Who knew that this 1957 advertisement of Philco Bantam 12 AC would give direction to creating what we now term as call-to-action- one of the most effective and crucial marketing activities in the domain.
Can you spot the Call-to-Action in the ad?
Yup, you got it! It’s — Take it home Today, Be Cool Tonight!
Of course, you can say it's long and not really the kinds of CTAs we’ve been using today, but it does the job!
It’s urgent (Today), benefit-driven (Be Cool Tonight) and includes a powerful action word (take) which might just get folks to the shop.
What are the other features that work in its favor?
- It’s in a black box that stands out easily amidst the white background.
- It’s placed pretty strategically too, right next to the visual that shows a man who’s carrying the Air Conditioner, which really drives home the point of “take home."
- It addresses the reader on a first-person basis which is friendly and engaging.
What is a Call-To-Action (CTA)?
Taking the above example, let's quickly define what a CTA is and what a good call-to-action does.
Essentially, a call-to-action is created to trigger an immediate response towards your business, community, cause etc. A well designed call-to-action is a digital marketing tool that can turn a visitor into a buyer.
Basically, they are integral touch-points between a prospect and conversion and have been quite underrated until recent times when they’re enjoying the spotlight.
Ready for a quick CTA tour? Hop on board!
21 Tips to Create Revenue Generating CTAs
Now that you've understood what a call-to-action is and what it means to a business and a marketer, let's cover a couple of strong ways to create CTAs that bring more conversions. These are some great examples to help you learn how to write or create a good call-to-action.
1. Keep it Personal
Personalized CTAs speak to your target audience directly. Why do these work? They instantly grab attention, and take the user instantly where they wanted to go, instead of to a product page or a lead form.
Grey Goose pitches you their bartending talent by this very unique CTA: “Discover a Cocktail Tailored To Your Taste”
These CTAs also allow you to target the audience based on the journey.
For example, a CTA for a first time visitor will be different from the one for a lead.
For instance, these two CTAs would do wonders for a real estate business.
And with the First Stop, we have our first CTA Trivia.
Personalized Calls To Action perform 202% better than Basic CTAs.
2. Sign up?...hmmm...what else?
The ‘Sign Up’ CTA is the most common one and though it does work most of the time, there are times when it just might not get you the results you expect. Especially if you’re looking for subscribers for your newsletter or monthly updates.
TIP: A ‘Sign Me Up’ adds a slightly more personal touch than a straight up, abrupt, ‘Sign Up.’ Like check out Birchbox below:
It empowers the user to instruct Birchbox to sign them up, rather than the reverse.
If you’re particular about who needs to sign up, then position yourself with an assertive CTA that’s backed by a strong benefit like Lyft does here so clearly:
Here Lyft takes power into its hands and rightfully so, and the CTA here. Apply To Drive clearly indicates that they expect drivers only to apply.
Something more unique? Check out how Kayak.com floats a real smart and unique CTA:
90% of the people who read your headline, also read your CTA!
Source: Constant Content
3. Sorry, for exclusive members only
Subscribers Only, Join the Club, Private Access, only available, subscribers/members only, now closed, and request an invitation.
These feed on the basic psychology that whatever is exclusive is more valuable. You can further customize the CTA to hint that whatever the user finds here is not available anywhere else.
Here’s how Rothy’s does it:
“Request an invite” is another commonly used CTA that immediately suggests that access is restricted and exclusive.
4. Let’s Do It!
These fist-pump vibe CTAs are popular for a reason. They reflect a strong team spirit shared by the user and the brand. Epic, a branding agency chooses to ditch the ol’ Contact Us and instead goes in for something more together and warm.
Also check out the epic way in which Epic has designed their CTA, keeping with the design of their site. They’ve chosen to avoid the standard button design. CTAs can be anything clickable: underlined text, a button, or an icon.
Here’s another piece of CTA Trivia
CTAs in the form of buttons increase clicks by 45%
Here’s Grey Goose getting the party spirit on!
