21 Call to Action Examples in Writing and 3 Rules for Effective CTAs

by David Zheng

Last updated on October 15th, 2018


Marketing has changed a lot over the past few years.

It seems like every week there’s a new feature available in the platforms most of us are already using, and every month there’s a new platform altogether that blogs and other industry publications are calling the next big thing.

But some aspects of marketing haven’t changed much over the years.

One of those is the way we write calls to action or CTAs.

If you’ve spent much time looking for ways to boost your conversion rates, you’ve probably noticed that most businesses use the same handful of CTA phrases to encourage users to take action.

And this is nothing new.

Marketers have been using similar call to action to drive action for years — even before they were writing them for websites and digital ad campaigns.

That’s because even as the platforms and channels we use change, the basic goal of a CTA hasn’t: Driving potential customers to take a specific action that’s relevant to their stage of the conversion funnel.

This means that there are some basic principles marketers have been using for years that continue to drive results.

That’s why in this post, I’ll highlight three essential aspects of an effective call to action, regardless of its location.

I’ll show how these principles were used in traditional advertising methods, how they translate for digital campaigns, and how you can use them to make all of your CTAs even more compelling.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Call to Action (CTA)?

A call to action is an invitation for a user to take some desired action. You often see a call to action in persuasive writing. Once a brand has made its case in a blog post or video, for instance, they’ll often include a call to action at the end.

A political action group may write a piece on the importance of voting in the next election, for example. Their piece would probably end with a call for readers to register to vote with a link to a voter registration form.

You will also see a call to action button on homepages, in the right rail or even above the nav bar.

A company will put them anywhere they know their readers are looking to invite them to subscribe, browse products, input information or a number of other desired outcomes.

How Do You Write a Call to Action?

Before you write your call to action, determine the goal you’re trying to achieve:

  • Do you want to increase subscriptions?
  • Boost sales?
  • Move readers to another content piece?

Once you know what you want to do, you can think about how best to do it.

The best call to action phrases are brief and use strong verbs.

They speak directly to the user. Instead of weaker call to action words like click here, an effective call to action will use more specific words that speak directly to the desired outcome:

Discover your best life

Join our community

Book your next adventure.

Here’s a look at a few different CTAs.


In fact, NPR has great call to action examples all over their page. At the very top, a bright red button invites you to learn more about their car donation program. Just below that, a red heart (clearly implying you have one if you click) appears over the word “donate.”

In the white space below, NPR tells you that they are supported by listeners, and includes yet another link to make a donation.

All of these CTAs serve one purpose: to get people to donate money to them.

Traditional Call to Action Examples

First, let’s take a look at some examples of direct mail promotions from magazines.

Many of these are from magazines encouraging readers to start or renew a subscription. More specifically, they’re from the inserts that often fall out from within the pages while you’re reading, and look something like this:


As I was reviewing these direct mail promotions, I found three aspects that nearly all of them have in common. Some are more obvious than others in their execution, but all take a similar approach to driving action.

See if you notice them while you read through this line-up of old CTAs, and I’ll tell you my findings below.

Sales and Marketing Management Magazine

So if you were waiting for the perfect time to seize this opportunity, the time is now. Send for your free issue today.

Outside Magazine

Discover the exciting world of outside. Subscribe today.

Success Magazine

Get a taste of SUCCESS! Send me the form at the top of this letter, and I’ll send you the next issue of SUCCESS absolutely free.

Harpers Magazine

May I send you a free copy? There is no obligation attached to my offer… Please let me know if you’ll accept my offer by January 31.

House & Garden

So indulge—in so much excitement, for so little! Please take advantage of our “Summer White Sale” and save on a subscription to HG today.

Nothing too exciting, right?

To be honest, though, those were some of the more creative ones. The majority read like this:

  • Do mail your acceptance to me today.
  • So act right now. The postage is paid, and you’ve got nothing to lose but a great garden to gain!
  • SEND NO MONEY NOW! But please mail your card today!
  • So if you’re looking for knowledge, a rewarding adventure, and the advantage a future perspective can offer, mail the enclosed card today!

See the pattern?

A call to action is often the final instruction to a reader, so it makes sense that for similar products, that instruction is largely the same.

After all, when it comes down to it, each of these magazines needs readers to mail an “enclosed card” to earn a subscription.

So without that directive, it wouldn’t matter how well-written the rest of an ad’s copy was. Even if a recipient liked it, if they didn’t know to mail the card to subscribe, the campaign would be a waste.

Of course, this particular example is exclusive to print campaigns.

You’d never see a digital marketer requiring users to mail something to convert.

And I shudder to think of the abysmal conversion rates if they did.

Even so, there are three things that nearly all of the examples above include that are important for any call to action, regardless of format:


  1. A no-obligation statement that removes or reduces risk. In many cases, they’re asking for a free trial rather than a purchase. In other words, “try us, you’ll like us.” This gives people the confidence to buy.
  2. All of them contain some version of “Mail your acceptance card.” This is simple usability. You have to tell people what to do next. Today, it would read, “Click the button below.”
  3. Encouragement to respond right away. That’s standard direct response. Don’t give people an option to wait and think about it.

Together, these three elements make for a simple, straightforward request that requires little of the consumer.

And for most businesses, that’s pretty ideal.

Now, let’s take a look at how these elements translate into digital campaigns.

