Call-to-action, or CTA, is a direct appeal that nudges the audience to take specific action, like purchase a product, subscribe to a service, or download a lead magnet.
They are as old as the marketing itself. In the digital era, collecting business cards or sending back filled-out forms has been replaced by a (usually) big, bold, and distinctly-visible CTA button that follows the audience across websites, blogs, apps, and social media platforms.
CTAs help businesses gain new leads, increase signs-ups and help bloggers and writers expand their audiences. Depending on what you’re aiming for, the nature and design of call-to-actions might change, but at its core, all effective CTAs have to follow best design practices and send out a clear message.
Here’s a breakdown of different types of CTAs you can use, how to choose the most suitable one, and how to create the most effective CTA for your blog.
Most commonly used call-to-actions in blog posts
1) Subscribe for more content
Asking readers to subscribe for more content is probably the most commonly-used CTA for bloggers and businesses as it aims to build a community of engaged readers. Besides regularly driving traffic, building a subscriber list can help you maintain a database of valuable customers, leads, and potential customers.
The CTA to subscribe for more such content is usually tucked away at the end of the blog post or appears as a pop-up when the reader tries to shut the tab. Many blogs have it as a permanent fixture for new audiences, and it usually contains a one-line description with space to input an email id or a phone number. Head over to HubSpot or Neil Patel’s blog and see the pop-ups that appear when you’re about to close the tab or leave the page. In case you’re wondering if they work, a subscribe checkbox or pop-up can increase conversion by more than double as per HubSpot.
2) CTAs that are part of your lead magnet offers
A limited period offer, free downloadable e-books and resources, or offering a special discount to your readers makes them feel valued and significantly increases the chances of future engagement. By providing something of value – a resource, a webinar, a discount – for free, you offer your readers an exclusive benefit that makes you more favorable.
Readers are more likely to subscribe or provide their email id in exchange for a free resource or exclusive discount, which takes you one step closer to converting them. This simply means that you need to prove the worth and value of your content from the moment you go, even before the customer journey has begun.
Quick sidenote: the word ‘free’ is one of the most-effective words you can use in your CTAs!
3) Interlinking to landing and money pages
Businesses that have a content marketing strategy and focus on generating leads through organic traffic have two options:
- try to rank their money pages
- transfer traffic from their blog to their money pages
If you focus on the latter, interlinking becomes very important. The idea behind it is simple. You have posts that get a lot of traffic. You place interlinks in the form of call-to-actions in relevant places in the blog and hopefully lead some readers to your money pages.
This is a practice often (ab)used by affiliate sites. They will have a high ranking post that reviews “X best products for this and that” and a lot of the links included in the post will lead to their or their partner’s product pages.
Affiliates aside, this is a practice anyone can use really:
- SaaS business can use it to lead traffic to their “schedule a demo/start free trial” landing pages
- bloggers can use that to lead readers to their paid courses and similar offerings
- service providers can use it to lead readers to their service pages
- and so on
Here is an example from Limble CMMS (offers a SaaS product) that uses this approach a lot in their blog posts:
For maximum effect, try to make sure that the text of the link implies where it leads to and that it is relevant to the topic in question. Otherwise, people either won’t be interested to click on the link or you’ll risk getting irrelevant leads.
4) Follow/share on social media
Adding social media links as CTA might seem like is a no-brainer as they work rather well in helping people discover and follow your social media handles and easily share your content on social channels.
The more advanced approach is providing premade Tweet readers can use to share an important point along with the article with just a couple of clicks. You will find those embedded directly into the post like in the picture below.
You can also provide these CTAs to share insights, analysis, images, infographics, and charts individually, with pre-written captions.
If you’re providing an option to share the entire blog on social media, make sure your blog’s feature image, headline, and meta description are accurate as these elements are most likely to be embedded while sharing.
5) Getting people to comment
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book to increase engagement on a blog and probably the reason why blogging took off in the first place. You can simply end your blog post by asking readers to share their experiences and thoughts in the form of direct “what do you think” questions or specific topic-based questions. You can also set up a debate of sorts and ask people to defend or criticize certain ideas or conduct a poll and invite readers to participate.
Getting this kind of feedback will help you improve your content and acquaint you with readers who are interested enough in what you are saying to share back. These interactions can form the bedrock of dialogue, and eventually, a community of highly-engaged readers.
Choosing the best CTA for your blog
Determining which CTA is the most suited for your blog depends on several factors. To help you decide, ask yourself the following questions:
What is your goal?
To choose the best type of CTA in your posts, you need to know what you require from your audience. Do you want to encourage them to purchase a product or a service? Do you want to grow your subscriber list? Do you want readers to explore other blogs and your website? Depending on the answers to these questions, you can select the best CTA for the occasion.
Also, think about pairing. For instance, informational posts in the awareness phase are great to pick up subscribers while comparison guides for readers that are at the decision stage in your marketing funnel will be more receptive to sales proposals.
Is your CTA truly a one-click action?
