What Is a Call-to-Action in Digital Marketing

A call-to-action (CTA) in digital marketing is a piece of content designed to prompt an immediate response to the viewer, reader, or listener. Usually, CTAs are a string of words that influence people to do something.

The action you want people to take could be anything: download an ebook, sign up for a webinar, get a coupon, attend an event, etc.

A CTA can be placed anywhere in your marketing — on your website, in an ebook, in an email, or even at the end of a blog post.

The most common call-to-action known to marketers is “click me.” It’s also one of the most ineffective ones because it doesn’t give the reader any context nor reason to perform the action, i.e. do the click.

In this post, I’ll be sharing some tips for writing effective calls-to-action.

8 Tips for Writing Effective Call-to-Action

1) Start with a strong action verb

Use a strong action verb that resonates with the viewer. This makes it easy to understand what you want them to do.

Look at the examples I listed above. They start with action verbs that clearly tells the viewer what to do.

2) Use words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm

Using emotions is something marketers often use, and rightfully so. Emotions are what gets us to decide and move forward.

For example, the simple use of an exclamation point (!) depicts enthusiasm.

3) Include a reason why they should click

This should be obvious to you but it’s worth mentioning it.

Your CTA must have a reason for people to click on it. Like I said above, click me definitely misses the mark.

Another CTA used a lot especially in forms is submit. Again, there’s no reason for them to do so.

A good CTA following this tip could be join our mailing list and receive a coupon for 20% off your next purchase.

Think of benefits for the viewers. What they’ll get if they do the action you want.

4) Take advantage of FOMO

Fear of missing out is part of our culture now thanks to the internet. Use this to your advantage.

Time-sensitive and community-type CTAs follow this tip. Buy now! 3 stocks left! is a great CTA example for an e-commerce store. Another example I see that is often used is the promos with timers on them.

HubSpot uses the same tip to entice marketers to join their mailing list: Join our community of over 300,000 marketers and business owners.

5) Match your message with your promise

What this simply means is your call-to-action should match what the viewer will expect when they click on it. For example, a CTA with a “download this e-book” should lead directly to a landing page with the same message. Otherwise, you’re only adding confusion.

Most people use their website’s homepage as the link for their CTAs.

6) Use devices to your advantage

Depending on the platform you’re using, you can customize the CTAs you display depending on the device they are using.

For example, a click to call message would make no sense on a desktop but would be perfect for a mobile display.

7) Be creative

You can use simple text links, or images, or flowery wordings. Regardless of what you choose, you should always A/B test which one works the best.

For example, I can ask you to download a case study on how a B2B company increased its traffic by 618% and leads by 490%. That is an example of a text link.

Or, I can simply use this image below and they both will link back to the same landing page.

Download this free case study on how a B2B organization increased their visits by 619% and leads by 490%

8) Use numbers when possible

People love numbers. Numbers mean specificity. Specificity means concrete results.

Not every marketer can promise concrete results because of two things: (1) they don’t really have a good product/service, or (2) they haven’t tried using their own product/service.

They simply use what the product managers say or what the spec sheets tell.

So, use the products/services first. If it helps you accomplish what it says it will, then that’s great. Use that!

So, What Are You Going to Do Now

Now you know how to write effective calls-to-action. It’s time to reput them to good use.

Go back through all your blog posts (and website pages) and remove all “click me” CTAs that don’t provide any value. Apply the tips listed here.

As an added bonus, you can also use these tips in your ads.

Take note that even if you follow all these tips, but don’t have a dedicated marketing offer, then your work will be futile. Newsletter subscriptions aren’t enough. You need to start creating content that is valuable to your audience.


Also published on Medium.

Ariel Lim

Management consultant / MBA / Inbound marketer who helps startups generate leads, create and execute strategies.