CTA best practices: 9 tips for writing irresistible calls to action (+ examples & bonus tips)

Rocco Savage
May 31, 2024
 min read


You're a seasoned pro, but even the best in the game need a refresher now and then - especially when it comes to writing quality calls to action (CTAs). After all, those short but mighty phrases are what seal the deal and convert interested prospects into paying customers. 

In this article, we’ll:

  • Go over 9 expert-recommended CTA best practices that can take your sales game to the next level;
  • Provide examples of these best practices in action; and,
  • Share 5 bonus tips for writing powerful CTAs that work.

Key takeaways from the article:

  • Keep CTAs clear, simple, and focused on the core value to the customer.
  • Create a sense of urgency and scarcity to spur action.
  • Build curiosity with cliffhanger CTAs that hint at something intriguing.
  • Leverage social proof and data to build credibility.
  • Tailor CTAs to the customer's spot in the buyer's journey for maximum impact.

As a seasoned sales professional, you’re probably pretty clear on what calls to action (CTAs) are and how they fit into your sales pitch. But you may not be giving them the love they deserve.

Crafting the perfect CTA befuddles even the best of sales professionals. How do you break down everything you have to offer in just a single phrase or sentence? 

The answer: you probably can't. But, if you conveyed the value in your prior interactions, the CTA becomes the icing on your sales cake — your raison d'être.

CTAs are commonplace in any sales medium, from landing pages to emails and social media posts. You probably sprinkle them throughout every customer conversation, even if you don't realize it at the time. But if you want to level up your CTA game, you've come to the right place.

In this article, we'll do a deep-dive into CTA best practices and share 9+ tips and tricks from some of the top sales and digital marketing experts in business today.

1. "Keep it simple, stupid."

You might’ve heard the phrase "Keep it simple, stupid" or KISS. It was coined in the 1960s by U.S. Navy engineers to encourage designers to keep their systems straightforward and easy to understand. Everyone from software developers to marketing professionals incorporate KISS principles into their work. Today, the basic idea behind KISS remains the same: overcomplexity isn't just unnecessary; it hinders success.

You can apply KISS to your CTAs. Frankly, by the time your customer reaches the end of your sales pitch, they already know how they feel about your product or service. The CTA language you use may not convince them otherwise. So, in the interest of brevity, KISS.

Ann Handley – a renowned digital marketing pioneer, Wall Street Journal best-selling author, and LinkedIn influencer – strongly believes in the KISS approach to writing CTAs. She cites the example of North Carolina's Currituck County's Economic Development website, which uses the CTA of "Call Larry." 

And who exactly is Larry? 

He's the county's director of economic development. And the phone number provided goes directly to his office – not the help desk. It's a beautiful example of how a simple CTA can be both simple and genuinely helpful to the audience (no strings attached).

Here are a few ways you can incorporate a KISS approach in your sales pitches:

  • “Call [REP].” Bonus points if you link the CTA directly to your mobile phone or landline.
  • “Contact [COMPANY].” Personalize it by providing a direct email or phone number, not the generic customer service line.
  • “Message [REP] now.” Set this up as a direct message that connects with your mobile phone.

The key to KISS CTAs is clarity and openness. You're allowing the customer to talk to you now, not fill out a form and wait for someone to call them back. And guess what? As the sales rep pursuing the customer for the sale, you're the best person to close it.

2. Follow the verb, value, urgency formula.

Entrepreneur suggests the verb, value, urgency (VVU) formula for writing CTAs, especially when you're advertising through social media posts. Essentially, every word in your CTA will fit into one of three categories:

  1. Verb
  2. Benefit (or value)
  3. Imminency (or urgency)

As an example, consider these CTA elements:

  • Verb: “Claim”
  • Value: “25% discount on [PRODUCT / SERVICE]”
  • Urgency: “Today only”

The final CTA reads: “Claim a 25% discount on [PRODUCT / SERVICE] today only!”

The VVU formula has a few stand-out benefits:

  1. It's straightforward. The customer knows what will happen if they go forward with their purchase. 
  2. It’s clear and direct. Specifically, it describes a clear-cut benefit from purchasing. 
  3. It conveys a time limit to the offer. No one wants to miss out on a great deal, so anyone on the fence understands they'll need to act if interested.

Here are a few other examples of VVU in practice:

  • “Reserve your spot at the [EVENT] before [DEADLINE].”
  • “Get a free [PRODUCT] while supplies last!”
  • “Grab your 50% discount on [PRODUCT] this week only!”
  • “Attend tomorrow's free demo and get 40% off your first purchase.”
  • “Boost your [SKILL SET] with [PRODUCT / SERVICE], available first-come, first-serve.”

3. Incorporate a cliffhanger.

Have you ever read a really good book? The kind that makes you turn to your partner and say, "Not now, babe; I've got to find out what happens next in this story!" You were hooked. Your kitchen could be on fire, and you'd throw a glass of water on the flames while scanning the pages.

