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How to Write an Irresistible Call-to-Action for Each Stage of Your Funnel

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

Does this sound familiar? You ask someone to do something, and nothing happens.

Whether it’s getting your younger brother to fetch you a can of coke, or getting your website visitors to part with their email address, there’s one thing you must have:

A strong call-to-action (CTA).

If you have a strong CTA, you can get people to do (almost) anything you want.

But how do you write a powerful CTA?

That’s what you’ll learn today. I’ll give you actionable strategies for creating effective CTAs for any purpose on your website.

So if you’re looking to increase conversion rates on your site, this post is for you.

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Part 1: How to Increase Sales with an Irresistible Call-to-Action

What’s the one thing you want visitors to do on your site?

Buy your product.

It’s no secret that increasing sales is a top priority for all marketers. But how we increase sales is a whole other story.

There are a million different strategies on how to increase sales, but no matter what strategy you go with, it all comes down to your CTA.

What message do you use in your CTA to get visitors to take action and buy your product?

I’ve identified four effective calls-to-action that will convince your visitors to buy from you.

i. Promote Popular Offers

ii. Offer Special Deals to Existing Subscribers

iii. Turn Abandoned Carts Into Profit

Let’s have a look at each.

i. Promote Popular Offers

In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini writes:

“Whether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer.”

We’re dependent on other people’s opinions and actions to inform us when we make decisions—especially when it comes to online shopping.

If a lot of people buy a specific product, it must be good, right?

Promoting popular products is a great way to nudge prospects to make a decision and buy something—but it all comes down to your CTA and how you position your products.

Here’s an example of a campaign promoting popular products:

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When you promote popular products, you should include images of the products to give visitors a preview of what they can expect when they click the CTA button.

If any of the items are on sale, make sure to include that in your campaign as well. Here it’s a good idea to show the original price next to the discounted price as shown in the example.

You don’t need to write a lot of text. Let the images and your CTA button do the work.

When you write copy for the CTA button, avoid using sentences and words that indicate a large commitment such as buy now, get it now, shop now, and so on.

Make the commitment as small as possible for your visitors so they’re more likely to click through.

Here are a few good examples to use:

  • View Popular Products
  • Explore Popular Products
  • Find Your Favorites Now

Once they’ve clicked through, you can be more “salesy” with your copy because they’ve already taken the first step towards buying something.

Takeaway: Tap into people’s need to fit in with the crowd, and work this into your headline. Also, make the commitment as small as possible for them to click the CTA button—you can always sell the product when they’ve clicked through.

ii. Offer Special Deals to Existing Subscribers

I think we’ve all tried it…

You receive a promotional email from your favorite brand, and you click through to their site.

On the page, a popup shows asking you to join their newsletter.

It makes no sense to show a CTA to sign up for a newsletter to existing subscribers.

Think about it… What would you like existing subscribers to do when they click through in a newsletter and land on your site?

Buy something.

But how?

Offer your existing subscribers an incentive to buy something using a promo code.

Here’s an example from Spirit Cruises:

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You don’t have to opt in to get the discount because Spirit Cruises know you’re already subscribed.

Instead, you get the discount code directly in the box. When you click the CTA button you go directly to the discounted cruises making the journey from subscriber to customer shorter and easier.

If you want your campaign to be more personal, you can include a headline that addresses the fact that your campaign is for subscribers only.

Here are a few example headlines:

  • Thanks for Being a Loyal Subscriber: Here’s Your Bonus
  • For Subscribers Only
  • Here’s Your Reward for Being a Loyal Subscriber

Takeaway: Create a unique incentive for your existing subscribers and promote it in a campaign that only shows to subscribers. Make sure your copy reflects the exclusivity of the incentive and that it was specially made for subscribers only.

iii. Turn Abandoned Carts Into Profit

I think we can all agree cart abandonment is an inevitable pain in the a**, right?

According to SaleCycle, 75.6% of people put items in their online shopping cart only to leave it without completing their purchase.

Luckily, there’s a way to reduce cart abandonment and it involves creating a killer CTA for abandoning shoppers.

Many sites use discounts to get prospects to complete their purchase. And while there’s nothing wrong with using discounts as an incentive, you should be careful with it.

If you make a habit of offering discounts to abandoning shoppers, this can potentially result in people abandoning their carts on purpose because they expect a discount.

Instead, you should focus on the items in the cart and add scarcity to the incentive.

Here’s an example from KCAL:

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KCAL focus on the value of what’s in the cart and add scarcity to their CTA to convince visitors to return to their cart.

We all have a natural Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and tapping into that fear is an effective CTA tactic.

You don’t need to offer large savings or free stuff to use this tactic.

Here are a few other examples of how to use scarcity:

  • Are you sure you want to miss out on these exclusive items?
  • These items are selling out fast! Get them before they’re gone.
  • Don’t let other people snatch these treasures away from you. Get them now.

