5 Steps To Writing an Effective Call to Action (With Examples)
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An effective call to action (CTA) encourages content engagement, converts visitors into leads, and helps people discover your business. It should offer value to the reader and explain what to expect from taking action.
If a CTA doesn't have a clear message, feels too generic, or isn’t aligned with your audience’s concerns, readers won't act. This could cost you potential customers and income.
As a professional copywriter with six years of experience, I’ve helped many small businesses reach their goals through calls to action. Here, I'll share the best practices for writing persuasive CTAs.
Examples of great CTAs and why they work
Below are five CTA examples from high-profile businesses. We'll look at why they work, and what techniques you can apply.
1. Semrush: Use persuasive language
CTA: “Get a FREE Trial”
Blog posts are a great place to put a CTA, as readers are already interested in the topic and more likely to respond to your suggested action. Engaging and relevant content can also lead to higher clickthrough rates, helping more readers learn about and interact with your business.
Semrush provides a great example of how to write a good call to action in a blog post. After sharing a detailed guide on search engine optimization (SEO) for blogs, they suggest readers sign up for a free trial to begin implementing SEO. Putting the CTA at the end of the post lets readers consume valuable information before discovering how to apply it.
The CTA works because:
- It includes the action verb “Get” — grabbing the reader's attention.
- The CTA is clear and eye-catching: The yellow box separates it from the post's content, while the purple highlights the specific action to take.
- The CTA text highlights the value for the reader immediately: The trial is "free" and Semrush conveniently provides "everything" in "one" place, so busy entrepreneurs and marketers don't need to jump from tool to tool.
Here are some action words and phrases (in bold) to consider for your own CTA. Play around with them and see what works best:
2. LOOKFANTASTIC: Create urgency
CTA: “Hurry, this offer is for TODAY only!”
There are many CTAs you can use on social media. If you want to increase engagement, for example, you can ask people to comment on, like, or share a post. In this case, LOOKFANTASTIC wants to encourage its followers to shop a specific brand on its site.
The CTA works because:
- It offers an incentive — 25% off.
- The use of "Hurry" and “TODAY only” creates urgency: This motivates customers to take advantage of the offer before it's too late.
- LookFantastic addresses the concerns of its customers: The text highlights that the products are "skin-loving."
3. Career Contessa: Offer an incentive
CTA: “I’M SO IN”
Email newsletters can build customer relationships, drive sales, and be an effective digital marketing channel. However, people are increasingly less willing to share their email addresses.
To encourage people to subscribe, Career Contessa has created a signup form in the middle of its homepage. This gives readers a chance to see what the newsletter is about and what type of content they can expect.
Notice how the CTA banner is clear and concise, explaining what people will receive by signing up.
The CTA works because:
- It uses language that's relatable to its audience: The site’s young, female readers will identify "Level up" as advancing their careers.
- It makes people feel included: "I'm so in" creates the feeling of joining an exclusive group or club.
- There’s an incentive to join: The text offers readers "a shortcut to success."
4. Uniqlo: Consider the buying stages
CTA: “Learn more”
Customers want to know what they’re signing up for before downloading an app. Uniqlo knows this and tells their customers exactly what to expect from their new app. So, rather than telling people to “Download now,” the CTA suggests readers “LEARN MORE.”
The CTA works because:
- It’s short and direct, making it easy to understand and follow.
- Customers understand the value — the accompanying illustrations and copy convey the benefits of the app.
- There’s lots of action verbs — “Get”, “Download”, “Sign up”, “Scan + Shop”.
5. New York Magazine: Use bold visuals
CTA: “Subscribe Now”
Most consumers prefer a brand to contact them via email. New York Magazine is a great example of how to write a call to action for email,. You’re immediately drawn in by the newsletter’s image emphasizing that it’s the “LAST CHANCE” to take advantage of its offer.
This encourages readers to take action by triggering the fear of missing out. The publication then describes all the benefits of joining — including its free tote bag — to entice users to click the “SUBSCRIBE NOW” button.
The CTA works because:
- It creates urgency: “SUBSCRIBE NOW” emphasizes that you should take action immediately.
