What is a Call to Action (CTA)?

What is a call to action?

CTA stands for “call to action,” and it is an integral part of any marketer’s toolkit.

Advertisements aren’t just check-ins between your brand and your audience. The point of any ad, whether seen or heard, is to encourage action on the part of the reader, viewer, or listener.

A call to action is the language and presentation of the exact action the marketer wants the audience to take.

As the name implies, calls to action include verbs or action words.

For example:

Shop our new assortment of products

Download your free guide

Learn more about the benefits of our system

Reserve a spot in our presentation

Experience our new spring styles

CTAs are used to drive interest and engagement for new products, to encourage website visitors to download lead magnets, to convert interest into purchases, and to close sales. In short, a call to action is the place at which a touchpoint between a brand and a potential customer shifts to the customer’s response.

The CTA is what makes the audience, rather than the brand, the active party.

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What Does a Call To Action Look Like?

The appearance of a CTA depends on the medium in which the ad is being presented and on the context of the offer.

Despite the variety of ways they are used and the different actions they encourage an audience to take, they have several characteristics in common.

  • They are almost always at the end of an ad, segment, or piece of content.
  • They always include a direct command in the form of a verb.
  • Good CTAs produce an emotional response.
  • Good CTAs produce a sense of urgency.

Auditory: Auditory calls to action are used in podcasts, radio spots, webinars, and presentations. They use the same language as CTAs that appear in print, but cannot benefit from conversion-centered design elements or other images.

Visual: Visual calls to action can appear as copy, hyperlinked text, buttons on web pages, and images or graphics. They are used in mailers, print ads, billboards, digital content, banners, signs, and wraps.

Visual calls to action are everywhere and are only limited by a marketer’s imagination.

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Above is an example of a CTA in the form of a button.

The button format makes the call stand out from the surrounding text and makes the desired action on the part of the audience very clear while communicating a benefit.

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Above is another example of a call to action.

This call to action is simply a segment of copy that encourages shoppers to select the best value option—physical and digital copies—just before checking out.

Visual and Auditory: Calls to action that use both audible cues and visual components are common in webinars, presentations, video ads, and TV ads. The clarity and directness of the intended action is amplified and reinforced by presentation through multiple media.

Trying to get the most out of your own calls to action? Check out our handy guide here.

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