Takeaway: Don’t use discounts to lure prospects back to their carts. Focus on the reason they added the items to their cart in the first place, and tap into their FOMO to get them to complete their purchase.

Part 2. How to Convert Targeted Visitors Into Quality Leads

If you’re running and growing an online store, it’s likely you’re building an email list.

But growing an email list isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Retailers have flooded consumers’ inboxes with irrelevant emails for a long time, making consumers reluctant to part with their email address.

But there’s still a way to grow your email list with relevant leads, and it all comes down to how you position your offer.

I’ve found four different CTA’s you can offer visitors to convince them that your emails deserve a spot in their inbox:

i. Content upgrades

ii. Competitions and giveaways

iii. Newsletter value

i. Content Upgrades

There’s a reason we keep talking about content upgrades, and it’s because they work.

Offering a piece of bonus content that has value for your audience, is a great way to build an enviable email list.

And the best part…

You don’t need a blog to offer content upgrades.

As long as your content upgrade is relevant to your product and the content it appears in, you have a great shot at converting your visitors into quality leads.

Here’s an example from Hideaways:

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Hideaways is a travel agency, and on their page with Italian travel destinations, they offer an Italian phrase book in exchange for an email address.

What’s great about this content upgrade is that is highly relevant to the visitors on this page, and giving an email address to get it is a low price to pay.

In the CTA, Hideaways emphasize a potential problem for their visitors (they don’t know how to speak Italian) and then offer a quick solution.

Besides that, their CTA button is spot on, focusing on the value of the offer and letting visitors know exactly what happens when they click the button.

When you offer a resource as a way to collect email addresses, you should always include that resource in your CTA button to increase conversions.

Here are a few more examples to try out:

  • Yes, I Want a Free [insert name of resource]
  • I’ll Have That [insert name of resource] Now
  • Send Me the [insert name of resource] Now

Takeaway: When you use content upgrades as your CTA to collect email addresses, you should always target visitors on a specific page where the content upgrade is relevant. This will enable you to segment your list based on the content upgrade they opted in for and send emails that are only relevant for this segment.

ii. Competitions and Giveaways

Throughout history, people have loved competitions in one form or another.

A competition is described by psychologists as an “extrinsic incentive.” This means that the motivation to adopt a behavior or decision comes from the prospect of getting a reward.

From the ancient Greek Olympic Games to modern soccer (the most watched sport in 2018), competition is one of the greatest motivational factors.

So why not try to use competitions as your CTA to collect leads for your email list?

A lot of marketers are already using competitions as an incentive to build their email list and with great success.

Here’s an example from Jysk Vin:

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The CTA in this campaign works because it focuses on the value of the prize:

24 bottles of top rated wine worth more than $770.

When you use competitions as incentives in your CTA, you need to include when the winner will be drawn. This increases the trustworthiness of your competition.

Don’t ever write sign up in your CTA button. I’ve said this many times before, and I’ll keep saying it until every sign up has been erased from the internet.

Here are a few alternatives:

  • Yes – I’m In
  • I’d Love to Win a [product name]
  • Your Chance to Win Starts Here

But be careful when you use competitions and giveaways as an incentive. It will definitely increase conversion rates, but it might also lower the quality of the leads you get. It’s a balance, and only you can tell if this CTA will work for your business.

Takeaway: Make sure your competition is relevant to your product to increase the quality of your leads. It’s also a good idea to follow up by email with everyone who entered the competition to let them know the competition has ended and who won. (You can even include a CTA to buy the product at a special price for those who didn’t win).

iii. Newsletter Value

Content upgrades, competitions, discounts—all good incentives to increase conversion rates.

But what if you just want to promote your newsletter as it is?

No worries.

If you want to use your newsletter as the only incentive, you just need to answer one question:

What do people get when they join your newsletter?

No one signs up for a newsletter. They sign up to get value.

So focus on that value when you write your CTA.

Here’s an example from GQ Magazine:

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I mean… Ryan Gosling… wearing a suit… in a pool… wet…

I’ll buy what they’re selling any day!

But seriously… This CTA example is packed with value you can’t say no to:

“Be The Best-Dressed Guy In The Room.”

“The Style Essentials You Need.”

Who can say no to that?

To increase conversion on this campaign, I would resell the value in the CTA button as well.

Here are a few examples you could use:

  • Get Your Style Essentials Now
  • I Want To Be The Best-Dressed Guy Today
  • Send Me My Style Essentials

Takeaway: When you promote your newsletter, make sure to focus on the value subscribers can expect to get when they sign up. Write down three compelling benefits for your newsletter and use that in your campaign.

Part 3. How to Guide Your Visitors to Better and More Expensive Purchases

You don’t need a physical store to provide an exceptional and personal shopping experience.