- The accompanying text is descriptive: “award-winning,” “exciting,” “fresh,” “sharp.” These adjectives suggest the content is unique and high quality, helping convince readers that the magazine is worth investing in.
- The CTA is visually bold: The black button stands out against the white background and contrasts with the colorful main image.
5 key elements to include in your CTA:
Based on the above examples, here are five critical aspects of a great CTA to include in your own:
- Use simple and direct language: This ensures people understand the desired action. For example, “Subscribe now” is easier to follow than “You can subscribe now by clicking this link.” Make sure the accompanying text promoting your CTA is clear and easy to read.
- Provide value to your readers: Who is your target audience and how can your CTA solve their concerns? Will a discount code save them money, or can you offer useful expertise and advice? Demonstrate exactly what your CTA will deliver and how.
- Create a sense of urgency: Include phrases like “limited time offer” and “for today only” to motivate users to act. Pair these with action-oriented words like “subscribe” and “download” to encourage a particular action.
- Consider your target audience: While “Visit this link” may suit a formal, professional audience, “Check out this link” works for a younger demographic. Be sure to use language and a tone of voice that your customers will understand and relate to.
- Make your CTA stand out: Your CTA should be eye-catching and easily noticeable so your audience doesn't scroll past it. Use contrasting colors, emojis, bold fonts, and buttons to draw people in.
How AI can help you write better CTAs
Now you know how to write a great call to action, let’s look at how Wordtune’s AI tools can speed up the process.
Shorten text without losing the meaning
A call to action needs to be short and direct, succinctly telling the reader what action to take. Many CTAs are also written on a button, meaning you can only use a few words.
Using the Shorten button in Wordtune Editor can help you create a punchy CTA.
Click on the sentence you would like to edit, and press Shorten. The Editor instantly generates alternatives. Notice how Wordtune’s suggestions are more direct, making them easier to understand.
Find alternative words
Whether you’re stuck on which action verb to use or you want to make your CTA’s benefits more descriptive, Wordtune can provide suggestions.
To find alternative synonyms, highlight a particular word and click Rewrite, Casual, or Formal. In this example, I wanted a casual tone for social media, so clicked Casual to generate a list of alternative, informal words.
Use prompts to generate text
Wordtune's Create tool can help you brainstorm and plan your CTA copy.
To generate text, click Create and type in your prompt — no more than 1,000 characters.
Using this prompt, Wordtune quickly created an enticing paragraph for me:
Wordtune can generate a specific CTA — “Download our app now” — which can be made into a CTA button. It can also create accompanying text to entice readers. Using the AI-generated copy, you can choose individual sentences to include such as, “With just a few clicks, you can browse our wide selection of products.”
Adjust tone of voice
In addition to suggesting synonyms, Wordtune’s Casual and Formal buttons can alter sentences to match your desired tone.
Here, I clicked the Formal button. In response, Wordtune removed the contraction “you’ll” and made its suggestions more direct, precise, and easy for readers to consume.
Conclusion: How to write a call to action
A powerful call to action encourages readers to act, whether that’s by engaging with your content, buying your products, or learning more about your services. This can increase website views, sales, and bookings.
Keep your CTA short and direct, explaining in simple language how it will provide value. Ensure the tone aligns with your target audience, and create a sense of urgency to motivate readers to act quickly. Help your CTA stand out against your text by using contrasting colors, emojis, and bold fonts. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be writing eye-catching CTAs in no time.
What type of content should include a call to action?
Any content can be an ideal opportunity for a CTA. From social media and blog posts to landing pages, ads, emails and videos.
Where should you place a call to action?
Calls to action are typically placed at the top, bottom, or side of a webpage. Take into account what your readers need to know before acting to find the best placement. For example, place a discount code at the top of your homepage. Or, if you want readers to share your content, it’s best at the end of the page.
Can you use multiple calls to action on a webpage?
With care, multiple calls to action can be used on the same webpage. For example, ask people to subscribe to your email list via a button while also adding a link to download an ebook. The key is to ensure your calls to action are spread out and organized in a way that doesn't overload the reader.