Do you want to know how to write high performing call to action phrases? Here are 5 examples for inspiration and what we can learn from them.
Communicating a message to someone is like pouring water into their hands. It'll run through their fingers, and they'll let go of it eventually.
10 to 20 minutes after someone reads your ad, blog post, or email campaign, they'll forget about it. Maybe they're dealing with some personal issues or just too busy to think about your message. Either way, the water ran through their fingers.
However, action is something people remember. Action is the vessel that allows readers to hold on to your message.
Maybe your product or service improved their health, business, or dating life. This is an instant win for them, and they'll remember you for years to come.
If your product is something special, they'll remember it for the rest of their lives.
This is why calls to action are essential.
But according to Small Biz Trends, 70% of small businesses lack a call to action. The remaining 30% implement weak calls to action like learn more, sign up, and buy now. This doesn't work because readers are more educated than ever.
So how do you convince readers to take action without sounding pushy? Well, in this post, you'll learn the golden rules to follow when writing a call to action to boost conversion rates and 5 examples that’ll inspire you in 2021.
What Is A Call To Action?
A call to action or CTA is any method that prompts a reader to take a specific action. Many copywriters immediately think of CTA buttons, but calls to action come in many forms.
For example, a call to action could be an image with action words like “add to cart” or spoken word at the end of videos telling viewers to like and subscribe.
Every page on your website must have effective CTAs. This includes your:
- About page
- Service page
For example, if you want website visitors to sign up for a newsletter or webinar, you should have a popup asking for their email address. If you own a blog, there should be related posts at the end of each article that readers can click on.
Or if you own a local business and want potential customers to give you a call, your call to action should have your phone number and text saying something like, “Phone Us Now And Set An Appointment.”
Regardless of your marketing strategy, there must be something that tells your readers how to engage with your website further or take the next step in your sales funnel.
As marketers, we can't expect visitors to know what to do when they land on our website, ad, or landing page. This is where calls to action boost click-through rates. They tell new visitors what to do and create a sense of urgency without being pushy.
Now that we understand what a call to action is, let's look at 5 important rules to follow when writing a call to action.
5 Important Rules for Writing Call To Action Phrases
A call to action is the most essential part of your copywriting since it turns readers into customers.
The more information you can provide to potential customers with your call to action, the higher your click-through rate. You should let your audience know what to expect when they click your call to action button and how that'll benefit their lives.
This is a lot of information to communicate with little words, so here are 5 golden rules to stick to when creating a great call to action.
1. Sell Your Free Trial
Everyone loves free stuff. We love it so much that scientists even came up with a name for it; The Endowment Effect.
The Endowment Effect says that customers are willing to pay more for a product or service once they're able to interact with it.
In the 1990s, researchers conducted an experiment with two groups of people. With the first group, researchers placed a mug in front of them, and they could only look at it, not touch it.
The second group of participants could touch and interact with the mug. After the study, researchers found that the second group valued the mug twice as much as the first.
This could be explained because they took ownership and it gained sentimental value.
When writing a call to action, emphasize a free subscription or trial. This works exceptionally well if you're writing for a service-based company.
For example, let's say you're doing copywriting for a SaaS company. When writing their website, your call to action could be something like, “Start Your 14-Day Free Trial Today!”
A company that uses this methodology is Shopify.
Once customers interact with your or your client's service, they build a sentimental bond and begin to value it more than someone who never tried your service. After the free trial is over, they'll be more likely to buy compared to someone who never built a bond with your brand.
2. Trigger Your Prospect's Emotions
A compelling call to action must appeal to an emotional desire.
As a copywriter, a formula that I use when writing CTA copy is Life Force-8. I learned about this trick when reading Cashvertising by Drew E. Whitman. In the book, Whitman talks about the Life Force-8 and how it's responsible for more sales than any other human wants combined.
The Life Force-8 include:
- Enjoyment of food and drink
- Freedom from fear, pain, and danger
- Sexual companionship
- Comfortable living conditions
- To be superior
- Care and protection of loved ones
- Social approval
When someone mentions emotional benefits, this is what they're talking about. Every other desire comes second.