You can create the same personalized experience in your online store—and with less effort.

I’ve visited countless websites that offer little to no guidance for visitors. And if visitors don’t get the right guidance or service on your website, they’ll likely turn to a competitor for a better shopping experience.

We don’t want that, so let’s have a look at what you can do to give your visitors the shopping experience they’re entitled to.

i. Product guides

ii. Quizzes

iii. Show new products

Let’s have a look at each in detail.

i. Product Guides

Many e-commerce stores have a large range of products. But the problem with purchasing online is that prospects can’t try on the products as they can in a physical store.

This is a huge obstacle for many online shoppers so you should try to eliminate it.

You can do so by offering guides for specific product categories that will help prospects make the right decision, and give them the feeling of being in a store trying on the product.

One way to do this is to offer size guides on specific product pages.

Here’s a recent example from Chubbies:

Just below the sizes, there’s a link triggering a campaign with a size guide.

The CTA is simple:

Size Guide.

If you want to make your CTA more “clickable”, you should try using questions as an attention drawer (see examples later on).

By having the size guide appear as a campaign on the product page makes it easier for prospects to return to the product once they’ve found the right size.

That way you avoid prospects dropping off because they can’t find their way back to the product from a different landing page.

One way to increase conversions on your product pages is to create a CTA that says: Add to cart in the actual product guide.

Then you’ve eliminated a step in the customer journey, which can increase your overall visitor to customer conversion rate.

Here are a few CTA examples for product guides:

  • (Clothing and shoes): Not sure which size to choose? Try the size guide here.
  • (Make-up): Wondering what color to go with? See our skin color guide here.
  • (Electronics): What TV size should you get? Get our recommendation here.

Takeaway: Make sure the CTA for your product guide is visible and that it’s easy for people to return to the item they were looking at when they’ve read your guide. Ideally, you product guides should always end with a recommendation for a specific product along with a link to buy it.

ii. Quizzes

Which Marvel superhero are you?

What dog breed should you get?

Who’s your celebrity twin?

Sometimes we just have to know which Friends character we are before we die. (I’m Joey, in case you were wondering ;-))

My point?

If your product allows it, you should create a quiz around your product and help visitors find the product that’s just right for them.

Take traveling for instance. People might not always know where they want to go for their next vacation, but a quiz is a fun way to find out—and it will get prospects closer to buying.

Here’s an example of what that could look like:

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When you write your CTA for quizzes, you need to keep the copy short.

The less information there is in the campaign, the more there’s left to the imagination—making people more curious to find out more.

It’s also a good idea to ask a question in your quiz CTA. This will also evoke curiosity and increase your click-throughs.

For example, if your quiz is about finding the right dress to buy, you can ask: Which Type of Dress Will Make You Look Fabulous?

When it comes to your CTA button, you need to focus on the curiosity again. What is the outcome of the quiz? What will visitors learn from it?

Here are a few examples to try:

  • Find out What [blank] You Are
  • Find Your Perfect [your product here] Now
  • Discover Your New [your product here] Now

The result of your quiz should always include a product recommendation. Your visitors have already spent time taking the quiz so they’ll be more likely to make a purchase based on your recommendation from the quiz.

Takeaway: Always make sure your quiz is relevant to your product so you can sell at the end of the quiz. Focus on curiosity when you write your CTA copy—and don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun with it.

iii. Show New Products

When new visitors land on your homepage, what is the first thing they see?

A bunch of different products, sales, news, and so on, right?

It can be difficult for new visitors to figure out where to start looking for whatever they entered your site to find.

By adding a campaign to your front page where you tell new visitors about your newest arrivals, you can guide them towards a specific product category they might be interested in.

Here’s an example from Indochino:

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They’ve launched a new product category, and they use a campaign to drive traffic to the product.

A lot of times, consumers will enter a site not knowing exactly what they’re looking for.

It’s the same when we (at least most women I know) go window shopping downtown without an actual purpose other than looking for inspiration, and seeing what’s new.

Writing a good CTA to convince visitors to check out new products, isn’t that difficult.

Start off with a question like Indochino to evoke curiosity, or you can tap into the news value of the product. (People love breaking news).

If you’ve just launched a new line of speakers, you could write: “Brand New Speakers in Store!”

Here are some examples for your CTA button:

  • Explore [new product] Now
  • Experience the New [product name] Here
  • Check Out the New [product name]

Takeaway: A CTA for promoting new products should never include too many details. The purpose is to get people to visit the actual product page, so don’t give it all away in your CTA. And don’t try to sell in your CTA for product promotions. You can do that on the individual product pages.

Part 4. How to Connect with Visitors the Moment They Need It to Close Bigger Deals

No two visitors are alike.

And no two leads are created equal.

Some need more information.

Others, want to speak to a human (especially when it comes to expensive purchases).

