What’s the difference between a window shopper and a customer?
I’ll give you a hint: It’s the same thing that separates a scroll-by from a click-through. Or an anonymous lurker from a known lead.
The one thing that all your leads, clickthroughs, and customers have in common is that they’ve taken action. More specifically, they responded to a call to action (CTA) on your landing page, website, or ad and actively made a choice to advance through your sales funnel.
If you want to inspire more of your target audience to convert (which, of course, you do), then you need to step up your call to action game. With the right copy, design, and placement, you can create landing pages with powerful CTAs that motivate website visitors to make a move.
A call to action is exactly what it sounds like: you’re literally calling on your audience to take a specific action. This might be clicking a “buy now” button on a sales page or filling out a lead gen form to “download your free copy.”
The Psychology Behind Effective Calls to Action
Knowing the elements that make for a truly compelling offer (and understanding why they work) is the first step to crafting the perfect CTAs for just about every use case.
So, what makes a CTA effective? Let’s start by looking at some of the hard-and-fast rules for creating irresistible calls to action.
1. Grab the Audience’s Attention
Before a visitor can be persuaded to do anything, they need to first notice the call to action. Use a combination of font, design, and placement on the page to ensure your CTA button or form jumps out from the rest of the content—even during a quick skim.
2. Make a Single, Specific Request
Your CTA is not the place to play hard to get. Instead, tell readers exactly what you want them to do. Though there are various ways to use calls to action, the general rule is that it should align with a single conversion goal at the center of your campaign.
3. Present a Clear Path Forward
Use plain language to set expectations and tell users exactly what they’ll get from clicking. People are less likely to click on a link if they don’t know where it’s taking them, so be clear on what the next step will be—whether it’s a pricing page to “compare phone plans,” an account creation page to “start [their] free trial,” or a registration form to “join [your] community.”
4. Motivate Readers to Click
Use action-oriented language that focuses on results. The basic approach is to use action verbs (like “get,” “download,” “start,” “reserve,” and “grab”) to build momentum. You can also experiment with first-person point-of-view (“Give me my deal”), positive affirmations (“Yes, I want to 10X my ROI”), and creating a sense of urgency (“In limited supply. Claim yours today!”).
5. Optimize and Test
Sometimes the best approach to writing calls to action is to test out several variations. When it comes to optimizing copy, a call to action is one of the easiest things to swap out (and even small changes can make a big impact on your conversions). Smart Traffic uses AI to analyze your visitors and automatically display the most effective CTA to each person.
Where Do CTAs Fit into Your Marketing Campaigns?
Your landing page or marketing campaign is most effective when it’s built around a single conversion goal. That conversion goal is represented on the page as a call to action. This might take the form of a single button (click-through page) or a form (lead generation).
There are several different types of CTAs you might leverage at different points of your marketing funnel. Everything from your campaign goal to your audience awareness should influence how you write calls to action for your sales pages, landing pages, and lead generation forms.
These are the most common types of calls to action marketers need to master.
- Lead Generation: A lead generation call to action helps identify viable leads. Whether the prompt is to download a piece of gated content, register for an upcoming event or webinar, or request a quote from the sales team, lead generation CTAs nudge leads to raise their hand and share details that help qualify them.
- Click-through CTAs: In many cases, lead nurturing campaigns feature call to action buttons designed specifically to get viewers to click. This could be part of an email campaign, a social media ad, or a landing page, but the aim is always to boost product awareness (“Get a sneak peek at our upcoming release”) and aid discovery (“Click to learn more about this awesome gadget!”).
- Sales and Signups: In the right place at the right time, calls to action can fuel sales and convert leads into customers. That means targeting leads who are ready to “buy now”—like those who click through to your sales landing page—and using action-oriented language. This applies to account creation (perhaps for a trial, paid account, or freemium version of the service) and ecommerce checkout pages. (Want to learn more about how ecommerce brands are using landing pages to drive sales? Check out 27 Ecommerce Landing Page Examples to Maximize Sales in 2020.)
- Click-to-Call Buttons: Rather than filling out a form or collecting data about leads, a click-to-call button gives prospects a direct line to reach your team. Not only is this convenient, but click-to-call CTAs can be combined with A/B testing and call tracking to boost lead generation. (For an example of just how well this can work, check out how clever call tracking helped this agency get 219% more leads.)
- Social Engagement: Brands that successfully promote their products and services on social media use calls to action to drive engagement. By asking viewers to follow, share, like, comment, or smash that subscribe button, you can broaden your reach, increase your following, and build relationships with potential customers.
Next, we’ll explore the most popular use cases using real-world call to action examples from Unbounce customers.
Real-World Call to Action Examples: How Unbounce Customers Use CTAs to Drive Conversions
Here’s how Unbounce customers use CTAs to drive customer actions across a range of industries and use cases. Use these to inspire your next CTA, or A/B test ‘em against one that’s not doing so well.
