What forces a person to have a call-to-action (CTA)?

Is it the color of the button, the language used, or the context around it?

Undoubtedly, all of these factors play a role, but unusual CTAs can stand out and convert.

There is no magic guide on how to create a call to action that guarantees results, and therefore both boring and unusual examples can work.

Typically, marketers test A / B tests to improve conversions around a CTA. Part of this process can include changes to the actual CTA itself.

These types of micro-enhancements can focus on the color, the words used in the CTA, or even the shape of the button.

Placement is a completely different topic.

With so many options included in a tiny button or phrase, it's up to marketers to make informed decisions about what works best.

Often times there is no rhyme or reason and without a seemingly good reason, the strangest possible CTA option is the winner.


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To understand what makes a CTA unusual, marketers need to understand what is common. So let's start there before moving on to the crazy and wonderful.

The Psychology of CTA Best Practices

Human emotions are the driving factor behind human behavior.

This is any marketer's most powerful cultural truth.

Knowing this, marketers can make reasonable attempts to understand how their audience thinks about the things they interact with.

This empathy card can help marketers think this process through:

Empathy card

By portraying the target audience's hopes, dreams, and fears, marketers can begin speaking and copying with each of those audiences in their CTA context.


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And while every audience is unique, there are also broad behavioral traits that we as humans share that can lead to common practices related to CTAs.

For example, it doesn't make sense to create a button that is hidden, difficult to read, or difficult to understand.

There's a lot to be said for CTAs to give users clear expectations with concise language.

This combination is more likely to reduce the fear and friction that the user feels before taking any action.

This type of CTA best practice is recommended on websites far and wide along with other general recommendations:

  • Keep it short.
  • Create urgency.
  • Use reverse psychology.
  • Personalize.
  • Use a button in a contrasting color.

These techniques are effective because they work with elements of human psychology. Keeping it short and creating bright and / or contrasting buttons can instantly alert the eyes of the action you want.

Urgency and reverse psychology play with a potential buyer's fear of missing out (FOMO). Personalization can give the user the context they need to perform an action.

To bring these principles to life, let's look at language and color.


When it comes to writing compelling CTAs, it doesn't mean being short, being boring. Marketers need to grab their audience's attention and motivate them in one short sentence.

Examples of ineffective but short language would look something like this:

  • Click here.
  • Submit.
  • Download.

These sentences fall flat on the user and do not connect with the reader.

Without being too verbose, these examples could be completely converted into CTAs that evoke emotion.

Here are some examples of short CTAs that are far from boring:

  • Give me more.
  • Take part.
  • Watch now.


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Marketers who write international CTAs may have a harder time keeping character counts down, and more playful language can help.

The French expression "Allez-y" means "Go Ahead" and it helps Scotia Aria create a friendly but less conventional CTA that stands out from its audience with all the best practices:

Examples of unusual calls to action that actually work

Marketers trying to increase engagement can also draw on the potential of FOMO by creating CTAs that take advantage of reverse psychology.


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The FOMO CTA technique forces users to choose either the action they want or an unflattering action. It uses their fear against them.

We see this here where there is less emphasis on adversary action below the CTA with no "X" corner to close the window, forcing the user to "miss" if they don't convert.

FOMO CTA example

If marketers don't shame their audience into working with them, they may turn to another best practice called personalization.


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HubSpot found that creating smart CTAs based on buying funnel positions increased conversions by over 200%.

In practice, this meant actually changing the CTA language and color depending on what type of user was on their website:

Hubspot personalized CTAs

These CTAs are completely different from each other, and yet both have been effective for different types of users on the same website.

Trying to collect data without this information can lead to assumptions that may serve only a fraction of the traffic.


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Marketers cannot ignore the top or bottom of the funnel and still not create marketing pages for every potential buyer at every stage of funnel personalization. This is the answer.


It's interesting that in the above CTAs, HubSpot uses different colors for users at different points on the purchase funnel.

In fact, the black / dark gray used in the CTA button for leads is not what CTA color enthusiasts would recommend.

Black, gray, and brown are considered the least popular or worst colors for a CTA, and yet HubSpot has likely tested many colors.

In fact, when looking at CTAs with the best performing, color psychology goes the wrong way.

From the street to the workplace, red is often a color that people associate with stopping or feeling alert.

These aren't exactly the warm and fuzzy action-inducing feelings that can get users to click on a call to action.

However, in an older study of 200 global ad themes, red was the most popular CTA color.


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And while the study is now dated, there are many recent examples of red CTAs:

red button CTA examplesExamples of unusual calls to action that actually work

Although the above study has been widely cited, it is interesting to consider how the dissemination of this limited study could affect future generations of red CTAs.

Here is a nice picture of this study from a recently cited article:

Popular CTA colors

Perhaps it's no coincidence that these mostly match the top brand logo colors and the emotions they evoke.

Top brands by logo color

Again, red is not seen as a color of friction, but rather as a bold excitement.


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A breach of basic color psychology is not uncommon, however, especially since in many cases it can be exactly what suits the company's branding.

Given all of these best practices and psychology, what makes a CTA unusual?

