Your Site's Monthly Checkup: Write Better CTAs

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Christine Germeroth
Christine Germeroth

A call to action is arguably the most important part of a piece of content for your website. Whether it’s ad copy or a button on your site, it tells your audience what to do next. An effective call to action is persuasive and helps drive specific goals. Basically, it needs to be good. 

There’s a certain art to writing a great call to action. While they don’t always need to be creative, they do need to communicate a clear message in a very minimal amount of space. Try not to feel pressured by the need to be persuasive. Instead, follow these basic structure guidelines to improve your current CTAs, and write better ones in the future. 

Use an action verb

Action verbs drive someone to do something, so it seems like a no-brainer that you’d want to include one in each of your CTAs. Consider the example button below. 

Bad CTA example

This CTA is fairly passive and doesn’t call on the site visitor to perform an action. As a user, it’s not immediately clear to me what I’ll get when I click on this button. Now compare it with the example below from Shopify's homepage. 

Good CTA example

This CTA is engaging, encourages the user to act, and immediately makes it clear what comes next. 

Come up with a list of action verbs that you can use for CTAs across your website. This helps with the brainstorming process and ensures that your messaging doesn’t get repetitive. 

Communicate the value proposition

What can users expect to get when they click on your CTA? The clearer the value, the more likely they are to click. If you have a special promotion or offer, try promoting it. This button from the company Glossier encourages email recipients to buy three products to save more. 

Good CTA example

Your value doesn’t have to be cost centric. Think about how you can help your audience, and include that in your CTA. 

Incite emotion

It’s obvious that an engaged user is more likely to act than an apathetic one. A CTA that provokes enthusiasm will be more likely to convert. Sometimes this means including a sense of urgency with time-based language, such as “Get Started Today for Free!” This provokes the feeling that the user should act now (even if it will still be free tomorrow).  

Channel your brand voice

All of your calls to action should remain consistent with your brand personality and voice. If your brand is professional and serious, it probably doesn’t make sense to get overly creative with your CTAs. On the other hand, if your brand has more of a playful personality, use this when you craft each message. You want to come across as authentic and consistent. 

Test different variations

Always test to see what works best with your audience. A/B testing is a great way to measure the effectiveness of messaging in CTAs. Come up with a few different options for each CTA, and then run a series of tests to see which one results in the highest number of conversions. Make it an iterative process, and keep learning as you go. 

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