Make Powerful CTAs in 17 Steps (Download the FREE Cheatsheet!)

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powerful call to action title

The Call-to-action (CTA) are the digital signboards of the Internet. Their main purpose is to direct users towards your goal conversion—whether they may be purchases, e-mail subscriptions, or downloads.

No two CTAs are alike, even though most may have the same words used. That’s because a very important part of CTAs is design—a design that must speak best to the targeted audience/market. However, the discipline in making CTAs is pretty much alike.

Next, you’ll be guided on how to make effective and powerful CTAs. Bookmark this for future reference. And by the end of this article, please download our compilation of 44 powerful call-to-action phrases cheatsheet.

1. Use Action Words.

CTAs should feature suggestive texts. Use words like “get,” “reserve,” and “try.”

Example:
• Try our 30-day no-commitment trial
• Get Your FREE Cheatsheet!
• Download the album now!

evernote call to action

2. Use striking colors.

The color of your CTA button is important–really important. As a matter of fact, it might be more important than the anchor text itself.

Why use striking colors? By virtue of design and psychology, our eyes and brain are very good at distinguishing differences–especially with visual cues. Contrasting colors is the best way to go at this.

Generally speaking, green and orange buttons are known to perform best. But that depends on your site design. As long as you can make the colors of your CTA stand out from the rest of the elements in the site, you’re good to go.

spotify call to action

3. Add style to your button.

The last thing you want to do is to make your CTAs become B-O-R-I-N-G. So don’t hesitate on going off-kilter, because at the end you’ll have to test this and see what works best for you.

appstemplates call to action

4. Make your text obvious.

There are a lot of ways to make your CTA button stand out: colors, style, the copy used. But one thing you might be overlooking is size. Text should be large enough to pop out and be read easily, but not overwhelming.

gotomeeting call to action

5. Make short copies.

Usually, the pep in the CTA step becomes dragging when your CTAs are peppered with words. The CTA copy should be strong enough to inspire action but short enough to capture that split-second response. The ideal word count for CTAs is around two to five words.

okcupid call to action

6. Try writing CTA copies in 1st person.

Michael Aagard of Content Verve shared a study in which he discovered that changing button text from second person (“get your free template”) to the first person (“get my free template”) resulted in a 90% increase in clicks! This won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth the try.

impact call to action

7. Inspire sense of urgency.

Hinting your CTA copy with a sense of urgency creates an environment where your customers must make a decision. And when you couple that with the psychology of scarcity, your CTA becomes almost irresistible.

Example:
• Sign Up and Get 50% off-Today Only!
• Download this app for $10 instead of $30!
• Register now! Limited slots available.

Hipmunk call to action

8. Place your CTAs above the fold.

Placing CTAs above the fold means your customers will most likely see it first and will immediately be influenced. Also, try making it static so that your CTA will always be just one click away.

firefox call to action

9. For multiple CTAs, differentiate their importance.

There are times that multiple CTAs will be needed on your site. It’s important for the customers to know which way you want them to go. So for those less important CTAs, use a less attention-grabbing design like grayscale or monochrome.

Treehouse call to action

10. Add a value proposition to your CTA copy.

Entice your customers by adding value or benefits to your CTA copy. Realistically, it takes more convincing to make your customers click through. “Free” is a simple but effective word that adds value to what you might be offering.

GeneralAssembly call to action

11. Add some images to your CTA.

Sometimes, pictures can tell more than just words. Adding a simple image like a mouse pointer to suggest clicking on a button, or an arrow pointing downwards to suggest downloading is very effective in communicating your intent.

dropbox call to action

12. Add another discreet line only if necessary.

For the times when you really need to consider adding a few more words in your CTA, there’s an out for that. Try putting the extra line below your CTA’s main copy in a smaller font. That way, you can disclose more information without making the CTA look dragging. But ask yourself if you really need to add another line.

charitywater call to action

13. Add variety to complement your CTAs.

This works best with e-commerce sites. By showing that you accept a variety of payment options available to your customers, the CTA becomes more attractive.

oyster call to action

14. Limit your customer’s choices.

Deciding becomes very hard when a there are a lot of factors involved. In the same way, putting too many CTAs on your site will confuse your customers as to what they should do next. Make life simple for them.

In one study by Mark Lepper of Columbia University, participants who were asked to choose one chocolate from a box of six were happier with their selection than participants who selected one chocolate from a box of 30.

square call to action

15. Follow the customer’s reading pattern.

Most people read from top to down and left to right. However, in some Asian countries, they are accustomed to reading from right to left. Use this to your advantage by placing your CTAs where they would be seen the most. Normally, it would be best if you educate your customer first so you they can build confidence and trust before asking them to “sign up”. So put a CTA at the bottom of the page.

uber call to action

16. Use white spaces.

The color white brings out the contrast of any color so use this property to make your CTA button stand out. Also, our eyes are trained to seek out the brightest color first.

Instagram call to action

17. Test several designs and copies of CTAs.

Testing your CTA buttons is an absolute must. It weeds out the qualities that should stick, and the qualities that should go or change. Test your CTA placement, color, image, style, and text.

Pinterest call to action

Download this FREE CTA cheatsheet by:

1. Right click the image.

2. Choose “Save image as”.

3. Save.

call to action power words and phrases cheatsheet

Kevin Joshua Ng
Kevin Joshua Ng
Kevin is Content Marketing’s humble scribe. He has no doubt in his mind that Content is still king and he will serve it ‘til the day of his demise. He’s known to lurk around the walls of social media, thinking and writing. So follow him on the BuiltbySF blog and on LinkedIn, Twitter.

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