Crazy CTA goodness

In the world of CTAs, red may not mean stop or go … Maybe red works so often just because it gets noticed.

The internet is saturated with advertising and banner blindness is rampant.

Outstanding is the name of the game, and crazy works.

What we saw and learned from the best practice examples is that rhyme and sanity is not the name of the CTA game, and while there are best practices to draw on, what kind of audience works works, not necessarily for another.

Marketers go against the grain to stand out.

That could mean CTAs that are very verbose, like the following example or the other one from Convince and Convert.

Long, verbose CTA examplesExamples of unusual calls to action that actually work

It can also mean focusing on potential buyer fears rather than any particular action.


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Knowing that trust and confidence are everything in finance, the creators of the following ad are focused on building trust with their audience:

CTA based on buyer fear

This is an unusual CTA, but by no means inappropriate.

Going against the grain doesn't mean creating ads that stand out at any cost.

Marketers can create unusual CTA examples that will stand out and still resonate with their audience.


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They don't necessarily check all of the best practice boxes and still work (you may even see some in actual ads embedded in this post as you scroll).

Here are some of my favorite unusual call-to-action examples, along with a summary of why they work.

1. Huemor

Huemor CTA example

Collected by: HubSpot

Works because:

"If you went to a website and saw a CTA" Launch "with a copy of" Do Not Press "… what would you do? Let's face it, you really want to push it. Using harmless reverse psychology is playful here which is very much in line with Huemor's brand voice. "


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2. Firebox

Firebox CTA example

Collected by: Environmental advice

Works because:

"The phrase is a variation of 'hurry up' or 'let's go' in Spanish and cleverly adapts to the fiesta-themed product category, while its playful and motivating nature continues to entice customers to click."

3. Point Blank SEO

be great CTA

Collected by: Wordstream

Works because:

“Instead of asking you to hit a boring“ Subscribe ”button, or worse, the“ Submit ”button, Point Blank SEO makes signing up for the newsletter fun and even a little weird – after all, who doesn't want to“ be great ”. ? "


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4. Whale and dolphin protection

heartbreaking CTA

Collected by: Campaign Monitor

Works because:

“It appeals to the emotions of the reader and forces them to take action based on their beliefs. When you click on the CTA, they commit to the stats they read above the CTA. "

5. Humboldt County's Tourism Website

Magic cta

Collected by: HubSpot

Works because:

"It enhances the fantastic feel of the footage and makes you feel like you are stepping into a fairy tale."


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And my all-time favorite uncommon CTA example I've seen lately is below.

6. Unqork

unqork cta

Collected by: With best regards.

Works because: This unusual CTA works because it incorporates best practices and gets noticed. I was just about to start my day when this CTA stopped me, made me laugh, and I actually shared it with my co-workers. It appealed to me as a marketer and I could appreciate the tone of trust and authority.


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Making unusually wonderful CTAs

To write CTAs that stand out from the crowd but still make sense to your brand and connect with your readers, check out the advice in this post.

Start with the empathy card and think about how your audience behaves, what they are saying, what they like to hear, and what other patterns you can attribute to the way they feel and communicate the world around them.

Take the insights from your empathy card and build on them by overlaying them in the buying phase. Think about what creates fear for your audience at different stages in the buying cycle, and what other feelings they may have.

If you can identify the traffic on your website as a lead to a new visitor, it is recommended that you try to personalize your CTAs for each group.

Next, start creating CTAs using best practices. Create a sense of urgency or action while being concise and doing something that makes sense to your brand.


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Contrasting colors should be used to draw attention to the CTA, usually in the form of a button or phrase with a hyperlink. Concise is usually also recommended.

Most of the time, the key factor behind unusual CTAs is getting them noticed. While it's good to use best practices, coloring outside the lines sometimes means getting crazy and wonderful.

Take risks that make sense for your brand, but calculate them by testing them.

Perhaps having a longer copy will help you craft clever CTA sentences, or a simple but unconventional phrase like "Follow the Magic" can spark your audience's imagination.

While red seems to be a popular CTA color regardless of its use in other aspects of our lives, you may find that unpopular CTA colors actually work for your audience, such as: B. Dark gray or black.

As users scroll through your website and slowly consume the content with their eyes, give them CTAs that make them feel comfortable something.

You can focus on their fears, you can focus on their FOMO, or you can find another way to connect with them. Pulling their hearts or laughing can be very effective.


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Just a moment of enjoying an otherwise boring or predictable web browsing experience can be enough to get users to click and take other screenshots.

More resources:

Photo credit

Image 1: About gamestorming
Photo 2: Via Scotia Aria
Photo 3, 4: About Neil Patel
Fig. 5, 9: Via Absolute Digital
Image 6: Via HubSpot
Image 7: About BMO Wealth Management
Photo 8: Over Canadian tires
Picture 10, 11: Via Optin Monster
Image 12: Via Convince and Convert
Image 13: About AdEspresso
Image 14, 18: Via HubSpot
Image 15: Via Environmental advice
Image 16: Via Wordstream
Image 17: Via Campaign Monitor
Photo 19: About Unqork

All screenshots by the author, February 2021


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