Call to Action Writing

woman holding red and white megaphone standing near building

Read until the end to learn from or make fun of our CTA for this “How to do that exact thing” article… no pressure, right?

You’ve managed to get someone on your website. Either through a referral link, a paid ad, or organic traffic, you have convinced them that looking at your content is worthwhile.

Now what?

This is why Calls to Action are important:

You want to convert as many of these visitors as possible by getting them to take the next step.

Not everyone will of course, but you’re smart, and you practice getting relevant traffic, right? So your conversion rates have a chance of being pretty good, provided we do the following:


Offer Something Prospects Truly Want

Let’s talk user intent for a moment. What likely brought this visitor to your content in the first place? What are they expecting to find here?

Information – Be it data, charts, and spreadsheets, authoritative answers to a question, or something less formal such as a general discussion on a topic. Many times, people are seeking knowledge in some form.

If this is the case, you need to provide it for them. Not only should you answer whatever question that is on their mind, but you should do so in a way that is easy for them to understand and remember.

Perhaps this means using a variety of formats.

If you’re not sure where to start, create a couple different CTAs and see what turns out to be the most popular choice. “View the Chart”, “Download the CSV”, “Read the Whitepaper” etc. Once you confirm what folks want, make sure to revise your content accordingly.

It may not be information that they seek. Your website visitor may wish to be entertained, to find a solution to a problem, or looking for a service or product.

It’s up to you to figure this out and make sure there is proper alignment between your audience and what you offer. Just make sure it is something of value.


Make it Compelling with Emotion + Action

Alright, so now we know what the target demographic wants, and we know we can deliver!

Now let’s hook them further and entice them to do something. There are a variety of ways to achieve this, most of which boil down to Action and Emotion.

The simple fact is that humans make decisions primarily based on emotion, rather than logic. So, logically speaking (ha), we want our message to include an appeal to emotion. “Get ‘em right in the feels”, if you will. Emotion drives our instant reactions, so start there.

Taking action requires some sort of movement or momentum, right? You want to keep the ball rolling until the goal is complete. We can make this happen by using…

Call to Action Words

  • View

  • Download

  • Get (the XYZ)

  • Grab (your copy)

  • See

  • Find

  • Search

Wait a second, where’s the emotional aspect? Now worries, we didn’t forget. Let’s put the two parts together into an effective whole!


Emotion and Action Together

A good strategy is to open with the appeal to emotion (to get that gut reaction), by using it as the title or tagline:

“Achieve Success using these 7 Tactics”

“Become an Expert in Economics”

“Write Content People will Actually Read”

Taglines should support your Call to Action by keeping readers interested and engaged. If they stop reading or close the tab without even seeing your CTA, then it doesn’t even matter how good it is.

You want to prepare their mindset, and warm them up a bit. Build some anticipation or tension – they will be more inclined to do what you ask.

This makes them curious and helps the reader begin to envision what the outcome of taking the action will be, which is critical.

One more time, help them envision the outcome.

Then, we roll out our energetic CTA:

“Download this Guide to Learn How”


Use Supporting Details

Ever notice how many headlines or CTAs use numbers? Exact numbers make claims sound more believable, such as case studies that cite a “172% Increase in Sales”.

This is where logic comes in. We want to justify the initial gut feeling by appealing to the conscious part of the brain. Numbers and facts are a good way to do this.

Another method is to be specific about who your target audience is:

“Invoice Automation for Entrepreneurs”

“No-hassle dry cleaning for busy professionals”

In these examples, you immediately know if what is being offered or discussed is relevant to you. This is good. However, they are missing emotional appeal, so even if the topic is relevant, you may not be compelled to investigate further. Instead, try something like:

“Reduce the Frustration of Wasted Time with Invoice Automation for Entrepreneurs”

“Look Your Best with No-hassle Dry Cleaning for Busy Professionals”

See, it’s perfectly fine to have a longer headline, if that’s what it takes to achieve both clarity and emotional appeal.

Besides headlines, additional supporting elements include imagery that matches your message, as well as a customer testimonial, rating, or other form of social proof. Check out our article on Landing Pages to see how they all work together.

Takeaway: Support your CTA with a compelling tagline, imagery, and social proof.


Set Clear Expectations

They clicked / downloaded / viewed / conquered / etc – yay team!

So far, we talked about figuring out what your readers value, their mindset, and getting them to envision results. Notice a theme?

It’s all about expectations.

This begs the question, what should they expect now, post-action?

If you asked for their email or other contact information, when will they hear from you next? Commonly, the requested document will be immediately sent via email link or attachment. “On it’s way to your inbox now” and all that jazz.

If you’ve been doing all this properly, expectations have been met so far, and we want to continue building on that trust.

If they are now on a weekly newsletter list, say so! If you want to send them promotions, let them know ahead of time.

Being overbearing is the fastest way to unsubscribes and an unhealthy list. Irrelevance is a close second.

Typically a good tactic is to have a brief sentence or two under your CTA button. Explain in plain terms what happens next if they sign up or agree.




To write a great Call to Action:

  1. Offer something Valuable

  2. Use Emotion, then Action to make it Compelling

  3. Support with Details

  4. Set Expectations for what happens next


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