I decided to write this article as I think there are some important things here that require your immediate attention.
It's not just writing call to action for your email outreach. It's really for your entire marketing/sales game.
Here's how the article is organized:
- Understanding the context of CTAs
- How to write a high-converting call to action?
- Language as the GLUE of powerful CTAs
- We'll create an email together ... lemlist style
- Powerful CTA insights from big and small companies
Understanding the context of CTAs
Before we start writing the call to action, it’s important to understand its purpose and intent. In other words, what do we want to accomplish?
Trying to sign up people for a free trial and aiming to warm up leads through email are two entirely different approaches. You ought to have a clear call to action that sets the expectation right from the start.
Always analyze the context. CTA buttons go hand-in-hand with your copy. Use the copy to set the game and draw interest, then have your CTA ready as a gateway to drive action and guide your prospect through different stages of your funnel.
How to write a high-converting call to action?
As previously stated, writing call to actions is only one piece of the puzzle. You can go and copy the most creative and best-converting button ever, but if your product or messaging above sucks, it’s not going to work.
So before you get all hyped up when you find some amazing example online, go back to square one. What pain point are you solving?
You heard me say this before, I’m gonna say it again. Do your homework first.
Writing CTAs depends on the channel and type of content you’re creating. Emails, websites, specific landing pages, Social Media, internal links on the blog, Ads etc. they all require some thought process.
But, there are patterns. There are always patterns. What I’m about to show you is something that I’ve learned down the road. Keep in mind though, these are mindset frameworks, not a tactical “do this and you’ll see a 30% increase in your conversions”.
Make sure your CTAs are clear and visible
Nobody likes being overwhelmed with choices. It causes confusion, it’s not efficient and it forces us to think longer than we want.
No one likes that.
It’s the same set of rules for CTAs. Always make them look clean, visually appealing and with enough space around it. Never press things too tightly. You want your CTA to stand out.
Also, don’t forget smartphones. You want it to look super clean there too. Especially there!
Another thing that's interesting to me, as you will see in the first example below, messaging and how clear your CTA seem to be more important than its visual appeal. That's for email of course.
I guess what I'm trying to say is CTAs behave differently across various channels. The rules of engagement are different.
Here are some examples I personally like:
Content outreach example by Backlinko
Spotify at its finest
Classic email marketing brilliance by InVision
Language as a critical CTA component
The language we use is not only important, but it’s the number one thing you have to worry about.
Now, CTA is limited when it comes to space you got, but it doesn’t matter as we’ve already established that call to action on its own, without the value prop before, is useless.
There are many articles and case studies available online that dive into this topic. Some are of the opinion that you should personalize your copy and avoid standard call-to-action buttons like “Book here” or “Shop Now”.
Others are more inclined to get creative and leverage the power of humor and emotions. You know all those popups bothering you on a bunch of websites? A fantastic example! “Nobody likes popups” or “Tired of XYZ”, and then a funny image next to it are typical things you see.
The majority of marketers play the benefit and risk card. In other words, they either outline the clear value you’ll get or they minimize the risk by offering you free trials and discounts.
Some even use that fancy approach of having a big call-to-action button and a phrase beneath it, that says something like “No, I don’t want to double my conversion rate”.
Of course, when you’re playing this card, it’s always a good idea to play the immediate benefits. That’s the reason why we’re all creating e-books, step-by-step guides and all kinds of in-depth content.
After you see all this, what’s the main thing that ties all these together?
Yup, language. So the question is not what’s the high-converting way to write CTAs. The real question is do you understand your customer. Or, better yet, do you speak the language your customer does.
The process is as follows:
- Make a clear value proposition that makes your customer say “AHA”.
- Make it EASY and FAST for them to say yes and click that button
If you manage to do that with a funny copy, a bigger button or a smooth design, it doesn’t matter. You do you. Test things and see what performs best.
The language is THE GLUE.
Let me show you how this works in practice.
Lock, stock and one email CTA example
Let’s say you work in a B2B environment and you're looking for an email outreach tool. You’ve stumbled upon lemlist and decided to sign up for a free trial. No commitment, you wanna check it out first.
If you didn't, let's make that happen. :)
Now I wake up the next day, grab myself a cup of regular black and get on a call with Guillaume. We see that you signed up and we’re like...
Obviously, we’re here to sell. But when you work in a SaaS company, the “aha moments” are critical. It’s as if they need to happen one or two seconds quicker.