Marketing to everyone the same way is as effective as not marketing at all.

Rather than investing your already limited time on the wrong leads, you need to prioritize prospects that WANT you to reach out to them.

Here are four ways to connect with your visitors:

i. Offer custom quotes

ii. Book consultations

iii. Offer on-page support

Let’s explore each.

i. Offer Custom Quotes

Some products take longer for prospects to buy, typically because they’re quite expensive—such as travels.

When prospects browse a travel site, they might not be ready to buy, and prices may not be the same for everyone depending on the details of each trip.

Using a campaign to offer custom quotes based on the prospect’s wishes is an effective strategy to close bigger deals.

When you invite potential buyers to get in touch, you can answer questions or handle any objections they might have that are preventing them from buying.

Here’s an example from Højmark:

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They know their customers want a vacation customized to their needs and preferences, and a standard package trip doesn’t fulfill that need.

The CTA in this campaign is simple:

Get a custom quote.

When writing your CTA for a campaign like this, you don’t need a lot of text. Just make sure prospects know what to do (in this case, fill in the information), and then create a CTA button that emphasizes what they’re getting when they click.

Here are a few examples of CTA’s you can use:

  • Get a Quote for Your Dream Trip Now
  • Click Here for Your Custom Quote
  • Send Me My Custom Quote

Whether you’re selling travels or tailored outfits for dogs, offering a custom quote will not only bring prospects closer to buying from you, it will also strengthen your relationship with them because you’re offering a personal shopping experience.

It’s important that you contact these leads quickly. (Preferably within an hour.)

When you contact potential buyers within an hour of hearing from them, you’re seven times more likely to qualify that customer than you are an hour later.

Takeaway: Use campaigns offering custom quotes if you sell products with a longer purchase cycle. Make sure to get in touch with these leads asap to increase the likelihood of them making a purchase.

ii. Book Consultations

Sometimes, we need expert advice.

Whether it’s choosing the right curtains for your living room. Finding the right food for your dog. Or putting together the perfect outfit.

Today’s consumers want the best of the best, and that means getting the right people to help them choose the best.

And that’s where you come in.

You’re the expert in your industry, and you can help prospects make the right decision when it comes to choosing the best products for them.

One of the best ways to invite potential buyers to take advantage of your expertise is to use a campaign on your site offering a consultation.

Here’s an example:

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When you write CTAs for campaigns where you invite visitors to schedule an appointment, it’s important that you don’t overwhelm them with information.

Start by asking a question like in the example, and then write one sentence about what visitors need to do next.

And this might come as a surprise, but don’t get too creative with your CTA button here.

Keep it simple and to the point.

Make sure to include the type of meeting you’re offering in the CTA button.

Here are a few examples:

  • Set Up Dress Fitting
  • Schedule Party Consultation
  • Book Training Session

Takeaway: Keep your copy short and to the point. Booking appointments will usually require you getting a lot of information from prospects, but try to limit the number of input fields. And make sure your CTA button confirms the action in your campaign.

iii. Offer On-Page Support

There’s nothing worse than when you enter a site, and something’s not working.

You don’t know why it’s not working and you have no idea when it will work again.

The result?

You abandon the site and don’t return.

Your visitors are no different.

When you experience technical issues on your site, you need to inform your visitors about this, and give them a temporary solution so they don’t abandon your site.

Here’s an example from Lynton:

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The CTA is clear:

They’re experiencing problems with their telephones, and they give visitors alternative ways to get in touch.

Your CTA, of course, varies depending on what type of service announcement you make.

Here are a few CTA’s you might be able to use:

  • (If your website is down): We’re working on getting the site up and running again. If you’d like to get in touch with us, please call us at this number [your customer service number].
  • (If payments fail): We’re experiencing some trouble with [payment option] at the moment. Please try using a different payment option or enter your email below and we’ll send you a link to your cart when we’ve solved the issue.
  • (If shipping is delayed due to busy periods): We currently have a few days delay on shipping, but we’ll make sure to get your orders to you within [X amount of days], and we’ll include a little gift as a thank you for your patience. If you have any questions, please email us at [email address] and we’ll get back to you within an hour.

Takeaway: When you inform your visitors of potential problems on your site, make sure to always give them an alternative solution—even if it’s just giving them an email address or a phone number to call. This will give visitors the feeling that you care, and that actions are being taken to resolve the issue.

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Whether you’re writing a CTA for your newest products or trying to build relationships with existing customers there’s one thing your CTA must always include:


If you position your offer in a way that has value to your audience, your conversion rates will increase.

It can be difficult to find the CTA that your visitors respond best to, so I always recommend testing out different versions of your CTAs to find the one that works best for your site and audience.

What kinds of CTAs are you using on your site? Have you run any surprising tests on your CTAs you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.

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