This post will help you to understand the definition of and tips of creating an effective call-to-action along with the examples.
Think about all the times you’ve signed up for things in your life. Did you once download Evernote? Dropbox? Spotify? Maybe you’ve even taken a class on General Assembly.
Each one of these signups is likely a result of an effective call-to-action (CTA). And it’s really important to guide your visitors through the buying journey using strategic CTAs. Think about it: If you hadn’t been drawn in by the copy or design of the CTA, or been guided so eloquently through your sign-up process, you would probably use a lot fewer apps and websites than you do now.
A call to action (CTA) is a statement designed to get an immediate response from the person reading or hearing it. It’s used in business as part of a marketing strategy to get your target market to respond through action. It’s generally used at the end, or sometimes throughout, a sales pitch (i.e. a sales letter) to let potential clients/customers know what to do next if they’re interested in what you offer.
Many new business owners leave calls-to-action out of their marketing materials or sales pitches usually for one of two reasons:
- Belief that the prospect already knows what to do if they’re interested in learning more, or
- Concerns that calls-to-action are obnoxious.
Whatever the reason, leaving CTAs out can mean losing money. Call-to-action are essential in directing a prospect to the next step of the sales funnel or process.
But What are Calls to Action Used In?
The most obvious uses for a call-to-action is in sales, such as “Buy now”. However, the sales process isn’t the only place a call-to-action can be helpful. Especially if you have a high priced item or service, in which it can take time to encourage someone to buy, a call-to-action that acts like a road map toward sales can be helpful. For example, “Call now for a free estimate”.
A call-to-action can be used to build your email list (“Sign up for a free report now”), increase your social media following (“Get more tips and coupons by following us on Facebook!”), keep readers on your site (“Click here to read more about…”) and much more.
Typical Call-to-Action Phrases:
- Click here for
One useful technique to get people to take action immediately is to add a sense of urgency and the fear of missing out. For example:
- Offer expires on Halloween.
- Limited time offer.
- Act now before supplies run out.
- Respond before January 1st to enroll at this special price.
Creating a Call-to-Action
It’s important for a businesses not to assume that the target audience automatically knows what is expected of them. You’ll get greater results by being clear about what the prospect needs to do. Make sure each page of your website, each sales conversation, and every piece of printed material (i.e. direct mail or brochures) contains a clearly defined and easily identifiable call-to-action. For ideas, check out established businesses marketing materials and websites to see how they convey their call-to-action.
Calls-to-action work best when they’re not complicated. Don’t make your potential clients and customers go through a maze or jump through hoops. While offering option (i.e. “Call or email us”) is good, don’t give them so many options or make it difficult for them to follow through on what you want them to do.
Here are some tips to creating an effective Call-to-Action:
- Clearly explain what the customer needs to do to respond (i.e. Subscribe here)
- Clearly state what the customer will get by responding (i.e. Free report on how to save $100 a week)
- Focus on benefits of taking action (i.e. save money now)
- Offer a compelling reason for the customer to respond now or by the deadline (i.e. this report is free only for the next 24 hours).
When doing a printed piece or designing a website or email marketing campaign, it is suggested to differentiate the call-to-action by making it bigger, using a different color, and outlining it with extra white space. Don’t let it get lost in the rest of the marketing piece or content.
- Free Gift: The first 100 people will receive a free gift. Order now before all the gifts are gone!
- Free Trial: Sign-up by November 30th to take advantage of our 60-day free trial.
- Price Increase: Our prices are going up on December 31st. Come in today to take advantage of lower pricing.
- Automatic Upgrade: If you order within the next 30 days, receive an automatic upgrade to the premium package.
- Discount Deadline: Order by the end of the week to receive 10% off.
- Sale Incentives: We are overstocked! This Wednesday only, attend our liquidation blow-out event for deep discounts.
As a result, have an end goal for each call-to-action and how that call-to-action may fit with other parts of your marketing plan or get them into your sales funnel. Like many other marketing strategies, testing different options insures you’re getting maximum results. The same is true with calls-to-action. For example, do you get more email sign ups with “Subscribe Now” or “Get Your Free Report Now?” Test out a variety of options, switching them out one a time and then checking to see if one leads to more responses and sales than another. The email subscription is the first step in the ultimate goal of a sale.
