When thinking about how to write a call to action, consider the following. Have you ever seen a sign spinner? You know, those people on the side of the road or in a parking lot, holding up a big flashy sign and spinning it around, all day long? These are a great starting point when considering the task of creating a more engaging call to action.

Because your call to action should work just like those sign spinners’.

Think of your ad as your own big, flashy sign announcing “Notice me! Look at me!” On the real spinning signs the words “Get $50 Now!” (Liberty Tax) or “Amazing Free Phones!” (Metro PCS) appear, compelling you to take action. It gets you to pay attention, maybe even gets you to pull over into the parking lot and then into the store.

Your digital ads need to do the same thing.

Not all CTA’s are created equal. Some are more effective than others. So, what are the best ways to move people to truly take action online?

In this blog, we’ll go over how to write a call to action that will engage your audience and compel them to do what you want them to do while helping you stand out from the competition while promoting your brand.

What Is a CTA in Marketing?

A call to action, or CTA, is the button or link in the ad that tells your audience what they should do once they hit your landing page. It often includes words like “buy now!” or “learn more.”

Writing a CTA is part art, part science – and a lot of trial and error. It’s hard to know exactly what words are going to motivate your audience to take action, but some words are more likely to motivate than others.

Understanding the psychology behind certain words is extremely beneficial. Knowing the language of your audience is even better. Keeping up to date with all of the industry-specific phrases will also help you figure out which messages potential customers respond to best.

How to Write a Call To Action

Consumers are weary of all the online noise, so it’s harder than ever to stand out amongst the crowd. Weak, standard CTAs will not get your ad noticed. However, thoughtfully crafted CTAs that are effectively targeted will convert. Here are the key steps to building a strong CTA.

Before Writing: Pre-Plan

Before writing your call to action, there are a few things you need to consider:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • How do you want to do it?
  • What are your campaign goals?
  • Do you want to increase sales?
  • Grow your email list?
  • Or simply get more people to read your content?

All of this should be reflected in your CTA content and design. When thinking about your call to action, consider if it will meet these outlined goals. And what wording is most appropriate to meet these specific goals?

After pre-planning your goals and possible directions, consider these step-by-step guidelines to make the best call to action for your business.

The Basics on Creating a More Engaging Call to Action

These collected tips are proven to increase conversions and customer engagement for nearly any business model. Be sure to consider each of them every time you craft your call to action.

Start your CTA with a strong command or action verb.

Strong verbs tell your potential customers exactly what it is that you want them to do. Be clear and precise in what you offer and what the audience will get when they click on the CTA link. Words such as “shop,” “buy,” “order,” “download” and “subscribe” leave no doubt as to what action you want your reader to take.

Give your reader a reason to act.

Not only do readers need to know what to do next, but they also need to know why — as in, “what’s in it for me?”

Use simple language.

A call to action shouldn’t be fancy or flowery. Instead, be clear, concise and simple. Short sentences work very well even when you have a lot to say.

Create urgency.

The best way to create urgency is to take advantage of your reader’s fear of missing out (FOMO). The majority of people worry about being left in the dust. You can capitalize on this by using CTA’s like “buy now while supplies last” or “shop today — sale ends Monday!”

Use numbers.

Numbers – particularly prices – help the consumer to decide if your product or service is worth checking out. The number adds value. If the consumer sees this information on your ad and still clicks over to your website, then you know the consumer is ready to buy.

Use the words “risk free” or “free trial.”

Likewise, assuring your reader that there is little to no risk involved in taking you up on your offer will compel them to click. Try offering a free trial. Once they sign up, you have them on your email list. You can then use email marketing automation to convert them into paying customers.

Provoke emotion and enthusiasm.

People first buy on emotion and then justify it with logic. Appeal to their emotional side with an exciting call to action, such as “Buy now and get 50% off!” or “Design your dream house today!” Be sure to add an exclamation point for added emphasis.

How to Write a CTA: Better Call to Action Marketing Ideas

The above list is a great place to start but if you want to cut through the noise and grab your audience, then you will need to appeal to their humanity using personality and creativity. For better engagement, give some of the following call to action marketing ideas a try.

Establish a team approach.

Show your readers that you are ‘in this together’ by using words such as, “Let’s do it!”

Replace ‘your’ with ‘my.’

If your CTA’s use the word ‘your,’ simply swap it out with ‘my.’ When Oli Gardner of Unbounce did this, he increased his click-through rate by a whopping 90%.

Use your customer’s language.

Speak the language of your customers and appeal to their identity. Manpacks did a great job of this with their call to action – “build a manpack” because their audience can identify with ‘being manly.’

Offer a call to action based on the user type.

Sometimes you might have two different categories of people browsing the same offer. To really speak to each person individually, offer a CTA designed specifically for them and the purpose they are trying to fill with your offer.

For example, the same offer might benefit both entrepreneurs and bloggers, but they may use the product differently or for different purposes. Draw both of those users in with a CTA that highlights their individual outcomes.

Know your devices.

Know which device your audience is using for what purpose. Consumers who are just researching a product will pull out a laptop or tablet. Those who are ready to buy are more likely to use a mobile device.

Be sure to add “call now” to your mobile ads.

Make it fun and comical.

Generally speaking, using negativity in a CTA is not advisable. No one likes to feel bad about themselves when purchasing something. Instead, employ a bit of humor to something negative and spark an interest. If it fits your brand, use it. As an example of this, Billy McCaffrey writing for Wordstream offers: “Your yard sucks. Let us fix it.”

Use casual language.

Make your call to action friendly and approachable. Rather than the stout “call now,” instead try “talk to us.” Rather than “Sign up for a free trial,” you can use “give it a try.” These word choices are less intimidating and more conversational than their more stoic counterparts. Instead of being a command, they imply “what’s the worst that could happen?”

Require minimal effort from your reader.

Make the call to action ridiculously easy. Give instant gratification, such as an immediate download. Or ask a question that will give the user exactly what they want, so that they have no choice but to say “yes” and click over.

“Do you want more sales?”  Yes!

Then take the weight off of their shoulders by showing them exactly what you can do for them with a very specific CTA: “Yes, I want SharpSpring to drive more sales!”

Strengthen the customer’s desire to become better at something.

Your offer solves some kind of problem or pain point for your customers. Make this clear in your call to action. If you offer to teach or to educate your customer, your CTA needs to show them how they will be better at something after consuming your material. Highlight the benefit of reading or downloading the offer.

Summing It All Up

Your call to action needs to be as clear and concise as possible. Create urgency and sell the value of your offer. However, don’t just create urgency — be creative and remember that your potential customer is a real person. You should also play to emotions, whether through humor, the fear of missing out or the desire to become a better person.

Even using best practices, knowing how to write a call to action is still not an exact science. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Do your market research, use the right verbiage and A/B test the click-through rate of a few variations, and soon your call to actions will be a cut above the rest.

Katrina McAfee
Over the past 10 years, Katrina has created and implemented marketing plans for industries ranging from health care, transportation, animal welfare and rescue, hospice communities, and much more. At SharpSpring, Katrina’s main focus is coordinating lead generation marketing activities to boost sales for the company.