Think about your CTAs in the same context. In particular, think of how the reader feels when they read your CTA. According to digital marketing expert Neil Patel, a really good cliffhanger CTA can inspire your customer to turn the page — or, for your purposes, take action.

A cliffhanger CTA is typically a short phrase or even a sentence fragment. To discover the story's end, the customer must take action. Cliffhanger CTAs are especially effective when they account for a customer's emotions or pain points.

Let's look at a few illustrations of the cliffhanger CTA in practice.

  • “How [PRODUCT / SERVICE] can save you $20,000 in just two weeks”
  • “Why [CELEBRITY] uses [PRODUCT / SERVICE] every day”
  • “What [CELEBRITY] has to say about [PRODUCT / SERVICE]”
  • “Why [CUSTOMER] quit [COMPETITOR] and went with [COMPANY]”

Every single example above has some kind of hook that entices and intrigues the prospect, making them want to know more. (Of course, you’ll obviously need to tweak the language to reflect your own audience and offerings.) At the end of the day, cliffhanger CTAs can be a huge conversion driver when used correctly.

4. Bring in some social proof.

Humans are pack animals; at our core, we're inherently social beings who want to be part of a group and fit in with others — particularly those we admire. And we do that by emulating them. That's why celebrities and social media influencers have such devout audiences: their admirers see them as a reflection of themselves — either as who they are now or who they want to be.

You can harness the power of social proof in your CTAs. In fact, most brands do. When you visit their website, you'll see a list of companies or customers that do business with them. The brand wants you to see its success and trust it because of who its customers are.

Let's look at a few social-proof-friendly CTAs:

  • “Join over 50,000 other happy customers by purchasing from [COMPANY] today.”
  • “Our customers include [BRAND A], [BRAND B], and [BRAND C] — sign up and find out why they love us!”
  • “[PRODUCT / SERVICE] has thousands of devoted fans, including [CELEBRITY] — get yours today!”
  • “Over 7,000 subscribers can't be wrong — join us and get [VALUE PROPOSITION] directly to your inbox.”

Also, note that this CTA style is another favorite of Patel's. In fact, he ranks it among the most persuasive best practices when writing CTAs.


5. Avoid overly complex jargon.

Even if you have the most complex product in the world, your customers probably aren't all aerospace engineers and software developers. They could be anyone, from accountants to customer service reps. And if they can't understand what you have to offer them — even if it offers tremendous value — they’ll walk right by.

So, when communicating with your customers — whether through an article, email, or social media post — you want to keep things as brief and clear as possible. Brian Dean, a well-known digital marketer and SEO, recommends that sales reps get straight to the point in their CTAs. In short, avoid fluffy language and words that your audience will need a dictionary to decipher.

Or, in the words of a popular aphorism: "Don't use $10 words when $5 ones will do."

Here are a few ways to apply Dean's advice to your CTAs.

Instead of:

  • “To discuss our top-of-the-line PHP-based software that infuses machine learning algorithms, limited memory neural-network AI, and global robotics to provide you with a simplified UI/UX interface and highly secure operating environment, schedule an appointment with our team.”


  • “Schedule an appointment to discover how [PRODUCT / SERVICE] can boost office productivity by 20%.”

Instead of:

  • “We offer a full refund if you’re unsatisfied with your purchase. Provide a copy of your receipt within the last 30 days and send a written request to our service team at returns@company.com.”


  • “If you're not blown away by [PRODUCT / SERVICE], we'll refund you 100% of your purchase.”

Instead of:

  • “If you’re interested in learning how [PRODUCT / SERVICE] can save you time, energy, and money, join our sales team for a three-hour webinar followed by a 30-minute Q&A session on Monday, September 3, at 1:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST).”


  • “Join our next [EVENT / WEBINAR] for a free demonstration of [PRODUCT / SERVICE] and tips on how to solve [PAIN POINT].”

Notice that the original CTAs contain unnecessary filler that detracts from the CTA’s purpose: closing a deal. While some of the information might be important to know, it could be shared in other areas of your sales pitch rather than the CTA.

6. Don't assume every CTA has to be at the end of your message.

There's an assumption among marketers and sales pros that the best place for a CTA is always at the end of your sales pitch. 

Guess what? That's not always true.

Customers are busy, and they know a sales-oriented message when they see one. The giveaway is usually an email from a brand or a social media post with the "Sponsored" tag. So, when they see said message, they're unlikely to read to the end unless your content is especially compelling. What does that mean for your CTA? It's missed entirely — and so is your chance to convert the prospect.

The solution is to pepper CTAs throughout your content. For instance, you might place one midpoint in your email with a link to a landing page or contact form. Or, you might test the waters with what Grant Cardone refers to as a "trial close."

In a trial close, you're checking the customer's temperature. If your sales cycle includes a few warm-up emails before trying to nail down a deal, use a few trial-close CTAs to see whether the buyer is ready to move forward. You can also incorporate them in other sales channels, including product demonstrations, webinars, and social media.