5. Let's just show you what we can do
These come-to-the-point CTAs are great to offer a quick non-committal service to visitors. For example: CrazyEgg: Show Me My Heatmap/Headline Analyzer: Analyze Now or any real estate site with a primary CTA: Get A Quote or a software tool that calculates uses the CTA: Get Your Score
They offer instant gratification to users looking for a quick and urgent solution.
Once the users’ needs are satisfied, then they might show interest in any incidental information that you can offer, which can get them to go in for a trial or fill up your pop-up form.
Like for example, CrazyEgg states: ‘Start your 30-day free trial. Cancel Anytime’, right below the heatmap.
Headline Analyzer has a CTA button ‘Analyze Now’ which provides a quick and easy-to-implement solution to the user. There’s a ‘Sign Up Free Now’ at the top right corner. By having the Analyze Now button, an instant service/solution is provided.
Google gets it right — as usual — with ‘Get Your Grade’ and in the anticipation of availing this service you give in and just like that they’ve got your email id.
6. Wait, I want in too!
FOMO CTAs thrive on the psychology of scarcity and urgency. Anything that’s scarce or rare will definitely pull users; when there’s an added limitation on time and availability you’ve hit the jackpot. Grab your E-Book Now!
Download your coupons today only! The word claim adds an extra tinge of urgency, almost hinting-get it before anyone else does.
Words like ‘Save’ and ‘Reserve’ further trigger the FOMO psychology.
Get to grips with FOMO in: 14 Ways to use FOMO and Boost Your Conversion Rates
7. Buy, Shop & Drop!
E-commerce businesses have abused the ‘Shop Now, Buy Now’ and there’s a reason for that. What reason...you say? They work. But what if you could personalize a bit more?
MVMT, an online brand sells watches, eyewear, and jewelry for men and women and they have 2 CTAs that take men and women to their respective shops.
And what if you can get them down to business without the overwhelming formality of a sign-up?
Check out how an e-card portal, Giftrocket, does it:
Have an offer which could serve as a great bait?
Check out how House of Fraser keeps it hot!
They really get you hook line and sinker with this Just-Can't-Miss CTA:
A great way to state your value proposition is with ‘Shop The Offer’!
You know what you’ll get in exchange for that click and you know you’ll like it.
While we’re at it, why not learn from the e-commerce gurus themselves. Amazon spices up the ol’ Buy Now with (with 1 click!)
The 1-click add-on emphasizes on a frictionless purchase and transaction.
And yes it’s time for yet another CTA Trivia:
On average, the eCommerce conversion rate is 2% but Amazon boasts of a whopping 13% conversion rate! Now you know why!
8. It’s a Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s Free!
(Join free for a month) or ‘Try for Free.’ Join for free/Start a Free trial CTAs are basically high reward and low risk. They give users the chance to test the waters rather than commit immediately. Another example of a great call-to-action. Give Basecamp a Try - It’s Free for 60 days.
The small hitch - it’s too long.
Keep it short, Like Hot Jar here. When you can do it with just Three, why not Try it Free?
Spotify too pitches the Premium Subscription for Free.
Netflix does this well with Join free for a month CTA. The ‘Cancel Anytime’ option too offers reassurance and has the capacity to boost sign-ups.
Teuxdeux, a go-to productivity app, does this well by focusing on the freemium twice while completely sidelining the Log in CTA.
We know, it’s a bit early for more trivia, but we can’t help it :)
A ‘buy now’ could bounce off 84% of your first-time visitors. A free demo/trial can increase conversions by 328%
9. Missing in Action? Not Really!
Generally, agencies, creative studios, web design sites, and templates go for CTAs without a Verb/action word.
A Simple What We Do/Our Work is focused on telling the user about you rather than getting the user to commit an action. These CTAs are more focused on giving users information rather than asking them to give information.
Read More and Know More are on the same lines except they use action words directing the user to act, but the above example of What We Do is more inviting. These put the onus on the site to give information and take the pressure off the user to act.
