Call to action: marketer’s guide to writing great CTAs (with examples)

Does your website, blog, social media posts, and other content inspire people to interact with your brand?

If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” then you have a problem. 

The good news? There’s a dead-simple way to change that. Enter the almighty call-to-action, or CTA – your secret weapon to inviting visitors, guests, fans, and all other manner of people to engage with you and your content

What is a call-to-action (CTA)? 

When you get down to it, a call-to-action guides people to an intended action. Think of it as an instruction or, better yet, an invitation in the form of a button – a nudge to comment, a request to download, an ask to sign-up, or even a link to “read more.” 

The first and final goal of a CTA is to ask people to do what you want them to do. But, it’s also to help them do what they already want to do, too

Wait, what? Yes, you read that right: A call-to-action tells people what to do next. What they should want to do, if the rest of your copy has done its job

They’re already interested, right? They’ve read your page, your post, your tweet, your fill-in-the-blank. If they’ve made it this far, then they must be genuinely interested. So, slap that CTA up there and point them in the right direction.

Yep, a call-to-action is, essentially, a road map. Or, maybe a GPS, since it’s 2019 and all that.In two blocks, turn right… If you’re interested, click here.

Do I really need to pay attention to my calls-to-action?

There are other ways this question could pop into your head: Can’t I just slap up a Buy button and call it a day? Or, isn’t a CTA on my sidebar enough? Or, what does the wording really matter? 

It matters. It all matters, if you want to eventually make some moolah.   

Here’s why: Check your website/social analytics and you’ll quickly see that the majority of visitors to your site/social aren’t ready to buy. They’re shopping around. They happened onto your blog. They’re price-comparing. They clicked on a sponsored Facebook post or Messenger ad. Whatever the route they took to your online real estate, they’re not ready to hand over their credit card info. Not yet, anyway.

And that means that, once they got what they came for – read a blog post, or commented on that Facebook post, or checked your pricing – they’re gone. Poof. Into the wind, never to be heard from again. 

Unless. If you have a powerfully written, carefully designed, and strategically placed CTA, then your chances of success grow by leaps and bounds. 

A call-to-action can entice them to join your email list, or download your perfectly placed lead magnet, or sign up to receive price-drop notifications, or any other number of oh-hey-YES-I’M-INTERESTED-IN-THAT! actions. 

How to write great CTAs (+ a few examples)

Before you start deploying your killer CTAs, here are a few rules to keep in mind:

  1. Do not jump the gun. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make – asking for people to take a buying action, before they’re ready. (Especially if you sell a bigger-ticket item, like travel.) For example, your homepage CTA probably shouldn’t direct people to >>BUY<<. More likely, you’ll invite people to view your products, or check out your hotel rooms, or peruse your services.
  2. Use action words or commands. Try to use action words in your CTAs – ex. “Download the Guide,” “Buy,” or “Inquire Now.” Go ahead and be bold in your suggestions, if your content and audience allow it.
  3. Evoke emotion. Sometimes, your calls-to-action don’t need to be all-commanding. Instead, they need to play off emotion, such as “Make Your Family Safer Today!” or “Start Planning Your Dream Vacation.” Embrace your audience’s fear of missing out (FOMO). 
  4. Give them a reason. Depending on where they are in your roadmap/GPS situation, you may have to give people a reason to take that next step. For example, if they’re on the homepage, they don’t need much reason to “Browse In-Stock Books,” but if they’re four clicks into your website, you may want to offer a little something-something to push them across the finish line, ex. “Sign Up for 10% off Your First Order!”
  5. Be you. Throw your personality into your CTAs. We’ve all seen ‘em: Join Now! vs. “Naw, I’m not cool enough for this club.” Don’t be afraid to be a little fun. We’re all confronted with a million CTAs every day, so if you can stand out, it’s not a bad thing. 

And now, for a few of those promised examples: 

1. Evernote

Evernote call-to-action

Feel organized without the effort? Sign. Us. Up. Oh, wait? That’s not just an expression? We really can sign-up for this dream? And it’s free? Clickity click click, we’re there. 

2. Netflix

Netflix call-to-action

Netflix has built its brand reputation and now, it’s the streaming service. Everyone wants to Netflix and chill, right? So, of course we want to see what’s next. And yeah, we want to try it.

3. National Geographic Expeditions

Nat Geo Expeditions call-to-action

This is a great example of a not-too-much-commitment CTA: they’re not asking you to book; Nat Geo is inviting you to explore. And who doesn’t want to uncover their “trip type”? 

4. Spotify

Spotify call-to-action

Millions of songs? No credit card required? And we can listen for free? Why would anyone ever say no to that? It’s a near-perfect CTA. And we only say near-perfect, because we’re afraid to say perfect. 

So, there you have it: The rules, the suggestions, and a few examples to get you going. So, go forth and call-to-action! 

You’ve put a lot of effort into creating powerful CTAs that prompt action, so don’t let it go to waste. Install the Twitter share button to enable readers to share your content with a single click. It’s so simple to install that you can be up and running (and getting more shares) in just minutes!

About ShareThis

ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.

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