Stay Out of My Face: Create an Effective Call to Action

by Victor Green
3 mins read

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to catch your customers’ attention – this is the hook that reels in potential customers. In digital marketing, they prompt newsletter subscribers or visitors to take advantage of an offer, subscribe to a mailing list or even just learn more about your business. However, in the process of creating a good call to action (or CTA), it’s absolutely imperative not to be overbearing. Nobody wants to feel like they’re being yelled at, so how can you say what you need to say in a way that’s appealing, aesthetic and effective?

Terminology in a Hurry

Whether you’re working with email or text messaging, word choice is important. A good call to action says everything you want it to in as few words as possible while still being clear. When Shoestring Marketing University assembled a list of 50 highly effective phrases for use in CTAs, the old standard of “buy now” didn’t even make it to the bottom of the list – it’s not necessarily a surprise, nobody wants to be told to spend money in this economy.However, the phrases that did make the cut might be a bit different from you would expect:

  • Click here!
  • Offer expires March 1st
  • Act quickly
  • Reply
  • Your free trial is just a click away!

The one thing that all these phrases have in common is the creation of a sense of urgency, which is a must for any effective call to action. You want this to drive traffic now, not two weeks down the road! Also important is voice used for your CTA. A call to action should read like you’re speaking directly to a real person, so make it part of the bigger picture and integrate the phrasing you choose into the campaign naturally.


When it comes to looks, a CTA can be just about anything. With SMS marketing it’s all about the word choice – you can’t decide what it looks like when it gets to the other end, only how it reads – but with email marketing, there’s significantly more opportunity to work in some great aesthetics. It could be as simple as a contrasting hyperlink color or as complex as a metallic banner with the texture of brushed steel; just make sure it matches or compliments the look and feel of your campaign as a whole. If you work entirely in blues, add a splash of orange or yellow to your body text and make your call to action gold; if it’s earth tones, throw in a little green or blue and really make that hook pop.The most important thing about the look is that your call to action catches attention without being overly distracting. Avoid animations, “unique” oversized fonts, and, if you really don’t know what to do, then don’t be afraid to pass the project over to a professional. The better the craftsmanship on your hook, the better response you’ll get.

Always Take Notes

A little research goes a long way. Whether you’re a digital marketing veteran or you’re just starting out, trying multiple calls to action to segmented portions of your list can provide much-needed data on how to proceed with future campaigns. One particular style could generate more traffic and conversions than even subtle variations, but you won’t know how effective your CTA really is without a point of reference.Just remember, the best campaign in the history of marketing can fail with a poor call to action. You’re trying to appeal to people, so make it something that a person will want to see, and do everything you can to learn from the experience.

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