “Give us a call for a free sample” – although “give” would normally be actionable, in this case what you’re giving is not a tangible object. You can’t literally hand someone a phone call.
Clarity is crucial
A call to action is only effective if it’s clearly understood by the audience. For starters, the font should be bold and easy to read, so avoid small or overly fancy fonts.
More importantly, the message itself should be easily understood. A clear message spells out exactly what the audience should do and how it will benefit them. Write your call to action using simple language-avoid jargon or confusing terms.
Here’s an example:
Good: “Visit our website! “
Bad: “Point your web browser towards our home page.”
The call to action here is quick and to the point: “ENTER NOW” and a corresponding URL. Photo Credit: Jennie Myers
Make the action as easy as possible
The reader should be able to go directly from the call to action to performing the task itself, so make sure he has everything he need to follow up. For example, if you want them to call, provide a phone number.
However, you also have to consider what kind of phone number you use and if it presents any other problems to your customer. For example, a customer is more willing to call a local number or a toll-free number than a long-distance number.
If you want your customer to visit your website, provide an address. However, if you also provide a QR code, then customers with smart phones or tablet devices can immediately visit your site without having to type an address.
If your goal is for your audience to visit your website, make sure to include a clear and noticeable URL, such as the one on this flyer. Photo Credit: Veronica Varetsa
Obviously you’d provide an address if you want the customer to visit your location, but providing an actual map of your location helps to ensure you won’t miss a sale because the customer lost his way. Better yet, also provide a QR code with Google Map directions to make it even easier.
Writing a call to action is more effective when the audience is only being asked to complete one task. Multiple phrases asking the audience to perform different tasks can be confusing and audiences can loose interest when they think there is a lot of work involved.
However, if you have to have multiple calls to action, make sure one is clearly dominant while the others are just there to work towards the main goal.
This flyer has multiple examples of calls to action, but one dominates the others: “Buy at Fine Retail Stores.” Photo Credit: Fran Linden
For example, the end goal may be to have customers sign up for a free consultation, but they might have multiple options for doing so. By using both “Call us to sign up for a free consultation” and “Visit our website and sign up for a free consultation” in your copy it makes it clear to the audience that signing up is the most important action.
A better way to achieve this would be to eliminate the other calls to action altogether. “Sign up for a free consultation by phone or on our website” is much clearer.
Often times your end goal (making a sale/converting a customer) takes a few steps to accomplish. Your call to action should guide the customer towards the next natural step he or she needs to accomplish in order to get to the end goal.
Create a sense of urgency
A time limitation makes your calls to action a bit stronger because it adds a sense of urgency. However this doesn’t have to be a strict measurement of time, just a general feeling of importance.
Good: “Call us today” – This call to action gives the audience a firm measurement of time to work with and creates a sense of importance.
Good: “Call now” – This is even more urgent and implies the offer may not last forever (even if that’s not the case.) The audience understands the importance of calling soon.
Bad: “Call anytime” – This implies that the offer is always available and that there’s no need to call immediately, which makes it more likely that the audience will forget to call completely.
If your offer does have limitations, make sure this is clearly outlined in your call to action. For example “Call now, supplies are limited” or “Call now to take advantage of this limited-time offer.”
A sense of urgency helps to make your call to action (such as the one on this flyer) more persuasive. Photo Credit: Darren @ Mass Appeal Designs
Answer the reader’s questions
Customers want to know what will happen if they follow your call to action and how doing so will benefit them. Many people in your audience will be skeptical to follow your instructions unless they’re given more information on what happens after doing so.
For example, “Call us today” is not as strong as “Call us today and we’ll help you save money on your heating bills.” The latter tells the audience exactly what will result by following the call to action.
Quell your reader’s fears
Call to action phrases can be used to help your audience get over any opposition they may have. Identify and demolish any misgivings your audience may feel towards your brand and add statements that provide reassurance.
For example, a reader may not want to call because they’re afraid of being sucked into a long sales pitch. Therefore, you might say something like “Call now and in less than five minutes you can get a great deal on your insurance.”
Provide as many details about the process as possible, including any limitations your offer might carry. Walk the reader through the process of what to expect when they follow your call to action. When they do follow your instructions and the results are what you promised, you will have gained their trust and hopefully their future business.
Make an offer they can’t refuse
Sometimes a special offer can go a long way towards convincing skeptical audience members to follow your call to action. This might be a free gift, guarantee, special discount or other incentives to sweeten the deal.
“Order today and get half-off the cost of shipping.”
“Call now and ask about our buy-one, get one offer.”
“Sign up for our mailing list to receive special member coupons.”
Be upfront in your call to action if there are any limitations to your offer, such as a time limit or per-customer limit.
The fact that buyers can ‘save over $700’ makes the call to action on this flyer especially persuasive. Photo Credit: Mike Greenwald
Just like any message you want to drive home, repetition makes your call to action more effective. Repeat your call to action several different ways and in different areas to make sure the message is clear.
Take a look at these examples:
“Visit us at the corner of Main and Maple to receive a free quote”
“Come to our downtown location for your free quote”
“Ask for your free quote at our Main and Maple location.”
“Drive downtown today for your free quote.”
If your marketing materials have multiple pages, then every page should contain a repetition of the call to action. That way, the customer doesn’t have to go searching around to find out what to do when he or she is ready to take the next step.
Use colors and graphics
A call to action is more effective when it stands out from the rest of your design. Try using a contrasting font color to make the call to action pop. Red is an effective call to action color because it’s bright and creates a sense of urgency, but you can use any distinctive color that matches your design.
The bright red color helps this mailer’s call to action really stand out. Photo Credit: Burton Creative
You can also use graphics like an arrow or bullet point to help draw the eye towards your call to action. However, be careful that you don’t go overboard-graphics should enhance the call to action, not overshadow it.
Leave white space
When designing the layout of your printed materials, make sure not to overcrowd your call to action. Leave plenty of white space to allow it to stand out better on the page. This allows your call to action to be easily read when scanning the page for information.
A call to action should usually be sightly larger than the surrounding paragraph text so that readers recognize it as something separate. This also makes it easier to scan and read. People don’t always take action right away; a large call to action ensures that they will find it easily if they look at the ad later.
You should aim for a 20% increase in font size between your call to action phrases and the rest of your copy. That of course means the font size used for the body paragraphs, not the headlines.
When the customer actually does follow through on your call to action, what happens next? It’s your responsibility to make sure that when they follow your instructions, it’s easy for them to follow the next step towards a sale or conversion.
And the next step.
And so on.
For example, if you ask them to call your office, make sure someone is on the other end waiting to take their call and to explain the next step of the process. If the office is closed, there should be an automated message that explains the process and gives the customer instructions on when to call back.
Whenever a customer does follow your call to action, track your success. Figure out which ones are getting positive responses and which ones are having difficulty attracting new customers. Then adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.
Practice makes perfect, and your best call to action ideas will likely come to you after you’ve become more familiar with the process. Take the time to perform writing exercises, coming up with different ways to instruct your audience and drive them towards your brand’s end goal.
What sort of calls to action do you find to be effective in your printed material? What calls to action have you yourself acted upon in the past? Here’s a call to action for you: share your responses, tips and examples in the comments!
Posted in Copywriting