In marketing, a call-to-action (CTA) is a brief instruction for the target audience that includes a concise sales proposition and a list of reasons to take advantage of the opportunity right here and right now.

As a rule, a call-to-action is based on an imperative verb, such as “call”, “learn”, “sign up”, and so on.

Without effective CTAs and continuous improvement, marketing is impossible. Any advertisement is incomplete and illogical if the potential buyer does not hear or read what they were offered and how to obtain it.

what Call-to-Action looks like

What will be discussed

Frequently Asked Questions

What does call to action mean?

A call to action is a prompt for the audience to take a specific action, such as purchasing a product or ordering a service. CTAs can take the form of clickable text, buttons, or banners that lead to a page for downloading a file, product description, subscription, or registration.

How to compose a CTA?

To create an effective CTA, thorough understanding of the target audience and finding relevant propositions based on their queries is required.

What is CTA in marketing?

CTA in marketing stands for Call-to-Action, which are prompts to take specific actions such as subscribing to newsletters, placing an order, or signing up for a consultation. Often, with the help of CTAs, website visitors or email recipients are motivated to receive a lead magnet or download something for free.

What are the types of calls to action?

There are four types of CTA formulas: “action”, “action + time limit”, “action + benefit”, and “action + benefit + deadline”. It is best to combine in one call the description of benefits, urgency, and a pleasant and valuable bonus.

What is CTA in marketing?

A call-to-action (CTA) is an element on a website, in email newsletters, on social media, and in other marketing materials that prompts action. Typically, a CTA is a short piece of text that gives readers an understanding of what they need to do, why it’s beneficial for them, and why they should do it now.

The key to a powerful call-to-action lies in providing consumers with compelling reasons for making an immediate purchase rather than delaying the decision to buy.

“Call to action (marketing)”, Wikipedia

A call-to-action doesn’t necessarily immediately increase sales. It can be created to enhance trust among website visitors, their interest, and increase their time spent on the site. It can sound like “Watch a video about our company” or “Take a kitchen matching test”. Earlier, we wrote about virtual fitting rooms in online clothing stores. The offer to try on something from the catalog is also a call-to-action.

The relevance of a call-to-action depends on the characteristics of the target audience and external circumstances, including the situation in the country. For example, with the onset of war in Ukraine, people periodically changed their attitude towards advertising, which acquired a social and patriotic character. Marketers should understand the moods of potential customers and adapt their CTAs to them. Over time, new interests, needs, and fears may emerge—all of which should be taken into account when developing new propositions with calls-to-action.

Also, business owners and marketing departments should keep an eye on trends and utilize popular imagery to present their products. Not long ago, online clothing stores on Instagram showcased the Wednesday dance performed by models in appropriately selected attire. After a few months, most followers forgot about it, and instead, a Barbie movie premiered. On this occasion, several brands collaborated and launched campaigns featuring the trendy pink color. We compiled the most famous brands into collages. The call to action is conveyed here in a rather original way: through the trendy color, as it is already clear that one should buy as quickly as possible.

What is CTA in marketing on the example of Barbie

It is also worth mentioning the timeless and popular call “Be like [the name of any popular hero]“, which is aimed at triggering the consumer’s emotions and sending them to archetypal characters. If the image appeals to the potential buyer, they are likely to make a purchase because they associate themselves with a popular figure, even if fictional.

Why is CTA needed?

The main purpose of a CTA is to motivate the consumer to interact with the website or with email or other marketing materials. The call to action may be related to returning to the shopping cart and completing an order, as well as downloading a lead magnet. Examples of effective call to action can often be found on landing pages, where calls are often repeated and accompanied by visual elements.

Calls to action are used not only on commercial pages. If you run a blog to attract organic traffic, place short CTAs at the bottom of each page. Buttons with links can lead to the homepage or to a product card or section describing a specific service.

Calls to action would be relevant in sections like “About Us”, “Testimonials”, “Case Studies”, and others. The wording and design of the call to action depend on the content—for example, “Get more case studies” or “Ask the company director a question”. In any case, if a user has visited one of the internal pages of the website, it’s worth letting them understand what the company offers and how to get it.

According to a study published on Small Biz Trends, 70% of small business websites don’t include calls to action at all, while many other small businesses fail to make their calls compelling enough to achieve conversion goals.

“3 Critical Principles of Effective Calls to Action”, Aaron Agius

In what cases are call-to-action used?

  • Informing about quick clearance sales or boosting sales.
  • Demonstrating new products, projects, and company activities.
  • Updating prices, seasonal and holiday discounts with deadlines.
  • Entering a new market or targeting a new audience segment (e.g., launching a premium clothing line).
  • Inviting to an event. This often involves targeting on social media (online events) or distributing flyers (live meeting, exhibition, etc.).
  • Building brand image, increasing its recognition, and customer loyalty.

