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Convince and convert

April 24, 2019

Is your call-to-action convincing enough to convert?

Digital Strategy
Landing Page Optimisation

In a webmarketing context, a call-to-action is decidedly not a passionate speech delivered to a raging crowd.

Rather, a call-to-action is an order to do something, whether to click on a link, sign up to a newsletter or visit a sales page. From this point on, we’ll refer to it simply as a CTA.

On a website, the CTA will often take the form of a button, a clickable link which will allow visitors to your site or readers of your newsletter to complete the desired action. Generally, this clickable link does not appear on its own; it’s preceded by a declaration which aims to convince the reader, or at least a sentence that acts as a hook, designed to reel them in.

Of course, not all CTA are the same: some are particularly well thought out, which can lead to an increased conversion rate. Others may have an attractive design which makes the visitor want to click or give their email address.

In the rest of this article, we’ll take a closer look at the “hook” and the design of a CTA before examining the measures of success and the best practices.

What should the hook be like?

It all depends on the aim you wish to achieve. Do you want to increase sales of a particular product? Attract more visitors to your website? Increase the number of subscribers to your newsletter? Provide more details about your services? Gather email addresses? Some formats suit certain objectives, such as those just mentioned, better than others.


The aim of an email newsletter might be to present a new product or a temporary promotion. In this case, the email would contain a description of the services in question, the promotion and a link to take the user straight to the sales page.

If the aim is to promote a new article, the hook could be the opening section of the post that the author wants their audience to read, with a button marked “Continue reading here”, as we’ll see later in the examples. An alternative could be to have a promise of new content to discover.


When it comes to websites, it all depends on the type of page in question. If the CTA is on the homepage, the trend for 2019 is to have very short hooks, with impactful sentences which seek to draw the reader’s eye towards the clickable link. This link then leads the reader towards a detailed description of the services offered.

The idea is to avoid overwhelming the reader with useless information. Instead, most sites aim to convince them through a sales promise such as “Strengthen your communication strategy” or “Increase your sales”. These promises are then followed by the clickable button.

To gain subscribers to a newsletter, it’s important to offer free, quality content. The aim is not to reveal everything to your customers right from the start, but to arouse their interest enough to make them want to find out more.

James Clear is one author who takes this approach. A photo of his book is presented, giving the impression that it is being offered to us in exchange for our email address. What we actually receive is the first chapter and, of course, subscription to the newsletter. Alex Banayan is another example of an author who uses the same approach.


For audio or video content, the design is often similar across the platforms: the presenter promotes their product and then provides a link, which has to be easy to pronounce so the audience can type it into the search bar straight away. This link is also included in the notes or description accompanying the video.

Social networks

Lastly, on social networks, CTAs are often less obvious because the design is dictated by Facebook, Twitter or one of their competitors. Whether it is a paid link or not, the hook needs to resemble those already found on the website or in the newsletter or video. The difference can be seen in terms of the design of the clickable button.

You’ll now understand that a CTA can take several different forms. The second thing to think about is its design.

Design of the CTA

When designing a CTA, the first thing to do, according to Pat Flynn, is to be very precise in the word you choose to use on your link or button. It’s crucial to have a verb, which indicates to the customer exactly what they need to do.

So, a good example of text for a CTA would be “Click here” or “Subscribe”. Other key verbs and phrases include “Download”, “Get your guide”, “Buy now”, “Choose…”, “Share…” or “Start now”. According to Flynn, using these key words and phrases provokes an unconscious reaction in the reader, one which is more likely to lead them to click the button. CTAs are an effective tool precisely because of this unconscious reaction which we all have.

According to Wordstream, the text on the button should contain no more than five words and should convey a “sense of urgency” by using words like “now”, “today” and “30% off”.

Use a button rather than a link, as visuals are always more successful. Mailchimp and Convertkit, among others, offer hundreds of templates for newsletters, should you need them.

How to measure the success of your CTA?

To measure the success of your CTA, there is a statistic that is very simple to obtain, especially if you already use tools such as Google Analytics to analyse traffic to your website. This statistic is called the “click-through rate” (CTR).

It concerns the relationship between the number of people who clicked on your link and the number of people who saw it. The first term is:

  • The number of subscribers to your newsletter since the CTA was created
  • The number of views on the sales page for the product in question
  • The number of people who were redirected to the sales page from an external link, for example on YouTube

You’ll also need the total number of people who got wind of the CTA; this is what we call the impression rate. These are:

  • The visitors to a site who viewed the page where the CTA is located
  • For a video, the number of people who watched until the end
  • For Facebook, the number of people who viewed the ad

The link between these two figures will give you the click-through rate. In very simple terms, by way of an example, if 100,000 people viewed the CTA and 2,500 people clicked on the link, the CTR is 2.5%.

