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Are Your Users Responding? Easy Tips for a Better Call to Action

ByJerry Low, Last Modified
Aug 27, 2015
> Marketing

As any marketer knows, there’s no point in creating something if it doesn’t have a purpose, and that purpose should aim to garner a response, and to garner that response, you a CTA (call to action).

But not all CTAs are created equal—and inferior CTAs are bound to get inferior responses.

Think of it this way: if you go to McDonald’s and don’t tell the cashier what you want, you’re bound to get ignored. Putting a marketing message out there without a CTA will have the same effect.

That call to action is the single most important element of your landing page—and beyond having one, there’s a science to having the right one. After all, internet marketers have proved time after time that even small tweaks to the CTA can change the bottom-line response.

Without further ado, here are the ten things you need to keep in mind to create stronger CTAs that increase your ROI and results:

Related Article: Create to Convert: 8 Steps to Optimize a Perfect Landing Page

1. Be Direct

Simply put, don’t beat around the bush. Tell your audience exactly what it is that you want and what it is that they’ll get. Guesswork is only bound to get you lesser results.

Want them to download a report? Tell them that.

Want them to click on a link for a free quote? Great—be direct about it.

How you include those actions (link vs. button etc.) is a story for another time—we’ll get there. For now, be direct. The end.

For example, the landing page at Kissmetrics is straightforward and easy for the customer to understand what step they need to take next.

Kiss Metrics CTA

Image via Kissmetrics

2. Include an Action Word

Your CTA requires your reader to take some action so let them know what it is.

Do they need to click a button? Visit your site? Complete a form? Purchase something by a certain date?

Each of these suggestions involves them doing something aka, taking an action. So be clear about what that action is.

For example, the landing page at Bear CSS includes a large button reading "Upload HTML" as their action.


Image via Bear CSS

3. Provoke Emotion

No one likes listening to a monotone; it's boring. Your writing needs to convey a tone, and that tone should carry through to your CTA.

Do they need to do something within 24 hours? Convey that urgency in your CTA’s wording or through punctuation (think bold type, exclamation points, etc.).

Are there limited quantities available? Same thing.

You get the idea—use timely words, font variations and punctuation—there are many ways to show (and provoke) emotion in your CTAs.

For example, the landing page at uses a range of font sizes and graphics to encourage emotion in the website visitor. CTA

Image via

4. Include Unique Selling Point

No matter how unique your offering may be, the odds are that there’s something else at least similar out there, so what makes yours different? Use your CTA as a way to make your offering stand out from the competition.

This is critical to securing the response you need from your audience. Better yet, make that unique selling point relatable to your reader.

Why do they care? How does completing your CTA benefit them? Make sure this is evident.

Related Article: Measure Me: The 10 Must-Track Data Points for Digital Marketing ROI

5. Use Numbers

Marketers have proven time and time again that using numbers in CTAs returns better results. No, that doesn’t mean complicating things or making your readers do some math.

Simple is best.

Quantify a time limit or a number of items left in stock. Numbers make things memorable while also adding impac—so use them.

6. Create Urgency

This one is a bit of a theme that carries through our other tips for more effective calls to action. People by nature have a tendency to procrastinate, putting a deadline on something makes someone more likely to resolve it immediately.

7. Use Contrasting Colors

There are few ways to make a CTA less impactful than letting it blend into the rest of the copy. Yes, text-relevant links are good—but don’t miss the opportunity to call your CTA out boldly and that means using visual cues.

Having contrasting color is a great way to draw your reader’s eye—so use it.

For example, the landing page at Web Hosting Secret Revealed uses a bright blue and yellow to draw the reader's eye to the eBook and the "Download eBook" button.

Web Hosting Secrets Revealed CTA

Image via Web Hosting Secret Revealed

8. Position Your CTA in the Right Spot

People have a tendency to scan something before they commit to fully reading it and even with that, minds are typically made up before someone hits the scroll button. So keep your CTA above the fold. Generally speaking, CTAs placed in sidebars don’t do as well as those above the fold in the main copy block.

9. Always A/B Test Your CTA

Number eight segways perfectly into this one. Just because something worked for someone else, it doesn’t mean that the same rule of thumb applies to you. Always A/B test to find your unique patterns and success triggers. There are different software options out there that makes doing this easy.

10. "FREE" Is the King of CTA

People love a good giveaway, so if you’re offering something free, lead with that message. Better yet, pair the promo with one (or several) of the above CTA enhancement tips.

The one caveat to this rule is email—spam filters are commonly wary of the “f” word—so if you’re sending out something via email, consider using an alternate word, or leaving "free" to other media (such as online content or print materials).

For example, the landing page at Copy Blogger includes "Free" in its title and registration button. 

Copyblogger CTA example

Image via MyCopyBlogger

There are many ways to increase your ROI through improved calls to action.

Main takeaway: continue to play with your CTA methodology to find what works for you. Remember to keep your “ask” clear and direct and, above all, make sure that it communicates to the reader what they will “get out of it.”

Remember the old “five W's” (who, what, where, when, why… plus how)?

Your goal should be to answer as many of those questions—in as few words as possible, and in an enticing way for your call to action. Do it well and your ROI will increase dramatically.

Jerry Low
Jerry Low
See Jerry Low's Profile
Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. He regularly writes about blogging and web marketing. Learn more by following him on Twitter or subscribe to WHSR’s newsletter.
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