A call-to-action can be direct or indirect. Buying is not always the goal of placing a CTA on a website or elsewhere. Forming emotional attachment and loyalty to the brand can be just as important as conversion, and this is well understood by large companies and corporations, which use grand emotional statements, storytelling, and vibrant design in their indirect calls.

In general, CTAs with different content and formats should accompany clients at each stage of the sales funnel. For example, let’s consider how this can be implemented in promoting an online course for photographers.

Example Call-to-Action for a photographer’s website

  1. Attracting new clients, stimulating interest in the project, and increasing brand recognition through a lead magnet. CTA: “Sign up for a trial lesson and receive a portrait photographer’s checklist as a gift!”.
  2. Creating a sense of gratitude or obligation, responsibility for the gift through a tripwire (a product or service for a symbolic price). CTA: “Purchase a portfolio template for $2 and get a free expert consultation”.
  3. First sales. CTA: “Book your spot for the online course with a 15% discount until November 1st!”.
  4. Increasing the average order value or customer lifetime value through upselling. CTA: “Purchase the ‘Premium’ package and get your first orders within a month!”. At this stage, there may also be an increase in the customer base through referrals: “Refer a friend to our course and get a 50% discount on your tuition”, “Share about us on Facebook and receive a bonus from the curator”.

After completing the course, the client may continue to periodically receive newsletters from the company with new calls to action. This is done as part of cross-selling, where there is an offer to purchase a book or enroll in another course.

Types CTA

A call-to-action (CTA) is an element on a website, in an email newsletter, or on social media that encourages visitors to click a button or fill out a lead form. CTAs can vary depending on the niche and scale of the business, the needs of the target audience, and the advertising platform or type of marketing materials where the call is placed.

While typically examples of CTAs refer to short text prompts, any design element that encourages a user to take action can serve as a call-to-action. This can include banners, buttons, graphics—any design element that prompts the user to act. As potential customers move through the sales funnel, they encounter numerous CTAs along the way. By positively responding to them, they progress to the next stage of interaction with the company.

If we consider the call-to-action from the perspective of text and content, we can distinguish four types of CTA.

Call to action

For example: “Request a call”, “Subscribe to the newsletter”.

Call-to-action + time limit

For example: “Book your spot for the course—registration is open until August 21st.”.

Call-to-action + benefit

Examples: “Request a call and get a free expert consultation”, “Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about product updates and discounts”.

Call-to-action + Benefit + Deadline

A good example is the CTA on the first screen of the Prometeus writing mastery course website. In addition to two contrasting buttons with different calls to action (registration and free trial lesson), there is a description of the benefits of learning, that is, the benefits that graduates receive, and a time limit presented in the form of a countdown timer.

How to create an effective CTA?

Use additional elements: images and social proofs. A bright button with a clear call to action is great. However, an articulated promise to satisfy the user’s needs or solve their problem, along with visualizing the results nearby, is even better.

The use of testimonials, case studies, and other social proofs alongside a call to action can increase the conversion rate by 68.7%, but any such elements should be credible and impressive.

“3 Critical Principles of Effective Calls to Action”, Aaron Agius

Personalizing the call to action significantly improves the consumer response. If there is an interactive element on the website, it allows offering something more specific and relevant to each visitor’s needs. For example, for a furniture online store, this could be a demo version of a kitchen project or product recommendations in the visitor’s favorite interior style.

If we’re talking about cosmetics, a good solution would be to conduct a survey about the condition of the skin and hair, main problems, and goals. After that, there could be an offer to receive a personalized skincare routine with individually selected products. The interaction can be completed by a manager who, in a phone call, can provide consultation and assist with placing an order.

How to create an effective CTA

High-converting landing pages typically contain several similar calls to action placed in different parts of the page. The same can be said for quality commercial emails for electronic newsletters. Such messages often contain three links or buttons, thus preparing the recipient for each subsequent call to action. 

“Smart sales offers often include a series of small calls to action that lead to the final call to action. These small calls to action create a behavioral model that facilitates the audience’s completion of the final call to action by executing a more demanding request than if it were presented without context”.

Call to action (marketing)”, Wikipedia

To analyze the effectiveness of CTAs, use the conversion rate metric. Test the text, form, color, and placement of CTA elements. The best way to test the effectiveness of a call to action is through A/B testing, where different graphic images and text calls to action are shown to different user segments on the same page. The combination of visual and textual components that generate the highest number of clicks or link transitions can be used in future projects for the company.

In the process of creating calls to action, it’s desirable to familiarize yourself at least with the basic principles of neuromarketing—the science that studies consumers’ emotional responses to marketing stimuli.

What is a meme and what does CTA have to do with it?