The key is to write a call to action that presents your product or service as the solution to one of these biological desires.
For example, why do millions of people go to Starbucks every morning to buy a cup of mediocre coffee that costs a fortune? Why don't they get quality beans and make a cup of coffee at home? It'll cost ten times less and taste much better.
Because Starbucks took a boring product like coffee and used it to appeal to our biological desires. Specifically, the desire for social approval and to be superior.
As a copywriter, you can appeal to almost any emotional desire by presenting your client's product or service as the solution.
For example, suppose you're writing a call to action for an eCommerce store selling energy drinks to busy professionals. In that case, your social media call to action could be, “Place An Order And Outperform All Your Colleagues Today!”
This appeals to our desire to be superior and for social approval.
3. Implement Instant Gratification
Do you want to get in shape? Well, you'll need to diet for years while going to the gym consistently.
Maybe you want to own a successful business? That requires several hours of work every day, and after a few years, you'll achieve your dream.
The best things take time. But if you want to convince potential customers to buy your product or service, even a slight delay can negatively affect conversions.
Attention spans are declining fast. The average person sees over 10,000 brand messages per day!
Dating apps allow us to match with strangers within seconds. There's no need to wait for a network to air your favorite show since you can watch it anytime you want. Webpages rarely take more than 3 to 5 seconds to load. Cheap dopamine hits are seconds away.
If your potential customers get a hint that your product or service doesn't offer instant gratification, they'll bounce. They have limited time.
So, the best way to capture your audiences' attention is to use action phrases and power words like:
By using these words when writing compelling CTAs, your conversions will increase since you're communicating that your benefit is instant.
4. Reveal The Consequences Of Inaction
96% of unhappy customers or potential customers don't complain. Also, out of every 1 customer that complains, 26 dissatisfied customers remain silent.
If you can identify a problem your potential customers experience that they don't even know about, then your conversions will increase. A simple template I like to use when writing copy is PAS:
I first used this formula after reading an article by Demian Farnworth, and it works like a charm. The basic premise is, you identify a problem your audience is facing, agitate it by making them aware of the consequences if they don't act, and present your product or service as the solution.
It might sound challenging to fit so much information into a few sentences, but it's simple.
For example, if you're a local dentist, your call to action could be something like, “Is Your Tooth Aching? The Longer You Wait, The More Serious It Gets. Book An Appointment Today!”
In this example, I've identified a common problem my audience deals with, educated them on the consequences of not taking action, and presented my dental services as the solution.
However, coming up with this call to action is the easy part. Researching what problems your audience face is where new copywriters fail.
They'll write a call to action phrase based on problems they think their audience is facing.
Instead, visit parts of the web where your audience visits and find out what problems they're dealing with. Helpful places include:
- Facebook groups
- Google Trends
You can interact with them or look at phrases posted by your target audience. For example, let's say you're a pediatric dentist. If you spend some time on Quora, you'll notice that many parents are asking about their children's cavities.
So when writing your call to action, emphasize the symptoms of cavities, how dangerous they are, and present your services as the solution.
Your call to action could be, “Cavities In Children Lead To Bone Loss, Tooth Decay, And Gum Damage. If Left Untreated, The Damage Only Gets Worse. Book Your Appointment Today!”
Also, don't forget to A/B test these action verbs to find which works best. A/B testing is basically testing different CTA buttons to improve conversion rate optimization.
5. Use The Urge To Belong
The urge to belong is another Life Force-8 desire and one of the most potent desires to base your digital marketing campaigns around.
According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, social proof is simply people doing what they observe others doing.
Remember when you were little, and you'd see another kid with ice cream? You probably asked your parents for ice cream afterward. This is how deep social proof is ingrained into our brains.
Ever since we’re little, we took action based on what the people around us did.
Another typical example is if you go to dinner with friends and family. If everyone orders dessert, but you don't feel like it, would you order dessert? Most likely since it’s weird to be the odd one out.
When writing calls to action, use this to your advantage.
