Powerful CTAs: What They All Have In Common

Powerful CTAs: What They All Have In Common

They are arguably one of the most important elements of your site: Calls to Action (CTAs). They are basically directives for your target audience — instructing them in terms of what action to take and why. CTAs tell you how and why to purchase a product, how and why you should sign up for an email subscription, and how and why you should use a service.

Good CTAs will answer these questions, but it’s your job to come up with the where, when and what in terms of placement and context. You can have a series of CTAs on your site, and in order to use them to your best advantage, you must be strategic about how you say something and when (in the context of the customer journey). The words you choose should be specific and dependent on where your audience is situated in the sales process.

For example, depending on your type of business, you’ll want to use friendly (but not pushy) language for your landing page CTA. Lead with something clear and informative, something that will drive your average visitor to complete a task and get engaged. The first CTA should act as a hook. The more conversions, the more you up the ante. It’s like any sales transaction: you don’t want to scare the customer off in the first five minutes. Intead, you play it cool but add a tiny incentive to gain interest, almost like you’re a shop owner who matter-of-factly mentions a 20% off sale when a customer walks in. Once the customer becomes engaged with you, you can introduce things like exclusivity and urgency.

No one wants to be bombarded, not even from a computer screen. How does one choreograph this somewhat tricky dance gracefully? We’ve outlined some tips below. As you will learn, there are several things that all powerful CTAs have in common.

Elements of Powerful CTAs

A good CTA is:

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A good CTA will leave no question in the customer’s mind as to what step to take next.


Brevity is all when it comes to CTAs, which makes word choice all the more important.


The message has got to sparkle in order to grab your audience’s attention.


There needs to be a very good reason for taking any suggested action, and the action should be appropriate to whatever device is being used. No one wants to do research on their phone. Save the in-depth for the laptop version.


Let the consumer know what’s in it for them before you ask them for anything!  


Avoid using words and phrases that have been used ad nauseum by everyone selling anything, including an experience or service or product. This includes “Buy Now”, and the “Submit” button.


Successful CTAs have been tested using A/B Testing.


Let’s not forget this one. People process images more quickly than words, and you should use this to your advantage. Pay attention to details like color, size, font, etc.


Whether good or bad, humans love exclusivity and feeling like they have been chosen to be part of an elite community. Using phrases like “Members Only” and “Exclusive Access” are usually well-received.

Put it into Context

Sometimes words land in the wrong way. We’ve all done it at some point or another- said the right thing at the wrong time. Strategic placement of CTAs is like a smooth talker at a cocktail party: s(he) knows exactly what to say and when to say it in order to get the desired outcome. Putting a CTA in the proper context absolutely contributes to whether or not it is successful. It’s not just about using the right tone and the right language for your target audience, although those are super important as well. It’s about where on your site you say it and at what juncture.

Minimize the Risk

Most people are risk-averse. If they click on a link, they want to know it’s both safe and will deliver on its promise. If you want them to engage with your site, offer them a free trial or an otherwise ‘at no cost’ option. Offer them something that will seem 100% beneficial to them. You’ll see that it will ultimately benefit you.

Make it Personal

People really like personalized attention: it’s just the way humans work. Everyone wants to feel like they are special and like people are listening to them. Play into the psychology of things a bit, and use inclusive and inviting words, like ‘join’, ‘share’, and ‘contact me’. This lets your audience know that their opinions are valued. (And you know what they say about opinions.)

Avoid Friction

What do we mean by ‘friction’? Essentially, friction is anything that will get in the way of a conversion, or sale. This means anything that will cause a customer to hesitate or otherwise quit the endeavor/leave the site. According to this instapage article, “Words like “Submit,” “Buy,” “Sign Up,” and “Download” are high friction words when used by themselves. These words imply that the visitor has to perform chores…”

It’s just too much pressure. There are ways to imply the same sense of urgency that land a bit softer and more effectively. For example, simply using an exclamation point in a CTA gives the target audience a sense that they need to do this RIGHT NOW. As long as you are judicious with context and wording, you should feel free to use exclamation points for emphasis.

Get people to interact without spamming. As long as your CTA fulfills all the important requirements, you should be able to balance on this fine line gracefully.