Write a compelling call to action

1. Determine the goal of the call to action based on what action you want the prospect to take.

Consider where the call to action is, where the link in the CTA will go, what you want the user to do, and what they will get from taking the action. For example: CTA location: Website homepage. Where the CTA button leads to: Offer landing page. Desired action: Prospect signs up for free trial. What the prospect gets: Access to the free trial version of your service. CTA’s goal: Encourages users to register for a free trial.

2. Define the audience for the CTA based on the CTA's location and qualitative research on your customers.

Look at the demographics and target persona profile for the CTA’s location, like an email list, Twitter, Instagram, your website, or blog. Identify audience characteristics for that channel, including: Demographics, like age, location, gender, income, and profession. Goals. Pain points. Why they aren’t converting. Use qualitative research to better understand and craft messaging for your audience. Conduct and look at usability tests, live chat transcripts, 1 on 1 customer interviews, and customer surveys.

3. Outline the needed copy elements, like headline, button, or anchor text, based on the CTA's type and location.

Depending on the CTA’s location, use the corresponding components as your CTA’s structural outline: Web page button: Headline, paragraph text with benefits and context, and a CTA button. Opt-in campaign button: Headline, paragraph text or list with benefits and clear context about what they are opting in to, form, and a CTA button. Anchor text in blog posts: Context of where the link is going, visual element, like bold or underlined, that identifies hyperlinked text, hyperlinked text that provides value to the reader, and the correct link. Button or hyperlinked text in emails: Headline, paragraph copy with context about where the link is going, and a CTA button, or just CTA hyperlinked text with context. Text in social media posts: Text command that is relevant to the post.

4. Convey both value and relevance in the CTA copy by determining the prospect's motivation and what benefit they will get from following the call to action.

To form the base for the CTA button copy, answer these two questions: What is my prospect’s motivation for clicking the button? What is my prospect going to get when they click the button? For example, if your goal is for the prospect to enter their email and click a button to get your ebook: Prospect’s motivation: Get a free ebook on a topic they’re interested in. Prospect’s benefit: They will get a free ebook. Example CTA button copy: Get my free ebook now. For an anchor text CTA, convey value and relevance by putting the link in the part of the sentence that highlights the value of the link. For example: Do this: A Harvard study says that you can improve your email open rate by using a sender name. Not this: A Harvard study says that you can improve your email open rate by using a sender name.

5. Use your target audience profile to craft targeted messaging that answers why the user should take that action.

For example, Netflix knows their audience wants to explore the service before committing, so they spark curiosity with a See what’s next headline, provide context that says they can cancel anytime, and keep the CTA button copy simple with Try it now. Another option is to use language that resonates with your target audience’s pain points in the CTA button copy, like Casper’s CTA button that says Stay Clean. This less explicit method may resonate with your audience, but it could also be more confusing and lead to fewer conversions. A/B test your CTA copy to see what works for your audience.

6. Start your CTA button copy with an action verb.

Most CTA buttons are a command that start with an action verb, like go, subscribe, enter, get, send, follow, register, click, save, enroll, or apply. To choose the right verb, think about what the desired action is or what the person will get when they click it. Trello gives a command and a benefit with Sign up — It’s free! Start non-hyperlinked CTAs with a command word as well. For example, What’s your favorite summer drink? Tell us in the comments down below.

7. Remove or avoid vague, misleading, unnecessary, or confusing words in your CTA.

Avoid vague CTAs with unnecessary commitment or urgency and excess words, including: Read more. Submit. Next. Buy now, when a lower-commitment Add to Cart would work instead. Click here to get more healthy recipes, when you could shorten it to Get more healthy recipes. Long button copy if the above copy already provides the customer benefits and value, like Loom’s Upgrade Now CTA that keeps the button copy concise because the text above it already provided the benefits and context.

8. Experiment with multiple versions of the CTA copy through A/B testing.

Use an A/B testing platform like Optimizely, AB Tasty, or SendGrid to test a control version versus a variant. Change one variable of your copy at a time to discover what CTA messaging resonates with your audience and leads to more conversions. For example, change the pronoun from “get your free trial” to “get my free trial” to see if your audience converts more if the message is from their perspective. Your testing platform should tell you if the results are statistically significant. Your CTA’s design and placement also affect its success, so these factors should also be A/B tested.

9. Measure effectiveness of the CTA based on the conversion rate by dividing the number of times a goal is completed by the number of people who had the opportunity to complete that goal.

Track these metrics to help calculate the conversion rate: Click-through rate: Out of the number of people who see your CTA, how many click on the CTA button. Clicks to submissions: Out of the people who click the CTA button, how many fill out the landing page form and become a lead. Views to submissions: Out of the number of views, how many people convert.