Introduction

Encouraging people to go through your sales cycle is hard. Consumers today are more skeptical than ever, and they don’t like to feel like their decisions are being influenced by a brand. 

But, if you want to keep the momentum going and get potential buyers to gravitate from one touchpoint to the next, it’s important to put some “signposts” along the way. These are what’s known as calls-to-action (CTAs). Here, we’ll cover exactly what a CTA is, what makes them effective, and provide some examples of powerful and high-converting CTAs from around the internet. 

What is a call-to-action?

In its simplest form, a CTA tells your audience what action they should take next. It usually comes in the form of a link or a button that can be clicked to take users through to the next stage of the journey, whether that’s signing up for a download, booking a demo, or even making a purchase.

When used correctly, a CTA acts as a gateway through the customer journey to keep buyers on-track and going in the right direction. If you consider how busy some webpages are, it can be confusing for users to know what step to take next. CTAs tackle this by gently nudging them to the next page. 

what is call to action

Why are CTAs important?

They keep users moving 

Without a clear CTA, visitors may not know what to do next. You might have mapped out an amazing journey for them, but if they don’t know how to move through it, they’re not going to experience it in the way you want them to. This can quickly lead to a stagnant sales cycle that doesn’t convert as it should. 

They help create a user-led customer journey 

When a visitor responds to a CTA, it’s called a conversion. It’s easy to track conversions because most software lets you see how many people have clicked a link or moved from one page to the next. This makes it easy to track the customer journey and map out what actions customers take to get to a sale. 

They make it easy to measure 

Each CTA acts as a mini-conversion point that you can track and measure. When you see which CTAs get the most traction as well as what users do next, you’re able to optimize and improve the entire sales cycle.

They increase conversions

Today’s consumers are busy. They don’t have time to read every single piece of text on a webpage, but research shows that CTAs are read by 90% of people who look at a website. The larger the number of eyeballs on your CTAs, the more likely you are to increase conversions. 

They prompt immediate action

The attention span of internet users is at rock bottom, so it’s important to keep them engaged and actively moving through the sales cycle. CTAs help achieve this by giving users solid action points to interact with

The importance of CTAs in marketing

Most marketers have the same big goal: to generate and convert leads. But, when you’re competing against hundreds of other similar brands for the waning attention of an increasingly independent audience, it can be tricky. 

CTAs help you keep your audience on track and moving forward by capturing their attention, piquing their interest, and guiding them through the signup or sales process quickly and seamlessly. 

Best practices for CTAs

There’s an art to creating CTAs that compel and convert. If you want to get the most out of each touchpoint and drive more conversions, it’s crucial that you incorporate these best practices:

Use targeted CTAs

Every user will have a different experience with your brand. They’ll have different needs and requirements every step of the way. This means that not every customer journey will look the same. To avoid creating a generic sales cycle that sees potential customers dropping like flies, use targeted CTAs based on their past behavior. For example, you can implement CTAs based on user intent, or target consumers based on the specific stage of the sales funnel they’re in.

The below CTA targets users who have already signed up and grabbed their free download. 
 

Use Targeted CTAs

Display CTAs in the right places

You can have the most powerful CTA in the world, but if nobody sees it, it’s not going to get results. Use tracking software, like Freshworks CRM to check which CTAs get the most attention from users and experiment with where you place them around your site. 

Common places to implement CTAs include: 

Display CTA in the right places

Make CTAs look great 

CTAs should demand attention from users. As such, they need to stand out and look good. Experiment with different button styles and color combinations to see what works best, but remember to keep your CTAs on brand. 

Make CTAs look great

A/B test your CTAs

A/B testing means you test two varieties of CTAs and see which one performs best. You can tweak the copy, the colors, the image, and the type of CTA to see what elements resonate best with your audience. 

a/b testing CTAs

Keep things brief

As mentioned earlier, today’s consumers are busy. Presenting them with long-winded CTAs that take time out of their day to read isn’t going to work. Instead, be brief and make sure your CTAs are straight to the point. This makes it easy for users to know what you want them to do next. 
 

How long should a CTA be? 

Ideally, as short as possible. Anything more than 10-15 words is too long. Instead, use simple statements that users can read and understand in a split-second.

BarkBox keeps their CTAs short and sweet.

Long CTA example

Use first-person pronouns 

Think about the user journey from the customer’s perspective. Using first-person pronouns like “I” and “me” makes them a part of the process and encourages them to take action because it feels like the CTAs were written especially for them. 