Adapting Traditional Techniques for Digital Formats

When marketers first started using digital channels to reach their customers, it was a logical choice to simply replicate their print campaigns in a new format.

After all, why would they spend time rewriting and redesigning what already worked?

That’s why some of the earliest digital marketing campaigns and their CTAs perfectly mirrored old direct mail advertisements.

These ads were an almost identical approach to copy, and simply swapped out the “mail the enclosed card” directive for a link or button.

For example, take a look at this early email campaign from Stansberry Research’s Retirement Millionaire promotion:


Today, this might come across as dated and spammy.

But based on the three call to action elements we covered above, it checks all of the boxes:

  • No obligation: “TRY” is in all caps, the email offers a full refund.
  • Usability: Readers are directed to click “Subscribe Now.”
  • Immediacy: Copy includes the phrase “right away,” and the CTA button uses the word “Now.”

Again, this approach might not work today.

But the fact that many early digital campaigns were fairly similar to their print predecessors wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Consumers were used to direct mail advertisements, and keeping the content largely the same likely made them more comfortable with the shift to digital.

They were already familiar with this style of copy, so the only change was that they could now click a button instead of taking a more complex action.

For example, check out this ad from another early digital campaign for Prevention’s Dance it Off! series:


The graphic here makes the ad essentially look like a piece of direct mail, except that it instructs users to “click” instead of mailing something to respond.

Plus, keeping with the best practices above, it encourages readers to “try it free for 21 days!” instead of asking for an immediate purchase.

From here, some advertisers decided to simplify their calls to action as they shifted from print to digital.

W magazine, for example, relied heavily on the “why not” approach in their print campaigns.

The basic idea here is that by addressing readers’ concerns and removing all barriers to action, you create the sense that there’s no reason not to try a product or service. In theory, this increases the chances that potential customers will take action.

Here’s how they used this logic in an old direct mail piece:

“This offer may not last long. So order W now—and see what you think of your free issue. After all, with so much to gain—and with absolutely nothing to lose—shouldn’t you at least take a look?”

The effect they’re hoping to achieve here is clear. By promising that readers have “so much to gain” and “absolutely nothing to lose,” they’re aiming to create a sense that not taking action would be an illogical choice.

If you’re worried that your call to action isn’t compelling enough to make readers want to take action, this can be an effective strategy. It essentially aims to shift a user’s mindset from “why” to “why not?”

As W magazine shifted to digital, they continued to use this approach. But they adjusted it to take advantage of the immediacy that comes along with digital campaigns.

Just take a look at this advertisement for their 1-2-3 Shrink diet program:


Of course, a similar ad could’ve worked in print.

But instead of asking potential customers to pay $4.00, then wait a few weeks to receive the program, they’re offering it immediately following payment.

For a reader who’s already interested in this program, that’s a pretty low barrier to entry. They could have the diet plan within minutes, and all that’s standing in their way is a few bucks.

So, why not?

There’s no significant reason they wouldn’t want to take action.

And W magazine wasn’t the only brand to make full use of this ability to earn immediate responses.

Another magazine, Audobon, attempted to entice readers with something beyond a simple subscription in their CTAs. Here’s an example from one of their old direct mail pieces:

“To begin receiving AUDUBON at once and to enjoy all the other benefits of membership in the National Audubon Society, simply return the enclosed form.”

The ad makes a brief mention of “all the benefits of membership.” For a reader who was aware of what those membership benefits were, this might’ve been a compelling offer.

But even if they returned the subscription card right after they received this advertisement, it would be at least a week — and probably more — until they started seeing any benefits at all.

With digital marketing, that all changed.

Even without direct mail, advertisers gained the ability to make offers that presented immediate benefits to their target audience.

For example, take a look at this early “Off the Grid” promotion from Banyan Hill Publishing’s Sovereign Investor:


In this case, the company encouraged users to reserve their spot “today!” and promised the first installment of an email series immediately.

This was a huge improvement over requiring potential customers to wait weeks for information. Plus, the idea of immediate gratification is much more compelling for most of us.

The ad also promises that there’s “no obligation,” includes a clear directive to “enter your email address below,” and encourages readers to take action “today” — meaning it checks all of the boxes for an effective call to action.

It’s also worth noting that in many cases, digital advertisements can convey much more information in a smaller space.

That’s because they don’t need to spend as much time spelling out complex directives.

For example, take a look at the copy from an old Earthwatch promotion:

“Got some free time? A week? A month? A summer?

Come volunteer for a conservation project in the wilds, an environmental project in the tropics, an archeological dig abroad.

Or if you’re busy now, cheer us on from the sidelines.

If our organization sounds like something that you too would take pleasure in being a part of — whether by participating actively or cheering us on from the sidelines — I urge you to send in the order form at your earliest convenience…so your adventures can begin with the very next issue of EARTHWATCH.”

The copy here is fairly compelling. After all, who doesn’t get at least a little excited about the idea of embarking on an adventure in the tropics?

Plus, it does a nice job of offering a few different options.

Spending a week, a month, or a summer on a conservation project or an archaeological dig abroad simply isn’t a viable option for many people. So it’s wise for Earthwatch to also encourage readers to take the simpler action of subscribing.

Still, it’s a lot of copy for what it’s asking. If the same offer had been presented in a digital campaign, it likely could’ve been a lot more concise.

For example, take a look at this email campaign from Early to Rise:


There’s still a fairly large chunk of copy here, but it’s all relevant to the campaign’s goal of enticing readers to click on either of the links.

