6 Tips for Effective CTAs That Get Clicks

4 min
call to action
William Schmidt
Will Schmidt

Each week I create the Classy Roundup, our blog newsletter email. One of my favorite parts of writing this email is the call to action (CTA) that goes along with each teaser. However, writing the CTA is also one of the most challenging parts of the entire email.

A section of the Classy Roundup

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing an email like the roundup, or an appeal for your fundraising campaign. Your CTA copy is crucial when it comes to encouraging audiences to click through.

Below are six best practices to keep in mind as you refine your own CTA copy moving forward.

1. Balance Creativity and Practicality

Creativity can take you a long way toward encouraging clicks and conversions, but it can also detract from your success if you go too far with it. Puns, play-on words, and double entendres are fantastic and appropriate only if they also incite action.

Let’s say you build a fundraising campaign that centers around a football theme. You send an email blast to your audience with the goal for them to click through to your page and make a donation.

While it’s fun to write a CTA that reads “Ready, Set, Hike!” it’s not necessarily clear what you’re asking the reader to do. Instead, you can bring together your fundraising campaign, the football theme, and your creativity by writing something that makes a more intentional ask: “Become a Fundraising MVP.”

2. Keep It Simple

This can’t be stated enough. Simple will almost always trump complex. Remember, it’s your job to refine dense messages and convey them in a straightforward way to your audience.

If you want people to take a specific action, sometimes it’s as easy as just saying it. Do you want people to sign up as peer-to-peer fundraisers, donate to your campaign, or share the campaign page with their networks? Your CTAs could look like this:

  • “Sign Up to Fundraise”
  • “Donate Now”
  • “Share With Your Network”

Sometimes being straightforward like this can be the most effective. If you can write it in five words, write it in five words (or fewer if it gets the meaning across).

3. Keep It Clear

Your CTA is only going to be effective if your audience can understand what you’re saying.

Avoid run-on sentences, poor grammar, jargon, and fluffy language. Spell out precisely what you want your audience to do in your CTA.

This provides a foundation for you to work off of. Once your message is clearly and correctly written out, you can whisk in some creativity and play with stronger words to elicit a more emotional connection to the message.

For example, if you want your audience to read your blog posts, your base CTA might say, “Read This Blog Post.” That’s your core message, and it stands on its own. However, if you want to dress this up you could augment it to say: “Check Out This Brand New Content.”

4. Use Strong Verbs to Start Your CTA

A direct, simple, and effective CTA starts with a powerful verb. Power verbs can help take your CTA from a place of inaction to action. Look at these two examples…

“Please Consider Donating to Our Campaign Today”

Or…

“Donate to Our Campaign Today”

They express the same sentiment, but the second one is much stronger because it starts with an impactful “donate” as opposed to a softer “please consider.” As you work through your CTAs, here’s a short list of powerful verbs you can use:

  • View
  • Donate
  • Support
  • Fundraise
  • Create
  • Discover
  • Explore
  • Learn
  • Read
  • See

5. Evoke Emotions

Aside from using powerful verbs to start your CTA, your nonprofit can include emotional elements that take this experience beyond just one click.

For example, take an emotional sentiment related to your campaign and morph it into an engaging CTA:

  • Join a group of dedicated individuals: “Join Our Powerful Grassroots Community”
  • Commit to a cause that’s bigger than yourself: “Become a Lifelong Supporter”
  • You’re not donating, you’re changing the world: “See How You’re Changing the World”

When you inject emotion into your CTA, you inject emotion into the experience for your audience members that excites them to click.

6. Create Urgency

Amazon puts a countdown clock on their daily deals because they want you to feel a sense of urgency. If you don’t buy this item right now you may never get this awesome deal again.

Anything you can do to include a similar sense of urgency in your CTA will go a long way towards getting people to click and take action.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily need to be a specific measurement of time. It could be a general feeling that you convey or a charge to get in on the ground floor of a new fundraising campaign. What’s important is you extract urgent tidbits around opportunities that might not come around again and include them in your CTA:

  • “Earn Your Exclusive Incentive Before They Run Out”
  • “It’s Not Too Late to Make an Impact”
  • “Be Among the First to Commit to Our Cause” 

The CTA can be tricky, but with practice it gets easier and more fun. One of the best ways you can improve is by reading as many CTAs as you can. Almost any website with an online presence will have countless options for you to study.

If you’re looking for a great place to get started, subscribe to the Classy Roundup below and enjoy CTAs each week delivered to your inbox. In no time, you’ll be a pro. And if you have any other tips feel free to add them in the comments.


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