What Is a Call to Action?

Definition & Examples of Calls to Action

Hispanic woman shopping online
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Mark Atkinson / Getty Images

A call to action (CTA) is a statement designed to get an immediate response from the person reading or hearing it. If you find 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.

Learn more about calls to actions, their role in sales, and how they can benefit businesses of all types.

What Is a Call to Action?

Calls to action are 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, to let potential clients and 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 in their marketing and sales pitches. This is usually for one of two reasons:

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

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

  • Acronym: CTA

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.

How Calls to Action Work

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 phrases use action verbs, such as:

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

Make sure each page of your website, each sales conversation, and every piece of printed material contains a clearly defined and easily identifiable call to action. If you're a blogger, have a call to action 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. 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

Test out various CTA options, switch them out one a time, and then check to see if one leads to more responses and sales than another.

Benefits of Calls to Action

Calls to action are essential for any business looking to convert prospects into customers and clients. As a business, you can never assume prospects will follow the sales path you predict or want them to take. Having a call to action helps guide the prospect through the sales funnel and enhances their user experiences by being direct and telling them what you want them to do.

Key Takeaways

  • A call to action is a statement designed to get an immediate response from the person reading or hearing it.
  • Calls to action use action verbs.
  • CTAs help improve user experience and move them through the sales funnel.
  • They are essential in turning prospects into clients and customers.