The call to action is a core component of marketing, sales, and any persuasion-based effort today.
You can see how theoretical principles play out in the real world, and how they can create effective experiences. Therefore, this post will focus on how to apply theory for calls to action.
A good call to action isn’t the only element you need to succeed online, but a good one will certainly improve your effectiveness. Let’s return quickly to the basics before we dive into any call to action examples.
What is a Call to Action?
In marketing, a call to action (CTA) is any message designed to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale. It’s as simple as it sounds: a call for someone to take action.
In the online world, a CTA is a combination of words or phrases that seek to inspire action (usually a button click). In conversion optimization, a typical call to action example would look something like this:
Call to Action Examples in Conversion Optimization
This makes sense, especially when you think about how most people learn about conversion rate optimization: through case studies where small CTA tweaks lead to huge lifts).
While a call to action test isn’t always the most impactful area for experimentation, tons of CTAs are so bad that you can pick up some easy wins in this area.
Additionally, no web element lives in isolation. A good CTA draws heavily on the context of the page. When you optimize other elements, your CTA may need tweaking as well.
Sure enough, here’s a call to action example where the CTA itself isn’t really wrong, but the other page elements (like the background image) make it super hard to read:
However, CTAs aren’t exclusive to conversion optimization or website design. In any avenue of persuasion, including sales, fundraising, etc., a call to action is used to prompt action. (Though in sales, it’s typically called “the close.“)
When you define a call to action, it seems fairly straightforward, but many people still mess up this simple element.
Not many call to action examples are truly bad, but many could use some tweaking, like this one:
The orange color is a nice contrast to the page, but the button is quite small and hard to notice. “Learn more” is somewhat vague. It doesn’t help you understand the next step—what happens afteryou click the button.
Or this one, where the CTA buttons for the products could be more prominent:
Sometimes, there’s no clear call to action, and, instead, there’s only an automatic image slider:
Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon. At the very least, if you don’t have a clear call to action, add one. Another example of a site without a clear CTA:
There are a variety of call to action best practices. I’ll leave the theory, for the most part, to other articles. In this piece, I’ll use examples to guide, instruct, and inspire CTA ideas.
So let’s get to it! Here are 20+ call to action examples.
20+ Call to Action Examples (with Reviews and Critiques)
After doing tons of button tests, Michael Aagaard realized that two questions can help you write CTA button copy:
- What is my prospect’s motivation for clicking this button?
- What is my prospect going to get when they click this button?
If you can answer those questions crisply, concisely, and clearly, you’ll have a quality CTA button.
Unbounce’s homepage CTA does that well. “Explore the Unbounce Platform” is unique and concise, and you know that you’ll be brought to a page to learn more about the product’s features.
It’s tough to shake things up with calls to action. Most offer the same things: “Download Now,” “Get Access,” or “Contact Us.”
KlientBoost does a good job shaking things up, and instead of using something like “Contact Us,” they say “Get My Free Proposal”—seemingly, a more compelling offer. It’s also more specific. You know exactly what the endgame is. “Contact Us” is vague, but a free proposal is concrete.
Not every call to action has to be a super clever or witty. In fact, for anybody outside the inbound marketing echo chamber, a CTA saying “Yes! I want to save money and get instant access!” with blinking arrows is annoying.
“Request a Demo” is boring, but if a demo is the desired action, it’s perfectly suitable. Clarity trumps persuasion. Just be consistent. Usabilla does that well, calling for a demo everywhere on their homepage.
Therefore, if you have a freemium offer or a free trial, why not emphasize it? One of the biggest hurdles to conversion is uncertainty regarding payment or risk. If you can mitigate that with some soothing copy that assures visitors it “won’t cost you anything,” do it.
You don’t have to have the word “Free” in the call to action. Sometimes it’s obvious from the setup and page context. (Pro tip: It’s always about the page context).
That’s the case with TaxJar, where a solid amount of copy is devoted to explaining this is a free trial (no credit card required). “Get Started” is a solid call to action.
Bulletproof has a well-optimized site. The user experience, in my opinion, is excellent. They’re clearly testing things regularly.
The homepage features the prototypical example of an ecommerce call to action: “Shop Now.” It’s not unique or witty, but it explains what you’re (almost certainly) looking to do on the site.
On the same line, we’ve often seen “See Selection” outperform “Shop Now.” Even better, you can personalize your call to action for return visitors or past buyers with a “See What’s New” (as long as you have new things to show):
To complement this, they use a prototypical product page call to action: “Add to Cart.” Most of the time, conversion optimization best practice is to do what your customer expects. That’s where prototypical design and the science of familiarity come into play.
7. Travel Wisconsin
Travel Wisconsin splits their homepage calls to action two ways: “Our Family Vacation,” and “Trip Ideas for You.” Now, I don’t know their audience well, but I can imagine trip ideas is a more compelling offer, much more in line with the intent of the site visitor.