Full Bundle another creative agency based out of London does so by welcoming its visitors with just two crucial words:
Given that the user’s main purpose of visiting the site is to see their work, ‘Our Work’ is a better alternative to a See or Go! It straightaway comes to the point.
10. The 'Inception' Methodology
Don't think of an elephant! ..... You're thinking of an elephant aren't you? Apply this psychology to your call-to-actions.
Harmless reverse psychology CTAs. These are playful CTAs that work well, especially if they reflect your brand’s voice.
If used well, these creative and fun CTAs can really bring out the creator in you. And honestly, won’t you be dying to press when asked not to press? Your cheekiness might just intrigue the user more, than a normal ‘Click Here’ or ‘Learn More.’
Huemor really got their humor on, with this witty ‘Do Not Press’ CTA button.
Webflow, a DIY website building portal, takes it to another level. They not just tell you about the creative struggle of web designing, which you would already agree with considering you’re visiting their site, but they also tell you what you can expect.
11. Pop It Up!
Pop-up CTAs, you can love them or hate them, but you can’t ignore them! Pop-ups by nature are urgent and are always screaming for attention. But they can be solution-driven and that’s where CTAs play a major role.
They always have something to get the user to subscribe or sign up. It could be a downloadable e-book, a monthly newsletter, or anything which gives you instant value.
Are you an online brand? Use pop-ups to lay that last bait, a juicy offer, perhaps like the way Hush Puppies does it…?
No Sale or offer on the platter? No problem, Pop-ups are still the go-to tools to push the user towards your goal.
StuckInCustoms, a travel and photography blog, does this well with this entry pop-up that helps people quickly go to where they want to on the site.
12. Plead Guilty!
Guilt-tripping Exit CTAs - Want to catch them while they are just about to leave? Guilt-tripping CTAs might just get them to stay. For eg: Yes...I want to lose Weight! No, I don't mind the extra pounds!
Now, now, Grammarly, that’s harsh isn't it? But it works!
Don’t want to take a negative tone?
You could change it to NO, My grammar’s pretty good!
So something like this one...
Check out how here the ‘No, I don’t want to get your awesome content’ is strategically in small caps and places the benefit — awesome content — that you’ll be deprived of if you don’t subscribe.
13. Curious CTAs
A striking question can really make all the difference. Questions pique curiosity easily. Check out how HubSpot puts you in the spot.
Beachway Therapy Centre does this well too by including the pain point or the objection to be addressed in the CTA itself.
Cisco again fuels the anticipation of the user, who’s looking to keep systems secure with the ‘Are You Ready?’ CTA.
14. Aye, Aye, Captain
Now, these affirmative CTAs are great if you’re looking to help the user take the plunge by highlighting the pain point that the CTA will help the user address.
LemonStand had a pop-up offering a growth guide to eCommerce businesses with a CTA that said, Yes, I want to grow faster. In this, the pain point which is to ‘grow faster’ is used in the CTA.
Check out how the copy at the top starts with an affirmative Yes! The CTA Yes Please! Here, the CTA feeds on the confidence that the copy exudes and gives the added push to sign up.
15. Zero Selling Point
These are great as social media CTAs; if you’re just looking to build an initial connection with potential customers without having an offer in place or if you’re a micro-influencer who’s trying to reach out to more people. There’s no pressure on the user to buy/subscribe, plus you get more viewers or better still, followers!
16. What’s in it for me?
When the CTA clearly states the benefit the user can enjoy, for eg “Give Me Growth Tips'' it just adds a stronger push to click.
Conversionxl is hinting that giving them your email gets you a step closer to becoming a Conversion Master.
Assuring its audience of a better period, Thinx, is a period underwear brand that uses the CTA ‘period better’ and it couldn’t have done the job better!
Inbound.org does this well! There’s the benefit of growing and growing NOW.
Check out the Urgent, Benefit-driven, and a power word like START.
It’s all good.
17. TWO to Tango
When you have 2 different kinds of users using your app/website, you’ll want to include both kinds with respective CTAs.
But as they say, no 2 CTAs are equal.
For eg Monster has job seekers and employers both visiting the site.
