The Psychology of CTAs How to Make Your CTAs Speak to the Minds of Your Site’s Visitors

author image Written by: Wade Morris           Categories - Digital Marketing

A call to action, or CTA, is more than just a button on your landing page. A CTA is the entry point towards your brand. When a user clicks on the CTA, they enter your brand’s world, becoming exposed to your products or services.

Considering its importance, you can increase the effectiveness of your CTAs by considering the psychological phenomena that fuels them. Read below to learn more about these powerful buttons.

What is a CTA?

CTA stands for “Call To Action.” The term refers to a button on your site’s landing page or website that calls the visitor to act – in other words, it indicates that the user should click in order to get closer to your brand. Upon clicking, the visitor may be taken to a purchasing page, a questionnaire, more information, or anything else you deem important.

The Key Components to The Psychology of CTAs


For your site’s visitors, a CTA acts as a doorway between a page and your product or service. As a result, visitors expect a CTA of some sort, and they might even look for it right away.

From a psychological perspective, this is related to the perceptual set theory. When the human brain tries to perceive something – like items on a webpage – it goes through a three-step process. These steps are:

  • Selecting: having expectations and directing attention to items that match them
  • Inferring: comparing what is seen to what has been seen in the past
  • Interpreting: using those past experiences to determine what information is important

As the internet gives us what we want faster, we run through the perceptual set process quicker – which is why your CTA needs to stand out.


An effective CTA should strike the visitor’s curiosity. Whether they visit your page with a strong intention of using your product or service, or they’re merely browsing, making the visitor curious is a solid move.

The most popular psychological perspective on curiosity comes from scientist George Loewenstein. In 1994, he described curiosity as “a cognitive induced deprivation that arises from the perception of a gap in knowledge and understanding.”

In other words, your brain is driven to fill the gap created by missing information, and curiosity leads that drive.


Have you ever done something only because you knew there would be a reward after? You’re not alone – that behaviour is in our nature, and has been studied by psychologists for centuries.

You may have heard of the most common psychological perspective on rewards, called classic conditioning. It involves dogs, and it was created by scientist Ivan Pavlov. His famous experiment involved feeding dogs at a set time each day, then observing as their expectations for food grew each day. In other words, living beings build habits that are based on rewards they anticipate.

How does this affect your CTAs? Internet users have developed a habit out of expecting a reward for reading and clicking on content. Don’t let your visitors down – ensure that your CTA leads to an informative, charming page.

Tips for Producing Strong CTAs

Effective Design

CTAs aren’t just a doorway from one page to another – they’re an extremely important part of your landing page’s design.

A CTA button should use a colour that stands out against its background, and it should use a font that is strong and easy to read. You can experiment with different shapes and layout techniques, but make it clear that the button is, ultimately, a CTA.

Strong Wording

Some of the most common words you’d expect to see on CTAs are actually pretty weak. That’s because these words are too plain to evoke a strong reaction, and have been used so many times that they have lost their magic. Phrases like “Buy Now,” “Go,” and “Click Here” should be avoided.

Instead, try something like, “Get Personalized Advice Fast” or “Take Our Quiz For Your Score.” These are direct and descriptive, and encourage the visitor to click.

Evoke Emotions

Visitors are drawn to page items that evoke an emotional response. That’s another reason that plain language doesn’t cut it. Weak phrases like “Buy Now” are too generalized, while something like “Plan Your Dream Home” asks the visitor to consider their own personal goals.


Have you ever scrolled through social media and got the impression that others’ lives may be more fun or interesting than yours? You probably felt a mix of jealousy and dissatisfaction – and there’s a name for that feeling. It’s called “FOMO,” or Fear of Missing Out.

You can incorporate this phenomenon in your CTAs. All you need to do is show the visitor what they’re missing without your product or service. You don’t want your CTA to read as malicious – instead, present the right set of info to the visitor. For example, “without our brand, you’ll be missing out on all these features.”

Get Creative

With so much clutter on the web, it’s hard to make a lasting impression on your site’s visitors. Don’t be afraid to experiment with fonts, colours, phrases, and design techniques. Your brand will be remembered, and your visitor will feel like they’re experiencing something truly unique.

Implementing CTAs properly can transform your website, intriguing visitors and helping your brand grow. Understanding the psychological impact of a solid CTA can help you draw in customers, so next time you make edits to your site content, consider the tips above.

Wade Morris

Wade brings an energetic approach to writing – he is always on the hunt for stories and angles that matter. With years of experience in journalism and marketing environments, Wade has written about everything from politics to education. Now, he writes about SEO and digital marketing trends.