It explains exactly what they can expect to gain by clicking, and why the company is qualified to be offering the promised information.

Of course, many of today’s consumers would be skeptical of a company offering the “one secret of multi-millionaires.”

And rightly so.

But remember, this is a campaign from the early 2000s — back when most people weren’t quite as skeptical of everything they read online.

In that context, this email worked and was likely very effective in driving clicks. And readers who did click either link were directed to this dedicated landing page:


There’s nothing on this page but a CTA and a field where readers can enter their email address to gain access to the company’s so-called “secret sauce.”

So once a reader makes it this far, they don’t need to spend time reading lines of complex copy. There’s one simple question — and if the reader’s answer is affirmative, they know how to take action.

A call to action this simple likely wouldn’t have worked in a traditional campaign because it doesn’t fully explain what, exactly, the product is, or how it benefits the user.

But with digital campaigns, where users are already familiar with a product and just need to be encouraged to take a final action that offers immediate results, simplicity works.

In fact, at this point, saying that simplicity works might sound like stating the obvious. But this wasn’t immediately clear to many of the first marketers making the shift from print to digital.

There was a clear learning curve as the industry shifted.

For example, another issue that many traditional marketers found challenging when they first switched to digital campaigns was striking a balance between weak and strong CTAs.

Today, most people are familiar enough with digital marketing that they know what’s expected of them when they arrive on a landing page. Most of us naturally know to look for large, brightly-colored buttons with a clear call to action, since they’re now a common landing page staple.

If your page doesn’t include an obvious call to action, you risk losing potential customers.

For example, take a look at this landing page for Rich Dad Education.


What, exactly, does this page direct visitors to do? What’s the call to action?

The only real directive on this page is “Pick your city.” But what’s the benefit of taking that action? What does it require of the user? And is there an immediate return?

It’s hard to say — because the page doesn’t include those details around this directive. In this case, I’d argue that the page doesn’t have a call to action at all.

There’s nothing compelling, risk-reducing, or benefits-oriented. So there’s little here to compel anyone to respond.

This makes it an ineffective landing page. Or, at the very least, not nearly as effective as it could be with a clear CTA.

But on the flip side, some digital marketers also make the mistake of making their CTAs too strong. I don’t mean that they present too many benefits, or make it too obvious what a reader stands to gain. That would be extremely difficult to do.

Instead, they attempt to force users to convert by making it the only action they can take on a page.

For example, check out this old popup from Joss & Main:


If a user lands on this page and is ready to join (or is already a member), this is likely extremely effective at converting them.

But what if a visitor isn’t ready to take that step? What if they just want to browse the site and see what the company has to offer before becoming a member?

Well, that’s too bad — because the pop-up blocks the rest of the content on the page until they share their email.

This means the user is stuck if they don’t want to respond. They can either “Join Now,” or leave.

This call to action example is a little too high-pressure.

It makes sense to encourage new visitors to sign up, but this ultimatum-style popup likely cost the company at least a few customers who would’ve signed up if they’d been given the opportunity to make that choice on their own.

Fortunately, many companies have learned to strike a balance where they guide visitors to take action without forcing them to do so.

Now, let’s take a look at how Joss & Main earns new members today. Instead of requiring visitors to enter their email upon arrival, they let them freely browse their products without a popup in sight. Users can learn about what the company has to offer and determine whether they’re interested in buying at their leisure.

They can also add various items to their cart as they browse. Then, when they click the cart icon, presumably to start the checkout process, they’re directed to the following page:


Here, they’re required to enter their email address to make their purchase.

But for a user who’s already prepared to spend money and complete a transaction, this isn’t a huge request. In fact, it’s a necessary step in the ecommerce sales process, since customers typically receive order confirmations and shipping updates via email.

By moving this requirement to a later point in the sales process, the company eliminated a barrier that likely cost them a significant amount of customers early on.

Of course, this is just one of many lessons marketers needed to learn in order to effectively shift their campaigns to the new digital landscape.

And while some of it might seem obvious in hindsight, that’s simply because many of us already know the standard “best practices” involved in creating online campaigns.

What Makes a Good Call To Action? 3 Things That a CTA Must Present

From the days of magazine mail-in cards to now, marketers have been able to boil an effective CTA down to three elements:

  1. A no-obligation statement
  2. Some updated version of “mail your acceptance card”
  3. sense of urgency around responding right away.

Let’s look at some call to action examples for each of these elements.

A No-Obligation Statement That Removes or Reduces Risk

Care.com’s CTA lets you know right away that you can search their site for free. That means website visitors don’t have to commit before they assess whether or not Care.com is the right portal for them.


All of Them Contain Some Version of “Mail Your Acceptance Card”

The call to action text for Litworth gets straight to the point. Sign up with them (i.e., mail in the acceptance card) and a writer will find paying publications.

For those of you who don’t know, not all publications pay, so this is a pretty attention-grabbing CTA. They continue to entice by listing all the benefits of signing up. Then you find out it’s all free. You’re in.


Encouragement to Respond Right Away

Disney World is the master of creating a sense of urgency. Like most vacation destinations, they run deals throughout the year.

If you respond before a certain date (in this case, October 8) you get a discount on your stay. That looming date is enough encouragement to get a website visitor to view the details and browse vacation options, at the very least.


