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What Makes a Good Call-to-Action?

Last week, we talked about bounce rates and paid ads, an issue that anyone who runs paid advertising online should be concerned about. In that blog post, we mentioned the importance of CTAs (call-to-action). And that, of course, got us thinking: what makes a good CTA?

When it comes to writing great CTAs, what should we know?


What is a CTA?


Let’s start with the basics: what is a call to action (CTA)? According to the Merriam-Webster’s, a call to action is “a piece of content intended to induce a viewer, reader, or listener to perform a specific act, typically taking the form of an instruction or directive (e.g. buy now or click here).”

Basically, a CTA is anything that asks you to take further action: learn more, read more, download here, sign up, start a free trial now, buy now, and more. We all encounter hundreds of CTAs every single day. Here are just a few examples:

Ancestry.com CTA

Wistia CTA

Anatomy of a Good CTA


CTAs are another piece of digital marketing that is part writing and part design. You can have the perfect copywriting for an ad or landing page—but if the design sucks, like if the CTA button doesn’t stand out, if the text isn’t readable… it’s all for nothing.

But don’t worry—we have some tips for creating the perfect CTA and landing page. Let’s get started.

1. A Good CTA Inspires FOMO

FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) is a commonly referred to phenomenon in marketing. FOMO taps in a lot of different emotions: the panic of never knowing, the greed of wanting something, comparison of being left out, the curiosity of whether this product is as good as everyone says, and much more.

A good CTA taps into these emotions: you want to fill a pain point for your customers, or you want them to feel like they cannot miss out on a savings opportunity. What does that mean? Your copy text and CTA should make it seem like the opportunity is exclusive: there are only a few spots left, or this sale is a once-in-a-while thing.

2. Hope Is Important

In San Francisco in 2014, Airbnb put up billboards complaining about a new tax law. Long story short, Airbnb was required to pay taxes like a hotel and Airbnb didn't really want to. The billboard was highly passive-aggressive and suggested that their tax bill be used to improve libraries.

What are we trying to say here?

  • You can’t be too negative in your marketing.

  • You definitely shouldn’t be passive aggressive.


Your CTA should inspire FOMO, and perhaps a small sense of fear—but it shouldn’t insult your potential customers (who probably voted for that new tax law). Being honest and authentic might mean writing about the more difficult parts of running a business—and hitting pain points often means writing about negative experiences. But keep your CTAs upbeat and hopeful.

3. Use the Right Language

Now that we know what emotions make a good CTA, what are the words that work best? According to CoSchedule, there are 54 proven words and phrases that have helped them increase their conversion rate by 27%.

CoSchedule CTA Words

The most important aspect of this list, to us, are the words to avoid, like Submit and Order. These words don’t inspire any strong feelings, aside from feeling like orders themselves.

One method we like is to use a positive statement written from the prospective customer or client’s voice. Think, “I’m In!” or “I Need That!”

4. In Terms of Design

Remember, CTA is part-writing and part-design. Here are our tips for designing that CTA button:

  • Make it stand out. You’re CTA should grab the reader’s attention, as well as getting an emotional response. That means using colors that stand out in your design and images that draw the eye to the CTA button.


  • Placement matters. Where you place the CTA on the page matters too. We always recommend putting CTAs above the fold of your landing page or blog post, then repeating at the very end.



Where Do We Use CTAs?


CTAs are used everywhere in digital marketing: in paid ads, on Instagram, on landing pages, on contact forms. And where each CTA is will change what that CTA should be; using one CTA throughout your website probably isn’t a great idea.

For example, a pop-up form on your website that asks for newsletter sign-ups will have a different CTA than a landing page advertising a free eBook download or a blog post with a free resource guide.


Want More?


Alright, that’s it! We’ve covered just about everything there is to cover for CTAs. But if you want more about perfecting your marketing plan, here are a few more blog posts to help.







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