The best CTAs do this all the time. They'll advertise the number of people who signed up for their mailing list or bought their product.
Help Scout uses social proof to grow their client base:
Now that we understand how to write calls to action that'll convince customers to act, let's look at a few examples of companies using these 5 golden principles.
1. Crazy Egg‘s Show Me My Heat Map
This is one of the best calls to action since Crazy Egg sells a risk-free guarantee. You can start a 30-day free trial and cancel anytime you want.
They also use simple language that reinforces the idea that their service is safe and there's no risk placed on the customer.
Second, the call to action uses the voice of the customer. This is a marketing technique that focuses on your potential customers' needs and wants.
For example, instead of saying, “Sign Up,” you could use the voice of the customer by saying, “Send Me My Free E-Book Now.” If you’re a dentist, instead of using, “Book An Appointment” you could use, “Book My Appointment And Cure My Toothache Today.”
If you sell espresso machines, another example could be, “Send Me My Espresso Machine Today.”
2. GiftRocket’s Send A GiftRocket
Instead of buying a gift for your loved one, you could send a GiftRocket.
Notice they don't ask you to sign up for anything or get a free gift for your loved one. Instead, GiftRocket's call to action is catchy, engaging, and exciting. Who wouldn’t want to send a GiftRocket?
You can use this principle in your calls to action by implementing puns and homonyms that resonate with your specific brand. For example, if you own a local butchery, your call to action could be, “Meat Your Best Friend For Dinner.”
3. Ubersuggest‘s Analyze Website
With this call to action, Neil Patel effectively sells the free service. As a result, you can analyze SEO and conduct market research for any website without signing up for anything.
This is a simple CTA, but it puts the visitor at rest, knowing there's no risk.
It also uses the law of reciprocity to get more clients. The book Influence by Dr. Robert Ciadini notes that human beings are hardwired to return favors and pay off debts. When he mentions debts, he isn't talking about credit card debt.
Debt could be when a co-worker helps you when they don't need to. You'll subconsciously make a note to pay them back in the future. You could call it an emotional debt.
Patel uses this law perfectly. He allows you to use a tool that'll improve your life without asking for anything in return. This increases the likelihood of turning visitors into subscribers.
For example, if you’re a dentist, send your email subscribers a free e-book on how to spot gum disease. Or if you’re a mechanic, give away an ebook on common driving habits that’s damaging your car.
4. BeanBox Club‘s I Need Coffee Now
BeanBox Club uses the instant gratification principle well.
In this modern world, everything is at our fingertips. So, naturally, this makes instant gratification a must. But, if your website loads slower than usual or your product arrives at your customer's home a few days late, then it'll leave a bad taste in their mouths.
When potential customers are browsing BeanBox Club's website, their need for instant gratification is filled. No need to go through a tedious process to get your hands on coffee beans; simply click the call to action button.
Implementing this principle is easy. For example, instead of saying, “Send Me My Free E-Book, consider adding “Now” at the end. “Send Me My Free E-Book Now!”
Or if you’re currently using, “Book An Appointment”, consider using, “Book An Appointment Now!”
5. SEM Rush‘s Try For Free
SEM Rush use the Endowment Effect to their advantage, increasing the likelihood of someone sticking around after the free trial is over.
Customers will also value this software more after owning it, making a desired action more likely.
The Endowment Effect works especially well if you’re selling a service or software with a monthly subscription. Offering visitors a 15 or 30-day free trial can boost conversions since there’s no risk on them and they’ll value your service more once the trial is over.
But even as a freelance writer, you can use this in your calls to action. For example, you could offer potential customers a free copy critique. Or you could give away an e-book on how to write compelling content as a business owner.
Final Word On Call To Action Phrases
Calls to action are the backbone of your copywriting. The message you communicate to your audience will be long forgotten, regardless of how much value you bring. But action is almost impossible to forget.
By writing calls to actions that trigger emotion, you'll increase the likelihood of potential customers buying your product or service or sticking around after the free trial is over. Use the 5 examples mentioned above as inspiration when writing your next call to action.