One of the trickiest parts of modern marketing is getting your foot in the door. People are inundated with ads almost everywhere they go, which makes ads easier than ever to tune out. Without a strong call to action, even the best ad is closer to an art piece than marketing material.
A call to action, or CTA, is how marketers ask their potential customers to do something. Phrases like “Click Here,” “Buy Now,” or “Sign Up” are basic calls to action. In the right circumstances, that might be all it takes to get a conversion. However, consumers may need more of a push to do what you want. That’s where more advanced calls to action come in.
An effective call to action is specific to your brand and your product. You want your product, newsletter, or webpage to stand out, seem low-risk, and have immediate benefits. The easier and safer your call to action seems, the more likely your prospects are to follow through.
Figuring out how to write a call to action doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, once you understand your marketing goals, it should be simple. Here are 15 awesome call to action examples to get you started.
Sometimes a straightforward approach is the best option, and if someone is already at your website, that’s even more likely to be the case. Netflix makes the most of this principle with its landing page CTA.
The background image implies that Netflix can be an integral part of a happy family life. This appeals to a specific segment of the streaming service's target audience: families with children for Netflix Kids & Family. The colors of the CTA match Netflix’s branding, as well.
The call to action here is “Join Free for a Month,” as a bright red button. Netflix leads into this effective CTA with short, punchy sentences, emphasizing the no-strings-attached nature of subscription with the phrase “Cancel anytime.” This reassures potential customers that they won’t get stuck in a contract for a service they no longer want.
Digital design company EPIC does something a little different with its CTA. Instead of using a basic “Try now,” they use the phrase “Start a New Project With Us.”
The entire homepage for EPIC is creative. As a design company in digital spaces, their website itself is a portfolio item. Below the menu and CTA, there’s an interactive screen showing EPIC’s other projects for high-profile organizations like Red Bull and the Crop Trust. With an impressive body of work directly in front of the customer, their CTA still catches the eye.
The wording EPIC uses is strategic. They don’t imply anything about cost in their CTA—instead, they use the neutral word “Start.” They also imply heavy collaboration by using the words “with us.” This CTA is designed to sound exciting, creative, and risk-free, making conversions more likely.
3. Visit Greenland
The Visit Greenland website is one that really understands its target audience: people looking for escape and a little adventure.
The first page is a big splash image, with a skier racing down the slopes transitioning into a woman lying in a bed of wildflowers. The contrast meshes perfectly with the CTA: “Explore Greenland,” followed by the two buttons “In Winter” and “In Summer.”
Tourism websites like Greenland’s aren’t supposed to convince someone to make a purchase directly through them. Instead, the goal is to make people want to visit in the first place. This CTA acknowledges that the Greenland experience changes depending on the season, but turns that into a selling point. By showing the upsides of each season directly behind the relevant button, the CTA lets people express their preferences right off the bat.
The Madewell brand is known for their stylish yet sturdy clothes. The CTA for their jeans sale pushes the practicality of their product while making jeans seem like an integral part of a successful day.
The splash page title “Everyday Mess, Everyday Yesss” and the subtitle “See how our friends go from :-( to :-) in the new spring denim collection” both play on modern casual communication. The use of extra S’s and emoticons appeals directly to the female Millennial market that Madewell targets.
There are two CTAs that follow. The first, “Shop the Story,” lets people explore the content Madewell has put together around their jeans. It shows young mothers, artists, and professionals overcoming day-to-day problems in Madewell jeans.
On the other hand, if someone’s already sold on Madewell’s products, they can click “Shop All Jeans” and skip the pitch. This combo keeps the site from losing anyone who just wants to shop, while still beefing up their brand.
Coffee giant Starbucks is aware that many people see it as a luxury brand. However, instead of shying away from this impression or trying to convince people to make them a daily stop, they have leaned into it. With the big green banner at the top of their site, they encourage people to see Starbucks as a treat.
The phrase “Let us treat you” is the first phrase on the site. Everyone likes getting something for nothing, and that’s what Starbucks is banking on. The next phrase, “Drink coffee, earn Stars, get Rewards,” is particularly effective. Someone visiting the Starbucks website definitely likes coffee, and everyone likes rewards.
