Calls to Action (CTA) are the phrases that invite the user to does some action. We usually see them in the form of either a sentence with a link (e.g. Click here for more information) or button at the bottom of the page (e.g. Sign up). They are considered the most important factors for it increase conversion rate and the success of an advertising campaign, and rightly so. It is this invitation for a specific action that turns the visitor into a customer, after guiding him on what to do next.

The action we ask the user can be, for example, to buy the product, subscribe to the newsletter, share an article or visit a sales page. What we ask of him must be perfectly clear and clearly stated, but that alone is no longer enough. It needs to get the user’s attention and make him or her feel better to want to press the button or the link to proceed with this action.

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How to structure the CTA to be effective is a complex issue that has preoccupied marketers and copywriters for years. THE language to be used, which words will be selected and how they will be placed at the bottom of the page, where Calls to Action are usually inserted, are factors that significantly determine this success of the prompt in a particular action. In the field of psycholinguistics and marketing, various researches have been done that help us to understand how the user perceives the CTA and how he subconsciously decides if he likes it, in order to follow it.

Based on this literature, the most important guidelines for making effective use of language in Calls to Action are the following.

Verbs instead of nouns

Mentally, with the CTA we ask the user to does something. This is effectively expressed by use of verbs in imperative, as verbs are the linguistic elements that indicate the action, while the predicate as an inflection clearly gives the necessary instruction that the user needs, to proceed to the next step.[1]. For this reason, the word seems much stronger to us “Buy” from the word “Buy”.

Also, the essentials do not help to create a clear message, because they do not carry all the information. For example, a CTA “Account” are vague as opposed to “Sign in to your account”.

Use of frequent words

The goal should be for the user not to make any effort to understand what we are asking them to do. We will achieve this by using words that are very common in London, since it has been proven by experiments.[2] that the retrieval time in short-term and long-term memory is much shorter when we use frequent words instead of more rare and difficult. So the phrase “Submit code again” will make it much more difficult for the user than the phrase “Try again” and that’s why it’s good to choose the latter.

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Not in denial

Denial is a more difficult linguistic structure than a decision, to be processed by the natural speaker, but the double denial is even more complicated and increases the time required for understanding[3]. This is especially useful in cases where the user is required to cancel. If the question is structured as follows:

Want to cancel your order?

Cancellation Continue

then the message becomes complicated. Continuation means cancellation and cancellation means cancellation of the cancellation, ie confirmation? The user is very likely to just close the page, increasing the bounce rate.

Instead, it is better to express the question and its answers more simply:

Want to cancel your order?

No, I keep it. Yes, I cancel it

Avoid synonyms for greater consistency

Often, copywriters try to replace a word with a synonym so that there is variety in speech. However, this is completely ineffective in Calls to Action, where consistency is a necessary feature. For example, if on one page the actions that the user can take are: “Previous” and “Next”, then the buttons should keep this language format on all pages of the site and not elsewhere be “Back” and “Continuity”. Synonyms confuse the user, because they make him think he has to go through the process of replacing every word in his memory with its synonym [4].

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Specific instead of abstract words

These words are those that have a immediately perceptible meaning, which is captured by our senses, while abstract words refer to mental entities whose meaning changes and is specificized each time depending on the language environment. The specific words are more easily memorized and understood, because their message does not change [5]. So it is important to use such words in the CTA. Instead of the phrase “Go to the market”, which includes an abstract verb that does not have the same meaning everywhere, the word is more effective “Buy”. The same goes for the phrase “Take advantage of our offer”, which is quite general, because the word offer does not specifically explain the benefit, as opposed to the phrase “Earn 50% off”.

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In conclusion, in an age where the user comes in contact with hundreds of pages daily, it is not enough to take care of clarity, but it requires a little more attention and attention to detail, so that Calls to Actions can really perform their role successfully and lead in increasing conversion rate.


[1] Meeds, R. and Bradley, S. (2007). The Role of the Sentence and Its Importance in Marketing Communications, in: Lowrey, T. (ed.), Psycholinguistic Phenomena in Marketing Communications. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

[2] Postman, L. (1970). “Effects of Word Frequency on Acquisition and Retention under Conditions of Free Recall Learning”, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 22, 185-195.

[3] Gough, P.B. (1965). Grammatical Transformation and Speed ​​of Understanding, Journal of Verbal Learning and Behavior, 4, 107-111.

[4] Kausler, D.H. and Settle, A.V. (1973), Associate Relatedness vs. Synonymity in the False Recognition Effect ”, Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 2, 129-131.

[5] Yuille, J.C. and Paivio, A. (1969), “Abstractness and Recall of Connected Discourse”, Journal of Experiment Psychology, 82, 467-471.

In conclusion, in an age where the user comes in contact with hundreds of pages daily, it is not enough to take care of clarity, but it requires a little more attention and attention to detail, so that Calls to Actions can really play their role successfully and lead. in increasing conversion rate.

Article Writing: Tsotsou Alexianna