CloudSpot | “Get Your App” (App Download)
In this example, CloudSpot uses a lead magnet to attract potential customers, build an email list, and drive app downloads. The entire page is perfectly catered to their target audience (wedding and portrait photographers), which immediately tells leads that they’ve landed in the right place.
Even the call to action itself is written with the audience in mind. By encouraging readers to “Get YOUR App” instead of “Get OUR app,” CloudSpot cleverly places further emphasis on the reader and draws them into the page. Plus, by promising to help photographers “replace awkward, unnatural moments” with more flattering poses, the benefits are clearly stated in terms related to the audience’s pain points.
The Listings Lab | “Fill Your Calendar with Appointments” (Gated Content)
Here’s an example that reminds us CTAs don’t exist in a vacuum. Even the smartest CTA button copy doesn’t work magic without an assist from a strong headline, supporting copy, and visual cues. Not only is the button itself designed to stand out, but there’s literally an arrow directing readers from the small print to the CTA.
By promising to show real estate agents how to “fill [their] calendar with appointments” without “working more hours,” the Listings Lab creates some serious incentive for agents to “get [their] free download.” Plus, the headline serves as a clever way to qualify leads by speaking directly to agents who are “stuck at 6-figures.”
There are tons of ways to match gated content with a simple call to action to generate leads. For more real-world examples like this one, take a look at 8 High-Converting Lead Generation Landing Page Examples.
Waldo Contacts: “Get Ready to See Happiness” (Free Trial)
The secret to good copywriting is balancing cleverness with clarity. It’s not always an easy balance, but a tagline like “Get ready to see happiness” is both cute and concise, making it perfect for this contact lens subscription service—especially when paired with a straightforward benefits statement and a direct CTA.
This call to action example by Waldo effectively drives website visitors to start a free trial because even though the tagline leans towards clever, the call to action button itself is 100% clear about the reader’s next step (“Start your free trial”).
Sourcebooks: “Enter to WIN a Signed Copy!” (Contest Entry)
Sourcebooks used this landing page to attract leads interested in winning a signed copy of The Similars by Rebecca Hanover. The contest served two valuable purposes: to get people excited for the book (and boost future sales from those who don’t win a free copy) and to build a targeted list of potential leads (by collecting contact info from those who are most interested in this particular genre and author).
An important caveat here is that we typically don’t recommend CTA buttons that simply say “submit.” Although the heading encourages readers to fill out the form (“Enter to WIN a signed copy!”), it’d be worth testing out more actionable copy on the button itself (like “Sign me up!” or “I want to win!”) to see how it impacts conversions.
The round button in the top left corner presents a second, competing call to action (“Click here for an excerpt”). Interestingly enough, this strategy also goes against conventional advice, which would be to focus on one call to action per page to prevent diluting your conversions. However, it works well in this use case because the main CTA is not related to a purchase and because the secondary CTA is an option to preview an excerpt from the book—which actually adds value to the main action of entering the contest, rather than competing.
Athabasca University: “Let’s Get You Started” (Program Registration)
Athabasca University uses landing pages like the one above to drive enrollment for online courses. In this case, they use a soft CTA above the form to get visitors to fill it out and a simple “submit” button at the bottom.
The heading “Let’s get you started…” is less of an order to do something and more of a supportive pat on the back. This tells prospective students, right from the get-go, the school is ready to provide support and help them achieve their goals.
The biggest lesson here is that writing for your audience and speaking to their needs is more important than blindly following any hard and fast rules for call to action writing. If you’re looking to improve your conversion rate for signups or account creation, check out some more of our tips for creating signup pages that convert.
Indochino: “The Tailor Is In” (Appointment Booking)
By letting visuals of their suits do much of the selling, Indochino shows potential customers what they can aspire to, rather than telling them why they should book an appointment. In this context, their approach makes sense. Afterall, Indochino doesn’t sell one-size-fits-all clothing—but they do aim to make all of their customers look their best.
The call to action itself (a basic, “Book an appointment”) comes across as more of a low-pressure invitation than a marketing move. However, they also sweeten the incentive and create a minor sense of urgency by mentioning that booking your appointment by a certain date will enter you into a draw for a “perfectly tailored wardrobe.”
Awayco: “Free the Funk” (Equipment Rental)
The use case for this example is a bit different, so the approach is a bit different, too. Awayco is an equipment rental company for surfers and other outdoor enthusiasts. The call to action changes a bit throughout the page, ranging from “Free the funk” to “Book the board” to “I’d like to ride that.” It’s this last one, in particular, that’s interesting because rather than simply asking visitors to do something, Awayco is putting words directly into their mouths—and potentially putting ideas into their heads.