The basis of neuromarketing is the meme. A meme is a unit of information stored in the brain. These units are effective for influencing a person making a choice and decision, acting within 2.6 seconds. If the meme is chosen correctly, we will remember the positive, jokes, or songs and share them. Memes remain in memory, and marketers can influence them.

Examples of memes include the aroma of freshly baked bread, sweets, or grandma’s pie; fairy tale characters; melodies that linger in our memory for a long time. In this way, neuromarketers study people (brain scans, identification of subconscious motives) and can try to manipulate them using appropriate memes.


What is a meme and what does CTA have to do with it

So, an effective call to action cannot be created without understanding the target audience and the ability to work with consumer emotions. There are 6 key emotions that can impact the results of CTA implementation.

emotions for CTA

6 emotions for CTA

number for list one

Fear or guilt

The marketer’s goal in this case is not to scare or criticize the customer but to remind them of an existing negative emotion and offer help. This could be fear of change, loss of physical fitness, poverty, or other negative phenomena. As for guilt, this emotion is often associated with one of the following emotions—feeling of love. Typically, marketers appeal to loving parents, romantic couples, responsible pet owners, etc., with this approach.

number for list two

The feeling of belonging

The feeling of belonging has always been a fundamental aspect of human nature. Since ancient times, this desire to be part of a tribe or community has remained unchanged—everyone wants to be united with others for a common purpose, although sometimes this desire may be hidden deep in the subconscious.

This strong and universal feeling can be utilized in your call to action. Offer to join a community, a closed Telegram channel, or another format of a community. You can also use loyalty programs with discounts for regular customers or organize contests with social media mentions.

number for list three

Anger or pride

Anger can actually be an effective motivator. By triggering a strong desire to prove something to oneself or others, you can push the consumer towards taking action that aligns with your call-to-action. Taking this into account, the company CreateDebate encouraged website visitors to “Debate Now”.

6 emotions for CTAs Anger or pride
number for list four


The most positive advertising is created based on influencing this feeling. Emotions associated with love, parental tenderness, or self-appreciation most often come into play when making purchasing decisions for cosmetics, gifts, clothing, footwear, accessories, as well as sweets and other “pleasurable” items. This emotion also underlies the CTA of travel agencies, beauty salons, florist studios, and event organizers.


The feeling of independence, high social status, wide choice, and the ability to obtain a product or service regardless of its price—all of these make the consumer breathe faster and ultimately press the button. The scale of the offer depends on the business niche—from the freedom of driving a premium car to the option of buying a TV on installment.

Curiosity, humor

In its email newsletter, the educational project for accountants, FactorAcademy, used a joke about a battle between a YouTube channel and an Instagram profile. Bright images and the concise nature of the message create a relaxed atmosphere and motivate the recipient to click on both buttons.

“A recent Hubspot study of over 40,000 websites revealed that using simple language like “Send” or “Download makes the call to action much less effective than most people imagine. Instead, you should add some spice to it and make it attractive”.

“6 Easy Ways to Incorporate Emotional Appeals Into Your Website’s Call to Actions”, Alex Bashinsky

Principles of CTA effectiveness

Let’s consider the main principles of creating CTAs that will help you increase the conversion of marketing materials or your website.

  • The call to action should capture the attention of the readers.

Contrast in the text or button increases the likelihood that the user will take the desired action. If the CTA blends in with the content on the page, potential clients may not notice it and simply read the information. It is also advisable to leave free space around the button or link.

  • Imperative mood and active verbs.

Use the word “Want” and other first-person words. A split test by Beem Digital showed that replacing the pronoun “your” with “my” in the CTA button on the landing page increased CTR by 90%.

  • Brevity

Use short phrases and epithets. A limited number of options makes the choice easier. This applies to both offers and the products themselves.

  • Mention of time or cost savings

Discounts, promo codes, and bonuses increase the conversion of buttons and encourage potential customers to choose yours among other offers.

  • Clear deadline

Limit users in time. One of the most popular ways to expedite decision-making is a countdown timer. For selling products, a price reduction until a certain date will work, while for events and courses, a limited number of seats is suitable.

  • Clarity and persuasiveness

The call-to-action should be specific and compelling. Show the potential customer the result they will achieve after completing the desired action. This could be obtaining their dream profession after completing a course or improving their skin condition after using skincare products.

  • Auxiliary elements

Use social proof and images. You can provide exact figures or show the product being unpacked—it all depends on the business niche.

  • Dynamic and emotional appeal

By appealing to the desired emotion of the user, you can remind them of a problem or amplify their desire to gain a certain benefit. The call to action should overcome the natural inertia of readers and inspire them to take action.

  • Relevance to the needs of the target audience

Before developing CTAs, conduct an analysis and segmentation of your target audience. Use different calls-to-action for separate segments of your customer base, taking into account their needs and interests.