Call to Action in Writing: Copywriting Techniques For an Effective CTA

We’ve come a long way from those early days of digital marketing. Still, the general approach that many traditional marketers took in their print campaigns can serve as a starting point for writing effective online copy.

And when combined with all of the advantages that digital marketing offers, they can be even more successful in driving results.

So with that in mind, let’s jump into five ways you can use a traditional marketing mindset to improve your online campaigns.

1. Emphasize Low Risk

The first of the three common elements in the traditional CTAs above was a focus on a lack of obligation or risk on the customer’s part.

From a consumer’s perspective, this makes perfect sense. The less you stand to lose from an action, the more comfortable you’ll be with the idea of taking it.

And even as the marketing industry evolves, this concept hasn’t changed a bit. Take a look at this CTA example for Amazon’s Prime Video service:


A free trial alone is enough of an incentive for many people to test the service. But beyond that, this call to action emphasizes that users can sign up “risk free” and “cancel anytime.”

If a visitor has any hesitations after initially landing on the page, these details can ease their fears about committing to the service. The knowledge that they can cancel at any time is likely compelling for users who are worried about forgetting to take this step at the end of the 30 days.

Plus, like every other digital campaign (and the remainder of the examples we’ll cover on this page), this ad gives visitors the option to take immediate action by clicking a button.

In this case, the user can start streaming content from the platform immediately.

And with no risk at all, that’s a fairly appealing offer.

2. Strive For Clarity

You can have the most beautifully designed landing page in the world, with stunning graphics and an impeccable advertising strategy in place for attracting traffic.

But if the copy on that page doesn’t tell visitors why they should take action, it’s useless.

Copy is what connects with visitors, and convinces them that they want to take action. It does this by explaining what they stand to gain by doing so.

Of course, there’s tons of room for creativity within marketing copy. An experienced copywriter can make even the least “exciting” products sound interesting.

But as you develop your CTA copy, remember to be as clear as possible about what you’re offering.

Innovative copy is great for spicing up a page and grabbing visitors’ attention. But if it creates any confusion about what that page is offering, it’s counterproductive.

That’s why the most effective CTAs are extremely straightforward.

For example, take a look at this email from Buffer.


To kick things off, it highlights the importance of Instagram for businesses. If a user isn’t sure why they should be interested in learning about the platform, that uncertainty is addressed within those first two sentences.

From there, the offer is completely benefits-oriented. The copy offers free information, asking for nothing in return.

The reader doesn’t even need to provide an email address or fill out a form. All they have to do is click a button!

And the button itself is more than a vague, uninspiring “click here” command. Its bright blue shade immediately stands out from the rest of the email’s content.

Then, its copy reinforces exactly what a reader will gain (growth tips) by clicking it. And its use of the action verb Get is a great way to inspire a sense of action.

If you’ve ever researched ways to optimize your CTA buttons, you’ve likely heard that it’s considered a “best practice” to incorporate action verbs.

And that’s true.

But if you think back to the traditional CTA examples above, you’ll realize that’s by no means a new concept in the marketing world. Each of the direct mail examples includes some variation of the directive “send,” “mail,” or “return.”

This is simple usability! You need to tell people what you want them to do in order for them to do it.

And although the exact verbs we use today are a bit different, the basic idea remains the same.

So even when using the three principles above, based on traditional campaigns, this Buffer email measures up.

It includes the same basic techniques that work for direct mail, but improves on them, because there’s no bulky paragraph with complex instructions for responding.

Instead, they use that valuable space to clearly explain what they’re offering — so that by the time the user reaches that simple button, they know exactly why they should click it.

3. Highlight Immediate Benefits

As I’ve mentioned a few times already, one of the biggest advantages digital marketing has over its traditional predecessors is the potential to deliver immediate gratification.

You can give your customers downloadable resources, access to tools, and premium services all within seconds of their conversion.

That’s pretty incredible!

Of course, it’s not quite as straightforward for all industries. SaaS companies, for example, can offer instant access to their full product — while ecommerce retailers and service-based businesses typically have a bit of a waiting period.

Still, almost any business can offer immediate payment processing and order confirmation.

And who doesn’t love knowing that they’ve successfully ordered a product to their home, without ever leaving the couch? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

But regardless of industry and business model, any company can offer their customers some type of immediate gratification. Even if it’s not in the form of their main product or service, they can give a lead or prospect something for converting.

Today, one of the most popular ways of doing this is offering free downloadable content.

For example, take a look at this CTA for Optinmonster’s guide to converting abandoned site visitors into subscribers.


If you’re unfamiliar with Optinmonster, it’s important to note that content like this is not their main product. The company sells tools for helping site owners increase their conversion rates and generate more leads.

But most people won’t be ready to sign up for a monthly plan during their first visit to the site.

In order to keep those first-time visitors interested, the company offers this free guide that’s directly related to its product, and highly relevant to anyone who’s considering purchasing a subscription to CRO tools.

After all, if someone is prepared to spend their marketing budget on a product designed to convert site visitors, why wouldn’t they want free information on accomplishing that same goal?

Including this option on their site gives the company the ability to offer all of their visitors an immediate reward for engaging with their content.

And this is a strategy that almost any business can replicate.

Just take a look at this pop-up offer on Rascal Rides:


The site caters to parents shopping for bikes, bike accessories, and safety gear for their kids. So it makes perfect sense that their visitors would be interested in a children’s bike shopping guide.

