Understanding Calls-To-Action: Phrases that help boost conversions

"Good words are worth much, and cost little." - George Herbert

Actions speak louder than words, tis true. But only a fool would underestimate the power of words. In fact, in this article, we’re all about them words that actually set certain actions into motion: the “Calls-To-Action”.

Words, like we’ve stressed before, can be hella powerful and none more so than your standard, persuasive ‘Call-To-Action (CTA)’ phrases. CTAs are phrases given as “commands” to the users; to achieve the necessary outcome. Every call-to-action comes with a verb, that describes an action like “Call”, “Join”, “Click”, “Buy now” etc. Mini grammar lesson aside, CTAs are basically your way of telling your readers what exactly it is they need and why they should act immediately.

Whether it’s asking them to sign up for a free consultation, filling out a contact form, clicking that subscribe button or asking them to read a blog post - a good call-to-action ‘calls’ your visitors to ‘action’ by extracting a response from them.

Learning to use the right phrase at the right time can drastically increase your conversion rates. Understanding why certain phrases work way more than others, and studying how to use them will only help you become a pro at influencing people to take action.

So, ready to add some word power to your marketing game plan? We give you a low-down on the A - Z of creating a CTA:  

What should you keep in mind when creating CTA phrases?

1. The context matters

The thing with CTAs is finding the right circumstances for their use. This only comes with years and years of practice. For example, say, you used the word “Free” instead of “No-Cost”, as in: “Have you checked out our mid-year super sale? Register yourself at our website for free and grab some great offers!” Or maybe even using “Click Here to Get Started” instead of “Click Here to Join”.

It’s always the itty-bitty details that trigger the maximum impact depending on the audience, the product/service that’s being offered, and the general context. While certain phrases can go a long way in cultivating influence, simply throwing out phrase after phrase neither guarantees nor predicts audience behavior. Again, CTA phrases carry the most weight when used within the correct frame.

2. Tapping into your reader’s emotions

The most important thing about creating CTAs is the need to tap into the reader’s emotion. Only when you give them the right feels, will they be more inclined to complete an action. Classic human psyche dictates that once you’re moved by something, you’ll be moved to do something. As marketers, it’s your job to influence actions - whether it’s getting people to sign up for something, encouraging them to buy a product, or simply getting them to click the like/share button.

3. Focus more on the product’s benefit than the product itself

And this is where most marketers muck it up. While it’s good to focus on the product or the service when creating your CTAs, it’s great if you get them to focus on the benefit of taking the action. Think of it this way, don’t give your readers the chance to ask the question: “What’s in it for me?” Answer it for them. E.g. Most people don’t favor brands like McDonald's just because it’s McDonald's. Sure it’s a well-known, well-loved brand. But that’s it. It’s a brand! While brands inspire loyalty, they don’t necessarily influence an action. Maybe customers flock to the fast-food giant because they’re simply hungry? Or they enjoy eating out at their local McDonalds? By fixating too much on the product, you lose sight of the outcome - the benefits your readers obtain when answering your call-to-action.

The art of CTA phrasing

Now that we’ve gotten the “What?” out of the way, the question that we all need answering is the “How?”. Words can be powerful, we’ve all established that. But how does one know for sure which words make the difference? Which is that one word that can inspire subscribers to act, or customers to purchase?

Everything comes down to the language you use. From product descriptions to email lists to blog posts - calls-to-action need to be an embodiment of interesting, useful, and abso-freakin’-lutely unforgettable!

Which is what every marketer needs to realize and exploit. By seasoning your work with a dash of words and phrases that capture the audience’s attention and provoke an emotional response; you find yourself making a major improvement. Those pesky conversion rates? Quickly rising to the top due to a strategic sprinkling of wisely chosen words. Sales letters unceremoniously relegated to the junkyard?  With the right call-to-action, find your product’s popularity soar to the top.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Who hasn’t heard that before? Yet when it comes to marketing, it is often the other way around. Engage your customers enough to excite them and excite them enough to get them to act.

Simply writing a gigantic list of CTA phrases does not help you in the long run. Which is why we’ve decided to help you by organizing your average CTAs based on the results you aim to achieve. Whether it’s smooth-talking people into buying your product or creating a sense of urgency - we give you an outline of some convincing CTA phrases that can certifiably be used to boost your message and get you more conversions.

The persuasive approach
If the goal here is persuading people to choose your product or service, then there are certain words you need to be inserting into your copies ASAP. These include:

  • Guarantee
  • Results
  • Free
  • Because
  • New
  • Now
  • Giveaway etc

These phrases happen to be some of the more compelling words present in the English dictionary. Let’s dive a little deeper into why they’re effective and how you can use them. Take the words “guarantee” and “results”. Why are they so useful?  Because they carry weight; weight to wash away any doubts people might have regarding your product or service. Think about it, you’ve pretty much set up your worth in stone and people respect that.

Sure there has a been a wee bit of embarrassment over the years, what with companies having an affinity for false promises. Take the word guarantee. It can just as easily backfire if you don’t have the proof to back your claim. However, this doesn’t change the fact that it still holds power. Remember Domino’s Pizza? With the whole “Get your pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, or the next one would be free?” Whoever was in charge of that one hit paydirt cuz the marketing tactic catapulted Domino’s to pizza glory; making it the world’s largest pizza chain.