Here are a few examples of soft CTAs:

  • “Have you heard enough to make a decision?”
  • “Are you ready to buy now?”
  • “Would you like to schedule an appointment this afternoon?”
  • “Can I get you on the phone to discuss this further?”
  • “You don't want to miss this deal — let's start now. ”

According to Cardone, trial closes work because most customers know whether they're ready to buy. When you allow them to step things up, you save yourself (and them) time. If they don't commit, continue your sales flow and wait for the next CTA opportunity.

7. Use statistics for credibility.

Consider what your company offers your customers in terms of dollars or percentages.

  • Can you save them money or time?
  • Can you improve some part of their lives?
  • If so, by how much?

Get into the numbers here, even if math isn't your thing.

Chances are, your company already has a few customer statistics you can use in your CTA. Check your company's website and other marketing materials. You may even know a few well-communicated statistics by heart already.

Once you've collected the data, showcase it in your CTA. Doing so can make a convincing case for the customer to take action — especially if the statistic shows how valuable your product or service is. Remember: you don't have to go over the top with multiple figures; one is usually enough.

Let's take a look at a few examples:

  • “Save 10% off when you switch to [COMPANY].”
  • “Over 50% of our customers saw an increase in [VALUE PROPOSITION] when they joined [COMPANY].”
  • “Over 90% of our customers rate us five stars — buy today to find out why.”
  • “Customers see a 30% jump in [VALUE PROPOSITION] when they sign up with [COMPANY].”

Of course, you'll need to tailor the statistics and your language to match your company's offerings.

8. Understand the customer's intent.

Where your customer is in the buyer's journey is critical to writing a powerful CTA. Not all of them come to you because they're ready to purchase. Some will be accidental visitors who found your website through an internet search. Others will be looking for information and comparing their options. And some don't even know what they're looking for — but you might have it!

According to digital marketing expert Jeff Bullas, knowing what your customers want is vital to conversion success. Simple "Buy now" or "Schedule today" CTAs probably aren't going to turn a random visitor or social media scroller into a paying customer if there's no intent.

So, your job is to understand their intent and find a way to translate that into a lead. Sometimes, that might require a little nurturing, but that's okay — it's just a part of the process.

To draw a customer gently into the fold, use non-salesy CTAs that help you gather more details about them. Here are a few you can incorporate into your social media posts, articles, or emails:

  • “Sign up for [COMPANY]'s newsletter, and get [VALUE PROPOSITION] delivered to your inbox.”
  • “Follow our socials for [VALUE PROPOSITION A] and [VALUE PROPOSITION B]!”
  • “Join our mailing list for weekly deals and [VALUE PROPOSITION]!”
  • “Visit [LANDING PAGE] to learn more about [PRODUCT / SERVICE].”

After they take an initial baby step, you can follow up with opportunities targeting their specific interests.

9. Make your message pop with visuals.

Not all your CTAs have to be text-oriented. Some of the best results come from great visuals — especially if you're using email or social media as your messaging platform. Something as simple as a stock photo — especially when it's relevant to your content — can draw a customer's eye directly to your message. 

And, if you're lucky, the customer will be interested enough to keep reading and maybe take action.

Your brand may already have a slew of visuals you can incorporate into your messages. Maybe you have some videos you can draw from or company-approved product photos. For extra credit on this approach, consider adding the CTA to the visual itself so your customers can't miss it.

Sometimes, brands add emojis to their social media posts and emails for a little extra oomph. A gold star, red alert, or smiling face captures attention. Even a second or two from a social media scroller can be all that's needed to capture a new lead.

5 bonus tips for writing CTAs

Need a little extra inspiration for your next CTA? Consider these five tips:

  1. Stay unique. A boring CTA isn't going to get you the results you want. Be yourself and stay authentic. Do whatever it takes to get the customer moving in the right direction: a sale.
  2. Be open to new CTAs and brainstorm frequently. You might keep a little notebook in your pocket or use a note-taking app to jot down a great CTA before you forget it.
  3. Test CTAs among your audience. Try switching out different CTAs to see if they result in higher customer engagement.
  4. Tell customers what you want. It may seem obvious but – sometimes – customers need to be told exactly what to do. Whatever your CTA is, make sure it's clear, easily understood, and actionable.
  5. A compelling CTA means nothing without a great value proposition. Use your content to show customers exactly how they'll benefit from your product; then, follow up with the CTA.

Final thoughts

An effective CTA is more than simple encouragement to buy a product or join your next online event: it encapsulates your entire sales message in one or two sentences. If that sounds like a tall order, don't despair; you can create an effective CTA using any of the best practices we shared in this article. Ultimately, the main thing to do is focus on your company's benefits and the value your customer will get by choosing you. You can always start your sales deals slowly and then push customers to purchase once you learn more about their pain points.


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