Even if a visitor isn’t ready to select and purchase a product right away, the site still offers something they can access immediately. Parents can start learning about the factors they need to consider while shopping within seconds of providing their email address.

So as you develop your CTAs, look for ways to provide immediate value to your visitors.

The sooner they can start seeing the benefits of taking action, the more compelled they’ll be to do just that.

4. Include Secondary CTAs

In the previous section, you likely noticed that the examples showing instant gratification weren’t for those companies’ main products or services.

That wasn’t by mistake.

Although your site is likely designed with one specific, high-value action in mind, that shouldn’t be the only action you give users the option to take. You might want all of your visitors to immediately make a purchase — but unfortunately, that’s unrealistic.

And when you limit your site to one call to action, you essentially give your visitors an ultimatum: Take that action, or leave.

When you add some extra options into the mix, however, you reduce odds of a visitor leaving simply because they’re not ready to take your main offer.

The first way to do this, as we covered in the previous section, is to come up with additional “offers” visitors can take advantage of for free.

The second is simply to highlight ways that a user can stay engaged with your content.

For example, take a look at this landing page from T.C. Pharma.


The main CTA button tells visitors to contact the company to learn more.

But if someone doesn’t want to take that action, they’re presented with a clear alternative. The button immediately to the right of the main CTA lets them view the company’s products.

This way, they’re not driven away from the site just because they aren’t far enough along in the buying process. They’re encouraged to stay and learn more — which could help them get closer to a conversion.

5. Establish Credibility

Many digital advertising platforms today offer advanced targeting options that help marketers reach people that are likely to be part of their target audience.

This allows brands to focus their campaigns on website visitors that could be qualified leads and customers. It’s a significant improvement over traditional options, which were typically limited to a particular TV channel or radio station’s target demographic. However, the one advantage of that old-school marketing approach was name recognition.

After all, ads on a local radio station are likely for businesses within a 20-mile radius of you — so there’s a higher chance you’ve heard of those businesses than the ones advertising to you on Facebook today.

So as you create ads for digital platforms, it’s important to remember that even members of your target audience may be unfamiliar with your brand.

And you have a limited amount of time in which to establish your credibility. Even if you’re advertising a free trial or another low-risk offer, you need to show your audience why they should trust you enough to take that step.

For example, take a look at this Facebook ad for a free trial from Pipedrive:


First, it’s important to note that this ad is intended for a target audience that’s already familiar with the concept of a CRM. This alone means that they need to set the rest of their targeting options fairly broad — beyond the other local businesses in their area.

And they show people who may be completely unfamiliar with their brand that they’re trustworthy by including important credentials.

They emphasize that over “50,000 sales teams” use their product to stay organized, and highlight the fact that the platform was “built by salespeople for salespeople.”

If a reader is interested in trying out new CRM software, this is plenty of information to get them interested in the free trial, even if this is their first interaction with the brand.

They know they’re by no means the first to try the tool. And if 50,000 other companies already use and like it, there’s no reason not to at least test out the free trial.

How Do You Know if Your CTA Is Working Well?

Once you’ve created your calls to action, whether they be in email, pop-ups or sprinkled throughout your blog posts, you’ll want to make sure they’re performing for you.

You can double check using website visitor analysis tools.

Understand How Website Visitors Are Interacting With Your Calls to Action

First, use heatmaps and scroll maps to determine whether people are responding to — or even seeing — your CTAs.

A scroll map shows you how far people scroll down your page before they leave. If they’re leaving before they scroll all the way to, say, a call to action at the end of a blog post, you might want to make the CTA a callout toward the top of your post.

A heatmap will let you see how often people are interacting with your call to action. If your CTA button beckons readers to learn more by clicking, the button should be a glowing, warm red, not a cool blue.

You can also use visitor session Recordings to see why users are interacting with your call to action the way they are.

A recording will show you how someone moves about the screen in real-time. Watching one will help you answer questions like, “Are people getting stuck somewhere in particular? Does it seem like they’re confused about the next steps with my CTA?”

A/B Testing Your Call to Action Buttons Is a Must

Once you’ve figured out what you think is the problem with a call to action button, it’s essential that you A/B test a solution. An A/B test will let you publish two versions of the same CTA to see which one performs better.

If your CTA button seems to be in the wrong place, for instance, you can test various placements to see which is more effective.

Start Using Crazy Egg Tools

Look at your CTAs and ask yourself, “What goal am I trying to achieve, here? How is my CTA message encouraging my website visitors to achieve that goal?”

Once you’ve answered those two questions, usability and testing tools can help you create the best CTAs possible.


Marketing has changed a lot over the past few years, but the ultimate goal has remained the same. You need to drive consumers to take action.

CTAs are essential for making this happen. So as a marketer, it’s critical that you learn to write effective ones.

As trends shift and new platforms emerge, the principles of writing effective CTA copy have remained consistent:

  1. Emphasize a low barrier to entry
  2. Include a clear directive
  3. Encourage immediate action



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David Zheng

David Zheng is the Editor in Chief at CrazyEgg, Founder of GrowthWit and WiseMerchant and the Head of Growth at BuildFire. He helps influencers, ecommerce brands, venture backed startups, and Fortune 500 companies grow their traffic and revenue online.


