Getting prospective customers to do what you want them to do can be like herding cats. They abandon shopping carts before checking out, they don’t sign up for your beautifully written newsletter, and they don’t even have the common courtesy to read your blog posts all the way to the end.
Compelling calls-to-action can help you urge prospective customers toward conversion
However, there is hope. To get your prospects to do what you want, all you have to do is include a compelling call to action on your website and in your marketing campaigns. Simple, right?
Well, actually, call to action marketing is harder than it sounds. Fortunately, there are many companies who have already done the hard work of A/B testing their call to action buttons, so you don’t have to.
In today’s post, I’m going to show you 11 creative and effective call to action examples, and explain why these call to action phrases work so well. So grab a coffee, a pen and paper, and get ready for the deluge of conversions you’re about to experience.
1. Crazy Egg – ‘Show Me My Heatmap’
We’re big fans of Crazy Egg here at WordStream, and not just because they offer a cool product. Crazy Egg’s messaging is also right on the money, as demonstrated by this compelling CTA:
CrazyEgg's call-to-action: compelling, bold, irresistible
Why this call to action works
This call to action hits several major marks. First, it establishes why trying out Crazy Egg is risk-free, using simple language that reinforces the safety of trying out their service.
It lists several reasons why you’d want to do this, using simple verbs. Finally, the CTA button itself (“Show Me My Heatmap”) taps into the power of using the voice of the customer, making it irresistible.
2. Manpacks – ‘Build a Manpack’
Speak your prospective customers’ language and you can get them to do pretty much whatever you want. Case in point, this call to action example from men’s grooming product site Manpacks.
Man, reading Manpack's call-to-action: "Now you're speaking my language"
Why this call to action works
On their own, underwear, razors, and condoms might not be terribly exciting, but appeal to men’s desire to build something and you’re onto a winning strategy.
By combining imagery that might otherwise be stereotypical (a man in a plaid shirt sawing timber) with strong phrasing (“Build a Manpack”), this company makes putting a male grooming gift box together sound as exciting as building a house – or a log cabin in the woods.
3. GiftRocket – ‘Send a GiftRocket’
Let’s face it – gift certificates and off-the-shelf greetings cards are pretty much the laziest ways to show someone you care. However, GiftRocket manages to combine the two into a surprisingly compelling package that can actually result in a decent gift for the people you love.
GiftRocket's call-to-action: "Send a GiftRocket"
Why this call to action works
This CTA is so effective because it doesn’t ask you to “Sign Up Now” or “Get Yours Free,” but allows you to “Send a GiftRocket,” a much more interesting and exciting way to send a gift.
This landing page features simple yet striking imagery combined with short sentences and active verbs, resulting in a compelling experience. Why send a gift card when you can Send a GiftRocket?
4. Contently – ‘Talk to Us’
It’s no secret that Contently puts out some of the best content around, but their landing pages also incorporate some great calls to action.
Contently's call-to-action is as inviting as its logo
The design of this landing page is a little unorthodox. Personally, I think they could get away with scrapping the “You’re interested in…” field, but the CTA itself – “Talk to us” – is brilliant.
It could have said something bland and generic like “Submit” (which would have been borderline criminal), but instead uses friendly, approachable language that reinforces the importance of relationships to Contently’s operation. It also hints at what prospects can expect from Contently, which is dialogue – not being sold to.
>>Learn how to create killer calls to action for your site. We put together a cheat sheet for you<<
5. Less Accounting – ‘Let’s Do It!’
Getting prospects to take an action that might be perceived as risky – even if it will ultimately benefit their business – is really hard. This is especially true for SaaS companies, and even more so for firms offering financial software. This is why our fifth kick-ass call to action example, from Less Accounting, really shines.
Less Accounting benefits from muted colors and an upbeat, "in it together" CTA
Why this call to action works
This landing page makes use of a muted color palette to evoke calming emotions, but the CTA is what sets this example apart.
Yes, they’re asking the prospect to sign up a free trial of their accounting software, but the way they’ve asked – “Let’s Do It!” – is particularly compelling. Firstly, the CTA itself implies a partnership; they’re not just trying to get their hands on the prospect’s personal data. Secondly, the use of an exclamation mark conveys excitement about the product itself, which is quite an accomplishment, given the nature of the product. Overall, a great example of a kick-ass call to action.
6. Square – ‘Get Free Card Reader’
Offering something your prospects really want is a great way to increase conversions. If you can manage this, your CTA doesn’t have to be particularly innovative or exciting, as demonstrated by this landing page by Square.
The word "get" stands out in Square's call-to-action
Why this call to action works
This landing page itself appeals to small-business owners by highlighting the benefits of using their product, namely being able to accept credit cards for transactions – something that was previously out of reach for many merchants before Square came along.
