Optimizing Your CTA: Words Matter

Sometimes people just need to be told what to do. It’s why stop signs scream “STOP” and why grocery store sale items say “as advertised” or “new low price.” When you need a person to take immediate action, design and color alone typically won’t cut it.

That’s why, if you’re looking to increase conversions and optimize the Call To Action (CTA) button or link on your website, app, or email, you should evaluate the text that you have inside that button.

CTAs play an integral role in creating conversions and, if you want people to take immediate action, you must make sure they tell people what to do.

Girl with phone

What Is a CTA?

A CTA is exactly what it sounds like: it genuinely calls people to take some type of action (or it should, at least). What action they take is up to you.

Whether you want your (potential) user to download a free trial of your software, install your app, buy your product or service, or even subscribe to your blog, your CTA should inspire him or her to do just that.

Your CTA should connect with users in the same way that you want your product to establish a connection with them. You might need to seduce customers with the right website copy, emails, and advertisements to establish a relationship because, after all, first impressions make a huge impact on people.

The right CTA, however, will have them falling in love at first sight.

monetize apps

Does It Cost a Lot to Implement?

A good CTA can substantially increase conversions.

It’s worth taking the time to truly optimize your Call to Action because even the slightest changes can have an effect on whether someone decides to click. And the best part about it is that it doesn’t cost a lot of money to implement or tweak.

As we shared in a previous post, Facebook VP of Growth Alex Schultz revealed how Hotmail (now Outlook) managed to achieve success despite not having a large budget.

What was their strategy? They simply added a link (CTA) at the bottom of every email that said “Sent from Hotmail. Get your free email here.”

Not having a large budget isn’t an excuse for a poor CTA.

Optimizing CTA Copy

Optimizing CTA Copy

Online marketers often consider the placement, color, and overall look of a CTA button or link, all of which are important. But the copy can easily end up overlooked, especially if you don’t have a wordsmith on your team.

Or hell, maybe you do have a wordsmith on your team but your conversions still aren’t hitting the mark. If that’s the case, it’s time to reexamine your CTA copy and make some positive changes.

When updating your CTA copy, keep in mind the following tips:

Be Direct

Get to the point. People don’t have the attention spans that they used to, thanks to the advent of new technology and wow, I think that cloud looks like a dog.

But seriously, adults have about an 8-second attention span, so if you don’t connect with them quickly, you’re not going to connect with them at all.

Chhirp, which we highlighted when we discussed apps that are reviving the power of messaging, appears to have an effective CTA. The design is clean, the CTA is clear within the app, and the copy, “Tweet your voice, just like this,” tells the user exactly what he or she needs to do.

Action Words

Use Action Words

Action words will make you think about making a move, and if it looks like an attractive offer, you just might take it.

If you tell someone to think about it, the sale is going on all month, they’re not going to take action right then. If you instead advise someone to “click now for my free trial,” that person doesn’t know how long they have (and thus you have instilled in them the fear of missing out).

Speak as the User

In the example above, they’re also associating “my” with ownership. Of course they want what’s theirs. Don’t you?

Copyblogger wrote about why you should use the first person and its wondrous powers, and you really should consider trying it out.

Not every company uses first person for their CTAs (which may explain its effectiveness because it’s exclusive), and it shouldn’t necessarily be the golden rule. However, it has proven to be effective (more on that in just a bit), so it’s certainly worth considering (and trying out) if you’re having a problem with your current CTA copy.

Think about your business and product/service, and determine what would make the most sense to your target market.


As in, Keep It Short and Simple. You don’t need to create an incredibly long and convoluted CTA, but what you do say in your CTA matters. Keep it short and make sure the copy makes sense to your user.

You don’t want them to feel overwhelmed (such as by asking them to “join now” when they’ve only just met you), and similarly, you don’t want to lose their attention.

Obviously, this can be difficult because you only have a few words to work with in your CTA, but consider your target audience and think about what they would want.

Take yourself out of your own shoes and instead image you are a prospective customer. What would you want? What would deter you?


Test It!

Once you’ve decided to make some tweaks to the copy of your CTA, it’s important that you test it out. After all, you want to make sure the changes you made didn’t end up making things worse instead of better.

There are a couple ways that you can test your CTA copy:

A/B Testing

I mentioned earlier that Copyblogger found that using first person increased conversions for CTAs. Well, they discovered that gem of wisdom through Unbounce, which conducted an A/B test of two different CTAs, one of which used first person.

The CTA that used first person yielded a 90% increase in conversions. Holy sh*t — that’s a huge difference!

A/B testing can help you determine the best copy for your CTA by showing you, comparatively, the results of two different setups.

There are a lot of software options that enable you to conduct A/B testing, so pick the one that works best for your business. Some of our favorites include Google Analytics, Optimizely, KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg.


Another way you can work on building a connection with users and improving your CTA conversions is by trying out your CTAs with personas.

KISSMetrics co-founder Neil Patel recommended this in his recent post on increasing conversions with copywriting and it’s a great way to get valuable knowledge and insight into your target market.

Personas are essentially a mockup of your ideal user that you back up with interviews and opinions from real people. The approach allows you to get a genuine perspective on what your target users are looking for and what they care about.

User testing is important — whether you choose to compare CTAs with A/B testing or employ personas to get a closer look at your target market’s wants and needs, it’s imperative that you think strategically about the changes you make.

Connect with Your Users

Increase My Conversions? Sure!

At the close of business, you want to see your numbers increasing.

By implementing these strategies, you should be able to make some small adjustments that can positively impact how users behave on your site, making your CTAs successful and your conversions plentiful.

What changes have you made that have positively impacted your CTA conversions? Let us know by tweeting us at @ThinkApps!






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