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How to incorporate calls to action in your video marketing

/ Marjorie Hajim

How to incorporate calls to action in your video marketing

Modern marketing practice is a fully multimedia affair. Even the smallest businesses will likely utilize a variety of channels to advertise their product or service, both online and offline.

Especially in the online space, the medium of video offers marketers one of the most dynamic and effective means of reaching potential customers and generating leads. It includes videos on social media that come in various forms, but also webinars and video calls.

With most social media platforms offering some form of video functionality, and few of us ever more than arm’s length from a video-enabled device, video marketing is arguably the most powerful tool at the disposal of today’s marketing professionals.

What your preferred video format will of course depend on is what type of business you operate in. Marketing cooking classes will inevitably require a different strategy than SaaS marketing, which will necessitate a different approach than marketing a fashion line will. 

Each industry has its own norms and marketing goals but no matter whether you measure success by sales, conversions, clickthroughs, or another metric, at some point your marketing materials will need to employ a call to action to achieve this. 

This article will help you to understand the role of video-based calls to action, and offer some guidelines for how to use them to optimize your video marketing efforts.

What is a call to action?

A call to action, or CTA, is any clear command or instruction directed towards your audience. While the most common CTA is probably some variation of “Buy Now!”, there is far more nuance to the art of making a sale than simply requesting it.


Contemporary marketers know the power of the association that comes from authentic customer engagement. If you’re wondering what is customer engagement? it refers to methods by which companies build and maintain relationships with their customers. In the digital economy, likes, shares, and reviews are essential currency for marketers which all come with their own calls to action.

We see CTAs everywhere in advertising copy and promotional graphics, but they are often missing from video content. Why go to all the effort of crafting videos for maximum customer engagement if they fail to articulate what it is you want the people watching them to do?  

It is worth differentiating between two distinct categories of CTA for video marketing: clickable links and in-video CTAs.

Clickable links

Most video platforms these days offer a means of embedding links into the videos themselves. This is useful because a click is often the first step in completing the action itself, or in the case of the “click here” CTA, it is the action itself.

Clickable links are most effective when they make sense to your audience within the context of the video and lead to expected action without intermediary steps. Keep any copy to a minimum, explaining the CTA in five words or less where possible.



In-video links

YouTube was an early adopter of overlayed links in videos. Whether you use a dedicated YouTube video maker or other video editing software, the platform has several options for customizing your links. 

When first introduced, creators could add annotations that allowed viewers to click to subscribe or watch another video. If you cast your mind back to a few years, you might remember these as a popular if sometimes annoying means of introducing CTAs into a video. 

YouTube annotations were a useful move forward for video marketing but if you weren’t careful they ended up cluttering the screen and distracting from the content itself. Annotations were also prone to misuse and spam so much so that many of us ended up just ignoring them.

More recently, the old annotation style has been phased out in favor of cleaner-looking overlay options and End Cards. These work on all devices and allow you to link to your website, subscribe, and watch other videos or playlists.

Other services

Vimeo also offers various end-of-video CTA opportunities, allowing you to add in-platform links with personalized fields, making it one of the best apps for sales professionals. With Vimeo, you can adjust the button color, text, link, title, description, and even choose a photograph as your link, giving you total control over the customization of your CTA.

If hosting the video on your own website, you might want to eschew the main video platforms altogether. Although there are plenty of benefits to embedding YouTube or Vimeo elements into your website, going it alone or using a third-party host opens up a world of possibilities for incorporating CTAs. This option gives you the most freedom of design and allows you to add more complex features like gated forms, as well as affording greater control over timing.

Paid-for ads

Embedding ads into other people’s content is a great way to get CTAs out to your target audience. Many video creators and influencers provide sponsorship opportunities whereby you can pay for them to either tell their audience to do something or to include the CTA in the video description or as a graphic.

YouTube also offers the option of paying for advertisements to be included with other people’s content. These can be pre-roll (before the video), post-roll (after the video), or overlay ads.

Overlays appear as a pop-up displayed across the bottom fifth of the video window. Users can see your ad while still watching the video and they can close the ad at any time. If they do opt to click on your ad, it takes them to the linked URL.


While Vimeo’s business model is less ad-friendly, it does have the advantage that it doesn’t identify specific marketing videos with a label. This leaves open the possibility of using it as a platform for both sponsored and original content. 

What’s more, Vimeo Business members have access to a suite of video interaction tools, including the ability to capture a viewer’s email and other details using contact forms. You can set up the contact form screen to appear before, during, or after your videos, then either download the information inputted, or sync it to your email service provider.

In-video CTAs

Of course, the ability to easily incorporate clickable links into a video is not available through all channels. For example, if you use a teleconference service as a marketing platform, it is likely that you will have to find another way to communicate your CTAs. This shouldn’t be seen as a downside to such services. 


Rather than thinking of remote sales and marketing as a burdensome side-effect of the last year’s string of stay-at-home orders, consider it a promising sign of possibilities for the future. Used appropriately, video conferencing software can actually promote sales, and remote salespeople can be just as effective, if not more so than their in-office counterparts.

The simplest way to let your audience know what you want from them in a video is simply to tell them verbally. This is easy if your video features someone talking to the camera but if not there is always the option of voicing your CTAs in the audio commentary. 

Another way to go about incorporating CTAs in-video is as animations and on-screen text. These might look similar to on-platform overlays, but you won’t be able to click on them. The advantage however is that your design choices aren’t limited by the constraints of the video host.

There are other ways that diverging from the most popular video-hosting platforms can aid your ability to communicate CTAs too. Using video calls and other more interactive media in your marketing has proven especially popular in recent times. The ability to gauge people’s real-time reactions to prompts is especially useful for testing the appeal of your CTAs and can help to signal when they need to be rephrased or better explained.

Advances in interactive voice response (IVR) technology are even paving the way for automated customer engagement strategies that can be adapted to optimize your CTA responses. IVR makes multitasking that much easier as users can move their eyes away from their screen and remain engaged. With 75% of all videos being watched on a mobile device, anything you can do to make it easier for someone to respond to a CTA while on the move will be worthwhile. 

If possible, use both verbal and visual cues to clarify your CTAs. Emphasizing the action through sound and sight makes the message more memorable and more likely to appeal to your audience.

Read this now!

Help yourself! What are you waiting for? Utilize calls to action today!

See how easy it is. The CTA above uses less than five words and doesn’t articulate precisely what is wanted from you. Admittedly, “what are you waiting for?” doesn’t take the form of a command or request, but that’s because the CTA “don’t wait” is implied. It might seem obvious, but exclamation and question marks really do make a difference too. The former adds urgency and the latter appeals to people’s curiosity.

Don’t forget to use your chosen video hosting platform’s analytics dashboard to track the success rate for each CTA and tweak them accordingly. Now that you have an understanding of CTAs, you can start incorporating them into your video marketing and other digital assets

marjorie-hajim (1)
Marjorie Hajim
Marjorie Hajim is the SEO Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a leading cloud communications company that provides cloud-based integrated technology and video conferencing services. She develops and executes strategies for short-term and long-term SEO growth. In her spare time, she loves reading books at coffee shops and playing with her dogs.