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  1. Anjit V S says:
    August 13, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    Being a freelance writer, my main concern when it comes to website copywriting was to conclude the page with an enticing call to action but ideas were lacking, especially when the websites had many similar services. This write-up really helped. Thanks. Keep writing such great things.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      August 15, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      I’m thrilled you found it helpful. Thanks for your kind words.

  2. John Mckee says:
    July 4, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    With so many different test options, how do you prioritize test changes? Headline first, then bullet points?

    Do you run completely separate / distinct tests then tweak winners? If I have the opportunity to run 5 tests on my most visited page, what would be the order that you would test for?

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      August 15, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      That’s a good question. I’d start with low-hanging fruit. After that, you need to review your data to figure out where your gaps are. That should help you set prioritiess.

  3. Anonymous says:
    June 18, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Hi Kathryn, As a front end developer I got some valuable tips to implement on my clients websites. Thanks for sharing such as great CTA ideas.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      August 15, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Awesome! I’m glad to hear it. 🙂

      • Enrico says:
        December 14, 2016 at 2:05 pm

        As a copywriter I’d have to remind you it’s ‘client’s websites’ 😉

        …shoots and leaves

  4. Anonymous says:
    May 17, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Simply desire to say your article is as astounding.
    The clarity on your put up is simply great and i could suppose you’re knowledgeable on this subject.
    Fine along with your permission let me to snatch your
    feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
    Thank you a million and please continue the gratifying work.

  5. Adam says:
    May 4, 2016 at 9:14 am

    I don’t think any of these CTA examples is as powerful as that bottom left blue window that showed up when I reached the end of the page.

    You gave us an advise to build our trust, then reinforced the CTA. Great work guys!

  6. Anonymous says:
    April 8, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    I believe what you posted made a great deral of sense.
    However, think on this, what if you were to create a
    awesome post title? I ain’t suggesting your content is not good, however suppose yoou added something that makes people want more?
    I mean 21 Call to Action Examples and 3 Rules forr Effective CTAs is a little vanilla.
    You could look at Yahoo’s home page and see how they write post headlines to get viewers to click.

    You might try adding a video or a picture or two
    to grab people excited about everything’ve written. In my opinion, it might bring your
    posts a little bit more interesting.

  7. nikhiljoseph says:
    March 23, 2016 at 2:18 am

    Great Article. As i am into the business i knew the problem what we face. I started recording all the customers calls on a software called Apptivo. It helped to act effectively by asking my employee to write notes on the call made, to write notes on follow-up action. Saved my time.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      August 15, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      That’s so smart. The more you know about your customers, the better your CTA will be. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Rick Lucas says:
    February 17, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Ok. I have been working on improving our conversion rate for a couple different services. Will these techniques work for service companies such as HVAC or contractors? Any feedback would be appreciated.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      August 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Most definitely! Find the benefits people want, and make your CTA as close to their real desire as you can. ie, get your questions answered by someone you can trust.

  9. Shawn Kuruganti says:
    February 17, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Great Post,
    Now I just need to find some folks to send some emails to that aren’t just people who have already signed up for our service. Here is a question about call to action: we get several sign-ups for trials that don’t end up using our software once they have signed up. Are there any good examples of CTA for SaaS businesses to get their audience using it more? Once someone starts using our program they usually convert unless there is a feature they need that we don’t provide. The biggest hole in our bucket is the gap from sign-up to usage.

    Any thoughts?

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      August 15, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Good question! You could try a bit of gamification–rewarding trial users for completing certain activities, such as setting up their profile and doing simple tasks. The other is to send them a series of simple how-to emails or videos, so they know what they can do and how to do it. The goal: quick wins. Your CTA could be as simple as “try it now,” or “let me know if you have any questions.” Good luck!

  10. J.S. says:
    January 12, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    I HATE too strong of a CTA that won’t go away, like your gray one that just showed up now on the right. But even worse are the ones that block a site’s content and try to force you to sign up before reading. I’m gone, gone, gone like a sad, sad, song.

    They destract or block what the reader is over, the content. I hate this new trend, it’s infested almost every website and blog. I only bookmark and link back to the ones that don’t do this. It neads to die, now.

    (Sorry about the typos, could you delete my first message please? Thank you.)

  11. Kathryn Aragon says:
    August 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Thanks, Anant. At the end of a blog post, my favorite CTA is to ask people to share their experience or opinion about the topic you just shares. Of course, you also want a static CTA to subscribe so they can get more great content.

    • Anonymous says:
      August 15, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Great post, totally agree with you Kat. Asking people to share their opinion at the end of a post increases engagement / social share and also a great SEO signal as well.

  12. Anant Patel says:
    August 19, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Hi Kathryn,

    Great collections call to actions buttons. I am looking for call to action button for my blog. So can you please help me how to create best call to action button for blogging sites?

  13. Ramon says:
    July 13, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Nice post. Very clear, but in our opinion (wishingwell.es/ i.e.) we use it the most clear as possible. Simple is a must. Simple is much. Clearity in the conversion helps the ROI, al clearity in CTA’s improves the conversion, so…

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      July 13, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Thanks, Ramon. I agree. Clarity is the first rule of writing, and it’s especially important in CTAs.

  14. Andy Kuiper - SEO Analyst says:
    May 18, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks Kathryn 🙂

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      May 18, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      You bet. 🙂

  15. Nidhi says:
    May 6, 2015 at 6:57 am

    Wow cool tips for the CTAs

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      May 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

      Glad you like them, Nidhi.