Use first person pronoun

Turn CTAs into buttons 

Making sure your CTAs stand out is crucial. You want visitors to see them straight away, so it’s important that they look different from the other elements on your site. By switching them from text to a button format, you’re tapping into the human psychology that buttons are made for clicking. 

There’s no doubt that Spotify’s CTAs were made for clicking.

CTA button - Spotify cta example

Use action-based words 

CTAs were made to drive action. You want visitors to take that next step, and using powerful action-based words will give them the heads up. Words like “subscribe”, “download”, and “join” are easy-to-understand, but they also instill a sense of action and show that the user will get something out of clicking the CTA. 

Use action-based words on CTA

Create a sense of urgency 

Urgency makes people take action - and that’s exactly the result you want to get from your CTAs. Add in a time-sensitive offer or a limited timeframe to give consumers the nudge they need to click. 

Neil Patel uses a countdown timer to make his CTAs even more effective.

CTA- create a sense of urgency

3 Things a CTA must have  

CTAs come in many different shapes and sizes, but there are three things that they should all have in common if you want them to be effective. 

1. Value Proposition: what will the user get out of clicking on your CTA? You need to highlight the value they’ll be getting if they take the next step in the customer journey. 

CTA must have1

2. Eye-Catching Design: the best CTAs stand out and draw attention. They are in contrast to the main body of text and the rest of the information on a site. 

CTA must have 2

3. Powerful Language: using short, sharp, action words is the way to go with CTAs. The more direct and empowering you can be, the better. 

CTA must have 3

Traditional CTA examples  

When we think of CTAs, we often think of buttons with a little bit of text on them. While this is true to some extent, there are plenty of other traditional types of CTA that can often be found on websites. 

 

Text CTAs

This type of CTA forms part of the website and blends in with the rest of the text. It’s basically a “native” CTA that consists of a hyperlink and a value proposition that encourages users to click through. 

Text CTA example

Button-style CTA

The most common type of CTA is the button CTA. It’s characterized by an action phrase embedded on a colorful button that taps into the human mentality to click it. 

button style cta

Banner CTAs

Banner CTAs are becoming increasingly common, especially in website designs with large hero images at the top. They essentially act as a block on a website that’s dedicated solely to the CTA. There’s usually a bit of text about the value proposition, an image, and an action-focused button. 

Banner CTA example

Best CTA examples  

To give you an idea of what CTAs work well, we’ve pulled together a list of some great examples that feature the most effective elements.

 

1. Snappa: the stand-out color contrast makes the CTA button pop, while the action-focused text uses first-person pronouns and is straight to the point. 

best CTA example: snappa

2. Manpacks: again, there is a good color contrast here, which is enhanced with an arrow pointing to the CTA button. There’s added social proof to make it even more compelling. 

best-cta-example-manpack

3. Basecamp: the urgency indicated by the time-limited offer makes this CTA more compelling. It’s also an example of a longer CTA copy that works because it adds value to the user.

best cta example: basecamp

4. Point Blank SEO: the font is on-brand and fun, the vibrant color makes this banner CTA stand out, and the first person pronouns and choice of language gives the CTA a personality. 

best cta example: point blank SEO

5. QuickSprout: this CTA helps users self-select and carve their own journey through the sales cycle by giving them a choice while still pushing them forward. 

best cta example: sprout social

6. Dollar Shave Club: this CTA leads with the benefits users will get and tackles any objections with their value proposition. 

Best CTA example: Dollar Shave Club

Types of CTA buttons you need on your website 

 

“Subscribe” or “Download Now” CTAs

These encourage users to grab a free download in exchange for their email addresses so you can continue nurturing them through the customer journey.

When you should use this CTA: when you’re promoting a freebie, like an ebook, a whitepaper, case study, or another downloadable product. 

subscribe or download cta

Form or “Contact Us” CTAs

Forms allow users to give more information than just their email address and provide more context to you as a brand. 

When to use this type of CTA: when you need more than an email address, or if you’re encouraging a user to sign up for a demo, a free trial, or a call. 

Types of CTAs: Form & contact us

“Read More” or “Find Out More” CTAs

These CTAs do exactly as they say on the tin - they invite users to learn more about a topic or dig deeper into a part of the brand.

When to use this type of CTA: at the end of a blog post snippet, on your About page, or on the homepage when you want users to venture deeper into your offerings. 

Types of CTA: Read More/Find out more

Social Sharing CTAs

Social sharing is a great way to get more eyeballs on your brand and generate a buzz around your business. These CTAs encourage users to share something of yours with their followers on social media.

When to use this type of CTA: at the end of a blog post, in an email where you’re promoting a new product, in a downloadable, or when a user has carried out a specific task. 

