What Is a Call to Action and How Do You Make One?

How to Boost Your Sales With an Awesome Call to Action

Call to Action: Act Now
••• Credit: hh5800 | Getty Images

Are you finding that your leads and prospects aren't taking the next step in your sales process, whether that's buying or simply requesting more information? The problem could be a faulty or non-existent call to action.

What Is a Call to Action?

A call to action (CTA) is a statement designed to get an immediate response from the person reading or hearing it.  It's used in business as part of a marketing strategy to get your target market to respond by taking action. It's generally used at the end, or sometimes throughout a sales pitch (e.g., a sales letter) to let potential clients/customers know what to do next if they're interested in what you offer.

It seems obvious to let people know the next step in doing business with you, but the truth is, many new business owners don't have calls to action (CTA) in their marketing and sales pitches. This is usually for one of two reasons:

  1. A belief that the prospect already knows what to do if they're interested in buying or learning more
  2. Concerns that calls to action are obnoxious and will annoy the potential client/customer

Whatever the reason, leaving CTAs out of your marketing materials can mean losing prospects and money. Calls to action are essential in directing a prospect to the next step of the sales funnel or process.

When Calls to Action Are Used

The most obvious use for a call to action is in sales, such as "Buy Now!" However, the sales process isn't the only place a call to action can be helpful. If you have a high-priced item or service, in which it can take time to encourage someone to buy, a call to action that acts as a road map toward sales can be helpful. For example, you might say "Call now for a free estimate."

A call to action can be used to build your email list ("Sign up for a free report now."), increase your social media following ("Get more tips and coupons by following us on Facebook!"), keep readers on your site ("Click here to read more about..."), and much more.

Call to Action Words and Phrases

Call to action phrases use action verbs, like:

  • Sign up
  • Register
  • Call
  • Subscribe
  • Donate
  • Buy
  • Order 
  • Share
  • Follow
  • Download
  • Click here for

One useful technique to get people to take action immediately is to add a sense of urgency and a fear of missing out. For example:

  • Offer expires on Halloween
  • Limited time offer
  • Act now before supplies run out
  • Respond before July 30 to enroll at this special price

Creating a Call to Action

Consider these elements when creating a clear call to action to increase your response rates:

  • Strive for clarity. Don't assume people know what to do when they read your ad or marketing materials. You'll get greater results by being clear about what the prospect needs to do next.
  • Have a CTA on everything. Make sure each page of your website, each sales conversation, and every piece of printed material (e.g., direct mail or brochures) contains a clearly defined and easily identifiable call to action. If you're a blogger, have a CTA at the end of your blog post to read another related article, check out your product or an affiliate product, or sign up for your email list. For ideas on CTAs, check out established businesses' marketing materials and websites to see how they convey their call to action.

Always Direct Your Leads and Prospects to the Next Step

Every time you're in front of your lead or prospect, ask them to take the next step, whether that's to read more, give feedback, sign up, or buy.

  • Keep it simple. Calls to action work best when they're not complicated. Don't make your potential clients and customers go through a maze or jump through hoops. While offering options is good (e.g., "Call or email us"), don't give them so many options or make it difficult for them to follow through on what you want them to do. 
  • Know what your desired result is. Have an end goal for each call to action and how that call to action may fit with other parts of your marketing plan or get them into your sales funnel. For example, you may have a call to action to get a freebie by signing up for your email list, which is the initial goal. But perhaps you use that email list to send sales letters with a call to action to "Buy Now." You might even have an upsell after the sale, with another call to action. In this case, the email subscription is the first step in the ultimate goal of a sale.

Tips for an Effective Call to Action

There are a few best practices when it comes to crafting an effective CTA.

  • Clearly explain what the customer needs to do to respond. (e.g., "Subscribe here," "Call now for a free consultation," "Reserve your spot in this webinar," "Buy now.")
  • Clearly state what the customer will get by responding (e.g., a free report on how to save $100 a week, free consultation, free entry to a how to save money webinar).
  • Focus on the benefits of taking action (e.g., save money now, get help now).
  • Offer a compelling reason for the customer to respond now or by the deadline. (e.g., This report is free only for the next 24 hours.)

When creating a printed piece or designing a website or email marketing campaign, differentiate the call to action by making it bigger, using a different color, and outlining it with extra white space. Don't let it get lost in the rest of the marketing piece or content.

You can use calls to action when doing an in-person presentation, as well, such as asking, "How many would you like to order today?"

Track Results

Like many other marketing strategies, you want to track what works and what doesn't with your calls to action. Are your leads and prospects taking the next step in your sales process? Where in the process are they not taking advantage of your CTA? If you find something isn't working, change it so see if different wording or a different offer might improve results. For example, do you get more email sign-ups with "Subscribe Now" or "Get Your Free Report Now?"

Test Your CTAs

Test out a variety of CTA options, switching them out one a time and then checking to see if one leads to more responses and sales than another. 

Article Sources

  1. U.S. Small Business Administration. "What is a Call to Action and Why Do You Need One On Your Website." Accessed January 13, 2020.