A little more analysis, a little more insight… Exploring email marketing better

What is Call To Action and how to write a great CTA

In your digital marketing campaigns, your Call To Action plays a major role, especially in conversions. It can turn visitors into prospects, prospects into qualified leads and qualified leads into customers.

Writing a great Call To Action is bit like writing a great email subject line – both are short and yet are key to the digital marketing.  If effective, these two can convert leads into customers and change the course of your marketing efforts. 

Apart from knowing how to write a great email subject lines, marketers, therefore,  must master the art of creating a great Call To Action.

But what exactly is a Call To Action?

A Call To Action is a short line of text or images or a combination of the two that persuades people to take a certain action, with a sense of urgency.

Often, a Call To Action is abbreviated to CTA.

The following four dimensions are what Call To Action must have:

  1. Clarity: Tell what is to be done. E.g. “Register for our free webinar!”
  2. Convenient: Show how that can be done. E.g.  “Click here to download!”
  3. Crisp: Be concise and clear. E.g. “Try premium free for a month!”
  4. Single: Have only one action to be performed. E.g. “Click here, fill up the form that appears, submit it and check your email!” Too many instructions – won’t work. Ever.

Objectives of your CTA

You may have placed CTA on your landing page, in your email or in a promotional post on social media.

No matter what, the objectives of Call To Action could be one of the following:

  • Signup: You want people to signup for your newsletter. That would be your way of building a subscriber list.
  • Download: You want people should download an ebook or a whitepaper. That could push people to the next level in your sales funnel.
  • Watch: You would like people to watch a video. Viewers leave ratings and feedback, which will tell you where you stand.
  • Try: You want people to try your product. This is often intended to generate the initial sales of a new product or from a new company.
  • Remind: You remind subscribers their subscription is about to end. Retaining customers is a great deal less expensive than getting new ones, so you don’t want them to leave.
  • Refer: You’d like people to share details of one or more referrals. They might know someone who will find your product useful.
  • Buy: You want people to buy the product at this great price. You would like them to take advantage of the offer, before it bounces back to the original higher price.
  • Share: You want people to share the infographic or the video. That will help spread your message faster and likely establish your authority.
  • Donate: Have people contribute to a charity. Appeal to the emotional content and show how their contributions would make a difference.

How to write a great Call To Action

Your Call To Action is your only chance to get the prospect do what you want them to do. If your Call To Action is compelling enough, you’ll get them do what you want.

That is why it important to pay attention to what makes a great CTA and how to write a great call to action. Here are the seven top tips on how to write great call to action:

1. Include benefits in the CTA wherever possible.

What’s in it for the visitor or the reader? Why should they click somewhere?

Including the benefits in the call to action makes it easy for the people to be exactly aware why they’re doing something in exchange of something they perceive valuable. Show what value you are offering in exchange of the action they are going to perform.


See how the call to action (Subscribe) offers a free delivery on the next order. This is a classic example of a promise of tangible benefit.

Neil Patel offers marketing tips, something that’s not as tangible as ‘Free Delivery’. Yet the clear way in which the benefit is shown makes it a winner.



2. Highlight the problem and offer the solution. 

Are you aware what problem your reader is facing? What is the problem you’re trying to solve?

Cosmetic and beauty products find it very easy to come directly to the problem. This problem, the pain-point, is so close to the hearts of visitors there’s no need to explain further.

The following is a good example. People are always searching for stuff with which to treat damaged hair. The copy of the call to action directly asks the question in simple, easy to understand.

Note how it makes “Read More” worthy of clicking without making any obvious promise or a tool or a shampoo. If the call to action had read” How to treat damaged hair with Dove ABC shampoo”, there would have been several problems.

Firstly, it would have given away the secret (“Use Dove ABC shampoo.”), making the clicking action a lot less desirable. Second, it would have sounded more like selling (“Buy our shampoos.”). The current copy sounds a genuine effort to solve a problem, rather than pushing a product!



3. Show social proof in your Call To Action. 

Are other doing this well? How big is your success ratio?

We all want to belong. Associations, clubs, forums … the list is almost endless. When we consider becoming member of a club, we always ask (or express a desire to know) how many people have already purchased the membership.

The first example is Barack Obama’s famous tweet. When Twitter adds those small numbers, (1,698,867 and 4,567,799), it is providing you social proof – more than 4.5 million people have liked it. Won’t you?


The next example is more in the context of business. The call to action is accompanied by a number: 1,398. Effectively it says, “Hey look, 1,398 people can’t all be wrong, ok? If they’ve put in some money, there must be something of value there. And besides, what’s $7 anyway, for something that’s already proven?”


4. Sell convenience in your Call To Action

How is your promise making the life easier for them?

As they say, don’t sell mattresses, sell a good night’s sleep. The more convenience you can build in the call to action, the fewer efforts you’ll need to put to convince the prospect.

Look at the way The New York Times is pitching Indian readers. Their highlight isn’t really Rs 49; it is you can Cancel Anytime. That’s why Cancel Anytime has been on a separate line. If it had been on the same line as the price, both messages would have been lost.


5. If you sell more than one things, keep a separate call to action for each item.

Are you selling more than one things? Are you separating each call to action for your audience?

If you’ve learnt how to grow your mailing list,  you’re likely facing a sweet dilemma: your mailing list is huge.

Offering a single, generic benefit for everything you sell makes you attractive to no one. Look at Moz below: they have separated benefits with the two different CTAs.

This is not just important, it is critical. If the advantages are not clarified right along with the problem the call to action will remain incomplete.


6. Use scarcity if possible, without appearing cheesy or cheap. 

Are you stressing this great offer isn’t going to last forever? How long before the original prices come back?

Hilton uses this idea very well. It reminds you, in two words, the offer is about to expire. See how the call to action brings in a sense of urgency, saying “Hurry!” or “Come on, join us!”

Scarcity could be in terms of time (Sale closes Monday), number of people you can fit (Only 11 vacancies left on the webinar) or some other form.


7. Consider using impact of not using the offer

What happens if I don’t sign up? What’s the likely loss?

The following design shows Neil Patel’s call to action.


We advise some caution while you use this. The point is to keep people from clicking the horrible link (Gosh, whoever would say ‘I don’t need more traffic?’ I do need it – and lots of it!)

We advise using this very carefully.



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