How to write a strong call to action

If you’re running a business, you don’t want people to just read the information you’ve published on your website or blog. You want them to do something, like subscribe to your email list, enroll in a workshop, or buy a product. How do you make this happen? By including a strong call-to-action (also known as a “CTA”).

The problem is that most websites and blogs don’t get as many conversions as they could because their calls-to-action are weak or MIA altogether. So how do you write a call to action that gets your audience’s attention and converts? We break it down below.

 

Increase your subscribers, sign ups, or sales by placing your calls-to-action in the right places on your website.
Download my FREE cheat sheet on the 8 key places to insert your call-to-action.

What is a call-to-action?

Before I tell you how to write a strong call-to-action, let’s talk about what a call-to-action actually is. A call-to-action is the part of your website copy where you tell visitors what you want them to do on a page. That is, it calls on them to take some sort of action. (Get it?)

Here’s an example from Coschedule’s home page:

 

strong call to action

The anatomy of a strong call-to-action

A strong call-to-action contains up to three elements: a headline, an offer, and a button or link.

1. The headline

The headline is the first section of copy in your call-to-action. Like all good headlines, a strong call-to-action headline grabs your visitors’ attention. But that’s not all it does. It also conveys the benefits of what you’re offering in exchange for the action you want visitors to take.

For example, let’s say you want people to subscribe to your email list in exchange for your vegan recipe ebook. If you’re like a lot of brands, you might write a call-to-action headline that looks something like this:

“Get our 35-page ebook, which contains over 50 recipes for vegan appetizers, entrées, and desserts.”

What’s the problem with this headline? It focuses on the features of the ebook instead of on the benefits. As I’ve mentioned before, focusing on features instead of benefits is one of the biggest website copywriting mistakes you can make. Why? Because your audience doesn’t care about the specs of your products or services. They want to know what’s in it for them.

Write a strong call-to-action headline that hooks your website visitors by staying laser focused on the benefits of your offer. Here’s how I revised the vegan ebook headline:

“Make weeknight vegan dinners simple so you can spend more time with friends and family.”

Note that you might not always include a headline in your call-to-action. It makes sense to include one in the main calls-to-action on your website. See this example from Melyssa Griffin’s home page:

 

strong call to action

 

However, if you decide to insert calls-to-action in the middle of content or copy on a page, leaving the headline out might be less disruptive and create a better user experience. Check out this call-to-action in one of Neil Patel’s blog posts:

 

strong call to action

Related:

2. The offer

The next section of a strong call-to-action is the offer. This is where you tell your visitors in plain English what you want them to do and what you’ll give them in return.

It can be tempting to be unique or quirky by writing clever offer copy. However, your visitors are most likely to follow your call-to-action if you make it clear. Good offer copy is short and to the point, so don’t beat around the bush or craft cryptic messages.

Here’s an example of offer copy for the vegan ebook example:

“Make weeknight vegan dinners simple so you can spend more time with friends and family.

Get 50 free recipes of easy-to-make vegan appetizers, entrées, and dessert.”

You can also take a look at this example from HubSpot:

 

strong call to action

3. The button or link

A strong call-to-action ends with a button or link. This is what your website visitors click on if they decide to take action.

It can be tempting to quickly throw together some copy for your button or link so you can get your call-to-action done. After all, you’ve already spent lots of time crafting your headline and offer copy. But remember that the copy you use on your button or in your link text can make the difference between a website visitor who converts and one who doesn’t.

Instead of using vague or dreaded words like “submit,” “learn more,” or “buy” in your button or link, be specific.

One trick that’s particularly helpful here is thinking of the phrase “I want to _______” and using the text you’d place in the blank as your button or link copy. (“I” represents your website visitor, not you).

So if you want visitors to watch a masterclass video, you might use “watch the video” as your button or link copy. Similarly, if you want visitors to sign up for your vegan recipe ebook, you might use “get my free ebook.” See this example from TOMS.

 

strong call to action

Tips for writing a strong call-to-action

Write a strong call-to-action by using these tips to craft your headline, offer, and button or link copy:

Use action words: specify the action (“watch,” “sign up,” or “enroll”) you want your visitors to take.

 

strong call to action

 

Create urgency or scarcity: If your offer has an end date or is limited in quantity, emphasize this to encourage people to take action. You can also mention what people will lose if they delay acting on your offer (e.g., “Don’t waste another year losing customers to bad copy.”)

 

strong call to action

 

Minimize risk: No one wants to invest money or time in something that doesn’t end up being worth it. If you’re offering something for free or have a money-back guarantee, mention this to minimize the perceived risk.

 

strong call to action

 

Use first-person pronouns: Some brands have boosted their conversion rates by using first-person pronouns in their calls-to-action (e.g., “Send me the guide”)

 

strong call to action

 

Avoid friction words: There are certain words that make people reluctant to take action. These friction words include “buy,” “order,” and “submit.” Steer clear of these in your call-to-action.

 

strong call to action

Related: 7 characteristics that make your website copy persuasive + free checklist

 

Craft a call-to-action that converts

Your call to action may be the last thing you think about when writing copy for a page on your website (or for a blog post). But without a strong call-to-action to tell your website visitors what you want them to do, you’re setting them up to slip through the cracks. Patch up the leaks in your sales funnel by using these tips to craft a strong call-to-action your visitors can’t resist.

 

 

Increase your subscribers, sign ups, or sales by placing your calls-to-action in the right places on your website.
Download my FREE cheat sheet on the 8 key places to insert your call-to-action.

Send me the cheat sheet




 

Wish you had more email subscribers, leads, or customers? Forget TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other marketing trends. Get back to basics by learning how to write an effective CTA for your blog, website, ads, emails, or social media posts.

How to write a strong call to action for your website + free cheat sheet
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2 thoughts on “How to write a strong call to action for your website + free cheat sheet

    • April 12, 2018 at 5:19 pm
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      I’m so glad you found them helpful, Muriah!

      Reply

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