7 Tips for a Stronger Call to Action and a Bigger Response

More is Possible written on desert road

7 Tips for a Stronger Call to Action and a Bigger ResponseYou’ve written the main body text of an email for your client.

But, you’re not quite done yet. There’s one pressing bit of copy you still have to write.

Before you can wrap up your email, you need to add the link text that encourages your prospect to take the desired action.

So, you quickly type something like … “Click here to download your free report” … and copy and paste it several times throughout the email content you’ve just written.

Now, you’re finished. You send the copy off to your client.

But, in the back of your mind, you’re thinking …

“Could I have made that link text stronger?”

It’s a great question … one many copywriters ponder. That’s because a large part of the success or failure of the email you’ve just written depends on the strength of your call to action (CTA).

As a copywriter, it’s important you know how to write response-boosting CTAs, because, on top of being needed in emails, they’re used on web pages, eBooks, blog posts, social media posts, sales letters, and just about anything else you can think of.

The basic idea behind a good CTA is that you tell your reader what to do and how to do it, and you let him know you want him to do it right now … hence, the phrase “call to action.”

I’ve put together seven tips on how to write a strong CTA every time …

  1. Use action-oriented words – According to a study done by usability expert Jared Spool, when visitors find powerful action words on a landing page, they’re successful at completing their task 72% of the time. If the action word isn’t on the page, they’re successful only 6% of the time.An action verb, as the name implies, is a word that shows some kind of action. Examples of actionable words you might use in your copy are:  download, join, start, talk, call, register, subscribe, and donate. If you have trouble determining if a verb is actionable, ask yourself if it’s something a person can do.

  2. Put your CTA through the Four U’s – The Four U’s are one of the bedrock principles of copywriting. (You’ll find them described in detail in AWAI’s The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.) You should apply the Four U’s principle to every headline and subhead you write to determine if there are ways you can make your copy more Urgent, Unique, Useful or Ultra-specific. You should also apply this principle to each CTA you write. Here’s how:

    Urgency – Obviously, adding urgency works only if you’re offering something your reader wants. But, if you have that in place, strengthening the urgency is a key way to improve your CTA. Because, no matter where your CTA resides, you want your prospect to take action NOW. For example, you can add urgency by giving your offer an expiration date or time, by stating that quantities are limited, or by warning the reader there are only a few openings left (for something like a free consultation).

    Uniqueness – While uniqueness is not always possible in a CTA, it’s definitely something to strive for. What is your client offering that’s unique in the marketplace? It could be a unique offer, unique guarantee, or a unique benefit. You don’t always have to figure it out on your own.  Ask your client. They should have a pretty good idea.

    Useful – It seems like a no-brainer that your CTA should be useful. But, the key question you should be asking is, “How can I make it more useful?” You do this by clearly stating the benefits. For example, instead of, “Download your free nutrition report” … go with something like, “Free nutrition report: Learn how to eat healthy for life and never have to diet again.”

    Ultra-specificity – Using exact numbers (e.g., “5,312” instead of “over 5,000”) conveys to your reader that what you’re telling him is indeed true. Same goes with giving exact details. On top of adding believability, using specific figures and detailed facts creates more curiosity and interest within your reader.

  3. Remove risk – In general, people are still a bit suspicious of offers they receive via email or see in an online ad. They don’t want to commit to anything they’re not 100% comfortable with. So, it’s important to remove any fear or doubt your reader may have. Remind your prospect there’s “no obligation,” it’s “risk-free,” there’s a “money-back guarantee,” or provide the details that will make him feel secure enough to take action.

  4. Boost up your value proposition – A key element of good copywriting is to position the perceived value of your product or service as being greater than the price (money, time, effort) your prospect would pay. You can boost the value proposition in a number of ways. Depending on what it is you’re promoting, you can offer your reader a free gift, a special discount, an extra incentive, free shipping, a two-for-one deal, and so on.

  5. Feature the most important benefit – Make a list of all the benefits your prospect will receive from taking the desired action and highlight the most important benefit in your CTA.

  6. Consider using words that are less obligatory – “Try” and “Reserve your copy now” and “Add to cart” seem like less of a commitment than “Buy” and “Order.” Having said that, “Buy” is used frequently online and does tell your reader exactly what you want him to do.

  7. Avoid using “Click here” … or not – I thought I’d mention this, as there are two schools of thought on this topic. The first is that “Click here” contains no real incentive for your reader to take action, and that you waste valuable space by using it in your CTA. In addition, most people already know they’ll have to “Click here,” so there’s no need to direct them to do so. 

The other school of thought is that it’s important to include it, because it does tell your reader the specific action you want him to take. In a Copyblogger article, Brian Clark cites independent testing data showing that the correct two or three “click” link words can lift click-through rates by more than 8%. He then lists the results: “Click to continue” – 8.53% lift; “Continue to article” – 3.3% lift; “Read more” – a 1.8% decrease. Of course, that’s only one study, so the results shouldn’t be taken as gospel. The only way to know for sure is to test to see what pulls the best response.

In regards to the length of a CTA, one sentence is the most common. But there really is no hard and fast rule. The bottom line is that it should be long enough (or short enough) to get the job done.

Which is why, if the situation allows for it, you might suggest to your client that they test different CTAs against each other to determine which one has the highest conversion rate.

Don’t treat your CTA like an afterthought. Put the same energy and enthusiasm into your CTA as you do writing other copy. Keep these seven tips in mind and you can’t help but write CTAs that convert more readers into prospects and customers.


John Wood

One Comment

  • Good article Mr. Wood.

    It’s easy to forget the importance of the call-to-action, and how it should be included in all of your copywriting assignments.

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