By making every step of the process sound appealing, Starbucks encourages people to click the link at the end. “Join Starbucks Rewards today” also encourages immediate action, making this an awesome CTA from start to finish.
Social Media CTAs
Calls to action in an ad work a little differently than those on a website. If someone is on a company’s website, then they already want to be there. Social media ad CTAs, on the other hand, need to be especially convincing in order to pull people away from their Facebook feed or favorite news site.
One way to do that kind of convincing is to offer people “free” money. Lyft does that with style in their Facebook ads.
The large text offers up to $50 in ride credit. The amount is large enough that most people would find it hard to turn down. The small “Install Now” button is at the bottom right corner, adjacent to the coupon code for the ride credit.
This ad emphasizes what Lyft wants to give you, instead of what they want you to do. The goal is to avoid making potential customers feel pressured to do anything. Instead, the ride credit offer is supposed to be so tempting that people want to install the app.
By providing something exciting for free, the offer can overcome the mental filter many people have for ignoring ads.
Sometimes an ad CTA isn’t guiding users to a website or app. Instead, services like Airbnb use their social media posts to get user engagement and grow brand awareness.
In this ad, they use a well-framed photo of an actual, beautiful Airbnb. This catches the eye and leads people to the caption. Instead of being sold on anything, users are asked to engage with the post itself: “Tell us in the comments below.” Airbnb takes people’s natural desire to interact on social media and turns it into a chance to engage.
This works with Facebook’s algorithms to get more exposure. Items with lots of engagement, such as likes or comments, appear more often on people’s feeds. If someone brags about their upcoming vacation on this post, then it’s more likely to show up for their friends. That way, a single engagement from this CTA spreads the post to many more people.
An ad CTA can also appeal to people’s desire for convenience. Spotify, which has a free version available to anyone, uses ads to convert users to its premium service.
Right off the bat, the ad for Spotify Premium plays on people’s love of a deal. By offering three months of a paid service for less than a dollar, Spotify leads users to think they’re getting away with something. People tend to undervalue free things, but getting something valuable for very cheap is exciting.
Meanwhile, the ad also mentions that getting premium will put a stop to other ads. The opportunity to end a minor daily annoyance is something most people will jump at. Finally, the CTA “Go Premium” is simple and implies exclusivity, while the white-on-red design references modern minimalist trends while still standing out.
9. Daily Look
For a lot of social media ads, less is more. Daily Look, a curated clothing delivery subscription box, knows that very well. Their posts are great examples of stealth ads, designed to attract attention without obviously pushing a service.
In this Facebook post, they don’t even bother with capitalization. Instead, marketers use a carefully styled picture of a Daily Look outfit and emphasize simplicity. The outfit is activewear “for the girl on the go,” which targets women who may not have time to spend their day clothes-shopping.
The post also offers a service that sounds fun. The kind of person who would enjoy getting personalized clothing boxes is very likely to enjoy “getting styled.” The CTA, “(tap to get styled),” is a lowkey message that avoids putting pressure on the reader. The parentheses offset the CTA without distracting or making the post obviously an ad.
10. Williams Sonoma
Social media CTAs can be overt, too. If there’s something time-sensitive or otherwise limited, it makes sense to post about it specifically.
Williams Sonoma, which offers in-store classes for cooking skills, isn’t afraid to use their social media to generate interest.
This tweet is short and sweet, just the way Twitter likes it. Williams Sonoma gives the date, the time, the offer—$50 off cutlery—and the CTA in less than 140 characters.
If you want to convert an online following into physical customers, this is the way to do it. Williams Sonoma shows that the class is in demand by emphasizing that they had to add a session. The simple call to action, “call to sign up,” is all that’s needed. It’s aimed at people who missed out on the original run of classes, not at their entire following.
For more effective email CTAs, keep track of how you acquired your list of email addresses. Your customers might give you their email for a newsletter or as a part of signing up for your service. The reason they trusted you with their contact info and what kind of email you’re sending affects the CTA you use.
