5 Tips to Help You Formulate Effective Calls to Action

February 15, 2023
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The call to action or CTA is the part of an advertisement telling audiences what they should do after reading or viewing something on your marketing material. From simple ones like "Buy now" to ones customized to your brand, CTAs turn people into active consumers of your content. When they click on your ad or fill out a form, they signify a higher degree of interest; they're no longer just impressions—they're leads. Here are tips for creating solid calls to action for your business.

Use a Command Verb to Start the Phrase

You don't have plenty of space in a call to action, and you need to get your ideas across right away. Let people know right away what you want them to do and start with an action. Lead with words like "buy," "download," "order," and "subscribe," which are dynamic and throw the momentum back to the reader or viewer.

The CTA is not the space for you to be subtle about your offerings. A button saying something like, "Our store has the latest in women's fashion" won't get as many clicks as "shop the latest from your favorites." The latter is more direct, which suits the context. Online, especially if you're a brand, you have to connect the dots for your audience. You cannot leave this to chance; you have to tell them precisely what you want to see results.

Get People Interested in Your Offerings

CTAs have to get people excited about products and services. It's not enough to say "Buy now," especially if you know your audience well. For example, if you sell to mothers, a CTA that says "Buy now to get 50 percent off" will be more compelling than simply linking people to your store and telling them they should buy your products. Everyone loves freebies and discounts!

You don't have to resort to reduced prices every time you want to drum up interest, though. Use your knowledge of your target market to create a customized CTA that speaks to their desires. For example, if you are a mortgage broker, a CTA that says "get your dream home today!" will make people click on your link.

Trigger People's Fear of Missing Out

One of the easiest ways to get people to click on your link is by calling on their fear of missing out. FOMO is an effective motivator—no one wants to be left behind, and if your target market feels like they'll lose a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, they'll be more likely to purchase.

Messaging like "buy while supplies last" or "offer ends on (date)" also does the trick, especially during holidays. When people are busy looking for gifts for loved ones like during Christmas or Valentine's, they'll be more receptive to time-sensitive CTAs like these.

Besides writing CTAs advertising discounts and limited offers, you can use FOMO to evoke exclusivity. For instance, when Pinterest first launched, it was an invite-only website. To get in, you either had to be someone connected to a current user or willing to be put on the waiting list. A CTA referencing a waiting list, especially for something that's members-only, piques people's interest. You could convince people to provide their email addresses in this way. 

Make Your CTA Concrete Using Numbers

People tend to trust numbers and statistics. However, be careful about using pricing information in your ad. Depending on the audience, they might find that enticing or a turn-off. Meanwhile, if you don't include prices on your ads, someone excited about your products might click through and then get let down by the prices.

One way around this is by providing an incentive in your CTA. For example, you could include the price but follow it up with "order by (date) for free shipping" or "order now to get (percent) off." You could also encourage them to keep buying—for example, you could say, "book now and get (percent) off on your next visit."

Understand the Role of Colors in CTAs

When designing your CTA, you must pay attention to the colors you use. For many people, color is one of the primary motivators for their purchase, and many studies online show that some calls to action work well when paired with specific colors.

For example, if you want to trigger FOMO and scarcity, use orange or red. These colors initiate action and urgency. Meanwhile, if you want people to take their time and learn to trust your business, use blue—it is a relaxing color that builds security. Below is a color wheel showing how emotion relates to colors.


The worst colors you can use for your CTA buttons? Black, white, and brown. Black blends into the background online, so people will be likely to skip over your button. Meanwhile, white doesn't trigger emotions on the screen, something you don't want when advertising. Similarly, people don't have strong emotional reactions to the color brown. It doesn't motivate people to act, so it's good to steer clear from it as well.

Of course, this isn't the be-all-end-all of design. Just because you are an insurance agency doesn't mean you cannot use yellow in your web design. It does mean that you need to be mindful of these relationships because they do come up for some members of your audience.


Writing a compelling CTA involves much more than just giving people an idea of what you have to offer. You need to entice your audience, get them excited about your product, and give them a reason to follow through and click. To do this successfully, you need to be aware of what makes your audience tick. You should know what they are looking for and shape your calls to action around these.

Ranked helps you create an effective strategy for attracting organic traffic to your website. We are an SEO platform and service helping more than 2,000 agencies and enterprises build an online presence for the long term. Book a call with the team to learn more or activate your free trial today!