Call to Action (CTA) | Glossary

Even though it commonly appears at the end, the call to action (CTA) is one of the most important components of written content. Marketing videos and social media posts also regularly feature CTAs, directing the reader or viewer to take an important next step. If you master the call to action, you drive more traffic to your website and convert more leads into paying customers. The best CTAs flow naturally from excellent content, driving user engagement and increased revenue.

What Is a Call to Action (CTA)?

A call to action (CTA) is a sentence or phrase that prompts a reader or viewer to take further action. A clear and compelling CTA might appear as a clickable button on a landing page or as a link in the concluding paragraph of a blog post. In videos, CTAs appear on-screen, with a clickable link usually featured in the description.

The short-form nature of social media posts makes CTAs upfront and highly visible. The phrase “click the link in our bio” is a CTA regularly seen on social media, with the link leading anywhere from a product landing page to a contact form. Marketing emails almost always feature a CTA, often in the form of “Learn More” or “Buy Now” buttons and links.

Common CTAs

Some of the most frequently seen calls to action include:

  • Contact us to learn more
  • Subscribe today and save
  • Try “Product X” for free
  • Start your free trial
  • Add “Product X” to your cart
  • Get started by clicking here
  • Join us
  • Read more here

Any requested action with a corresponding link qualifies as a CTA. More often than not, a CTA is placed near the end of written content, although some marketing strategies call for CTAs throughout the piece. In video content, it’s equally common for a CTA to be used at the beginning or end of the video. Advertisements embedded into the video typically feature their own CTA, directing the viewer toward purchasing a product or starting a free trial.

What Makes a CTA so Important?

A well-written call to action is the hook that guides your audience towards your marketing and business goals. They represent the best method for guiding potential customers to your website or storefront.

Without a clear CTA, a reader or viewer might move on to the next piece of content. A good CTA will direct them where you want them to go, whether that’s to download more information or purchase a product.

Calls to action help narrow down a customer’s options to something specific. If, for example, they are reading a comprehensive guide to a particular topic, they may be overwhelmed with the possibilities of what to explore next. CTAs short-circuit the decision-making process by providing a single option.

Best Practices for Effective CTAs

The call to action might appear simple, but the best CTAs result from much thought and deliberation. You need to consider your overall content marketing strategy, along with the medium in which the CTA is published. Here are a few of the best practices to follow for creating effective calls to action.

Keep It Clear and Definitive

The CTA should make a clear request of your potential customers. If the action you want them to take is joining your mailing list, the CTA should definitively state, “Join our mailing list by…” You want to avoid vague statements or offering the customer multiple choices. A poor CTA might be, “Visit our website to sign up for our mailing list, visit our store, or contact us.” That phrase offers too many options, and your desired outcome is unclear.

Don’t Hide It

As much as you hope a visitor to your site will read an entire blog post, it’s more likely they will scan the page for the parts that interest them. More than likely, they’re used to seeing important links near the bottom of the article, so don’t hide the CTA somewhere in the middle. CTAs in videos are often placed at the beginning or end. For example, YouTube personalities typically mention their Patreon or website at both the beginning and end of a video. That’s a good CTA — if viewers find it where they expect it.

Use Contrasting Colors

Links in blog posts and other written content stand out because they’re typically blue. On landing pages and other promotional web content, make CTA buttons stand out by using colors that contrast with the rest of the page. A “Start Your Free Trial” or “Join Our Mailing List” button should stand out from the rest of the page, and a contrasting color scheme is often the best way to make that happen.

Pay Special Attention to the Surrounding Text

When a CTA appears in a blog post, it should be a natural extension of what the reader has learned so far. The more you can naturally weave the CTA into the content, the better. This means you need to pay special attention to the text surrounding a CTA link. A call to action that sounds like a sales pitch or a dramatic shift in tone is a turn-off for most readers, so do your best to keep things conversational and organic.

Evaluate Your Results

Writing effective CTAs that drive traffic and promote sales is more art than science. Despite all your audience research and market studies, it can still be hard to tell what resonates with readers and viewers. As you roll out your content, try slight variations on the CTA. After a short period of time, analyze the click-through results of each variation. It should become clear which approach is most effective. This data is valuable market research in its own right, and it can help you craft more effective CTAs in the future.

Interested in learning more about content marketing strategy and driving site visitors? Check out these Scripted resources for further reading:

5 Tips for Writing Calls to Action that Work

How to Get Started with a Content Marketing Strategy

Why is Content Marketing Important?

How to Write Landing Page Copy for Conversions

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