How to write an effective call to action

I worked in sales before I became a copywriter. Sales suited me. I enjoyed meeting people and thrived on the challenge — I particularly liked driving a company car.

Though I had the aptitude and enthusiasm, I didn’t know much at the start. My definition of a good salesperson was someone who was likable and a great talker. Useful qualities, of course. However, it wasn’t until I undertook formal sales training that I learned important sales skills like active listening, setting objectives and, most importantly, getting a commitment.

Explaining how to write effective calls to action.

In this post I explain how to write a call to action (get a commitment). If you find it useful, please share. I also welcome your comments.

What is a call to action?

A call to action (CTA) tells your readers what you want them to do. They need instruction; it’s up to you to give it. Do you want them to phone you? Fill out a form? Make a purchase? Whatever it is, tell them. It’s surprising how many websites don’t include a CTA. It’s like making a sales presentation to a client and then walking away without asking for an order. What’s the point?

Unless your website or marketing material is for branding purposes only, you should include a CTA. I include them on almost every page of my website.

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The anatomy of a call to action

Here is an example of a call to action:

Learn how to be an online copywriter.  Download my FREE e-book today.

Let’s break it down:

  • Clarity — the reader should have no problem understanding what to do.
  • Simplicity Download is underlined indicating a link to the e-book, so it’s simple to comply (by the way, don’t try to download an e-book; this is just an example).
  • Includes a benefit — actually, in this case there are two benefits — Learn how to be an online copywriter and FREE e-book. Give your readers a reason to do what you want them to.
  • Is in the imperative — this CTA doesn’t ask, it commands the reader. Talking like this in a face-to-face conversation would be rude, but in print it’s usually okay. To soften it you can always add “please.”
  • Tells the reader when to act —  there is some urgency; the reader is told exactly when to act — today.


Where should a call to action be included?

Well, you won’t be surprised when I say your CTA should be included at the end of your text. After all, it concludes your writing. However, you can include subtle commands embedded throughout the text.

Here are some examples:

  • When you download my e-book, you’ll learn vital skills required to be an effective online copywriter.
  • If you download my e-book, you learn how to write an effective call to action.
  • If you download my e-book, you’ll also learn how to write for search engines.


Don’t overdo it; you’ll drive people away. The idea is to include a few embedded CTAs naturally within your text.

If you found this useful please share.  How do you write calls to action? I welcome your comments. 

  1. Hey Andrew,

    What made you leave sales and become a copywriter? Have you always had a love of writing and helping people? That’s interesting to learn what others use to do before coming online.

    You’re spot on about the call to action and I need to do more about that for people to opt into my list. I guess I’ve been concentrating so much on getting comments and shares that I’ve ignored my opt-in although I still get a few every single day. At least they’re consistent opt ins.

    Thanks for this reminder and I’ll be working on some things in the coming months.


    1. Thanks Adrienne. I always liked the idea of being a writer. I also wanted to be self employed.

      When I first gave writing a go I was writing magazine and newspaper articles. I wanted to be a freelance journalist. However, I soon discovered that journalism is a tough way to make a living, particularly with the rise of the Internet.

      One day, a friend asked me to write press releases for him. It was then that I discovered copywiting and realised that it matched perfectly with my sales background. Even better, there is a growing demand for copy/content writers.

      Copywriting is good fun – I get to talk to a wide range of people and be creative at the same time.

      Adrienne, judging by the number of comments and shares your posts get, it looks to me like you’re doing a great job.

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