Here are 40 Simple & Effective Call-To-Action Examples that you may want to copy:
“Remember Everything”. Visitors can immediately understand that message the moment they land on this page. The design on Evernote’s website makes it quite simple for users to see quick benefits of using the app and how to actually sign up to use it. Plus, the green color of the main and secondary CTA buttons is the same green as the headline and the Evernote logo, all of which jump off the page.
Dropbox has always embraced simple design with a lot of negative space. Even the graphics on their homepage are subtle and simple. It’s a smart idea that simple design and negative space, the blue “Sign up for free” call-to-action button which stands out from everything else on the page. Since the CTA and the Dropbox logo are the same color, it’s easy for the visitor to interpret this CTA as “Sign up for Dropbox.” That’s one effective call-to-action.
3. Office Vibe
Here’s a slide-in call-to-action from OfficeVibe. While scrolling through a post on their blog, a banner slid in from the bottom of the page with a call-to-action to subscribe to their blog. The best part is the copy on the slide-in tell us that we’ll be getting tips about how to become a better manager — and the post it appear on is a post about how to become a better manager. In other words, the offer is something that we are already interested in.
One big fear users have before committing to sign up for something? That it’ll be a pain to cancel their subscription if they end up not liking it. Netflix nips that fear in the bud with the “Cancel anytime” copyright above the “Join Free for a Month” CTA. Also, you’ll notice again that the red color of the primary and secondary CTAs here match Netflix’s logo color.
To achieve effective CTA design, you need to consider more than just the button itself. It’s also super important to consider elements like background color, surrounding images, and surrounding text. Mindful of these additional design components, the folks at Square used a single image to showcase the simplicity of using their product, where the hovering “Get Started” CTA awaits your click. If you look closely, the color of the credit card in the image and the color of the CTA button match, which helps the viewer connect the dots of what to expect if/when they click.
The folks at Panthera are looking for users who really care about wild cats around the world and want to join a group of people who feel the same way. To target those people in particular, we love how they use language that would speak to big cat-lovers: “Join the pride today”. The page itself is super simple: An on-page form with two, simple fields, and a button asking folks to (again) “Join”.
If you go to a website and see a “Launch” CTA accompanied by the copy “Do Not Press” … what would you do? Let’s be honest: You’d be dying to press it. The use of harmless reverse psychology here is playful, which is very much in keeping with Huemor’s brand voice.
The whole point of a call-to-action is to direct your site visitors to a desired course of action – and the best CTAs do so in a way that’s helpful to their visitors. The folks at coffee company Aquaspresso really nailed that balance here with the pop-up CTA on their main blog page. Here, the desired course of action is for their blog readers to check out what they’re actually selling (and hopefully buy from them). There are many ways they could have done this, including putting out a CTA that urges people to “Check out our most popular products!” or something very direct. But we love what they’ve done instead: Their CTA offers blog readers something much more helpful and subtle – an offer for “today’s specials” in exchange for the reader’s email address.
No one wants to be wrong. That’s why a call-to-action button like QuickSprout’s slide-in CTA on their blog is so clickworthy. It asks the reader, “Are you doing your SEO wrong? Well, am I? All I have to do is enter my URL to find out” – seems easy enough. It’s language like that that can really entice visitors to click through. Plus, having the CTA slide in mid-blog post is a great tactic for catching readers before they bounce off the page. Traditionally, many blogs have CTAs at the very bottom of each blog post, but research shows most readers only get 60% of the way through an article.
10. Grey Goose
Here’s a fun, unique call-to-action that can get people clicking. Whereas site visitors might have expected to be directed to product pages or press releases from the homepage, a CTA to “Discover a Cocktail Tailored to Your Taste” is a pleasantly surprising ask. People love personalization, and this CTA kind of feels like an enticing game. The play button icon next to the copy gives a hint that visitors will be taken to a video so they have a better idea of what to expect when they click.