  16. Stepan says:
    April 13, 2015 at 4:16 am

    Usefull article with great examples. THX a lot:)

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      April 13, 2015 at 10:18 am

      You’re welcome, Stepan. 🙂

  17. Louis says:
    March 28, 2015 at 2:44 am

    I’m about to launch a landing page for my information product but I’m having difficulties crafting the perfect call to action. Your post has been useful and I appreciate your effort. But I still need help in creating mine. Thank You

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      March 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      I’d spend more energy on getting the offer right. Once the offer is right, your call to action is easier. You can make it fun, like “gimme,” or do a traditional “Yes! I’m ready!” Hope that helps.

  18. Jacob Smith says:
    February 21, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Great post, I love your examples as well. A lot of things I had trouble with make sense now.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      February 22, 2015 at 8:40 am

      You’re welcome, Jacob. I’m glad it made sense of things. 🙂

  19. Dan says:
    January 27, 2015 at 1:27 pm
    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      January 27, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Nice. Thanks for sharing, Dan.

  20. Phil says:
    January 22, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks for the nice article, Kathryn. Just wondering whether the rules are sort of persisting or a fashion thing. If everyone is doing it the same way, won’t readers get fed up with it and resist the CTA?

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      January 23, 2015 at 9:57 am

      Phil, that’s a great question. I think these rules transcend fashion. They are the basic foundation for your CTAs. You can get creative with your offer, your funnel, etc., and stand out from the crowd. But with the CTA, you still want to drive immediate action and remove risk.

  21. Makayla :) says:
    October 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    im writing an essay for why i should be chosen to do the national wreath laying in dc and im stuck on a call to action could anybody help me???

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      October 22, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      Hi Makayla. That’s tricky because a true CTA feels self-serving. Try something along the lines of, “Please choose me, and I’ll…” [Fill in the big benefit to them if you are chosen]

  22. NAS says:
    September 17, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Great Article. There are some points that you have showed us not to do with CTA. That’s nice. Thanks for the post more active by leaving replies.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      September 17, 2014 at 10:34 am

      I’m glad you found it useful, NAS.

    • Neil Patel says:
      September 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      NAS, glad you liked it. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  23. Mark says:
    September 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    thank you so much for this. I love the part about “Selling the trial”.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      September 10, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      Glad you liked it, Mark. Thanks for the kind words.

    • Neil Patel says:
      September 11, 2014 at 9:27 am

      Mark, thanks for the feedback. We look forward to hearing more from you !

  24. verhuisbedrijf zeist says:
    August 29, 2014 at 3:40 am

    What a great web blog . I like this blog because of its design and interface. It is user friendly and it is nice to visit the blog.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      August 29, 2014 at 9:47 am

      Thanks! Glad you’re finding it useful.

      • jane says:
        October 11, 2016 at 9:29 am

        i am confused

  25. TJ says:
    August 26, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks for the great article Kathryn. I’ve learned a good amount from it. One thing I’ve been curious about are generic call to actions vs call to actions specifying the exact service the website provides.

    For example, many websites use generic call to actions, such as “get started”, “sign up”, “free trial”, “sign up for a free trial.” Even large companies that (I assume) optimize their homepages to the max use these generics. If I were to visit these sites and take the time to read their headline, perhaps I’ll know what I’m being asked to sign up for. To register for. But if I just glanced the page, I might have no idea what they meant by “sign up”? Sign up for what?

    Now, compare that to something that crazy egg does. On the homepage, it doesn’t say sign up, or free trial, or get started. It specifically says “show me my heatmap”. It’s a call to action that specifies precisely what I’ll be getting whatever is on the other side of the call to action.

    Another example is safelite repair. When I go to their homepage, there’s no “get started”, or “call us” call to action. It very simply says “fix my glass” which, like crazy egg, specifies exactly the service the site provides. No guessing games. When I went to their homepage, I didn’t even bother to read the headline. My eye just went straight to the button, which motivated me to double-back and read the headline (which did read like terrible techobabble).

    With both sites, if the only element on the homepage was the call to action button, I’d still know what the websites were about. With the generic call to action websites, I’d have no idea.

    If the call to action text was the only element on all websites, I wonder what percent of people could decipher what they were selling?

    To drive my point home, take into account A/B test companies optimizely and vwo. If you were to remove everything on their pages except their call to actions, you’d have no idea what they were selling.

    So, my question is does this matter? Should the call to action be specific to the service, or can a generic call to action get by as long as the headline sufficiently explains what the website/service is about? Is a generic call to action actually better due to it being vague and more open-ended?


    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      August 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      TJ, what a great question! Specific will always beat generic. And if you have nothing on the page but a headline and a button, it had better be specific–for exactly the reasons you specify. People don’t respond if they’re confused. But it’s sometimes hard to create a specific CTA that’s short enough to fit on a button. That’s where you have to get smart or, if you can’t think of something that’s specific and short, go a hair more generic. I do think the headline, body copy and CTA need to work together. Sometimes, you can put copy around the button to make a slightly more generic CTA make sense. But I tend to make that decision for each specific page.

  26. CS Guru says:
    August 19, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Nice comparisons Kathryn.

    Lately website CTA strategies have included hand drawn arrows pointing to the button. This has hugely benefitted the websites and increased their registrations. This is because visitors find it easier to connect to a hand drawn arrow image as compared with normal buttons.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      August 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Nice addition. I’ve heard that arrows make a difference. But aside from that, I just like how they look.

