How to write a persuasive call to action: guidelines and examples

“Get free how-to instructions on increasing your profits!”. You’ve read a call to action that encourages you to read this article to the end. It uses several techniques to grab attention, spark interest, and motivate. Find out what these techniques are, why they work, and how to write a powerful call to action from our article.

  1. What a call to action is and what types of CTAs there exist
  2. Why you need a call to action
  3. How to write a powerful CTA
  4. Best examples of persuasive calls to action
  5. Wrapping up

What a call to action is and what types of CTAs there exist

In marketing, a call to action (CTA) is a short phrase that encourages your target audience to do what you want them to do — register, sign up, buy, etc. This phrase is located wherever it is likely to be noticed by potential customers:

  • on a website;
  • on a landing page;
  • in a mobile application;
  • in a newsletter;
  • in online advertising (contextual/targeted/banner advertising);
  • in print advertising (flyers, leaflets, posters, covers);
  • in social media posts.

There are several types of call to action:

  • Clickable button. This is the most popular type of CTA, which works because of the design and a short catchy phrase. Buttons should be placed where you want to quickly attract attention: in a website header, on a landing page, or in an ad.
  • Text hyperlink. The highlighted phrase allows a user to go to the desired page by clicking on the link. This technique is relevant for articles in the blog: it allows you to control the attention of readers, keep them on the site, and advertise the product unobtrusively. 
  • Plain text. This is any phrase in which you ask users to do something. This method is used where it’s impossible to place a clickable link, for example, in posts. 

Why you need a call to action

The goal of a CTA is to turn people who know nothing about you into a loyal audience and lead them to purchase. A call to action will help you to:

  • Attract leads, i. e. potential customers (people who somehow responded to marketing communication — subscribed to the newsletter, left a phone number, wrote a comment on social media);
  • Boost conversion (the ratio of those who saw the message to those who performed the targeted action).

Statistics confirm that CTA fulfills these tasks. Here are a few examples from digital marketing specialists’ hands-on experience:

  • Emails with one call to action increased clicks by 371% and sales by 1617%;
  • Adding CTAs to the Facebook profile increased CTR (click-through-ratio) by 285%;
  • Adding CTAs to article templates increased revenue by 83% in one month.

How to write a powerful CTA

For an effective call to action, a combination of four factors is important. They are message, form, design, and functionality. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Message

The secret to successfully reaching users is not just to tell them what to do, but also to explain why. For this, you must have a good understanding of your target audience and know exactly what problems your product solves. Solving these problems is worth talking about in the CTA. Depending on the nature of the target audience, the message can be conveyed through different techniques:

  • Offer a benefit. Let people know what they’ll get by clicking your link. For example, “Sign up for a free consultation,” “Get a discount on your first purchase,” “Buy a second product at half price.”  
  • Use the FOMO effect (which stands for “fear of missing out”). The fear of missing out on a good offer is a strong trigger for potential customers. To make it work, specify that the offer is limited. “Discounts are only available until the end of the week,” “Your bonus burns in 24 hours,” “Free video is available for one day only.”
  • Evoke an emotion. Curiosity, joy, surprise, etc. — think about what resonates with your audience. Emotions can be evoked in a variety of ways, such as intriguing (“Learn how to double your income”) or creating a sense of anticipation (“Plan a dream vacation”). 
  • Create a sense of belonging. Being a part of a community is one of human’s basic emotional needs. Address this need with phrases such as “Become a member of the private club” or “We already have 10,000 satisfied customers.”

Form

Here are some tricks to reinforce the message:

  • Use a strong command verb. Verbs give the text energy, which means they motivate people to click the button. To do this, clearly articulate what you want users to do — “Subscribe”, “Buy”, “Order”, “Download”.
  • Add numbers. They make ads more specific and memorable: “Buy a laptop under $400,” “Book now and get 20 percent off,” “Master SEO in two months.”
  • Use an exclamation mark. This gives the phrase extra emotion and momentum.

Design

The location and color of call-to-action buttons are just as important as the message. There is no universal solution: it all depends on your corporate style, the specifics of your target audience, and the type of call to action. The main design principle is that the button should be noticeable. This can be achieved by: 

  • Color. Choose a contrasting color, preferably from the corporate color palette.
  • Size. Make the button large enough to be conveniently pressed on a smartphone screen.
  • Location. Locate the CTA in several places based on the customer journey stages. For example, on the first screen of the site, after the detailed product description, and on the order page. Leave space around to make the button stand out.

Functionality

Even the most compelling CTA won’t lead to conversions if you don’t fix technical issues. Make sure the link in the call to action:

  • Leads exactly to where you promised from the first click. Do not force users to go from one page to another repeatedly since the longer the path of the customer, the less likely they are to take the desired action. 
  • Is relevant and works. Does the desired page open when you click the button? Is the information on it correct? Check all the technical nuances before you activate the CTA.

Nota Bene. Which of these techniques will work best for your business? You’ll never know unless you test a few options. Use an A/B test to see which messaging and design yields a higher conversion rate.

Best examples of persuasive calls to action

From theory to practice. Let’s look at some effective CTAs and see why they work. Pick the right ideas for your business.

Shopify: “Start free trial”

The e-commerce website builder offers a free trial for 14 days. This option is suitable for companies that sell services.

Why it works:

  • The word “free” is a strong trigger that encourages you to take advantage of the offer;
  • The green CTA button is clearly visible against the white background of the page;
  • It has a subheading that creates a sense of belonging to the community and lists the benefits of the product: “More than a million of the world’s most successful brands trust Shopify to sell, ship and process payments anywhere.”

Earnest: “Apply now”

A company that provides student loans knows its target audience well and speaks its language.

Why it works:

  • Earnest knows that money is usually needed urgently, so they add the word “now” to reinforce the phrase;
  • Social proof (“Thousands of clients trust Earnest”) with specific numbers is added in front of the button;
  • The green color stands out against the white background.   

IMPACT: “Talk with an advisor” and “Free training with IMPACT+”

The branding and design agency offers two options to choose from. Use this technique if you want to attract different segments of your target audience.

Why it works:

  • The subtitle describes clients’ pains (“Stop wasting money on tactics and agencies that don’t work”), and the calls to action offer specific solutions;
  • The first CTA is in red, which draws extra attention.

Touchland: “Get yours”

The sanitizer supplier appeals to users’ emotions, which is relevant in the era of the coronavirus pandemic. This method would be suitable for B2C companies willing to get closer to customers.

Why it works:

  • The brand appeals to a sense of belonging twice. The headline “Your ally to the modern world” speaks of reliability and protection, while the CTA “Get yours” hints that other people already have the product and suggests getting yours;
  • The button is highlighted with a black frame with space around it.

Sendinblue: “Take a free test drive!” 

The digital marketing agency uses several techniques that will work for most businesses.

Why it works

  • The word “free” and an exclamation mark encourage you to click;
  • The CTA stands out because of the blue color on a white background;
  • The animation featuring a man switching from a bicycle to a car and then to a bus visualizes the call to action and attracts attention.

Wrapping up

A call to action is a powerful marketing tool that will help you increase conversions and grow profits in the long run. To ensure your CTA will work effectively, use this checklist:   

  • You understand your target audience’s problems and needs;
  • You have a specific solution to those problems;
  • You speak to potential customers in their language and use the wording that resonates with them;
  • You’ve created a design that grabs attention;
  • You’ve made sure the button works and leads to the right page;
  • You’ve tested several CTA options, analyzed conversion rates, and selected the most effective one.  

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