5 Best Practices for Killer CTAs: Hooks, Lines and Keepers

Sign up now… As a writer, you’ve probably used this call to action (CTA) a hundred times. It’s not a bad way to initiate an offer or help encourage a potential sale, but it’s also not the only way. As more people are online using their smartphones to make their purchases, they’re drawn to congruence and directional cues that align with single focused messages. Shop. Buy. Free Trial. Download Now.

As a writer, you have the ability to help people decide where to click on a page by using the right CTA. This can help with goal conversion when the potential customer takes the action you suggest.

Use these Call-To-Action suggestions to help draw more traffic to a site’s page whether the site developer or marketer will use a CTA button or your link will take the customer directly to a landing page. Consider the following CTA best practice tips:

1. Use Power and Action CTAs

Goal: Let the audience know they need to immediately act to secure the deal.

Words like “Enter” and “Submit” can be a bit weak with customer conversions. Go for power and action CTAs like:

  • Reserve now
  • Get your copy today
  • Try a free trial now
  • Take This Course

Don’t be afraid to suggest strong key words. Replace words like “Go” with “Book Your Event Now”.

2. Use Cheeky CTAs

Goal: Let the audience know it’s a fun site that will draw a laugh or two and they’ll want to read more.

At Quick Sprout, they have a great CTA when you sign up for their newsletter. It reads,

“Sign up now. We promise, no SPAM. We don’t like canned meat either.”

These are fun ways – when appropriate, to get a laugh that builds trust with potential customers. It makes them want to read more so they can laugh again. Consider the type of customer who may enjoy dark humor and this can lead to increased clicks.

3. KISS: Keep it Simply Stated

Goal: Let the audience know you value their time and you can get to the point.

Another great segue with a CTA is to keep the Call-To-Action short and to the point. Using too many words means the reader has to, well, read more. Users can express distaste if content is too wordy so your CTA can be action-oriented and between three to five words.

Example of a bad CTA:

Give QuickBooks a Try: It’s Free for 60-Days

A better CTA might be:

Start My FREE 60-Day Trial

Another way to approach this is to keep it simple, but state it in a way that will help customers who may be reluctant if they think there’s a catch. Check out these CTAs:

30-Day FREE Trial. No Credit Card.

This CTA shows the trial, with no catch and the word FREE gives the value proposition. It also encourages users that when they click on the link, it will take them directly to the free trial which will start immediately and they don’t have to get their wallets!

4. Use a 1st Person CTA

Goal: Let your audience know you identify with them and you’re seeing things from their perspective.

To help customers identify with products and services, follow Michael Aagard’s advice. At Content Verve, he suggests that a CTA in the 1st person changes results by as much as 90%. Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes can change click-through rates or CTRs, build trust, and increase conversions.

Try CTAs like:

Start My Trial Now

Get My FREE Gift Now

Yes. Sign Me Up!

5. Show a Sense of Urgency

Goal: Let the audience know the offer shown is time sensitive and they should act now.

Jeff Bullas suggests that looking at sites like Amazon can help with sense of urgency CTAs. When you create a sense of urgency, it can raise CTRs because customers want to get the deal they believe has value. Consider the following effective CTAs:

  • Sign Up Now and Get 60% Off. Today Only!
  • Download the Full Book for $40 $15!
  • Register for The Business Mastery Class Now!

While these go over the standard CTA word count, the examples give a subtle sense of urgency and add value to what the customer believes they will receive when they take the suggested action.

As you can see from the various CTAs, whether they are being used for a CTA button or you are using them for a link that will take them to a particular landing page, you can change the CTA wording. A sense of urgency. A cheeky comment. A time sensitive deal. These are all great ways to draw customers in and increase click-through rates.

What are some of the CTAs that you’ve used in the past? Let us know which ones have worked best for you! We’d love to share them with the community!

Nikki Newman

Article by

Nikki is a gifted and successful writer in grad school who has been writing freelance for the past few years. Her writing has been used in various publications, e-books, articles, blogs, tutorials, and websites. She has worked with many clients where she has published articles and books.

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Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

A good CTA is so important, and knowing how to write something compelling can make a real difference. Great tips!

melissann
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melissann

I agree. The tips are useful. While you can write an informative piece all day long, making it marketable is what is essential.

Nikki Newman
Guest
Nikki Newman

Thank you. Someone else pointed out that the CTA can really sell the product/service if it’s effective. I love sites where they have something personalized, cheeky and simple like, “Send my FREE stuff now!” ;o)

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

I agree, Nikki. Sometimes in marketing content, the CTA should be a little lighthearted; that keeps it feeling young and fresh.

Tay H
Guest
Tay H

KISS: keep it simple, stupid? Maybe the last word has a negative tone but this is what I’ve always known the KISS principle to mean. It’s used the same way in the article but has been amended. Bringing humour into CTA’s is a fantastic tip and I agree with the I and You tone being used, even if the rest of the article is in third person form. This can actually help the CTA to stand out.