The CTA itself uses simple language that can be successful for many types of business, as the inclusion of the word “get” is often highly motivating. The fact that Square doesn’t charge for its product is likely to be genuinely surprising to many prospects, which reinforces the value proposition of the offer and makes it more tempting.
Between the minimal form (just three fields), the strong indicator of potential benefit (“Start accepting credit cards today”) and the great offer (the free Square card reader), this landing page/CTA combo is a winner.
7. Basecamp – ‘Give Basecamp a Try’
Everything about project management software platform Basecamp is designed with ease in mind. From the style and tone of its website copy to its minimal, approachable design, Basecamp intends to simplify life for project managers everywhere.
Basecamp’s call to action is another variation of a tried-and-true CTA – the free trial – but features some subtle, and effective, differences:
"What do you have to lose?" asks Basecamp's call-to-action
Why this call to action works
Basecamp’s CTA is effective because it simultaneously reinforces the risk-free nature of the free trial while using casually persuasive language. “Give Basecamp a try” is a lot less intimidating than something more direct such as “Start Free Trial Now.”
In fact, the CTA’s diction almost suggests a blasé attitude – sort of like, “What’s the worst that could happen?” This is precisely what Basecamp is trying to achieve, as they’re so confident that users will try (and subsequently love) the product, they don’t need to make an aggressive pitch with a potentially confrontational CTA. Very clever.
8. My Perfect Resume – ‘Create My Resume’
Writing a resume from scratch can be a pain in the ass, a fact that My Perfect Resume capitalizes on excellently with its service.
My Perfect Resume's call-to-action benefits from the tedium typically associated with resume building
Why It Works
This call to action example, by itself, is very simple. However, its positioning alongside the step-by-step graphics above it make it extraordinarily clickable.
The one-two-three progression flow suggests that My Perfect Resume does the lion’s share of the work for you, making the “Create My Resume” button a very tempting proposition for people who lack the time or inclination to write their resume themselves. A great example of how a simple CTA, combined with graphical elements, can be very compelling.
9. Point Blank SEO – ‘Be Awesome’
Newsletter sign-up CTAs can be tough. Yes, you want prospects to “Sign Up,” but asking them to sign up is, well, boring. If you’re struggling to boost the readership of your newsletter, take a page out of Point Blank SEO’s book:
Point Blank SEO's CTA doesn't take itself too seriously
Why It Works
This CTA is highly effective for several reasons. Firstly, rather than ask you to click a boring “Sign Up,” or worse, “Submit” button, Point Blank SEO make signing up for their newsletter fun and even somewhat comical – after all, who doesn’t want to “Be Awesome”?
Secondly, it creates a sense of urgency and immediacy by using a direct call to action in an interesting way. This is reinforced by the navigational link to the Point Blank SEO blog to the right, which uses an exclamation mark to create excitement about a simple navigational element. Finally, the color scheme – bold orange and black – is visually striking, which further enhances the CTA and navigational cue to the blog.
10. KISSmetrics – ‘Log In With Google’
No blog post about calls to action would be complete without mentioning KISSmetrics. Arguably one of the simplest of these examples, this CTA from the KISSmetrics homepage is also one of the most persuasive:
KISSmetrics' CTA piggybacks off Google's credibility
Why It Works
Rather than launch into a detailed breakdown of KISSmetrics’ bells and whistles, the homepage simply explains what the platform does.
However, what makes this CTA so compelling is that it requires as little input and effort from the user as possible – just a URL. The “Log In with Google” button tells users exactly what they can expect, and makes it ridiculously easy for them to get started. The phrasing of the explanatory text also serves to pique users’ curiosity, and the mention of Google reinforces the prospects’ need for security – no mention of OAuth or any other verification technology necessary.
11. Quick Sprout – ‘I Want To…’
Our final kick-ass call to action example comes from Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout.
Similarly to newsletter sign-ups, encouraging users to engage with educational content can be challenging, particularly as this traffic might not necessarily be considered a qualified lead right off the bat. That doesn’t make these visitors any less valuable, but it does require a different approach.
QuickSprout's CTA says, "What do you want? We can give it to you."
Why It Works
To drive traffic to Quick Sprout’s educational content, the site utilizes two simple, yet highly compelling, CTAs – both of which manipulate prospects’ desire to solve a problem.
The first appeals to the more “selfish” goal of driving traffic to the prospect’s own website. Helpfully, this CTA button offers a suggestion based on the type of user, which makes it even easier to choose one of the two options (and reduces the likelihood that the prospect will bounce away without taking any action).
