Click here.

Okay, there’s nothing to click there. Sorry for the misdirection.

But even if there was, would you have clicked it? Probably not. As a call to action, “click here” didn’t perform its job well. It didn’t entice. It didn’t intrigue. It didn’t fill you with excitement with the mysteries that lay beyond. It was, for all intents and purposes, doomed to failure.

If you’ve ever noticed lagging sales on your small business website—or even a complete dearth of those who click “contact us”—it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re uninteresting. It may simply mean that your calls to action need work. Even the humble act of adding a CTA button improved click-through rates nearly three-fold on Facebook, according to AdRoll. The bottom line: CTAs matter, and what they say matter, and you need to do better than “click here.” Here’s how to write them properly:

Make it Vivid With “Power Words”

In marketing parlance, “power words” are those choice combinations of letters that have especially strong resonance with most audiences. Buffer, an app that knows a thing or two about utilizing words for marketing purposes, pointed out 189 such "Power" words that seem to boost the effectiveness of ads. And the way they see it, these words can be divided into the following categories:

What you’re doing wrong: Flat words and passive language. “Click here to sign up” isn’t as engaging as “Reserve my seat today.”

Make it Vivid with Stronger Verbs

We’re not done with powerful words just yet. In Wordstream’s guide to calls to action, they recommend starting with a powerful and striking verb: buy, shop, order, find, download, etc. Avoid general verbs like “improve” and try to find the verbs that cut to the heart of what your potential customers and clients might want.

Our current example of a plain call-to-action—“click here”—does indeed start out with a verb. But “clicking” isn’t especially exciting. Try to imagine your audience and what they would want to get out of the proposition of clicking on your CTA. Will they receive exclusive deals? Will they gain access to a free offering or download? Make that clear with your choice of verb.

What you’re doing wrong: Using flat verbs (“click”) , or not starting with a verb at all.

Write in First Person

Excluding the editorial “we,” most people think in singular first person. I went there. I bought that. I contacted them.

Many marketers recommend keeping that internal monologue consistent in the wording of your call to action. You can either eliminate the first person entirely (“Reserve a seat today”) or put yourself in the shoes of the website visitor (“Reserve my seat today!”).

What you’re doing wrong: Writing calls to action in second person. “Get your free report” doesn’t quite have the same intrigue as “Give me my free report.”

If You Can Fit It, Emphasize Security and Low Risk

It’s not always about how much excitement you can create with a call to action. The temptation when improving a CTA is to keep adding excitement until you come across like Billy Mays. But sometimes the decision is already made—your job is simply to reduce your visitor’s anxiety about becoming a paying customer for the first time.

Buffer pointed this out when they dedicated an entire category of power words to security. You want to be certified, official. If you have powerful guarantees and refunds, throw those words around as well. Remember that you’re asking a real live human to take out their credit card and make a decision about you—a little security in this case is a very powerful thing indeed.

What you’re doing wrong: Ignoring security and trust completely. However, you don’t always have to incorporate it into a call to action if the rest of your web presence shows just how trustworthy your small business is.

Tell a Story

A call to action should be a culmination of a process that’s already occurred in the visitor’s mind.  A quality call to action will draw attention to itself, sure—but the rest of your small business website is there to make clicking that call to action all the more enticing.

It comes down to telling a story with at least two elements:

When you pair these two elements together effectively, you may even find that you can break a few “CTA rules”—such as placing the call to action below the fold.

Your website is more than an advertisement. But don’t forget that it is also an advertisement. If you’re putting enough work into your CTA to read an article like this, then that CTA deserves the intrigue and story to support it.

What you’re doing wrong: Forgetting the story of your brand.

Making Calls to Action Work

Calls to action can be fickle. What works for one site might not work for the next. Don’t be afraid to experiment with multiple calls to action. Running A/B tests on landing pages will not only give you insights into what works, but answers to that deeper question: what it is that your visitors are really after. Once you know that, you’ll know how to write a CTA that gives it to them.