OKCupid’s CTA doesn’t seem that impressive at first glance, but its brilliance is in the small details. The call-to-action button, which is bright green and stands out well on a dark blue background, says, “Continue.” The simplicity of this term gives hope that the signup process is short and casual. This CTA feels more like you’re playing a fun game than filling out a boring form or committing to something that might make me nervous.
Nothing like a ticking timer to make someone want to take action. After spending a short amount of time on blogging.org’s homepage, new visitors are greeted with a pop-up CTA with a “limited time offer,” accompanied by a timer that counts down from two minutes. As with Aquaspresso’s example in #8, this is a classic use of the psychological tactic called scarcity, which causes us to assign more value to things we think are scarce. Limiting the time someone has to fill out a form makes people want to fill it out and claim their offer while they can.
CTAs can feel really pushy and salesy if the wrong language is used. I’d like to point out that IMPACT’s educational approach, where they challenge visitors to learn what the company does before pushing them to take any further action. This call-to-action is especially intriguing to me because they don’t even use an action verb, yet they still manage to entice people to click.
The folks at the agency EPIC use their homepage primarily to showcase their work. When you arrive on the page, you’re greeted with animated videos showing some of the work they’ve done for clients, which rotate on a carousel. While there plenty of other places users might click on their site – including their clients’ websites – the main call-to-action stands out and always contrasts with the video that’s playing in the background.
15. Brooks Running
How many times have you hotly pursued a product you love, only to discover it’s sold out? But just because you’ve run out of an item doesn’t mean you should stop promoting it. Brooks Running uses a clever call-to-action to ensure their customers don’t bounce from their website just because their favorite shoe is out of stock. In the screenshot above, you can see Brooks touting an awesome-looking shoe with the CTA, “Find out when we have more.” Pay attention to how this button turns bad news into an opportunity to retain customers. Without it, Brooks’ customers would likely forget about the shoe and look elsewhere. When you click on the blue CTA button depicted below, Brooks directs you to a page with a simple code you can text the company. This code prompts Brooks to automatically alert the visitor when the shoe they want is available again.
16. Humboldt County
Humboldt County’s website is gorgeous on its own: It greets you with a full-screen video of shockingly beautiful footage. But what is really good is the unconventional call-to-action button placed in the bottom center, which features a bunny icon and the words “Follow the Magic”. It enhances the sort of fantastical feel of the footage, making you feel like you’re about to step into a fairytale.
What’s more, once you click into that CTA, the website turns into a sort of choose-your-own-adventure game, which is a fun call-to-action path for users and encourages them to spend more time on the site.
Uber’s looking for two, very distinct types of people to sign up on their website: Riders and drivers. Both personas are looking for totally different things, and yet, the website ties them together really well with the large video playing in the background showing Uber riders and drivers having a good time in locations all over the world. Look at the copy of the driver CTA at the top, too: It doesn’t get much more straightforward than, “Make money driving your car”. Now that’s speaking people’s language.
As soon as you reach Spotify’s homepage, it’s pretty clear that their main goal is to attract customers who are willing to pay for a premium account, while the CTA for users to sign up for free is very much secondary. It’s not just the headline that gives this away; it’s also the coloring of their CTA buttons. The “Go Premium” CTA is lime green, making it pop off the page, while the “Play Free” CTA is plain white and blends in with the rest of the copy on the page. This contrast ensures that visitors are drawn to the premium CTA.
Exit CTAs, also known as exit intent pop-ups, are different than normal pop-ups. They detect your users’ behavior and only appear when it seems as though they’re about to leave your site. By intervening in a timely way, these pop-ups serve as a fantastic way of getting your reader’s attention while offering them a reason to stay. Ugmonk has a great exit CTA, offering two options for users as a final plea before they leave the site. First, they offer a 15% discount on their products, followed by two options: “Yes Please: Send me the coupon” and “No Thanks: I’m not interested.” It’s super helpful that each CTA clarifies what “Yes” and “No” actually mean, and they didn’t use guilt-tripping language like “No Thanks: I hate nature” like you’ve seen on other websites.