The second CTA reinforces the value that Quick Sprout’s educational content can offer to agencies and consultants by creating a deeper connection with the content itself by highlighting the payoff of learning. It suggests that, by reading (or downloading) Quick Sprout’s content, users can make themselves more useful (and, by extension, essential) to their clients, which strengthens the desire to become more effective at their job and capitalizes on their desire for greater job security or a bigger paycheck. Again, very clever.
The best call to action phrases are clear but specific and create urgency that drives the user to action. If you have a truly irresistable offer, your call to action should sell its value.
We hope these examples gave you some food for thought for your own CTAs!
MORE: 7 Ways to Upgrade Your CTA
You could write the most effective, emotional, efficient copy for your printed marketing media, and it wouldn’t amount to anything if a call to action wasn’t clearly defined.
In written advertising, a call to action (by definition) is an imperative sentence that instructs the reader to perform a task. They’re absolutely crucial because once you’ve hooked your audience on your brand, they need to know what steps to take in order to obtain your product or service. Good call to action phrases act like a trail of breadcrumbs leading potential customers directly to your business.
Know your audience’s needs
Before you can begin writing your call to action, you have to understand what you can offer your audience and more importantly, why they need it in the first place. The best practices for accomplishing this are to identify a problem your audience can relate to and position your brand as a solution to that problem. This makes the call to action more enticing to the audience because it gives them a reason to follow your instructions.
This flyer begins by offering a benefit (a happy reaction from your mother) and follows up with a call to action: “Send us her photo.” Photo Credit: LeighAnn Loftus
A call to action is only as powerful as the surrounding copy. If your copy doesn’t tell the audience exactly how they can benefit from using your brand in a clear and engaging way, they won’t even care about the call to action.
Use actionable verbs and phrases
Almost every call to action includes a verb–but some verbs are stronger than others. Action words and phrases compel the reader to perform a task, which is the entire point of a call to action to begin with. Actionable verbs are ones that can actually be carried out by a person in a literal sense.
Good: “Call us today for a free sample” – this is actionable because “call” is a verb that can be carried out by a person.
Bad: “Give us a call for a free sample” – although “give” would normally be actionable, in this case what you’re giving is not a tangible object. You can’t literally hand someone a phone call.
Clarity is crucial
A call to action is only effective if it’s clearly understood by the audience. For starters, the font should be bold and easy to read, so avoid small or overly fancy fonts.
More importantly, the message itself should be easily understood. A clear message spells out exactly what the audience should do and how it will benefit them. Write your call to action using simple language-avoid jargon or confusing terms.
Here’s an example:
Good: “Visit our website! “
Bad: “Point your web browser towards our home page.”
The call to action here is quick and to the point: “ENTER NOW” and a corresponding URL. Photo Credit: Jennie Myers
Make the action as easy as possible
The reader should be able to go directly from the call to action to performing the task itself, so make sure he has everything he need to follow up. For example, if you want them to call, provide a phone number.
However, you also have to consider what kind of phone number you use and if it presents any other problems to your customer. For example, a customer is more willing to call a local number or a toll-free number than a long-distance number.
If you want your customer to visit your website, provide an address. However, if you also provide a QR code, then customers with smart phones or tablet devices can immediately visit your site without having to type an address.
If your goal is for your audience to visit your website, make sure to include a clear and noticeable URL, such as the one on this flyer. Photo Credit: Veronica Varetsa
Obviously you’d provide an address if you want the customer to visit your location, but providing an actual map of your location helps to ensure you won’t miss a sale because the customer lost his way. Better yet, also provide a QR code with Google Map directions to make it even easier.
Writing a call to action is more effective when the audience is only being asked to complete one task. Multiple phrases asking the audience to perform different tasks can be confusing and audiences can loose interest when they think there is a lot of work involved.
However, if you have to have multiple calls to action, make sure one is clearly dominant while the others are just there to work towards the main goal.
This flyer has multiple examples of calls to action, but one dominates the others: “Buy at Fine Retail Stores.” Photo Credit: Fran Linden
For example, the end goal may be to have customers sign up for a free consultation, but they might have multiple options for doing so. By using both “Call us to sign up for a free consultation” and “Visit our website and sign up for a free consultation” in your copy it makes it clear to the audience that signing up is the most important action.
A better way to achieve this would be to eliminate the other calls to action altogether. “Sign up for a free consultation by phone or on our website” is much clearer.
Often times your end goal (making a sale/converting a customer) takes a few steps to accomplish. Your call to action should guide the customer towards the next natural step he or she needs to accomplish in order to get to the end goal.
Create a sense of urgency
A time limitation makes your calls to action a bit stronger because it adds a sense of urgency. However this doesn’t have to be a strict measurement of time, just a general feeling of importance.