Once you know what you want from your audience, you need to make sure that they have to do minimal work after clicking on your CTA. Affiliate links should directly take them to the product landing page, Amazon links should add products to the cart, social media CTAs should automatically result in following or subscribing, and signing up should be enabled with a single email id or social media profile.
If you make your visitor work too hard by asking them too much information, they’re more likely to give up midway. Reducing the number of form fields can improve the conversion rate by more than 100%!
How will you track the CTA’s performance?
A critical aspect of choosing the right CTA is the ability to track conversions and clicks. Without an accurate and reliable tracking mechanism, adding CTAs to a blog is like shooting an arrow in the dark. You can also use the following to measure how well your CTA is doing:
- Tracking-link generator tools
- WP plug-ins like Thrive Leads or ConvertPro
- Online QR code generator to create customized QR codes in bulk
- Other tools to track and improve conversions
Whether you use an overlay report system or a link-tracking system, you must collect and analyze your click-through data to understand how your CTAs impact audience behavior and experience.
Should you add more than one CTA?
There is no hard and fast rule regarding the number of CTAs you can add to your blog, but be sure to have one focused CTA throughout the post. You can add a few secondary CTAs, maybe towards the end or in-text, only if they are relevant.
For example, if you have a blog post that entices users to buy a particular product, the most prominent CTA should be regarding the said product only. You can add links to similar blogs or other products as secondary CTA, as long as they are not obtrusive and forced. It is, however, best to limit yourself to one or two secondary CTAs per blog.
Creating the perfect Call To Action
Knowing and choosing the right CTA is not enough to create a compelling and effective CTA. You must also take into account the following:
Wordplay and length
CTAs like ‘Click Here,’ ‘Sign Up,’ and ‘Know More’ are way too common to stand out and grab attention. Unlike SEO keywords, you can be creative in phrasing your CTA that reflects the benefit of taking the action instead of simply asking readers to click or sign up.
So, coin creative phrases like ‘Discover the secrets to…’, ’Get an exclusive offer,’ ‘Redeem your prize,’ ‘Book my FREE trial,’ ‘Get special access NOW,’ etc. Using first-person and personalized CTA copy has shown to result in higher conversions.
Furthermore, while most CTAs are short phrases of a few words, in some cases, longer CTAs might do a better job (like redirecting to another blog post or website). The bottom line is that you need to use strong verbs to demonstrate the benefits of taking the action and speak directly to your audience.
Whenever possible, your CTA should convey the urgency to click, or learn, or sign up. Using words like ‘now,’ ‘today,’ and ‘start’ can add a sense of urgency and encourage your audience to interact with CTAs more immediately. This is specially true if you promote a limited-time discount, sale, trial, or launching a new product or service.
The other way to go about it is to inculcate exclusivity, like ‘Get Premium Access,’ ‘Redeem Special Offer,’ ‘Get Your Own…’ etc.
There are many ways to place a CTA in your blog. Do you want a permanent header that stands out noticeably, sidebar forms, at beginning or end of blog posts, slide-in bars, or action-based pop-ups?
There are pros and cons of each position, but as long as the CTA button or slider is not obstructing the content, you can change them as much as you like. Generally, placing your CTA towards the right or bottom is likely to get more attention as most people read left to right and scroll from top to bottom. The placement is essential because anchor text CTAs have helped HubSpot improve conversions by 121%! Here are some other findings by HubSpot:
- End-of-the-post banner CTAs contribute to a small percentage of the total leads
- Anywhere between 47% and 93% of the leads in a blog post came from the anchor text CTA
- Slide-in CTAs perform better than end-of-the-post CTAs
- CTAs that are relevant to the blog will do better than randomly-placed CTAs
Design and prominence
One of the reasons why most blogs have big and contrasting CTA buttons in addition to in-line CTAs is to give them prominence. The human brain is wired to observe contrasting colors and designs naturally, and that’s why placing your CTA in a rectangular button helps it stand out.
Depending on your blog’s design and UI, you can experiment with different shapes, sizes, fonts, and palettes of CTA designs to select the ones that look the most aesthetically pleasing and grab attention. If your blog’s CTA isn’t sticking out from the rest of the post (in the best possible way) you need to redo your CTA. Remember, CTAs in the form of buttons have a 45% higher click-rate, and even colors influence click-through rates.
Link and A/B testing
Don’t forget to test the CTA link before publishing the blog post to ensure that users are redirected exactly where you want them to do. Broken links are not only a missed opportunity but also spoil the user experience tremendously.
Compare and contrast the results of differently-styled CTAs to identify the best CTA for your blog. Thus, keep experimenting with the phrasing, design, and position to test what type of CTA your audience responds to.
As marketing evolves and newer trends emerge, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel regarding CTAs, but simply adapt them to existing tools and platforms.
Use strong verbs and persuasive words, be creative, make them visible and relevant, and you will successfully nudge your readers to take action. After all, the great content you publish on your blog shouldn’t be just for show – you have worked hard to get it published, now it’s time it returns the favor.
Tanishq Agarwal is a marketing analyst at Beaconstac. Extremely inquisitive about the contemporary developments in marketing tech, he aspires to bring the most pragmatic ones to the forefront.