Last updated Feb 26 2020

Call to action: a definition

A call to action (CTA) is a prompt on a website that asks users to perform an action like signing up for a newsletter, downloading a demo, or buying a product.

A CTA can appear as a clickable button or as hyperlinked text, and is often seen in a pop-up form or directly on the page. When potential customers click on it, they are one step closer to conversion: if you were to click on the call to action button below, you'd be one step closer to signing up for Hotjar.

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Common call to action examples

You’ve probably seen and clicked on CTA buttons like the following:

  • Sign up today
  • Get your free ebook
  • Try a 14-day free trial!
  • Download template now
  • Get 20% off your first order
  • Learn more
  • Schedule a free consultation
  • Register for the free webinar
  • Add to cart
  • Add to wishlist
  • Buy now
  • Checkout
  • Follow us on Instagram
  • Share on Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook:
social

CTAs can also appear as hyperlinked text in action phrases, such as:

  • Want to know more? Read our post on XYZ!
  • Have you ever done XYZ? Tell us about it in the comments.

Why are CTAs important?

An effective call to action is a key ingredient in your webpage and your sales funnel as a whole.

  • People are more likely to do something when you prompt them to do it. By making the step easy and obvious, you increase the odds that they’ll continue through your sales funnel and eventually convert.
  • A CTA can also encourage users to interact more with your website. For example, a CTA at the end of a blog post can provide links for people to read more about the subject, or it can ask them to share their own thoughts in the comments section. By encouraging users to stay on the website, you invite them to become more familiar with your brand—which builds trust and opens the door for future conversions.

What a successful CTA looks like

If you research CTAs, you’ll find some strong opinions and best practices about which colors or shapes works best to convert... but those discussions miss the larger point.

Of course, you want to choose a color that stands out so people are more likely to see it, but don’t waste too much time obsessing over it. The mark of a successful CTA is not whether it's green or orange, but whether it actually helps users achieve their goals.

What drives users to your website?

Every time someone visits your website, they’re looking to accomplish something or solve a problem—these are the drivers that brought them to your website, and if you can offer them a solution, you are more likely to earn their conversion.

If you’re trying to get newsletter signups, for example, explain the value your newsletter provides. What will they gain by giving you their email address, and how will it improve their lives?

Or if you're an ecommerce site and you're trying to increase conversion or click-through rates, you could use your unique selling proposition (USP) to build up to your call to action: what makes your business stand out from the competition? Why should prospective customers choose your company?

Hotjar CTA example markup

Rather than endlessly tweaking the size, shape, position, or button color, use action words to make your case in simple, straightforward language. If you do it right, the ‘Try it free’ button will become irresistible no matter what color it is.

🔥Pro tip: nothing stops you from having multiple CTAs on the same page for users who need more information to make up their minds—so if you go the multiple CTA way, make sure your top-choice one stands out through color and shape. Here is an example:

hotjar-cta

See how Hotjar’s product page end includes three CTAs? We give users:

  • The opportunity to ‘See pricing’
  • The opportunity to learn more about conversion rate
  • The option to ‘Try it for free’

The latter CTA is the one that stands out the most from a visual perspective, inviting people who are ready to convert to dive right in.

How to write a CTA

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for writing the perfect CTA for your business—in fact, there are plenty of different formulas you can try—but every impactful CTA is written in a way that grabs your audience’s attention, creates a sense of urgency, and compels them to take the desired action.

An example formula for writing a CTA is:

problem + solution + action

Here’s an example of that formula from our current home page:

The problem: you need a fast and visual way to understand your users

The solution: Hotjar has everything your team needs to uncover insights and make the right changes

The action: try it free

Discover the most effective CTA for your business

The best way to figure out whether your CTA is working is to test it against other CTAs—a technique called A/B testing. When you A/B test two elements, you send half your users to a landing page that features one CTA and the other half to another page with a different CTA.

Once you’ve got a large enough sample size, you’ll know which CTA gives you the most conversions. Then you can test any future CTAs you create against the winner.

Learn more about A/B testing so you can find the right CTA for your market.