When was the last time that you were so moved by an advertisement that you were immediately interested in their product? That inspirational moment that motivated you to spend your money on a product was likely their call-to-action, or CTA.

A CTA doesn’t just describe what a company is selling, it helps us relate to a company in a way where we can’t see ourselves without a particular good or service. A good CTA needs to be…

  • Persuasive.
  • Focusing on the action that you want the customer to do.
  • Something that the average customer can relate to.
  • Have a level of urgency.

Even though there are no official rules or guidelines to writing a CTA, these four components are almost always present in a good call-to-action. Generally speaking, you want it to be short, sweet, and to the point. Anything long and drawn out will probably lose the customer’s interests.

Give the Customers Something New

You may have seen the sites selling pre-made CTA templates that work for almost any online business. The truth is that most people don’t need to spend money on those as long as they can find a way to persuade the customer. To do that, we need to first ask ourselves the following question: what do I have to offer that my competitors don’t? If we can’t answer that question honestly, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board and improve our product. After all, aside from Oreo cookies, most brands don’t generally boast good sales when they’re offering the same thing an established competitor does. On the other hand, if the product does offer a unique service that the competitors do not, we put that into the CTA.

About four years ago, I was shopping around for an external hard drive. Most of the hard drives I found at the stores were either 500GB or 1TB, and since this was around the time that 1TB started to become more common, I wasn’t immediately sold on the first 1TB external HD I came across. However, the Western Digital model was also providing cloud storage with their HD, which meant that I could upload an additional copy of my backed up HD to the internet and access it from anywhere. I’m not sure if they’re the first HD company to offer that service, but they were the first that I came across to promote it, and that was all that it took to persuade me.

Always Keep the Customers in Mind

If you’re in the field of copywriting or digital marketing, you probably hear the phrase “be actionable” a bit more than you’d like to. One thing that many of us overlook when creating that excellent CTA is telling the customer how they can take action. Don’t just say “contact us for more information,” give email addresses and phone numbers. You know what they say about you and me when you assume, right? So don’t assume that customers will know where to go to purchase your product, what link to click on to read more about your services, or who to contact for support or additional questions. Spell it out for them.

Another thing you may want to do is write your CTAs in a way that speaks directly to the customer. Your ultimate goal is to make your brand come across as a personable entity; as something that the average person can really relate to. Most CTAs are written in first person, making use of words like “my” and “your”, an attempt to speak directly to the customer. Otherwise, your marketing campaign could miss the mark completely.

Give Customers a Reason to Take Action Right Now

If you’re an American, you probably remember the larger-than-life TV salesman, Billy Mays. In his commercials, he came across as a real life call-to-action, and everything he pitched, he made you want to buy. He always ended every commercial by telling the viewers if they called now he would throw in something extra. This created a sense of urgency that motivated more people to buy his products. Interestingly enough, the limited edition tactic also works just as effectively.

The thing about urgency tactics, however, is that you can overdo them and end up putting your customer base off. Don’t put them in every CTA you write, but keep the idea nearby for when you need it.

More than anything else, a good CTA is something that should come across as genuine. Instead of writing to boost conversion rates, create your CTA while thinking about the types of services you provide that can truly help your customer.

Brandon is a copywriter who takes a keen interest in technology, digital marketing, consumer behavior, and Billy Mays’ commercials. Yes, really.