How to Write Calls-To-Action That Speak Louder Than Words

February 27, 2017 Tyler Ryll

How to Write CTAs that Speak Louder than Words | Uberflip

“It never hurts to ask” is rule #1 when it comes to creating a call-to-action. Unless your call-to-action sucks. In which case, it most definitely can hurt to ask.

Whether on your site or at the end of a blog post, your CTAs need a few things if you want them to get clicked.

A good CTA effectively calls visitors to act and ultimately convert. Without these necessary ingredients, your CTA is dead in the water and doing your content and copy no good.

Respect the Context

First, a one-size-fits-all, jack-of-all-trades blanket CTA usually won’t do. Your CTAs need to acknowledge the context of the reader’s experience in order to be a part of it.

If your CTA doesn’t flow from the content or copy that came before it, it’s not going to make sense. If it doesn’t make sense then it won’t convert the right people.

BAD IDEA: Ask the Same Thing Every Time

CTA Example 1 | Uberflip

In this part of my demo Content Hub that I set up for "Merchant Buyers", we have a blanket CTA that doesn't acknowledge the specific nature of the content.

Having a “Sign up for our newsletter” CTA might get people to subscribe to your content; however, to get some qualified leads, you need to make sure the CTA provides a value-added piece of content in line with the context of the visitor’s experience.

GOOD IDEA: Direct Visitors to Related Content or Landing Pages

Copy that is adapted to the context of the reader's experience has a better chance of being read and clicked.

If we took the above CTA and wrote copy that reached out to the reader in a way that fits the context of the experience, it would look like this:

CTA Example 2 | Uberflip

K.I.S.S - Keep it Short Sillypants (And be Concise)

Copy is short. It has to be because it's writing to grab attention and keep attention long enough to turn it into action. That's why you need to be careful with the words you choose and make sure each one counts.

BAD IDEA:  Write Your First Novel in the CTA

“Back in 1989, I had to walk uphill both ways to school. Once it was downhill and that got everyone messed up. But in order for you and your children and your children’s children to not deal with that, we have developed a new product that can help with walking uphill in bare feet - both ways - which you can find out more about here.”

Maybe the above example was a little exaggerated, but try to imagine a user who is new to your company coming to browse your content and getting hit with a CTA that said all that. Chances are that person won’t read it. And you can watch that potential lead walk out the door.

GOOD IDEA:  Use as Few Words as you Can

Why waste everyone's precious and valuable time with a convoluted CTA message that is really polluted with fluffy filler words that distract from the whole point of the CTA?  

Think of the most concise way to word your CTA!  You want to keep it short and sweet, not long and sour.  

  • Request a demo
  • Sign up for our Newsletter
  • Start your free trial today

Every word has weight and adds something to the CTA. Even the word “today” can add a sense of urgency that enhances the effect.

Use ACTIONABLE Words

The operative word in "Call to Action" is Action. Direct language and language that expresses your intent for visitors is necessary to give a clear path.

BAD IDEA: The Passive Voice is Used in your CTA

Passive language is something we use in everyday talk.  However, it is not something that will drive action, generate leads or encourage further content consumption.

You’ll want to stay away from words like:

  • If you want…
  • Let us know...
  • If you’re interested in...

GOOD IDEA: Start with a Verb

Using an actionable verb at the start of your CTA not only makes it stronger, but it will also eliminate the unneeded filler that usually comes at the beginning of a sentence.

Here is a list of some common action words:

  • Click here
  • Learn more!
  • Request a demo
  • Start your free trial
  • Subscribe to our Newsletter
  • Download my eBook
  • Read article

These words give the user a clear path and when you are setting up your CTAs and thinking of how to word them, think of the buyer journey, and ensure there’s a solid ask in your CTAs.

Make it Visually Enticing

How your CTA "looks" on the page is as important as how it reads.  Consider the psychological impact of colors, your brand and the page your CTA is on. Don't let it get lost on the page or next to your content. 

BAD IDEA: Use your Favorite Color

Your CTA won’t stand out if the color blends in too well with the page. Likewise, your CTA will be totally out of place if you choose a color that doesn’t mesh well with the surrounding colors.

Choose something that’s different but complements the overall appearance of the page.

GOOD IDEA: Make it POP (Without Being Off-brand)

There are several different ways to make your CTAs stand out. Simply using a larger font or different style at the end of your blog post can distinguish your CTA from your content. If your CTA is in a more visual format then you can choose colors that will help it stand out more.

Let’s Recap

A  good CTA needs to be:

  1. Contextual
  2. Concise
  3. Action-oriented
  4. Visually enticing

While there's a lot of other factors that go into an effective CTA, it starts with creating the copy with these things in mind. Your click-through rate will be much better off with more highly qualified leads in your marketing automation system.

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About the Author

Tyler Ryll

Before becoming Uberflip's Sales Engineer, Tyler joined the team as a Customer Success Specialist. He previously received his BBA in Marketing and racked up 10 years of sales/service/support experience in everything from gym memberships to SaaS products.

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