Georgia Potts
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Georgia Potts

Yeah, the “stupid” part always seemed a little aggressive to me. There must be a better way to convey that message without that word in it.

Tricia H.
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Tricia H.

Agreed. I like the use of “Keep It Simply Stated”.

melissann
Guest
melissann

I kind of like Keep It Simple Stupid, although I suppose it could be Keep It Simply Silly, or something like that. It reminds me, duh, keep it simple.

Nikki Newman
Guest
Nikki Newman

Silly is always more fun!

Georgia Potts
Guest
Georgia Potts

Yes! Silly would be a better way to word it, I think.

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

That’s always what I’ve known it to mean, too. Effective, but maybe not quite so professional.

Tay H
Guest
Tay H

I like the idea of Keep It Simply Silly, that brings it back into line with being a little more professional and silly carries less weight than stupid.

Val Tanaka
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Val Tanaka

I had never even heard of KISS before this article, but I like it. It should be simple enough for stupid people to understand it, and I’m stupid if I don’t keep a CTA simple 🙂

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

Urgency is effective, but I’d be curious to know how ethical everyone things emphasizing urgency is. Is it manipulative?

melissann
Guest
melissann

I think advertising, in it’s very nature, is manipulative. You are trying to get people to buy goods or services….it’s the nature of the beast.

Rachel Elle
Guest
Rachel Elle

I think all CTAs are by nature a little bit manipulative. That’s the whole point… persuading a reader into an action they may not have otherwise considered.

Nikki Newman
Guest
Nikki Newman

I think it can work against a brand if they post too many CTAs with a sense of urgency or use too many exclamation points. Saying something is time-sensitive and then seeing the same content in the following week, let alone the following day can be a red flag that it… wasn’t…. so…. urgent… after…. all…

Georgia Potts
Guest
Georgia Potts

I would agree that its al manipulative. And in a way, any writing of any kind is manipulative. It may be there to get you to buy something, or it may be there to get you to feel a certain way or to change your views about a topic.

Tricia H.
Guest
Tricia H.

I wondered the same thing about the CTAs that stress urgency or a time-sensitive offer. If I see something like that and then come back the next week and see the same ‘urgent’ CTA, I’ll feel a little manipulated. I think I’d be less likely to trust the website or organization.

auntieemily
Guest
auntieemily

I agree with the urgency part of this, for sure. You need to make it sound like the CTA is really important if you want people to actually follow through on it and not put it off for later – A.K.A. never do anything about it.

Nikki Newman
Guest
Nikki Newman

So true. I think it works great if its for a class, lecture series, anything where its a special offer for school, something along those lines. It also builds value.

Linnea S.
Guest
Linnea S.

That’s very helpful advice about putting the CTA in the first person. It looks like a proven, effective way to get visitors to buy the products on your site.

melissann
Guest
melissann

The title of this piece was what got me to click on it….so spot on and way to create an interesting, clickable title! This post offers useful advice, and reminds me to keep focusing on keeping it simple. Stop writing too many words, etc.

Tay H
Guest
Tay H

Me too, I liked the hooks, lines and keepers spin on hook, line and sinker with CTA fishing for business or new customers.

melissann
Guest
melissann

Creativity in an ever growing mass of content is hard. This shows that creativity can still exist simultaneously with good content.

Tay H
Guest
Tay H

Yes I agree. Being given the freedom to be creative in writing your content doesn’t mean you should accept a lesser standard. Instead it is possible for it to add to the readability of the content which after all is the aim here.

melissann
Guest
melissann

Quite true. I’m an optimist and believe you can always create a new spin, even on something old.

Georgia Potts
Guest
Georgia Potts

Yes, I liked the title of this one. Good imagery and a clever use of words!

Linnea S.
Guest
Linnea S.

Keeping your CTA as short as three to five words is a good goal to strive for. Marketing content should be punchy and to the point.

Rachel Elle
Guest
Rachel Elle

I agree. Long CTAs can feel a little forced.

Georgia Potts
Guest
Georgia Potts

I do try to keep them pretty short to avoid making them too obnoxious. Of course, if the whole piece is persuasive enough, that can be its own CTA.

Bethany A.
Guest
Bethany A.

Love tip number three.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

So do I. I don’t like being kept waiting. The same holds true for verbal communication. It drives me crazy when someone I’m talking to goes off on a long tangent before they get to the point.

Val Tanaka
Guest
Val Tanaka

I almost didn’t click on this, because I thought it was going to be some super technical article. I didn’t know what a CTA was, so I thought this had something to do with computer coding or other things I know nothing about. I was pleasantly surprised. I knew exactly what you were talking about, I just never thought of them as being a “call to action.” Great tips on how to create a good CTA, and thanks for teaching me some content jargon in the process.

Quinn Evans
Guest
Quinn Evans

“Cheeky” CTAs always make me think the site is a little scammy.

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