By Kate Uhry

A successful call to action (CTA) is like catnip for marketers. If something I wrote makes someone take the desired action, I celebrate like a crazy feline who just caught a mouse. In this jaded time when people turn a blind eye to ads, send emails to spam, and ignore texts, creating a phrase or word that will get someone to click is a huge deal.

That’s why writing your CTA requires choosing the right words, the right phrase, especially when it comes to lead generation. It also means using a few tricks of the trade—such as choosing relevant topics, using urgency words, and making people curious.


1. Calls to Action for Lead Generation

Certain words inspire action. Words like “download” or “click” or “share” are fairly standard call to action verbs for encouraging someone to download a piece of premium content. But these phrases are for people who are already engaged with you. When the focus is on generating a lead, you need a different approach.

What really makes your customers tick? Find out with: The Psychology of Inbound  Marketing

HubSpot defines lead generation in its article, “Lead Generation: A Beginner’s Guide to Generating Leads the Inbound Way,” as “a way of warming up potential customers to your business and getting them on the path to eventually buying.”

Let’s step back and consider the goal here. What words are going to warm up potential customers to your business?

Think about “Learn,” “Read,” “Discover,” or “Find out.” These phrases imply helpful, gentle, outreaches. They aren’t words like “Buy,” “Act Now,” or “Request a Demo,” but as single words standing alone, they don’t really appeal.

2. Adding Urgency to Your Call to Action.

“Learn More About X Today”

“Read About X in Today’s Blog Post”

“Discover Why X Is so Important to You”

“Find Out How X Can Make Your Life Better”

See the difference? By adding a sense of urgency and a reason to click, you now have a compelling, clickable, actionable call to action.

Let’s look at these factors in more depth.

Words like “today,” “now,” and “right away” are all urgency words. Adding these words to the end of your call to action, however cheesy they may seem, encourages people to take action immediately.

3. Persona-Specific Calls to Action

Lead generation, however, is about understanding your audience and their motivations. One of the tools that will help is a solid, built-out buyer persona. Having your audience clearly in mind, along with their pain points and motivations, will make it easier to choose the call to action that is relevant to them.  

“5 Store-Bought Cake Mixes that Are Better than Homemade” is a call to action that won’t appeal to someone who is looking to buy a car.

Notice also that there are no action verbs, as in prior examples. What this CTA does is appeal to your curiosity. You might be thinking, “Really? There are cake mixes that are better than my Grandma’s homemade recipe? That’s not possible.” Your goal is to make people curious by using teasers, taking a particular stand, or saying something that they may strongly agree or disagree with. Give them a reason to click.

4. Checklist for a Good CTA

Writing a good lead generation CTA ultimately is putting yourself into your audience’s shoes. When you write a CTA, go through this checklist

  1. Would I click on this?
  2. Am I curious to know more?
  3. Is this a topic my persona is interested in? Why?
  4. What problem will it solve for them?
  5. Is there any sense of urgency?
  6. Is it clear what I will get if I click?

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then you are well on your way to getting another person added to the leads list.

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What really makes your customers tick? Find out with:

The Psychology of Inbound Marketing

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Kate Uhry

About the author

Kate Uhry is a Marketing Consultant at SmartBug Media. With a rock solid marketing foundation and years of experience, she loves to help customers grow and achieve their business goals. A graduate of Tufts University, with an MBA from the University of Connecticut, Kate is constantly taking a class somewhere. Her idea of happiness is sitting with a good book, a purring cat and a chocolate chip cookie in the sunshine. Read more articles by Kate Uhry.