You need to love the tool. Otherwise, we won’t have a business.
Now, you might be looking to boost your sales on one front and reduce churn on the other. I know which pain is bothering you and what opportunity you’re looking to squeeze.
Being an email dude myself, I can assume that you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money on yet another tool. On a tactical side, you probably need to automate as much as you can and have high deliverability.
Pretty straightforward stuff! Let’s also assume you opened our intro email and played with lemlist a bit.
Now I’m on the move. My goal is to help you accomplish your goal, because if you’re not winning, neither am I. The only way for me to really crush it is by providing you with a powerful tool (CHECK :)) and by giving you as much practical value as I can.
For me, that’s content. So I might be sending you something like this.
Subject Line: Cold emails not producing results? Try this ;)
Hey (Your Name),
There’s a TONE of videos on our gDrive with our clients saying…
“Cold emails are hard. My reply rate sucks. I personalized my emails, but it’s still not working”.
If this is you, keep reading.
The thing with cold emails is that we all get so many of them it’s insane. Half of these are trying to sell us some crap we don’t even want. But this doesn’t mean they don’t work.
I put together a 100% FREE video that walks you through:
- How to create and segment out lists of HIGHLY TARGETED prospects
- How to personalize your emails twice as fast
- How we got 44 qualified meetings with one single email
WATCH THE WEBINAR
Trust me when I say, this is the best content we’ve ever published. It’s on our YouTube channel. There’s no opt-in, just go and watch it.
In all honesty, my goal is to get you from doing this…
… to be like
WATCH THE WEBINAR
Have a good one (Your Name),
That’s it. You see my call to action mindset. Simple, direct wording, no buttons, no design, just trying to get you to watch the webinar.
Speaking of which, there really is a webinar about this that you can check out here.
My obsession is storytelling, so my game here is to quickly announce the problem, show you that I get it and then give something really valuable and free without for something in return.
B2B CTA ideas when creating a landing page
Just so you see I’m serious about providing value, here are some interesting insights when it comes to writing call to actions beyond email.
I’m about to show you three real examples that I think kick ass. The first one is using exclusivity as your weapon.
I recently saw a webinar where a lady who created a Social Media tool saw a significant increase in signups when she A/B tested her buttons on the homepage.
Most B2B businesses offer free trials or put demo CTAs on top of their pages. She, on the other hand, played with her CTA. The tactic was to change it to “Request invite”.
She didn’t write any of that bullshit that the number of seats is limited or anything that oversells it.
It boosted her trial signups significantly and she has a pretty consistent growth in single digits month over month.
Why does it work? The language. It’s the same reason why kings of these CTAs, Booking.com changed its buttons to say “Reserve”. You’re not buying anything, you’re reserving. It sounds better, doesn't it?
Another great example is Amazon. Remember when “Recommendations” on e-commerce websites began to gain popularity? I’m pretty sure Amazon pioneered this.
However, nobody was buying. Supposedly, saying “Recommended” felt intrusive. But when they changed it to “People who bought this also bought”, it was an entirely different story.
The exact same feature, different language. Results both in metrics and engagement-wise were much better.
I know a guy who’s obsessively addicted to testing the language like you wouldn’t believe. It’s from whom I learned its importance.
One time, he used a CTA “Invite Your Friends” for a Social Network product he was working on. Then a competitor cloned the product and changed the button to “See Who’s In”. Again, the exact same product.
His competitor went 30% more viral. So the guy now copied his competitor and saw an immediate increase as well. Why? It’s the mental shift.
The final example is from the same guy, but from ages ago. Before Instagram, there was a tone of products that allowed people to store and upload images. While giving a lecture, he told that the CTA was fairly obvious - “Store Your Photos”.
It wasn’t working. He changed it to “Share Your Photos”.
Funny thing is, the product didn’t even have the share feature, so they have to build it on the go. Not only did the one CTA changed their entire product, but it brought 47 million users in 6 months.
Forty. Seven. MILLION. Users. Pure organic growth. No marketing needed.
One word changed everything.
- Understand the context of your CTA - what’s the goal and does it inspire clear action
- Depending on the channel, make it clear, easy to see and match the intent
- Work on your words, A/B test the language
- Work on your words, A/B test the language
- Work on your words, A/B test the language
- With CTAs in emails, a pretty design is nice to have, but messaging is essential
As many of my summaries when writing articles, you just have to test it for yourself. But there are a lot of examples in this article you can get inspiration from.
I know I did.