  • Alignment with the business goal

If your current goal is to increase repeat sales or boost the average order value, a call to subscribe to newsletters may not be a priority. In this case, it would be more beneficial to offer a discount on the next purchase or a service package.

  • Repetitiveness

Different formulations and designs of CTAs will allow you to conduct quality A/B testing and engage a larger number of users. For example, on a landing page, the call to action can be presented as an expanded offer on the first screen, an open lead form in the middle of the page, and a bright button at the end. An additional call to action is often placed in a popup.

Examples of CTA

On practically every website and in every email newsletter, you can find CTAs. However, not all of them will be good examples. Some marketers and business owners forget about the problem their product solves, and instead of appealing to specific emotions and audience needs, they focus on direct sales. Words like “Buy” and “Order” don’t always persuade potential customers to do so. The further along the sales funnel the consumer is, the less willing they are to spend money. A large number of calls to action to place an order can be perceived as pushy.

Make a list of problems that your product solves and create a list of calls to action (CTA), each of which addresses the pain points of your target audience (TA). You can place a “Call a Master” button on your website or add a more convincing argument: “Schedule a convenient time with our master and get free furniture measurements”.

Principles of CTA effectiveness

One of the best triggers to use in CTAs is a guarantee. Instead of saying, “After auditing your website, you will increase your sales,” state: “Your sales will increase by 20% in 30 days.” This increases the value of your product. Remember that promises should be substantiated and based on the company’s real achievements, capabilities, and case studies. The New York brand The Arrivals offers website visitors to join the newsletter and receive a 10% discount. Under the call to action and visualization of the shopping cart, there is a button to go to the product catalog.

Examples of CTAs

On the special offers page of the Virgin Group network, there are numerous compelling calls to action. Some of them include deadlines and bonuses: “Plan ahead and save. Book your stay for seven or more days and save up to 15% plus breakfast at Virgin Hotels”.

Others primarily appeal to emotions: “The real world will still be there when you return, but for now, there’s only the luxury, the luxury of dreams! Book a room for seven days or more and save up to 35% at Virgin Hotels”.

Examples of CTAs in the Virgin Group network

Agent Car Security, a studio specializing in car safety and additional equipment, offers a free diagnosis of car lighting and an estimate of the cost of its improvement.

Humboldt California’s Redwood Coast invites you to visit a fairy tale on their posters: “Welcome to Humboldt. Follow the magic”.

СТА Humboldt California’s Redwood Coast example

The company Netflix showcases the benefits of subscription and the option to cancel it anytime:

“Unlimited movies, series, and more. Watch anywhere. Cancel anytime. Ready to watch? Enter your email to create or restore membership”.

An example of a call to action from Netflix

The CTA of the Prezi presentation creation service stands out with its dynamism. “Ready to make your big impact? We are”. This is a real call aimed at emotions. Such calls reinforce determination, especially when combined with a contrasting animated button.

CTA of the service for creating Prezi presentations

The principles of repetition and relevance to the needs of the target audience are excellently utilized on the website of the free educational platform for learning and skill development, Alison. Here, various formulations of CTAs are used, and buttons are evenly distributed along the length of the page.

The series of calls to action begins with a headline, descriptor, and the first button: “Discover who you truly are. Developed by expert psychologists, Alison’s free workplace personality assessment will empower you to pursue your career dreams by providing an incredibly accurate report on who you are and why you do what you do”.

Start your free workplace personality assessment.

A concise description of how the platform works combined with the call to action: “Find a career that suits you best”.

If on the first screen of the page, visitors to the site were offered to start a free personality assessment, then in the middle part, the offer slightly changes: “Get the results of your personality assessment”.

One of the last CTAs sounds like “Stand out from the crowd”. This dynamic call is created to appeal to emotions, namely the feelings of freedom and pride.


A call to action is one of the key elements of a website and other marketing tools. The only thing more important may be the headline, but it too can take the form of a CTA, which is often implemented in email marketing.

A call-to-action should stand out from the rest of the content both in terms of its message and visually. Describing the benefit, providing social proof, creating urgency with time limits, and offering bonuses are excellent complements to a CTA. Sometimes, the design of the button plays a crucial role. The most effective design can be determined through A/B testing. If it’s not about a website but rather email marketing, the analytics of an automated sending service will guide you on the optimal placement and appearance of the call-to-action. To improve CTAs in messengers and social media, UTM tags will be needed.

Call-to-action (CTA) can perform various functions relevant to your business goals and audience needs. These include rapidly increasing sales, strengthening brand trust, and expanding the customer base through lead magnets. CTAs are used at every stage of the sales funnel, so it’s important to dedicate maximum attention to their creation and optimization.

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