How to write a call to action: 5 killer tips for winning at ecommerce

The handful of words that you use to inspire your audience to perform a certain action are absolutely critical for conversion. Here’s how to nail it and help translate that into great results for your business.

How to write a call to action: 5 killer tips

Calls to action and the customer journey

You may have produced a stonking viral video, written a witty blog or put together an eye-catching email newsletter, but as entertaining and informative as the material may be, without an effective call to action (CTA), your hard work will be in vain.

A call to action is vital, as it moves the user along the customer journey and, ultimately, feeds them into the sales funnel. It can appear at any touchpoint along the journey, including all marketing channels and pages of your website.

Calls to action play a key role in conversion, so it’s well worth taking a close look at how yours currently perform. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and cast a keen eye over all of your channels to see how effective the calls to action are.

Look at the journey each CTA takes you on. When you perform the requested action, what is the next CTA that you come across and how does that fit into the wider journey?

Here are some tips to help you to create CTAs that customers won’t ignore:

1. Don’t always go for the sale

Of course it’s tempting to strike while the iron’s hot and try to bundle your attentive audience into the sales funnel, but first consider whereabouts they are in the customer journey. If they are at an early point in the journey, where they may have come across your brand for the first time, they may not be ready to buy. Too much, too soon will be off-putting, so instead a more suitable CTA could be to sign-up to your email.

Turning users into a subscriber should generate revenue down the line, so keep in mind that this is a marathon not a sprint. A quick go on Google’s customer journey to online purchase tool will help you to pinpoint where exactly your channels fit into the journey to help you tailor content and CTAs.

Make sure that, whatever the CTA, it has the potential to add real value to the customer. This will help to establish the foundations of a trusted relationship.

2. Make your language friendly and personal

Language and grammar needs to tread the line between dry – ‘Submit your details here’ – and excitable – ‘Clickity click here!’. Finding a friendly middle ground will have more general appeal.

Personalising the wording to make it user-centric – ‘Start my free trial’ – can help too. A study found that a simple swap of ‘you’ to ‘my’ resulted in 90% more click throughs.

3. Inspire an action

A CTA should be concise, clearly outlining what the user needs to do and what they will receive. Buy, download, subscribe, learn or share: whatever it is that you want the customer to do should be instantly understood.

Add in a sense of urgency – ‘Today is the last day of the sale’– to further compel the user to act. The example below from Cancer Research shows 2 punchy CTAs.
How to write a call to action: 5 killer tips

4. Be creative

Users are inundated by countless CTAs on a daily basis. Make yours stand out by trying something different.

It is important to draw on your brand personality and make sure that the CTA is in keeping with the content that it sits within. This example from Airbnb is minimal, on brand and just a teeny bit inspiring.
How to write a call to action: 5 killer tips

5. Test and refine

A spot of A/B testing will help you to select the most effective words for your audience. Make only small tweaks before testing, this will ensure that you know exactly which words or terms perform best for future use.

Tests are straightforward to run – simply create two versions of the material and measure the actions over a set period, allowing enough time to get a large sample. Hubspot provides a CTA tool that can help you test and measure the results.

How to write a call to action: the bigger picture

Calls to action should knit together your channels and facilitate the customer journey. They have the potential to increase ecommerce conversion rate and revenue and also to grow a satisfied customer base that will have a lasting relationship with your business.

Thomas Quillfeldt

Thomas Quillfeldt

Editor, eCommerce Insights

March 4, 2016

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