But in any case, the combination of the two CTAs is a bit confusing, and “Our Family Vacation” is completely vague. Everything above the fold is pretty vague, in fact.
8. CXL Institute
Granted, many people arrive directly on the course page they’re interested in. In any case, we change up the CTA based on the offer from there. Many people want demos; others are ready to purchase right away. We offer both options for the All-Access plan.
These things changes, and we’re iterating, so it will be different in the future, but these call to action examples reflect the varying intent of our audience and nature of our offers.
A CTA doesn’t have to be words in a rectangular box with a contrasting color. A CTA just calls for action. You can get creative with the execution.
BounceX does a great job at making you click play to watch their promo video:
10. Bounce X (Part 2)
BounceX has a treasure trove of behavioral marketing content in their “think tank.”
Each piece of content has its own well-designed landing page. Each call to action example could be a case study on how to do things right. The size, color and contrast, affordance—everything about the design is great. In addition, they do copywriting well.
They answer the question, “I want to ____,” and use that as their CTA copy.
11. BounceX (Part 3)
Same story in this example CTA. This call to action is for a webinar, so the copy changes to “Watch it Now,” keeping pace with the context of the offer.
On their homepage, Intercom maintains consistency with both above-the-fold CTAs. Since they offer a free trial, it’s a simple “Get Started,” with an email opt-in as well.
Zoom’s homepage follows a similar structure, with a contrasting and highly noticeable CTA offering visitors the chance to sign up. Since it’s also a trial (and free), they just go for it right away.
This is the general call to action template we use for our lead generation landing pages. This one is for a webinar and goes for clarity: “Attend Webinar.”
Again, we try to follow the formula of answering, “I Want To ____,” and that works in this scenario.
15. Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss’s call to action is unique both in placement and in offer. His focus is his podcast, so he asks users to “Click to Listen.”
16. Paleo Leap
I’m a huge fan of Paleo Leap, but I’m not a big fan of their CTAs. There are dozens of them on the homepage (where does one start?), so it’s difficult to understand the most important desired action. In addition, the design could use work. The call to action examples below are hardly noticeable at a glance and blend right into the white background.
Looker has two CTAs on their homepage, which goes against CRO best practices.
Sure, having only one action per page reduces distraction and makes things clearer for the visitor.
But if you’re selling enterprise software, why not cater to how people want to buy? You may wish they’d all demo, or they’d all sign up for a trial, but people exhibit different buying habits. When the value of a sale is so high, why rule it out because of “best practices”?
So, you can choose either a live demo or a recorded version, which I think is great. However, their recorded demo page could use some work. No one wants to “Submit,” especially when the offer appears to be a free trial.
I’m not a huge fan of Tableau’s call to action. Well, there are actually two above the fold, and the one that pops out is the “Try Now” in the upper-right side of the screen, which may be intentional.
But the one below the headline that says “See in Action” is hard to see and vague. Does “See in Action” mean I get a pre-recorded demo (like the Looker call to action example)? Does it mean I’m scheduling a live demo? Does it mean I get an interactive walk-through?
Turns out it’s the first one—a triggered promo video—but you’d have a hard time guessing that based on the CTA copy.
19. Verve Coffee
This one is pretty bad.
Starting from the page-context level, the headline and image aren’t super enlightening. I’m not sure what an “adventure pack” is. Then, the call to action is to “Join the Adventure.”
But I’m on a coffee website. I thought I was shopping for coffee. Very confusing.
20. Nomadic Matt
This one has strong CTA copy: “Get Travel Tips,” which follows the “I Want To ___” formula. It also has an easy and intuitive form; wonderful page context; contrasting colors; and it’s all prominently displayed above the fold. Well done!
Before You Test: Some Caveats
This guide is meant to inspire, not to instruct. Every website is contextual, and while I can judge these call to action examples against the theory of design and copywriting, I don’t know how they’re actually performing.
So, here comes the common conversion optimization advice: Test it yourself.
…Or don’t. Maybe it’s not the highest value area for optimization. Maybe you have bigger challenges. Qubit put out an awesome meta-analysis of 6,700+ ecommerce experiments, and they found that CTA tests, on average, don’t move the needle often (and when they do, it’s not by a lot):
Maybe you’ve already tested a ton of CTAs and have a pretty good idea of what works. Call to action tests scale well. Once you’ve done enough experimentation, you can usually replicate the winners across similar offers. We use the same CTA across similar landing pages and offers.
If you’re just starting to optimize your website, it may be more beneficial to start with higher impact areas. Use conversion research to discover real problems on your site. Don’t just test calls to action because they’re easy to set up in a visual editor.
The call to action is an important element of website design, conversion optimization, or any form of marketing or persuasion. Invest some time and effort into crafting good CTA copy, making sure the design is right, and designing with the page context in mind.
This post outlined a huge list of call to action examples, probably too many—some good, some bad, some awful, some non-existent. You shouldn’t copy any of them outright, but rather use them as inspiration to design your own compelling call to action.