Why A Call To Action Is Like Dating

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The part of your marketing message that invites your audience to do something on or through your website or landing page is referred to as your “call to action” (or  “CTA”). One of the most common calls to action is “Buy now!”. You’ve probably see this and many other CTAs online every day. If you think about it, a call to action is like dating. Does this sound crazy? Keep reading and I’ll explain why it isn’t.

A CTA is a lot like an invitation to a blind date

The purpose of a CTA is to entice a prospective customer to click on your ad and learn more about what you do or even experience your product or service. Why? Well of course you want to sell something but, more importantly, you want to form a new relationship and earn a new customer. CTAs aren’t limited to prospective customers. They can also be a way to cultivate a stronger relationship with existing customers, especially if you two haven’t been talking much lately.

You may not be particularly well acquainted with your prospective customers (or, sadly, your existing customers) so your call to action is an excellent way to introduce yourself to them (again) and also start explaining to them who you are and what you have to offer them. A well designed CTA will help you filter out the people who aren’t a good fit for your business. Overall, you want to use clear wording that is relevant to your industry and the customers you are appealing to. Here are a few ideas for what to include in your CTA.

Explain why they should be interested in you?

What can you bring to your new relationship? What can you do to benefit your prospective customers or how can you do more for your existing customers? Will your product fill a gap in their lives, save time, or save money? Use your unique selling point (“USP”) to make your CTA really shine. Your USP is a crucial way of acquiring new leads, so a combination of a strong USP and CTA is an excellent way to attract more visitors to your site. For example, using “Call today to receive a free 30 day trial!” is an great way to appeal to new customers. This way, you have not only stated the action that you want the user to take (calling), but you have also given them a reason why they should actually do it (free trial).

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Use a strong command verb in the beginning

Be as clear and concise as possible with your CTA. Your ad only has so much room; with the character limit usually set at 35 characters per line. It’s important to get to the point as quickly as possible. Word your CTA clearly to tell your customers what they should do to benefit from their time with you and, more importantly, what you will do for them. For example, if you want someone to request more information, try using “fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you.”

For example: You’re a advertising agency promoting your latest tips and insights and you want to be sure to that your audience understands exactly how to access that product. If your CTA reads “Our latest app is now ready to be downloaded”, your click-through rate might not be very high. It is a pretty vague CTA. A stronger call to action such as “Download our app today!” is much more direct and actionable. This, in turn, will entice more customers to download the app and experience the improved version.

Design your CTA buttons for success

Your CTA button can play a critical role in your ad campaign’s success. Hubspot Academy has a few great tips in its article titled “Call-to-Action Best Practices” which include these:

CTAs should be:

  • Visually striking with copy that compels you to click the offer
  • Brief: A couple of words is best, no more than five is ideal
  • Action-oriented: Begin with a verb like “Download” or “Register”
  • Located in an easy-to-find spot that follows organically from the flow of the webpage
  • In a contrasting color from the color scheme of the webpage, while still fitting in with the overall design
  • Large enough to see from a distance, but not so large as to detract attention from the main content on the page
  • Easy to understand and clear: Be sure to state exactly what the visitor will get if they click on the CTA and go to the landing page

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Other useful guides include:


“Fear of missing out” (or “FOMO”) is an excellent motivator for CTAs. Once people are given a clue that they will miss a great opportunity that might not be available again, they’ll suddenly feel the need to take action. You’ve almost certainly experienced this yourself. You may have felt that urgency to act when you realized that your window of opportunity to meet someone new or take advantage of a crazy sale was about to close. Black Friday is an excellent example of how FOMO can create a shopping frenzy because everyone knows that they probably won’t see prices as low as those for another year. Create a feeling of missing out to entice your customers to respond to your ad and form a new relationship with you. Just like you want to come across as a little elusive when you are dating (you don’t want to seem too available or too eager), you want to create that sense of an imminent lost opportunity through your CTA.

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Be creative and test your options

It’s vital that you keep your CTA’s as fresh as possible, just as you do with your ad copy. At the same time, be analytical and test alternatives all the time. Check what works for different customers in different contexts. A/B testing is the best way to track which CTAs bring you the most clicks and which CTAs aren’t doing so well. Try multiple combinations over time and keep innovating.

It is also very useful to learn from other publishers. Experiment with tactics that result in successful calls to action. Remember that, while some CTAs might not work or your brand, they may inspire your next compelling call to action and introduce you to a new group of customers. Find the combinations that work best for you and use them to attract new business and discover new relationships.

What has worked well for you? Share CTA tips and experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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Sinead McIntyre


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