How to write a call to action that converts

Whenever you run a new campaign or promotion, one of your biggest challenges is getting people to click through to your landing page to sign up or buy. Creating a strong call to action is imperative but (as I know from experience) it can be easier said than done.

So, what does make an effective call to action? I’ve put together what I think most of the great calls to action have in common.

  1. Remove risk

Generally, people tend to be loss adverse. Whenever someone buys from you, especially if they’re a new customer, they may be worried about an element of risk. “What if the purchase is a mistake? What if you don’t deliver on your promises? What if I regret buying from your company?” – these are all thoughts your call to action needs to address.

A no-obligation statement or money back guarantee is a tried and tested staple of print and online marketing campaigns because it’s a great way of reducing or removing risk altogether.

Some examples might be:

  • Try our FREE demo
  • Try it FREE
  • Try before you buy
  • Track prices (before you buy)
  • Start a free trial
  • Get started – it’s FREE
  • Send me my 21-day FREE trial 
  • Unlimited access for £149 £49

The Freshbooks call to action below is a great example of how to minimise risk. Customers can either try it for free for 30 days or take a quick tour to find out more about the product before they make their decision. The panel is at the top of the Home page with the call to action on the left where the eye is drawn immediately, and the design uses contrasting colours to signpost exactly what the customer needs to click on.

Freshbooks call to action

2. Tell people what to do next

The single most important function of a call to action button is to give a final instruction to the reader; in other words, to tell them what they need to do next. This is where so many websites and landing pages struggle to convert – either a weak call to action or none at all.

Ideally, you should only have one call to action on a page, unless there are two potential options people can choose, such as opting for a free trial or signing up to the full paid version instead.

Think about ways you can make your call to action as clear as possible. Here are some possible examples:

  • Get started
  • Click the button below
  • Join the fun
  • Continue to registration
  • Learn more
  • Read the full report
  • Add to basket

3. Create urgency

People tend to procrastinate. If you give your customers a chance to put off their purchase, the chances are they’ll forget about it altogether. Many of the best calls to action create a sense of urgency. They tell people that it’s a time limited offer and they’re in danger of missing out. This is to encourage people to respond straight away.

Here are some example ideas:

  • Sale ends today!
  • Offer closes at midnight
  • BOOK YOUR SPOT RIGHT NOW! (I’ve limited this to 100 places and they will be snapped up fast so don’t miss out!)

4. Keep things simple

We all lead busy lives and so we tend to be turned off by anything that looks like it might steal our time or be hard work. You could try to give your customers some reassurance by explaining exactly what they can expect when they click on the call to action:

  • Get started now (sign up in just 60 seconds)
  • Get this on your site
  • Get the free app
  • Download now

The Dropbox call to action below is the very essence of simplicity:

Dropbox call to action



5. Make it easy to find

Your call to action should be easy to spot at a glance with one clear, focused objective. For this reason, most call to action buttons use bright contrasting colours and are often found to the left hand side of the screen. This isn’t an accident. As we read from left to right, it’s the first place we look. Alternatively, many call to action buttons are at the end of the copy. Again, this is because we tend to look at the end of a page, even when we’re skim reading and because it answers the question of ‘What next?’.

6. Use positive words

As I mentioned earlier, people are usually risk adverse. By using positive words and framing your call to action as a gain, more people are likely to click through. Positive calls to action might include:

  • Get the secret now
  • Sign up and secure your place today
  • Show me my….
  • Send me my free ebook

7. Add social proof

Many companies use social proof to support why customers should by from them. This might entail using a short soundbite from a testimonial or showing the number of social media likes and follows, or by letting potential customers know how many other people subscribe to your products, e.g. 108,000 subscribers powered by Mailchimp (or something along those lines).

The example below from the Smashing Magazine website is a great example of a newsletter sign up form. It tells people what they can expect to receive, when and why it’s worth reading. It also makes the sign up simple and reassures the reader that over 173,000 have opted to receive the newsletter, so it must be worth reading.

Smashing Magazine call to action












Whenever you create a new landing page or call to action for a campaign, it’s worth doing some A/B (split) testing, which means that you create two versions of the page and change just one element on version two. This might be the colour of the call to action, the wording, the position, the size or shape. Which one gets the best click through rates?

Have you seen a great call to action recently? What was it that made you want to click? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ below or over on my Facebook page.

Then go to Di