Good: “Call us today” – This call to action gives the audience a firm measurement of time to work with and creates a sense of importance.
Good: “Call now” – This is even more urgent and implies the offer may not last forever (even if that’s not the case.) The audience understands the importance of calling soon.
Bad: “Call anytime” – This implies that the offer is always available and that there’s no need to call immediately, which makes it more likely that the audience will forget to call completely.
If your offer does have limitations, make sure this is clearly outlined in your call to action. For example “Call now, supplies are limited” or “Call now to take advantage of this limited-time offer.”
A sense of urgency helps to make your call to action (such as the one on this flyer) more persuasive. Photo Credit: Darren @ Mass Appeal Designs
Answer the reader’s questions
Customers want to know what will happen if they follow your call to action and how doing so will benefit them. Many people in your audience will be skeptical to follow your instructions unless they’re given more information on what happens after doing so.
For example, “Call us today” is not as strong as “Call us today and we’ll help you save money on your heating bills.” The latter tells the audience exactly what will result by following the call to action.
Quell your reader’s fears
Call to action phrases can be used to help your audience get over any opposition they may have. Identify and demolish any misgivings your audience may feel towards your brand and add statements that provide reassurance.
For example, a reader may not want to call because they’re afraid of being sucked into a long sales pitch. Therefore, you might say something like “Call now and in less than five minutes you can get a great deal on your insurance.”
Provide as many details about the process as possible, including any limitations your offer might carry. Walk the reader through the process of what to expect when they follow your call to action. When they do follow your instructions and the results are what you promised, you will have gained their trust and hopefully their future business.
Make an offer they can’t refuse
Sometimes a special offer can go a long way towards convincing skeptical audience members to follow your call to action. This might be a free gift, guarantee, special discount or other incentives to sweeten the deal.
“Order today and get half-off the cost of shipping.”
“Call now and ask about our buy-one, get one offer.”
“Sign up for our mailing list to receive special member coupons.”
Be upfront in your call to action if there are any limitations to your offer, such as a time limit or per-customer limit.
The fact that buyers can ‘save over $700’ makes the call to action on this flyer especially persuasive. Photo Credit: Mike Greenwald
Just like any message you want to drive home, repetition makes your call to action more effective. Repeat your call to action several different ways and in different areas to make sure the message is clear.
Take a look at these examples:
“Visit us at the corner of Main and Maple to receive a free quote”
“Come to our downtown location for your free quote”
“Ask for your free quote at our Main and Maple location.”
“Drive downtown today for your free quote.”
If your marketing materials have multiple pages, then every page should contain a repetition of the call to action. That way, the customer doesn’t have to go searching around to find out what to do when he or she is ready to take the next step.
Use colors and graphics
A call to action is more effective when it stands out from the rest of your design. Try using a contrasting font color to make the call to action pop. Red is an effective call to action color because it’s bright and creates a sense of urgency, but you can use any distinctive color that matches your design.
The bright red color helps this mailer’s call to action really stand out. Photo Credit: Burton Creative
You can also use graphics like an arrow or bullet point to help draw the eye towards your call to action. However, be careful that you don’t go overboard-graphics should enhance the call to action, not overshadow it.
Leave white space
When designing the layout of your printed materials, make sure not to overcrowd your call to action. Leave plenty of white space to allow it to stand out better on the page. This allows your call to action to be easily read when scanning the page for information.
A call to action should usually be sightly larger than the surrounding paragraph text so that readers recognize it as something separate. This also makes it easier to scan and read. People don’t always take action right away; a large call to action ensures that they will find it easily if they look at the ad later.
You should aim for a 20% increase in font size between your call to action phrases and the rest of your copy. That of course means the font size used for the body paragraphs, not the headlines.
When the customer actually does follow through on your call to action, what happens next? It’s your responsibility to make sure that when they follow your instructions, it’s easy for them to follow the next step towards a sale or conversion.
And the next step.
And so on.
For example, if you ask them to call your office, make sure someone is on the other end waiting to take their call and to explain the next step of the process. If the office is closed, there should be an automated message that explains the process and gives the customer instructions on when to call back.
Whenever a customer does follow your call to action, track your success. Figure out which ones are getting positive responses and which ones are having difficulty attracting new customers. Then adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.
Practice makes perfect, and your best call to action ideas will likely come to you after you’ve become more familiar with the process. Take the time to perform writing exercises, coming up with different ways to instruct your audience and drive them towards your brand’s end goal.
What sort of calls to action do you find to be effective in your printed material? What calls to action have you yourself acted upon in the past? Here’s a call to action for you: share your responses, tips and examples in the comments!
Posted in Copywriting