How to Craft an Effective CTAThis is an excerpt from HubSpot's new ebook An Introduction to Effective Calls-to-Action. Download your free, full copy of the ebook here.

Calls-to actions are extremely critical components of effective lead generation, and the language you use in your calls-to-action is probably the most important element you can optimize to improve their click-through rates. Crafting the message, however, can be time-consuming and challenging. So let's review some best practices for writing a compelling call-to-action across different places on your website and various stages of your sales cycle!

1. Convey Value

Your CTA should answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Think about the top two or three benefits of your offer, and try to list them in order of priority. Then, pick the most critical one, and shorten it to just a few words. In that way, you will highlight the key point of engagement and ensure there is alignment between your ad and the offer.

Such an exercise could result in calls-to-actions along the lines of “Optimize Your CTAs in 10 Minutes/Day” or “Find Out the 13 Secrets to CTA Optimization.” As Copyblogger’s founder Brian Clark advises, “Never allow readers to question why they are bothering to pay attention.”

2. Create Urgency

Creating urgency is another quality your calls-to-action need to adopt. In order to effectively create urgency, you need to answer your visitors' question of “Why should I do this today?” You can create urgency in a few different ways. For instance, you can emphasize seasonality, special discounts, or even use adverbs like “now” and “today.” One example of such a call-to-action would be “Join Our Newsletter Today for Access to All Marketing Goodness.”

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3. Make it Personal

Personalization of calls-to-action is tricky...but not impossible. If you know where on your website the visitor currently is and what they are reading, you’re more or less familiar with their preferences and needs. For example, if they are on your About Us page, they are probably looking to discover more information about your company. So the CTA here could point visitors to your careers page with a nice personal touch like “Like our culture? Become a part of it!”

4. Include Testimonials

Testimonials are really effective as calls-to-action, because they offer a third-party endorsement and motivate visitors to take the next step and click through to your landing page. A customer quotation can often capture all the information a prospective customer needs to know. That is why, currently on HubSpot’s homepage, we feature testimonials of the success our customers have experienced from using our software. While testimonials are most frequently used for products with longer sales cycles (like those of B2B companies), B2C companies and nonprofits can also experiment with this tactic.

5. Include Numbers


6. Turn it Into a Bonus

Oftentimes, the goal of your call-to-action is to keep visitors engaged on your website, jumping from one page to the next. You can accomplish this by introducing your CTAs as bonus offers or opportunities to get more out of another campaign. For example, if a visitor just downloaded your newsletter, you can send them an email with a call-to-action that is introduced as a special bonus based on your visitor’s activity. An example of this would be text along the lines of, “Thanks for downloading our ebook about optimizing calls-to-action. You now have access to our additional resources on website optimization.”

7. Make it Newsworthy

If you are feeling especially creative with your calls-to-action, try to piggyback on newsworthy content. Is there something in the news that could pertain to your industry or offers? You could also put a fun or controversial spin on it. Start by setting up Google Alerts for some industry keywords related to your business. Each morning, visit Google News and search for news stories that are related to your expertise.

8. Be Confident in Your Language

Be confident when you promise your visitors to help them with their challenges. As Clark advises, “Be bold and firm when you present your offer, and relieve the reader’s risk of acceptance by standing behind what you say.” An example of this would be a call-to-action along the lines of “Everything You Need to Know About Calls-to-Action” or “The Only Call-to-Action Guide You Need.”

9. Ask Questions

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10. Be Subtle

Smart and subtle language can also help you generate a high click-through rate on your call-to-action. “People like to think that everything they do comes from some logical, un-manipulateable part of their own brain,” Dan Zarrella explains. The point here, Dan adds, is that “you should make them want to do it in such a way that it feels like the idea was their own.” So experiment with language that is less commanding and more thought-provoking.

What are some other techniques you use to optimize the language of your calls-to-action?

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Originally published Nov 10, 2011 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016


Calls to Action