Types of CTA: Social share CTAs

Sign Up CTAs

Sign up CTAs push visitors to the final stage of the cycle - signing up with an account. Often, they will have gone through various other steps and read other key information to get to this point. 

When to use this type of CTA: after important information about your product, at the moment a visitor might want to sign up, or on your homepage and services pages when prospects have the information they need to move forward. 

Types of CTAs: Signup

Free Demo or Free Trial CTAs

Like the signup CTA, the “free demo” and “free trial” CTAs are also reserved for visitors towards the end of the sales cycle. They encourage those in the final throes of buying to take that final step. 

When to use this type of CTA: at the end of the sales cycle, at the bottom of services or product pages, or when the visitor has received enough information about your product to make a decision. 

CTA Types: Free Demo & Free Trial

Tips for creating great CTAs

Getting creative with CTAs


While CTAs all follow a similar formula, there’s nothing stopping you from getting creative with yours. In fact, the more creative you are, the better it can be in terms of fitting your unique brand style and resonating with site visitors. 

Here are some ways you can jazz up your CTAs. 

1. Video

Videos are the most engaging form of content and allow visitors to dig really deep into your brand before they make a decision. Kimberly Snyder increased conversion rates by 144% by encouraging visitors to watch an informational video on their services before presenting the CTA. For KISSmetrics, a CTA within a video gets 380% more clicks than their normal sidebar CTAs. 

 

2. Visual design elements

The design of your CTA will make or break it. If it’s not eye-catching enough, visitors just aren’t going to click it. Helzberg Diamonds enjoyed a 26% increase in click-through rate by adding an arrow icon to their CTA buttons, while SAP discovered that orange CTAs boosted their conversion rates by 32.5%. Tap into human psychology and use buttons, too. Making their CTAs look like buttons increased click-throughs by 45% for CreateDebate

 

3. Personalization

Speaking to your customer as if they are the only person in the world is a great way to create a connection and start building your brand-buyer relationship. Personalized CTAs convert 42% more visitors than untargeted CTAs, while CTAs with a strong, personalized message can increase conversion rates by over 202%. 

 

4. White space

Today’s visitors have short attention spans. Avoid distracting them even more than they already are by leaving lots of white space around your CTAs. Not only does this make them stand out, but it makes it more likely that people will click through. 

Reducing clutter around their CTA increased Open Miles’ conversion rate by 232%.

 

5. Adapt CTAs to new-age digital channels

Consider where your customers start their journey. It could be on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, via an email list, search engines, or another way entirely. Then, transform traditional CTAs to fit these channels. For example, most social platforms will have their own options for CTAs, whether it’s through their ads dashboard or something else. 

Aligning your CTAs to the platform they’re on will increase your click-through rate. Placing CTAs on a company Facebook page can increase conversions by 285% while including CTA buttons rather than text links in emails can increase conversions by 28%. 
 

6. Experiment with placement

Finally, experiment with the placement of your CTAs. Moving a “subscribe” button above-the-fold could make all the difference, or moving a free demo CTA from the sidebar to a banner might bring huge returns. 

According to Grow and Convert, these are the click-through rate estimates for different CTA locations: 

How do you know if your CTA is working well?

 

The difficult part is knowing whether your CTAs could be performing better. If you’re not getting the click-throughs or conversions you want, it’s time to switch things up. 

Start by setting a goal that you can track and measure. If you’re consistently falling short of that goal, you might either be reaching too high or your CTAs might be underperforming.

Use a report tracking system to see which parts of your webpages get the most engagement, or use link tracking software to determine which CTAs get the most clicks. 

Then, take a look at your sales, conversion rates, and the steps people tend to take next after they interact with a CTA to determine if they’re in the wrong place or could use some tweaking. For example, if people often click a CTA and don’t fill out their information, determine whether you’re providing enough information or a good enough value proposition to get them to hand over their details. 

If your CTAs are getting the results you want, it might be because: 

How to A/B test CTAs

Finding out what does and doesn’t work for your CTAs often means running some A/B tests so you can compare different versions. A/B testing basically means running two different versions of your CTA at the same time to see which one gets the best results.

The key is to not change too many elements of your CTA in each version so you can clearly see which bits need tweaking and which are working fine. 

Here are some things you can A/B test in your CTAs:

Get your CTA right every time

 

Your CTAs might be a small part of your website, but they are one of the most important. Getting them right can mean the difference between losing customers to competitors and dramatically increasing your click-through rates. If you want to boost conversions, the best thing you can do is optimize your CTAs and make sure they’re resonating with your audience.