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10 Steps to Creating CTA's that Really Work
by Daniel Kehrer
July 29, 2021

A call to action (CTA) is one of the most critical parts of any marketing message, whether it’s delivered by email, direct mail, on your website, Facebook page or any other way.

A click-worthy call to action will spur the customer or prospect to take the next step (call, click, buy, download, tell a friend, etc.). 

But many businesses create ineffective calls to action – or worse, none at all. “Call us” or “Click here” are CTA weaklings. They offer no information or customer motivation. Who should I call, and why? What happens if I do click? What’s in this for me?

A strong CTA makes it clear what action you want someone to take, and why they should bother to take it. Your approach depends on exactly what you want to happen. For example, if the goal is to spur a purchase, and you’ve already communicated benefits, a simple “Buy Now!” might be all you need. 

Here are 10 tips for creating strong calls to action: 

  1. Set the table first: A call to action works best when customers are properly prepped. Start by identifying the problem (the pain), and explaining why your product or service solves it. The benefits you offer can become part of your call to action.
  2. Make it stand out: In a letter or text email, for example, the CTA can be in larger type, color or bold. On a website or blog it can be designed into a colorful, attention-getting button. In any case, however, keep the page clean and simple. SMB-focused marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot offer special tools and services to help small businesses create powerful CTAs. You can create your own CTA buttons for free at   
  3. Offer incentives:  Consider a sweetener, such as a discount or free gift as a reward for heeding your call to action. For example, instead of saying merely “Join our mailing list” your CTA could be “Join our mailing list and receive a 15% off coupon.” 
  4. Avoid scary terms: Instead of asking people to “Register” or “Subscribe,” (both can be scary), try friendlier terms such as “Receive updates” or “Stay connected.”  Make it about them, not you.
  5. Minimize the choices: Avoid surrounding your CTA with too many choices. For example, presenting three action choices such as “View Demo,” “Get more Information” and “Buy Now” all in the same place will likely reduce response.
  6. Personalize, test and optimize: CTAs that are personalized in some way produce better results. Try using information in your contact database such as the recipient’s location, industry, prior engagement with your business, or other data. A great way to see what works best is to run simple A/B tests. Send message “A” to part of your list, and message “B” to another part of the same list and see which one performs better.  
  7. Place your CTA early and high:  Small businesses typically place CTAs at the bottom of an email, direct mail piece or web page. The best place, however, is high up where the eye can easily see it, not way off to the side.
  8. Use links liberally: Always link logos and product photos to your desired landing page or shopping cart. And don’t forget to label your photos with descriptive “ALT” tags. This stands for “alternative text” which will appear in someone’s browser or email if the image is not available.
  9. Be strategic: When creating CTAs, don’t think in terms of a single offer or campaign. Try for messages that can be part of your overall marketing plan. That way, the same ones can be used in a variety of circumstances.
  10.  Follow through: Having a great CTA is just a start. You must also consider what happens if the reader does what you asked. It’s vital to deliver the proper response quickly – an order confirmation, thank you note, email, or other action that keeps the customer moving down the purchase path.


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About the author
Daniel Kehrer
Daniel Kehrer, Founder & Managing Director of BizBest Media Corp., is a nationally-known, award-winning expert on small and local business, start-ups, content marketing, entrepreneurship and social media, with an MBA from UCLA/Anderson. 
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