What is a call to action?
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Plain language explainers to help you keep up with the evolving digital landscape.

Call to Action (CTA)

What is a call to action? A call to action (CTA) is a statement or image within an ad that spells out and tells the user what you want them to do next. In a performance marketing context, a CTA typically encourages users to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. 

How do calls to action work?

CTAs work by mixing messages with a sense of urgency, clarity, and benefit about a product or service. They tap into the user's immediate needs and motivations, offering a solution within easy reach. Effective CTAs are:

  • Specific: "Sign up for a free trial" vs. "Learn more"
  • Actionable: "Buy now" vs. "Be amazed"
  • Benefit-driven: "Get personalized discounts" vs. “Shop here”

Types of calls to action:

There are a number of forms a CTA can take, such as:

  • Buttons: CTA buttons are typically used to encourage users to take a specific action, such as "Sign up for our newsletter" or "Download the app."
  • Links: CTA links can be used to direct users to a specific page or landing page, such as a product page or a checkout page.
  • Images: CTA images can be used to grab users' attention and encourage them to take action.
  • Text: CTA text can be used to explain to users what they will get by taking action, such as "Get a free sample" or "Start your free trial."

How to measure call to action performance:

The performance of a CTA can be measured using a variety of KPIs, including:

  • Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of users who see a CTA and click on it.
  • Conversion rate (CVR): The percentage of users who click on a CTA and take the desired action.
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): The average amount of money an advertiser pays for a conversion.

Why are calls to action important to marketers?

When successful, a CTA is what converts leads into customers. CTAs have the obvious appeal of so many outcome-based campaign tools in that you can easily measure whether or not they resonated with the audience based on their actions.

Who needs to know what a call to action is:

  • Digital marketing manager
  • Paid search specialist
  • Social media manager
  • Content marketing manager
  • Affiliate manager
  • E-commerce manager
  • Product manager
  • Marketing analyst
  • Brand manager

Use call to action in a sentence: “This CTA illustrates the power strong action verbs can have on user behavior, as our app downloads more than doubled within hours after running these ad placements.”