How to Write a Call to Action


Kevin Urrutia




February 09, 2024

“But wait, there’s more! Call in the next 20 minutes, and you’ll get not two but three for the price of one!”

Have you ever wondered how infomercials get viewers to pick up the phone? Please take a look at their call to action. After pitching an irresistible offer, they end with: call now.

It sounds simple and might seem sleazy, but this is the same approach you need for digital marketing. Interested? Act now: read this article!  

What is a Call to Action?

A call to action (CTA) encourages a viewer, listener, or reader to take a specific, desired action. Your call to action tells people what to do after you capture their attention.

Here are some of the most common calls to actions found online:

We focus on direct response and customer acquisition in e-commerce, lead gen, and mobile. When it comes to results and leads, we speak your language.

  • Learn more
  • Buy now
  • Click here
  • Subscribe today

These are found all over the internet. You’ll discover calls to action above website menus, along the sidebar of blog posts, and especially throughout social media.

An innovative company will put a call to action anywhere they know their audiences are looking to invite them to subscribe, browse, share, and buy.

How Do You Write a Call to Action?

Before writing your call to action, determine the goal you want to achieve:

  • Boost sales?
  • Increase subscriptions?
  • Share information content?
  • Make a purchase?

Once you know what you want people to do, you can decide how to do it.

Almost every call to action uses brief, strong verbs.

These words speak directly to people and prompt them to take action indicated by the CTA. Depending on your goal, a creative and descriptive call to action could prove more potent than a simple “click here.”

Let’s say you own a travel agency. You could put “click here” for all your links leading to bookings and subscriptions. However, here are a few creative calls to actions examples:

  • Discover your dream
  • Start your next adventure
  • Book your holiday

Without a solid call to action, you’re going to waste your best efforts on people who would probably take action but didn’t have the push to do it.

Write a Call to Actions Using Exclusivity and Scarcity

If you want a powerful motivator for your call to action, tap into people’s fears and desires. Exclusivity is very effective and works like this:

  1. Only some get it. Giving access to only a few people gives an impression that those who get it are lucky, special, and deserving. It adds an element of status and separates those who have it from those who have not. For this to work, you’ll have to offer something enticing that people can’t help but sign up.
  2. Anyone can have it, but there are restrictions. Think about the content that controls people’s music and ebooks. Anyone can purchase the product; however, you must use specific devices, tools, or methods to access and use it. This type of exclusivity controls how people can use and share it.

Alternatively, tapping into the principle of scarcity, or being in short supply, can trigger fears and desires to motivate action. Think of the most common emotions that motivate decision-making:

  • Panic: “If I miss out, I’ll never know how this could change my life!”
  • Greed: “I must have everything.”
  • Curiosity: “Is this as amazing as they say?”
  • Comparison: “I don’t want to be the only person without it!”
  • Pride: “It’s mine and not yours! Ha ha.”

When you write your call to action, they should tap into these emotions. The closer you are to identifying these triggers to easier it will be to ignite the impulse to act.

Exclusivity might be a straightforward approach to selling, but what if you’re selling things that people already have in abundance: food, water, shelter, and t-shirts? How can you partner with their money or their email address?

This is where fear and other motivating emotions should be used in your call to action.

Examples of Call to Actions

A common call to action verbs:

  • Get
  • Download
  • Build
  • Start
  • Stop
  • Save
  • Find
  • Try
  • Learn
  • Discover
  • Add to cart
  • Grow

Call to action using exclusivity:

  • Deadline
  • Urgent
  • Expires soon
  • Ends tomorrow
  • Limited time only
  • Last chance
  • Limited supply
  • One time offer
  • While supplies last
  • Featured
  • Only a few left
  • Secrets
  • Advanced
  • Special access
  • Members only
  • Subscribers only
  • Now closed
  • Closing soon
  • Pre-register/pre-order
  • Limited spots

Words to avoid / not use:

  • Submit
  • Order
  • Our/ours

Test Every Call to Action

You never know which words will work until you test them. Depending on the testing tool you use (e.g., Google Analytics, Optimizely, Visual Web Optimizer, Twik), you’ll want to set up two variations of the element you’re testing. This could be two different calls to action, such as “click here to buy” versus “get yours today.”

When performing your A/B Test, follow these simple steps:

  1. Write two powerful calls to actions to test against each other;
  2. Set it up in your A/B testing tool;
  3. Wait a week, then analyze the results.

Your testing results might surprise you, especially when discovering a call to action with high conversions.

Call to Action Best Practices

  • Use colorful, attractive call-to-action buttons;
  • Choose the clear and concise language that explains what you want people to do;
  • Limit the number of CTAs per page (it can be not very clear if there are too many choices);
  • Use click-friendly call-to-action phrases and, when possible be precise about what happens when people click;
  • Add relevant microscopy and last-minute instructions. Can you address visitors’ concerns while their mouse hovers over your button?
  • Experiment with placement, color, and words. Test the left and right sides, blue and red, and find what drives the most clicks.  

Encourage Customers to Act

A compelling call to action incorporates the design and copy that directs the person to your desired goal. Choose your elements thoughtfully and test to see what works best. If your landing pages and ads aren’t getting the conversions you want, the problem could be your overall design.

A solid call to action makes the online experience easier for your customers. They can quickly understand what you want them to do: click, buy, subscribe, sign up, etc. Use words that reduce friction by providing them with clear, simple directives in your call to action.

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