Over the past few years, the click-through rate has decreased hugely. For Facebook, however, a good CTR is around 1%. For an ad on any other site, Hubspot says that this figure falls to just 0.35%. 

Be careful what you measure: there are a huge number of sites which offer CTR figures. The reference standard depends on the type of channel used to bring in the click, and also on the industry. It therefore becomes very difficult to know which is the ideal CTR. However, calculating your own CTR over a given period of time to see the variation over time is an excellent practice.

There are, therefore, two factors which can impact your click-through rate: the design of the CTA, and the advertising actions taken. The former has an impact on the click-through rate, and the latter on the impression rate. Although it’s tricky to measure the effect of these factors separately, the least you can do is to measure what you can measure, which is the CTR. As Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed”.

That's it?

No! There’s another very important step which comes after the potential customer has clicked: the page they will be directed to, or the landing page.

It might seem obvious that you should do everything you can to make the customer’s life easier, but it’s worrying to note that many sites fail to follow this advice. So, we might find the start of an article in an email newsletter which redirects the reader to the welcome page of a blog, with extracts of all the articles. Another scenario might be to have a promotion for a particular product but where the customer ends up on the shop’s homepage and then has to find the product in question themselves.

Simple mistakes like this lead to a significant loss of sales. The idea is to create a “conversion funnel”. In other words, once the customer is interested in your product, you’re doing them a disservice if you make it difficult for them to find it. Instead, take them directly to the page for the product in question or the blog article they want to read.

However, some consideration is needed: do you want to take the reader directly to the sales page, or rather offer them a bit more information about the problem they’re experiencing before then proposing a solution? The general orientation of your marketing strategy will dictate the approach you take.

Our top 9 examples to give you some inspiration

There are so many examples to be found online, each more creative than the last. So, here’s our top 9 (so as not to repeat the usual clichés). We sought the best the internet has to offer in order to help you to apply the best practices in your own CTAs.

1. Zappier's newsletter

Source : Really Good Emails

The newsletter consists of the title of their latest blog post, accompanied by the two final paragraphs and a button marked “Read the full post”. The first words of the post are intriguing, so the click-through rate is likely to be high!

2. Give me your email address :  Tim Ferriss

The author of The 4-Hour Work Week has hidden virtually all the content of his blog in an attempt to gather more email addresses from his readers. He then sends them all the content and resources by email. When you arrive on this page, the only possible action is to sign up to the newsletter.

3. You too, can «become an entrepreneur » : The Family

The decidedly eccentric design of this French business incubator draws the eye straight to the CTA, “Receive our newsletter”.

4. Free subscription on skillshare

If you can “Get started for free”, why wouldn’t you? This is a very good strategy from this website which offers online courses, some of which are free.

5. More information about Pat Flynn’s services

This podcaster turned master in the art of affiliate marketing arouses our curiosity with his promise to generate passive income, which makes us want to find out more, whether we believe it or not.

6. Learn to become a better student with Thomas Frank

With a CTA, everything depends on your target market. For the website College Info Geek, which is aimed at students, it’s the first step that counts if you want to discover their content. And, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t be tempted to click?

7. A strong message from PowerPoint’s rival: Prezi

In the world of presentations, there’s PowerPoint and then there are its competitors, which have no intention of letting the Microsoft giant walk all over them. Prezi instantly makes us want to find out more by using a striking image and a strong key word, “Engage”. Of course, then, we want to “see how it works”.

8. Learn to learn: how? Metalearn has the answer

Metalearn promises to teach us the necessary skills to “do great work and thrive in the 21st century”. This excellent sales promise can only make us want to “find out how”.

9. Discovering Brands Up's services

Of course, we weren’t going to write an article without respecting the principles we’re advocating. On the BrandsUP website, the homepage instantly allows you to understand how we can help you to develop your online presence. Then, another CTA, this time smaller, offers you the resources to help you get started in the form of an ebook: nice touch, don’t you think?

Conclusion : what NOT TO DO!

To conclude and recap the key points covered in this article, here’s our “don’t-do” list, which we recommend you read through each time you create a CTA to check you’re on the right track.


  • Don’t fail to write a hook
  • Don’t fail to try out different hook phrases
  • Don’t forget to use an active verb in the text on your button
  • Don’t use a hypertext link instead of a clickable button
  • Don’t fail to experiment with different CTA designs to see what works best
  • Don’t swamp the CTA in long passages of text, without highlighting it
  • Don’t make the page that follows the CTA indirect and difficult to understand
  • Don’t forget to measure the success of your CTA and the different strategies you’ve implemented
  • Don’t forget to look for inspiration on successful websites


Article writthen by Guillaume D.