How to Write a Call-to-Action That Gets Visitors Clicking

Good writing matters in marketing. It is important to be able to express ideas clearly to capture the attention of potential customers. Let’s take a call-to-action (CTA) as an example.

person writing a call to action on an email

If the copy you create doesn’t attract visitors, it can hurt your click-through rate, lead conversions, and sales.

In this blog post, we will discuss some important copywriting lessons that you should apply to your CTAs to increase traffic, generate more leads, and convert users into customers.

What is a call-to-action?
How to Write a Call-to-Action

Download Now: 28 Free CTA Templates

What is a call-to-action?

A call-to-action (CTA) is a word or phrase that prompts the reader to take a desired action. In marketing, CTAs appear throughout campaign copy to persuade your audience to take the next step in the sales funnel via a button or hyperlink.

Your CTA can motivate people to take one of the following actions:

  • Subscribe to our email newsletter.
  • Download an eBook.
  • Sign up for an account.

If you want to convince more people to take the next step, your CTA needs to be compelling enough to get them to proceed. That’s why it’s important to know how to write a CTA.

How to Write a Call-to-Action

There’s a special craft that goes into writing effective calls-to-action — it’s equal parts art and science. Luckily for us, writing strong CTAs can be achieved with enough practice (or using a CTA tool to help you get started).

If you want to practice, follow these writing tips to craft strong CTAs that drive traffic and convert leads into customers.

Writing a call-to-action.  Include numbers.  Tailor your call-to-action to the device.  Use adverbs sparingly.  Keep character count low.  Make the language less technical and more practical.  Be creative and use personality.  Start with strong actions.

1. Start with strong actions.

The first piece of advice in a classic book writing instrument Encourages writers to begin sentences with subjects and verbs. In English, we read from left to right, and verbs and subjects help us quickly understand the meaning of a sentence.

As essential as these facts may be, it’s important to acknowledge when crafting your online CTAs that readers’ attention spans are more elusive than the shadow of a fluttering bird.

Check out the example below from one of HubSpot’s landing pages. You’ll notice that the first word at the beginning of each sentence is an action-oriented verb. Words like “drive,” “start,” and “create” get to the point and inspire action that will yield an immediate positive result.

How to Write a Call to Action: Every sentence on this HubSpot landing page includes a CTA that leads with a strong action.

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By not including a verb in the CTA copy, you’re not motivating readers to take action, which can hurt your CTA’s click-through rate and negatively impact conversions.

2. Include numbers.

The Internet is full of speculation and vague statements. That’s why using data and numbers is a great way to demonstrate that your message is clear and straightforward.

Numbers are a great way to remove ambiguity, be specific about your offer, and set the right expectations. A number tells visitors exactly what they will get, how much they will get, how long they will get, and so on.

This technique has been successful in call-to-action copy and blog post titles, press release titles, and email subject lines.

A study analyzing 721 of the most popular articles on Medium found that the second most popular starting word is a number.

What numbers can you include in your CTA copy? You can add the page length of the whitepaper you offer, mention a specific discount, or list the numerical impact or benefits of a particular resource you provide.

For example, HubSpot’s CTA to request a demo for our marketing product is, “See why over 177,000 customers use HubSpot to make marketing more human at scale.”

These numbers emphasize how many people use and rely on HubSpot for their marketing teams’ needs.

How to Write a Call to Action: Use numbers in your CTA like this HubSpot Marketing CTA does.

3. Use adverbs sparingly.

Most adverbs can be identified by their “-ly” ending, for example, “eventually,” “unfortunately,” and “quietly.”

However, there are different types of adverbs (relating to direction, time, degree, and manner), and their function is to modify “constituents other than the noun”.

They do not have any definite position in the sentence. For example, you can place the word “eventually” at the beginning, middle, or end of the sentence.

Words like “really” or “incredibly” are often considered silly and hold little significance when replaced by a more powerful adverb. For example, “really hard” can replace “challenging.”

Limit the number of adverbs in your CTA unless they add value to the sentence. The first word in this CTA on Zoom’s website is “securely,” which is a strong descriptor for its product.

How to Write a Call to Action: Zoom uses a powerful adverb in its CTA.

4. Keep the character count low.

The standard advice for CTAs has been to keep them short. Don’t write complex copy that will take longer for your visitors to read. (This also applies to other marketing activities, like emails and press releases.)

In an analysis of high-converting CTA buttons, the study found that the average CTA contained 3.411 words.

How to Write a Call to Action: A bar chart that shows the average number of words used in a CTA button is about three.

If you want to learn how to write CTAs that grab readers’ attention and get right to the point, take a lesson from how PR professionals write press release headlines.

Cision’s press release status report found the average title length to be 88 characters.

Try to fit your CTA copy within these boundaries (or get some writing assistance to help you send a concise message faster), and see how readers respond. This also leads to the next point.

5. Tailor your calls-to-action to the device.

You should optimize everything from your website to the CTAs on your landing pages and emails for desktop and mobile users. This is especially true when mobile devices account for half of all web traffic worldwide.

If your users or viewers primarily use their mobile devices to search for products or read their emails, optimize your CTA copy for smaller screens.

A recent HubSpot survey of over 1,000 marketers found that 33% use mobile-friendly website design in their marketing strategy.

This shows that mobile users should be prioritized when assembling everything from your website to landing pages to CTA copy.

Implement all of these CTA best practices to write more precise and concise prompts. Cut out the fluff and use powerful action verbs at the beginning of your CTAs so mobile readers see the most important element first.

Also, consider writing short CTAs that won’t be at risk of getting cut off due to limited screen space.

6. Make the language less technical and more practical.

The language of your CTA will reflect industry-specific knowledge. However, some best practices apply to all CTA copies regardless of industry.

Like the other points we examined, it is borrowed from best practices from various marketing activities.

Regarding titles, words like “why” or “best” suggest that the content might engage the reader better. The same logic can apply to creating CTA copy. Emphasize the benefits of the offer and how it can improve your prospects.

In this CTA for task management app Todoist, the headline is a simple sentence that expresses the reader’s desire to be more organized.

It stays away from using overly complex words or phrases and offers a simple CTA of “Open Todoist.”

How to write a call to action: The CTA on the Todoist homepage reads,

When writing your CTAs, stay away from overly technical jargon. Some of the terms that attract the fewest views in blog posts include “franchise,” “investing,” “virtualization,” and “conferencing.”

These words imply forced complexity and are less appealing to readers. if people don’t want Look You shouldn’t include content with such technical jargon in your CTA copy.

7. Be creative and use personality.

CTAs don’t have to be boring. You can craft a concise and compelling message by showcasing your brand’s personality or speaking in your audience’s language.

Take the CTA example below from email brand Really Good Emails. Really Good Emails curates email marketing and design examples from across the web.

The brand shared a curated set of astrology-themed emails in a recent newsletter. The newsletter copy and CTAs were consistent with the theme, which helped drive their message even further.

How to Write a Call to Action: Really Good Emails Use a themed CTA button to match the rest of your astrology-themed emails

writing great cta

Writing a call-to-action is an excellent practice for crafting a clear and concise message.

If you want to drive more traffic, increase click-through rates, and convert more users, knowing how to write calls-to-action is a skill all marketers should master.

new call to action

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