Want to sign up for Pinterest? You have a couple of options: Sign up via Facebook or via email. If you have a Facebook account, Pinterest wants you to do that first. How do you know? Because the blue Facebook CTA comes first and is much more prominent, colorful, and recognizable due to the branded logo and color. Logically, if you log in through Facebook, Pinterest can pull in Facebook’s API data and get more information about you than if you log in through your email address. Although this homepage is optimized to bring in new members, you’ll notice a very subtle CTA for folks with Pinterest accounts to log in on the top right.
Since Instagram is a mainly mobile app, you’ll see two black CTAs of equal size: One to download Instagram in Apple’s App Store, and another to download it on Google Play. The reason these CTAs are of equal caliber is because it doesn’t matter if someone downloads the app in the App Store or on Google Play … a download is a download, which is exactly what Instagram is optimizing for. If you already have Instagram, you can also click the CTA to “Log In” if you’d prefer that option, too.
The two CTAs on Barkbox’s homepage show that the team there knows their customers: While many people visiting their site are signing up for themselves, there are a lot of people out there who want to give Barkbox as a gift. To give those people an easy path to purchase, there are two, equally sized CTAs on the page: “Get Started” and “Give a Gift”. As an added bonus, there’s an adorable, pop-up call-to-action on the right-hand side of the screen prompting users to leave a message if they’d like. Click into it, and a small dialogue box pops up that reads, “Woof! I’m afraid our pack is not online. Please leave us a message and we’ll bark at you as soon as pawsible”. Talking about delightful copy.
23. General Assembly
As you scroll through the General Assembly website, you’ll see CTAs for various courses you may or may not want to sign up for. I’d like to point your attention to the CTA that slides in from the bottom of the page as you’re scrolling, though, which suggests that you subscribe to email updates. Although this feels like a secondary CTA due to its location and manner, I believe they try to sneak this in to become more of a primary CTA because it’s so much more colorful and noticeable than the CTAs for individual classes. When you create your own CTAs, try using bolder colors — even ones that clash with your regular stylings — to see if it’s effective at getting people’s attention.
Charity: Water’s main goal is to get people to donate money for clean water – but they can’t assume that everyone wants to pay the same way. The CTAs featured on their homepage take a really unique approach to offering up different payment methods by pre-filling $60 into a single line form and including two equally important CTAs to pay via credit card or PayPal. Notice how both CTAs are the same size and design – this is because charity: Water likely doesn’t care how you donate, as long as you’re donating.
A big mistake rookie marketers can make when designing their call-to-action’s is failing to add enough contrast between the CTA and the page background. As a basic rule of conversion rate optimization, your CTA should always have a significant amount of contrast between itself and everything around it. Notice how this example uses red, a color not seen anywhere else on the page as the CTA? Because of this, the CTA stands out boldly and commands a user’s attention. Regardless of whether they have a directional cue or not, your focus will eventually go to that red “Sign Up” button.
26. Blog Growth
Looking for a new a fresh way to position your content? Try phrasing free access to your content upgrades as “free lifetime access”. This is one way to increase the perceived value of your products, while also making the contents of the content upgrade more exciting.
27. Smart Passive Income
The Smart Passive Income blog does a great job of showcasing a great looking banner, while reducing friction by making the CTA as simple as possible. The CTA on this page works for two reasons, first it reduces the ask of each user by simply asking them to click in order to convert, and secondly it specifies exactly what a user should do in order to continue, “Click Here to Subscribe”.
This example comes from Squares homepage where they succinctly describe the core value proposition in just a few words: Start selling in Canada today. Using this simple messaging, Square is able to quickly communicate how their app can benefit users, and their CTA below gives immediate steps in order to get started. While “Signup with Square” might seem like a very simple CTA, it does follow CTA best practices in terms of stating exactly what the CTA button will do, while also keeping it directly tied to the other content on the page.