People are understandably cautious with their financial information. For finance tracker apps like Mint, getting users is all about convincing people that their data will be safe. One Mint email CTA is designed to reassure people that they have nothing to fear when it comes to downloading the app.
The CTA, “Sign Up Free,” is a compelling hook for a customer base that’s obviously financially savvy. They lead into that CTA by explicitly saying there’s nothing to lose. They even link to security information, for people who like to do their research.
The design is super-simple, exactly in line with Mint’s overall brand. The minimalist display makes the orange “Sign Up Free” button stand out dramatically. The text even narrows as it descends, leading the eye directly toward the button Mint wants users to click.
12. Imperfect Foods
Subscription services like Imperfect Foods want to stay at the top of their customers’ minds. In particular, Imperfect’s pitch is that their customers are helping prevent food waste. In order to keep subscribers engaged and enthusiastic, they use their newsletter to bring people to their site.
The first half of the email makes customers feel good about themselves by demonstrating how Imperfect is preventing waste. The graphic with the plane is intriguing, and the simple CTA “Learn More” guides Imperfect subscribers back to the site. This keeps them invested in the brand and their own self-image as part of a greater movement.
The other CTA, “Get the Recipe,” is next to a description of using leftovers in the home. Most Imperfect customers try to avoid waste in general. The recipe involving leftovers is both a reminder of Imperfect’s general utility and yet another way to boost engagement.
13. Dollar Shave Club
Emails can also be used to get people to upgrade.
Dollar Shave Club’s marketing team understands that people don’t like their routines disrupted. New products might not be on customers' radar. With its simple upgrade email, Dollar Shave encourages people to try new things in a low-risk way.
The email is offering trial sizes of five popular products. It also uses the term “commitment-free” at the bottom, reassuring people that the offer is “safe.” The headline phrasing suggests that customers are treating themselves with the purchase as well, calling the trial kit “well-deserved.” The one-two punch of luxury and a sense of safety encourage people to follow the CTAs.
The two CTAs, “Learn More” and “Add to Box,” are strategic. The black and white button “Learn More” button is an option. However, the orange “Add to Box” CTA is the largest splash of Dollar Shave’s signature color on the screen. It’s impossible to miss, and it makes the purchase as simple as a single click.
Emails can also offer customers discounts and coupons. A great discount CTA is clear about the discount and the product benefit right away. The site eMeals has a catchy headline that leads to a call for immediate action.
The title “Cut the Carbs!” and the subtitle “Not the Flavor…” send the message that this product can help customers lose weight without giving anything up. It plays on the common idea that diet food is tasteless. However, it never mentions the word “diet,” which is often perceived negatively.
The copy goes on to reinforce the idea that their meal plan is healthy by saying it will help customers “start the year off right.” The CTA “Get 30% Off Now” is bright orange, eye catching, and direct. By using the word “now,“ the call to action encourages immediate action.
If you don’t use newsletters, a great way to use an email list is to reward longtime customers. Beauty subscription box Birchbox sends birthday coupons to customers to encourage full-size item sales.
People enjoy celebrating their birthday, and they enjoy getting special rewards. Birthday coupons give customers both of those experiences at once.
In this email, Birchbox looks to nudge customers towards their full-size products, which are not included in the normal subscription. By presenting it as a chance for customers to treat themselves on their birthday, Birchbox looks generous, not pushy.
The CTA “Happy Shopping” stands out against the rest of the pastel email in stark white-on-black. It doesn’t actively tell the customer to do anything. Instead, it sounds like a fun, low-risk invitation.
You'll notice that all of the call to action phrase examples above stand out from the content in the same way. Making your CTA eye-catching guides your customers to your offer, but that's just one aspect of using call to action phrases in your marketing writing.
A good call to action sounds easy, low-risk, useful, and fun. The best CTAs come from a clear understanding of what you want your customers to do. If you can make your desired outcome sound like it’s enjoyable, helpful, and safe, people will want to click your CTA. The better you understand your goal, the better you can utilize your CTA to achieve it.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Shannon Whyte.