On one hand, trying out different calls to action is kind of like A/B testing within a single landing page. (If you have a heatmap set up on the page, you can see which one visitors click more often.) But more importantly, the variety of CTAs give Awayco more opportunities to play with language and show their audience that they’re on the same, ahem, wavelength.
Shoelace: “Download the Deck” (Free Download)
As a Good Witch once said, if you want a wish to come true you must repeat it three times (I’m paraphrasing here). By repeating the exact same call to action three times throughout this landing page (“Download the Deck”), Shoelace keeps the desired action top of mind and reinforces the visitor’s next step at the end of each benefits section.
We also love this example simply because the landing page and call to action design both embody the pop-art animated aesthetic of the brand perfectly—and you can bet the deck matches it as well.
ClaimCompass: “Claim your compensation” (Clickthrough)
Much like the example above, ClaimCompass drives home the audience’s goal by repeating the call to action three times. However, in this case, the wording is switched up in each instance in an attempt to match the reader’s intent.
They start off with the most forward phrasing at the top of the page (“Claim your compensation”) and tailor the next call to action to readers who are scrolling further for more information—perhaps because they’re unsure if they qualify (“Check if your flight is eligible”). At the very bottom of the page, ClaimCompass ends with the most urgent version of the call to action (“Check your flight now”) to re-engage leads who have scrolled to the bottom.
Bonus Tips to Keep in Mind (+4 More Call-to-Action Examples)
If you’re still searching for inspiration, there are plenty of awesome call to action examples out there in the wild. Here are a few lessons you can borrow from big-name brands.
Match the Messaging to Your Product
At first glance, there’s not a lot going on here–and that’s a big part of what makes this call to action example worth showcasing. The three-word headline and straightforward messaging explain exactly what the product does in the simplest way possible. Not only is this plain old good copy, but the simplicity is also a nod to just how easy it is to “get started.”
This page appeals to those who don’t want to make their own investing choices or actively manage their funds. The clean, simple design and basic language mirror the hands-off user experience offered by this platform. The minimalist messaging aligns with their easy onboarding and low-touch product experience.
The biggest lesson from this example? Keep your page design and call to action minimalist for low-touch products. Or, to apply this more generally, match the messaging to your product and audience pain points.
Use Two-Step User Flows to Gauge (and Grow) Commitment
This is a great example of how different CTAs can be used at specific points in the customer journey to build momentum and investment.
When leads first visit the page above, they’re invited to start a 15-day free trial. Rather than taking those who click “Try us free” straight to the sign-up page, leads are redirected to a landing page designed to learn more about them.
Everything about this user flow is designed to increase adoption and retention. By inviting prospects to customize their practice (with a casual, non-committal “Sounds good,” no less), Glo is taking advantage of leads’ interest and drawing them deeper into the app experience before they’ve even taken their first class.
Of course, those who click “No thanks” are simply redirected to complete registration. But if you do decide to “design your unique practice,” you’re telling Glo about your skill level and class preferences—which not only gets you more invested in using the app, but also allows them to provide custom recommendations and keep you engaged with relevant messaging.
Nip Objections in the Bud
We’re highlighting this page because it’s such a simple, smart example of catering directly to your ideal audience. In this case, the target customer is budget-conscious, which is why they’re interested in the product in the first place. They’re looking for savings and likely wary of hidden fees or extra expenses. That’s why the button doesn’t just say “Add to Chrome.”
By clarifying that Honey is free to download, the call to action provides extra context and pre-emptively addresses the most relevant customer objection: the cost (especially for a coupon-finding extension).
Play Up Customer FOMO
How often do people “reserve” shoes before they’re available? Most of us probably don’t—at least, not outside of a compelling Kickstarter campaign. Yet, that’s exactly what Vessi is encouraging website visitors to do in this unconventional CTA example.
Vessi taps into consumers’ “fear of missing out” (FOMO) by urging them to pre-order (or “reserve”) a yet-to-be-released sneaker style. This not only builds excitement and creates a sense of exclusivity around the product, but also motivates shoppers to commit to a future purchase.
In this case, the CTA appears on the homepage to draw attention and send more traffic to a specific store page. You can achieve the same effect by using popups and sticky bars to add clickable CTAs to your website or landing page. Best of all, popups and sticky bars makes it easy to experiment with different CTA language, placement, and design to see what clicks—without making changes to the rest of your copy.
Do More with Landing Pages that Inspire Action
A compelling call to action is a key part of effective marketing. In fact, you might say it’s the key. After all, there’s no action—or conversion—without a call to act. It’s your opportunity to ask readers to take a specific action and frame it in a way that speaks to your audience’s needs.
Now that you know what it takes to create an irresistible call to action, it’s time to take some action of your own! Ready to build a landing page that converts? Start applying what you’ve learned today with one of our 100+ designer landing page templates.