How to write an effective call to action

How to write an effective call to action. What is a Call to Action, or CTA? It can be a button or a hyperlink on your website or blog article that will tell people what to do, and hopefully motivate them to do it!

In the simplest sense, a Call to Action consists of a verb (action) and an adverb or noun (how/when to do it). Some samples of this include “Download Now”, “Request a quote”, “Add to cart”. The mechanics of it are pretty simple, but the psychology behind a CTA button can be very nuanced. In this article I will share some insider tips on how to write the perfect, irresistible CTA! First we will explore four quick recommendations, and then some ways to reduce anxiety, make your customers feel a part of the group, some ways to create some cognitive dissonance, and finally some ways to create a sense of scarcity and urgency.

How to write an effective call to action: Four quick recommendations

1. Use “You”

One quick way to increase the effectiveness of your CTA writing is to use the word “You” when ever possible. Using “You” has been found to have 42 % better click through rates.

2.  Avoid using the word Click.

Another way to clean up your writing is to eliminate the world “Click” from your CTA’s, like “Click here to learn more” or “Click here to visit our online store”. The “Click here” is just unnecessary. It’s cleaner just to write “Learn More’ or “Store” on a button, and it will be obvious what to do!

3.  Submit

Lastly, try to eliminate the word “Submit” from your CTA’s. To me, “Submit” sounds too much like school, getting graded, getting judged. You could put “Subscribe”, or “Post a question”…just not “Submit”.

4.  Get out that Thesaurus

Our last quick recommendation is to get out that old thesaurus, or find one online, and get creative with your words. Do some action research on some friends and family members. Ask them which one of your CTA words or phrases feels more compelling to them. For example, ask them which one they would prefer: a CTA button that had the words “Free download”, or one with the phrase “A download for you, on the house!”

Some quick ideas for you from my thesaurus:

  • Instead of Discover: explore, reveal, locate, learn
  • Instead of Free: complimentary, gratuitous, freebie, on the house
  • Instead of Request: invitation, offer, appeal, encourage, reques

Some other ways to consider when writing effective CTA’s include ways to reduce anxiety, have clients feel that they are part of a group, and to increase the sense of urgency and scarcity in your CTA.

Reduce anxiety

To take action on a CTA can be a little nerve wracking. People may be wondering if they will be charged if they click the button. Will they be obligated to buy something? Maybe they want to, but they are not ready to commit that deeply. An analogy might be if you wanted to jump in a river, but you didn’t know how cold it was. Couldn’t you just stick a toe in to see, instead of jumping in with your whole body? Just sticking a toe in can certainly reduce anxiety. There is a word for this condition! It’s called “satisficing”.


The term was coined by Herbert Simon in 1956. The word is a portmanteau, or combining, of the words “satisfy” and the word “suffice”. To Simon, the word was used to describe a condition when making decisions during a time when the best solution was not available or not possible at the time. The solution was not satisfying, but maybe it was satis-ficing, a baby step toward the end goal. This is a way for decision makers to “dip their toes in the water” and see how something would work.

Some CTA examples showing satisficing might be:

  • Start your journey toward successful weight loss
  • Start your path to greater wealth
  • Begin your adventure to improving your speaking skills

Welcome to the herd!

As human beings, we are hardwired for connection. We want to feel a part of a group. There is comfort in knowing that we are doing the same thing as many others in our tribe are doing.  When writing a good CTA, keeping that in mind can help reduce the anxiety a client may feel if they aren’t sure if others have taken action as well.

Some examples of inclusive language for CTA’s include:

  • Join the millions of others
  • Find out what others have found so interesting
  • Join my 5.2 million followers on my newsletter!

Create a sense of urgency and scarcity

In terms of mindsets, there are two main groups.  One group has a scarcity mindset, the other group has an abundance mindset. Scarcity mindset people believe there is only so much to go around, and they better get their share before it’s all gone. People with abundance mindsets believe that there is plenty of resources for everyone.  We can write CTA’s that will help create a sense of urgency and scarcity that may nudge people with a scarcity mindset into taking action.

Here are some examples of a CTA with a scarcity mindset in mind:

  • Only 4 days left!
  • Limited supply
  • Today only
  • Last chance
  • Offer ends on Thanksgiving Day
  • You’re running out of time
  • Act before it’s too late!
  • Get your discount before it’s gone!
  • Don’t miss out!
  • Limited quantities
  • Immediately
  • Now

In conclusion, learning how to write an effective call to action is an undeniably great skill to cultivate. One of the best ways I have to to learn how is to keep an eye out when you are on websites yourself. Notice what you notice about how you feel when you see a CTA button, or a hyperlink. Do you feel compelled to read more? Are you put off by the verbiage? If you feel that way, probably others will too. Also, notice how your own CTA’s perform. Constantly be conducting your own action research and testing. Look back on your analytics and see what web page, blog article or product is getting the most traffic. Think about why. Analyze it and try to replicate that success. Good luck to you! To continue your learning journey, consider pursuing our other informative, fun and practical blogs on our website!

You may be especially interested in our blogs on writing fun, lighthearted blogs and video scripts, and writing original content to improve SEO!

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