Also, take the word “free”. Half the reason why people bother sifting through endless promotional content is that somewhere in some row they spotted the word “free”, calling out to them. Why? Cuz the best thing for a buyer is knowing you ain't gotta pay after all! While there’s the argument that price is never the issue, it most certainly is something that goes through every person’s mind when planning to take an action. So telling the public you’ve got something for them that’s free of cost, can give your CTA instant support.

Highlighting a sense of urgency/scarcity

#FOMO. Just a lil old psychological theory that shapes many a conversion campaigns: “The fear of missing out”. One thing marketers fail to realize is that: Fear of missing out > The benefits obtained.  Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and think back to the last time you made a purchase. Sure, the usefulness of the product was the reason you wanted it yet it was the fear of losing a good deal that convinced you to take action.

The fear of missing out is real people, and far more powerful than we give it credit for. Studies have shown that we react far more to scarcity than anything else. It’s human tendency to place a higher value on something that’s available in fewer quantities. Scarcity happens to be one of the golden rules for conversion optimization right now. But what are the words that actually push people to take action? We’ve listed out a few call-to-action phrases that effectively push people into buying whatever you’re selling:

  • Only X days left
  • Don’t miss out
  • While they last
  • Running out
  • Sale ends soon
  • Hurry!
  • Limited supply
  • Closing soon
  • Today only
  • Last chance
  • Never again
  • Offer ends on “date”
  • Immediately
  • Now

You’re basically ensuring people get emotionally drawn to losing things than they would be to gaining them. E.g. The Amazon Lightning deals - creating both scarcity and a sense of urgency at the same time, Myntra’s “Happy Hours” offers or even Pizza Hut’s “WOW Wednesday 50% Takeaway” offer.

Everybody Loves an Exclusive Deal

People want what they can’t have. As simple as that. Whether it’s that club with super exclusive membership, that you’re just dying to be a part of or the rush you get when a high-end brand seems within reach - we’re all quick to want that which we usually can’t. More than that, there’s the need to belong to that “special group”; that desire to be a part of the tiny percentage of the population that seems to have it all.

Which is where your average marketer gets pretty sneaky. In order to get people to take action, marketers tend to attach exclusivity to whatever it is they’re offering - giving off some serious high-school vibes with “the cool kids fit in” mantra. Most often, these offers are no different to the dozen other schemes out there. The only reason such offers work, is because people want to believe as though they’re a member of a small elite group. An ego trip and some bragging rights - that’s all folks! But how does one make it look and feel more exclusive? With a solid Call-to-action of course! Check out these phrases below, that get people scrambling to be a part of your product or service:

  • Request/Ask for an invitation
  • Now closed
  • Members Only/Subscribers only
  • Only available to -----
  • Pre-register/Pre-order
  • Limited spots
  • Exclusive access
  • Be one of the few
  • Become an Insider
  • Be the first to hear about ---
  • Only available to subscribers/existing customers
  • Limited
  • Don’t miss out
  • Login required
  • Restricted
  • Private
  • Classified

All the above phrases prey on the fear of being left out; that if one doesn’t take action, they’re going to be abandoned. This way, by signing up for a newsletter, or making a purchase (because it was accessible only for that particular area) or filling out a form; they’ll be a part of a group that others cannot easily access. Basically, encouraging people to call out dibs. E.g. When Google+ was first made accessible, it could be done by invitation only. “Request Invite” used on the call to action button works very well when it comes to new product launches, email lists or memberships.

Engaging with the audience

Sometimes it’s not enough for people to buy your product, sign-up for that email list or avail your services. Sometimes your goal needs to be a basic evaluation of audience interest. A useful technique, particularly when launching a new product or a service, that helps fan the excitement. We’ve included a few call-to-action phrases that will help you measure audience engagement:

  • Reply
  • Share
  • Contact us

If you can get your audience to give you feedback, then you know you’re in with a chance because they’re definitely interested. The CTA phrase “reply” is a popular choice for email marketers. It’s pretty simple too. All you gotta do is send out an email to your subscribers, giving them the deets on the new product you’re interested in launching. And this is where the CTA works. The ones that do reply, can be marked as potential leads. No response = Try again.

Then there’s the whole social media shebang. Whether it’s asking followers to reply via a Tweet (Twitter) or DM (Instagram) or even a comment (Facebook), every interaction increases the odds of engagement. No better way to test audience activity than getting them to reply to your social media posts. The brands with the most replies tend to have a huge following, which is why the number of followers doesn’t always matter. And most marketers tend to be wary of crossing over to the spam side. Which is why you need your audience to share your content without coming off as too pushy.  

Then there’s “contact me”. There’s only one message behind the phrase –  your receptivity to your audience’s communication. Whatever your channel of communication, you need it to remain transparent and open. The more you listen, the more you’re gonna be appreciated and build yourself a strong community. Trust us when we say this, the responses you get will leave you surprised. In a really good way!

All of us are familiar enough with the large, popping, brightly-colored buttons with crystal clear Calls-to-action - a common sight on landing pages today. Digital marketing has undergone a major shift over the years yet the end goal remains unchanged. You need your consumers to take action, and you need those CTAs to make that happen. Writing effective CTAs is a part of every marketer’s job description these days. All you need to remember is that while trends come and go, and new platforms crop up, the efficacy of a good call-to-action remains constant. It’s all about emphasizing, explaining and encouraging immediate action.