By changing the CTA to “Save Now” in order to correspond with the special promotion Ancestry was running at the time, they were able to reinforce the discount that the page was offering, and in turn potentially increase the total number of conversions.
30. BMO Mastercard
This is a great example from BMO of how to create a call-to-action that action oriented, contrasting, and focused on the specific product at hand. Notice how underneath the CTA they also put the disclaimer “get a response in under 60 seconds” in order to combat any objections users might have about how long the application process might take. As a tip, when optimizing your CTA’s, always remember to take into consideration the immediate area around the CTA. Often these areas can have a high impact on the overall effectiveness of your CTA. Things you might want to add could include guarantees, company phone numbers, testimonials, or expected turnaround times.
RBC displays this banner underneath some of their different product pages related to investments and investment management. This CTA is a great example of using a contrasting CTA color, along with how to incorporate immediacy into a CTA by adding the “today” portion of the CTA text.
32. Google Drive
Google uses a simple landing page to welcome users to their Google Drive app. They use a clear benefit oriented headline which states “A safe place for all your files”, combined with an easy to follow CTA that says “Go to Google Drive”. This landing page is an excellent example of how simple a headline can be, while still providing insights into the key benefits a product can provide.
Compared with the previous Google Drive landing page, this product page from Mailchimp is night and day. Mailchimp uses a very ambiguous headline, combined with very artistic imagery to express elements of their brand. The CTA however is clear and to the point. By choosing “Sign up Free” they are able to combat any objections users might have about price or commitment.
34. Marie Forleo
Marie Forleo offers a free audio training course as a content upgrade for visitors to her blog. Going against typical CTA best practices, Marie made her CTA black and subtle, and choose “Yes Please!” as the CTA text. This content upgrade is a great example of how you should test everything to determine what resonates with your audience, while also using CTA text and copy that’s inline with your brand voice.
35. When I Work
This is an example of a full page landing page offering a free excel template as a content upgrade. Notice how the hero shot of the female looks straight at the landing page headline, at which time a users attention is automatically drawn towards the yellow CTA that says “Download Template Now”. The great thing about this CTA is how it’s specific to the content of the page (the template), and provides clear instructions on the exact next step that a user will take once they click on the button.
36. Happiness Blog
The Happiness Blog has a simple popup that appears prompting users to sign up for their email newsletter. They make good use of social credibility by adding “join 80,000+ people” within the subheadline of the popup, along with a number of bullet points that helps summarize the main benefits of subscribing to the blog. The CTA itself however is a rather simple one with the CTA text being simply “Subscribe”.
37. Masterclass Webinar
This webinar page uses good contrast between the CTA and the rest of the page. Notice how in this example, they also underlined the CTA to indicate that it’s a link worth clicking. Based on our research “Reserve My Seat” is one of the most popular CTA text for webinars, which would indicate that it likely performs well and might be worth testing on your own webinar page!
Notice how the CTA button in this webinar landing page is large, contrasting, and matches the text above the form? This is important in reiterating the purpose of the CTA, and give a reason behind why someone would want to convert. The “my” in “save my spot” also speaks to a users in first person rather than using “save your spot”. Based on our testing, we’ve found that this small change has positively impacted overall conversion rates.
39. World Vision
World Vision does a good job of making their CTA’s simple and straight to the point. After giving some context about how donors can help by donating, their CTA “Give Now” does a great job of reinforcing the action that a user is about to take.
This above example is the homepage for Unicef, a charity that accepts donations to help children around the world. What’s interesting about this example, is how they have two main CTA’s on the page, both with the same color, but with different CTA text. The CTA on the top right is straightforward with the word “donate”, and the lower CTA is much more specific with “give a survival gift”. This is a good example of how you can keep your CTA’s consistent on a page through things like color, but also prompt users with specific actions by changing the CTA text.
What works in one industry might not work for another, and what works for one business might be completely different than another. But hopefully this list has given you a better understanding of what options there are out there, and some more ideas of new CTA strategies that you can implement today.
Additionally no matter what you change, at the end of the day there’s one thing standing between a user and conversion, and that’s your CALL-TO-ACTION.
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