  27. anil says:
    May 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Big thanks it due to this info. When i work a web site supplying vimeo online video duplicating. It contains a number of movies nevertheless it takes a long time to help weight. We have checked out this with Pingdom device and also the test out demonstrated that my web site takes 58 mere seconds to help weight. I know 58 mere seconds will be further high nevertheless what exactly might i, my partner and i didn’t learn how to reduce this. Information provided suggestions actually useful as well as let me put into practice this. thanks

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      May 18, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Hi Anil. I’m glad you found it helpful. Site speed is a topic I’ve covered extensively here: https://blog.crazyegg.com/2013/12/11/speed-up-your-website/ Let us know if you need any more help.

    • neil says:
      May 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Anil, check out the guide Kathryn provided on site speed I am sure it will be very helpful. Also, let us know if you need additional help 🙂

  28. Sameer Hoda says:
    April 19, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Hi, your blog has helped me a lot in researching on this topic. It sure makes a lot of sense. Please keep updating this page, since I intend to visit it much more often now. Thank you!

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      April 19, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Glad you found it helpful, Sameer.

    • neil says:
      April 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Sameer, glad you found it helpful. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  29. Brian Douglas says:
    February 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Great article. I especially enjoyed the last example, showing how to effectively use two differently CTAs together. Very nice.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      February 4, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks, Brian. Always appreciate the feedback.

  30. GeorgeC3 says:
    February 1, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Like Golbinda my site has had no call to action or real landing page.

    Getting organised… like your sample CTAs and landing page comments ‘imagine’ is my new focus

    Thanks G

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      February 1, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      Sometimes all it takes is being aware. Good luck optimizing your site!

  31. Gobinda Roy says:
    January 24, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Hi Kathryn ,

    Thanks for this great article . I am a small business owner and have my website running without any Call to Action button for last 1 year . Now I am looking for upgrading my website , so I was searching infomrtaion for call to action tips . Then I come across your blog post and this is very enriching , now I can engage my web deisgner for effective deign .

    Thank you !


    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      January 24, 2014 at 10:44 am

      That’s awesome, Gobinda! Good luck with your new website. Let us know how it goes.

    • Cristescu Bogdan says:
      April 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      I am in the same point, I want to upgrade my business! This article save my brain from reading a verry atractive book called 101 Examples of Effective Calls-to-Action. Reading your tutorial, I understand much better what CTA means!

      • Kathryn Aragon says:
        April 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm

        That’s awesome, Cristescu! I’m glad to have helped. Let us know if you need anything else.

  32. Linda says:
    January 16, 2014 at 5:49 am

    Great site thank you. I realised my call to actions are quite weak so you have inspired me today to make clear and stronger call to action! Many thanks!

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      January 16, 2014 at 8:25 am

      Your welcome, Linda. Good luck!

  33. Riyaz says:
    December 14, 2013 at 4:25 am

    Thanks a lot for such a great post about CTA, Actually I am a trainer and my next topic is CTA that is why I was looking for some awesome article and finally I got it. Thanks again

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      December 14, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Glad it helps, Riyaz. Good luck with your training.

  34. Jake says:
    November 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks for posting this article! Really educated me a lot! I’ve been making these CTAs for a long while now but never really understood it’s power! Thanks!

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      November 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      Your welcome, Jake. Funny how we can do something without realizing what goes into it. Glad it helped.

  35. Brad Edwards says:
    October 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Hard to imagine a guy like Robert Kiyosaki would forget about such an important marketing element, but there it is. It would have been better if a strong call-to-action linked to another page with the the “pick your city” portion on it.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      October 31, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      So true, Brad. That just goes to show you how easy it is to forget an important element like the CTA. Great suggestion, by the way. That would be a terrific fix.

  36. Will Webb says:
    August 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing these examples. They’re very informative and helpful. Creating CTA’s is a never ending battle and I’ve found it’s always best to split test examples. With the data at hand, it makes it easier to determine what is working and what isn’t.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      September 12, 2013 at 9:40 am

      That’s a great point, Will. No matter what everyone else is doing or what the current best-practice is, you still have to test to know what’s best for your brand. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Marek says:
    July 28, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Great article with usefull examples. Thank you

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      July 28, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Your welcome, Marek.

  38. Alexander Holl says:
    July 27, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Good article. It is always good to get lots of interesting examples! Thanks Kate

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      July 27, 2013 at 9:47 am

      Your welcome, Alexander! Glad you stopped by.

  39. Sadha Kaif says:
    July 25, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Thank you Kathryn for working had and bringing to us such great examples…Really nice article

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      July 25, 2013 at 9:42 am

      Your welcome, Sadha.

  40. Mary Green says:
    July 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Hi Kathryn
    Most of the articles I see like this are all about how different every call to action is, and they dissect every nook and cranny. I do get some tips there, but I like your points here as well. This post makes calls to action seem easy (they are for me usually) 3 simple steps to a great CTA. I hope a lot of people read this and get the take away.

    • July 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks, Mary. When I researched this article, I found more similarities than differences in the best CTAs. It totally changed the direction of the article, bit it was a cool “discovery” for me as a writer.

  41. Phil Bogan says:
    July 24, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Thanks for a great article. You really did your homework, and delivered a really useful

    Thanks for all you do,
    Phil Bogan

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