What Is a Call to Action?

What Is a Call to Action?

Kayla Graham

Have you ever joined a mailing list or signed up for a class online? Think about how often you’ve downloaded apps like Uber and Netflix. What drove you to order take-out from that last restaurant? All these purchases, downloads, and sign-ups are the products of compelling calls to action.

A call to action (CTA) is the part of a story, advertisement, webpage, or other content that encourages an audience to act. It’s designed to get an immediate response from the person reading or hearing it; it’s an invitation for a user to take a desired action. So, those buttons that ask you to “start your free trial” on Spotify, or “ride with Uber” are CTAs luring you to click. That bright sign asking you to “buy now and get a second pizza free,” is urging you to act.

A realtor’s CTA might sound like: “Call now for a free home estimate.” They can also include forms on their websites. When viewers discover a house they wish to view, to “find out more,” they need to fill out a sign-up form. Now the realtor has their information—and a new subscriber.

You also see CTAs in persuasive writing. For instance, a blog post or article by a political party on the importance of voting will likely end with a request for readers to vote. Then, they could include a link to a voter registration form. Similarly, a non-profit activist organization might get you to join and share their causes. They invite you to sign their petitions—with a “sign here” link—at the end of their newsletter. If you do sign the petition, it’ll likely be followed with a call to “share this petition” on Facebook or other social channels.

Companies can put CTAs anywhere they know their audiences are looking. Where they place them on a page, what color and size they are, and their contrast with backgrounds can all play a part in engagement. It encourages people to subscribe, browse products, provide information, or any other desired outcome. 

How to create convincing calls to action:

Determine what goals you are trying to achieve. When you know what you want to accomplish, you’ll be able to do it efficiently. You may have more than one goal.

Are you trying to:

  • improve sales
  • get information on your readers
  • increase subscriptions
  • encourage people to connect with your brand on social media
  • move readers to another page or content piece

Let the customer know what to do. How do they answer the CTA? You will get better results by being direct; tell people what to do next—don’t assume they know. As well, keep the wording simple. Calls to action are most successful when they’re uncomplicated. The best CTAs are brief and use strong verbs. They speak directly to the reader. 

For example: 

  • Explore our collection
  • Reserve your spot 
  • Join our community
  • Learn more
  • Claim your offer

Let the customer know what they’ll get. What is the benefit they’ll receive by responding?

  • Try premium free for three months
  • Call now for a free assessment
  • Choose a free gift when you order $35 or more
  • The latest tips & tricks delivered to you weekly

Get people to take action quickly by adding a sense of urgency. Offer a persuasive reason for a customer to respond now. Adding a deadline can be a helpful way of doing this. 

  • Only one day left to join us at this low price
  • Offer expires at midnight
  • Act now before stock runs out

Put your call to action on all your communications. Make sure your websites, newsletters, social media posts, and print communications have a clear call to action. Take a look at other companies’ websites and marketing materials to see how they deliver their CTAs.  Effective CTAs motivate audiences—and can quickly turn them into subscribers, buyers, and loyal followers.