The primary CTA is for job seekers that’s why it dominates the site whereas, the CTA for employers is at the bottom.
Uber has CTAs for both drivers and passengers. ‘Make money while you drive your car’, for drivers, is right at the top navigation bar. ‘Start ride with Uber’ is at the center of the page and obviously dominates the page due to the contrasting color used. The straightforward copy further manages to arrest attention.
Here you go, right when you thought, you were missing something!
In 2009, Unbounce declared the Orange Button - The Big Orange Button - as the color that converts your CTA the best! But over the years, brands have reached the conclusion that whichever color stands in contrast to the background and doesn’t get lost in the design has an equally good chance to convert!
Interestingly, Barkbox creates 2 equally sized CTAs for first-time users while existing users continue by logging in. ‘Get Started’ are for those looking to sign up whereas ‘Give a Gift’ are for those not looking to commit but just looking to Gift a Barkbox.
This way, they don’t chase away those who’re not looking to sign up and still close a sale.
18. Second to None
A Secondary CTA is an alternative CTA to the primary CTAs like Sign Up, Download Now, that you ideally want visitors to click etc. Basically, these CTAs will still keep users interested in your services when they are not ready to commit.
The Go Premium one is highlighted whereas Play for Free is muted. Though Spotify wants to push for premium subscriptions they would not want to lose consumers with a take it or leave it attitude, hence the secondary CTA is for those sitting on the fence.
Skype does it too.
19. The Refer-ee
Referral CTAs are one of the most underrated ones.
Rather than monotonous business jargon like ‘refer a friend’ or ‘earn rewards’ an ‘Introduce Us’ can go a long way to get your customers to refer a friend.
It’s more friendly and reflects genuine interest from the brand’s side to get introduced to new, potential customers.
Even better? Check out Harry’s a men’s grooming brand chooses does better than a Refer a Friend with Choose Your Friends
Take The Tour, Visit your Office, Download the eBook, these are mainly for casual browsers who just chance upon your website - you wouldn’t want to miss leveraging this surprise visit, now would you!
These persuade casual browsers to take concrete action which may help you close a sale too, down the line. These CTAs are great for service-based businesses like fitness centers, marketing services, or schools.
Here, Equinox uses the plain Schedule a Visit but backs it up with the offer of giving you your initiation back.
But if you want to milk their interest levels and tell them what you have to offer, without actually having an ‘offer’, try something like what WPEngine a web hosting service does here with a simple, ‘See Our Plans’. Like this, you steer away from the dull Sign Up or the overwhelming ‘Schedule A Consultation’.
With ‘How We Help Marketers’
Bluleadz, a Florida based digital marketing agency quickly garners interest in brands/companies looking for marketing services. “How we help marketers' targets the right audience, engages the reader and piques curiosity.
Crossrope sells jump ropes. With this smart word play - Show Me The Ropes, they definitely boost interest levels more than what the know-it-all ‘Know More’ could.
You can leverage interest level CTAs especially if you have downloadable content resources like a blog blog into a white paper or e-book or a case study.
Such CTAs take users closer to the content that they are interested to access and in the process get you their information details which you can add to your email list. Want to leverage this interaction? Try an additional CTA phrase, ‘Ask and you shall receive” and you’ll be amazed by the willingness of people to share their deets!
21. It’s all about the Community!
When you’re not just a brand looking for new subscribers but you’re looking to build a community.
Toms does this the best. Plus there’s an irresistible offer!
The word ‘Join’ has a lot of pull especially when the users know what’s in it for them.
OkCupid gets this right all the time; inviting singles to join a thriving dating community with a great headline.
Before you leave, we want to tell you that 1 BIG SECRET that gives you Converting CTAs
Wait for it!
Remember, your CTAs will only work if they best suit your audience preferences, when they stand out aesthetically and when they are placed strategically. You might want to avoid CTA-stuffing and you might want to leverage the placement below or above the fold. There's no one fixed way to create successful CTAs and Testing only can help you CT-Ace it!