21 Captivating Call to Action Examples to Steal

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Want to entice your readers to buy?

Or maybe draw more subscribers to your newsletter?

Or maybe watch your conversion rates explode?

All you need is the right call to action (CTA).

Not only do CTAs give your prospects clarity, they also make your marketing campaigns more effective.

I’ve got a bunch of CTA examples that you can steal for your own campaigns. I’ll also highlight three essential aspects of an effective call to action.

They work in every advertising channel, both traditional and digital.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Call to Action (CTA)?

A call to action is an invitation for a user to take some desired action. You often see call to action examples in persuasive writing . Once a brand has made its case in a blog post or video, for instance, they’ll often include a call to action at the end.

A political action group may write a piece on the importance of voting in the next election, for example. Their piece would probably end with a call for readers to register to vote with a link to a voter registration form.

You will also see a call to action button on homepages, in the right rail or even above the nav bar.

A company will put them anywhere they know their readers are looking to invite them to subscribe, browse products, input information or a number of other desired outcomes.

How Do You Write a Call to Action?

Before you write your call to action, determine the goal you’re trying to achieve:

  • Do you want to increase subscriptions?
  • Boost sales?
  • Move readers to another content piece?

Once you know what you want to do, you can think about how best to do it .

The best call to action phrases are brief and use strong verbs.

They speak directly to the user. Instead of weaker call to action words like click here, an effective call to action phrase example will use more specific words that speak directly to the desired outcome:

Discover your best life

Join our community

Book your next adventure.

Here’s a look at a few different CTAs.


In fact, NPR has great call to action examples all over their page. At the very top, a bright red button invites you to learn more about their car donation program. Just below that, a red heart (clearly implying you have one if you click) appears over the word “donate.”

In the white space below, NPR tells you that they are supported by listeners, and includes yet another link to make a donation.

All of these CTAs serve one purpose: to get people to donate money to them.

Traditional Call to Action Examples

First, let’s take a look at some examples of direct mail promotions from magazines.

Many of these are from magazines encouraging readers to start or renew a subscription. More specifically, they’re from the inserts that often fall out from within the pages while you’re reading, and look something like this:


There are three aspects that all of them have in common. Some are more obvious than others in their execution, but all take a similar approach to driving action.

See if you notice them while you read through this line-up of old CTAs, and I’ll tell you my findings below.

Sales and Marketing Management Magazine

So if you were waiting for the perfect time to seize this opportunity, the time is now. Send for your free issue today.

Outside Magazine

Discover the exciting world of outside. Subscribe today.

Success Magazine

Get a taste of SUCCESS! Send me the form at the top of this letter, and I’ll send you the next issue of SUCCESS absolutely free.

Harpers Magazine

May I send you a free copy? There is no obligation attached to my offer… Please let me know if you’ll accept my offer by January 31.

House & Garden

So indulge—in so much excitement, for so little! Please take advantage of our “Summer White Sale” and save on a subscription to HG today.

Nothing too exciting, right?

To be honest, though, those were some of the more creative ones. The majority read like this:

  • Do mail your acceptance to me today.
  • So act right now. The postage is paid, and you’ve got nothing to lose but a great garden to gain!
  • SEND NO MONEY NOW! But please mail your card today!
  • So if you’re looking for knowledge, a rewarding adventure, and the advantage a future perspective can offer, mail the enclosed card today!

See the pattern?

A call to action is often the final instruction to a reader, so it makes sense that for similar products, that instruction is largely the same.

After all, when it comes down to it, each of these magazines needs readers to mail an “enclosed card” to earn a subscription.

So without that directive, it wouldn’t matter how well-written the rest of an ad’s copy was. Even if a recipient liked it, if they didn’t know to mail the card to subscribe, the campaign would be a waste.

Of course, this particular example is exclusive to print campaigns.

You’d never see a digital marketer requiring users to mail something to convert.

And I shudder to think of the abysmal conversion rates if they did.

Even so, there are three things that nearly all of the examples above include that are important for any call to action, regardless of format:


  • A no-obligation statement that removes or reduces risk. In many cases, they’re asking for a free trial rather than a purchase. In other words, “try us, you’ll like us.” This gives people the confidence to buy.
  • All of them contain some version of “Mail your acceptance card.” This is simple usability. You have to tell people what to do next. Today, it would read, “Click the button below.”
  • Encouragement to respond right away. That’s standard direct response. Don’t give people an option to wait and think about it.

Together, these three elements make for a simple, straightforward request that requires little of the consumer.

And for most businesses, that’s pretty ideal.

Now, let’s take a look at how these elements translate into digital campaigns.

Adapting Traditional Techniques for Digital Formats

When marketers first started using digital channels to reach their customers, it was a logical choice to simply replicate their print campaigns in a new format.

After all, why would they spend time rewriting and redesigning what already worked?

That’s why some of the earliest digital marketing campaigns and their CTAs perfectly mirrored old direct mail advertisements.

These ads were an almost identical approach to copy, and simply swapped out the “mail the enclosed card” directive for a link or button.

For example, take a look at this early email campaign from Stansberry Research’s Retirement Millionaire promotion:


Today, this might come across as dated and spammy.

But based on the three call to action elements we covered above, it checks all of the boxes:

  • No obligation: “TRY” is in all caps, the email offers a full refund.
  • Usability: Readers are directed to click “Subscribe Now.”
  • Immediacy: Copy includes the phrase “right away,” and the CTA button uses the word “Now.”

Again, this approach might not work today.

But the fact that many early digital campaigns were fairly similar to their print predecessors wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Consumers were used to direct mail advertisements, and keeping the content largely the same likely made them more comfortable with the shift to digital.

They were already familiar with this style of copy, so the only change was that they could now click a button instead of taking a more complex action.

For example, check out this ad from another early digital campaign for Prevention’s Dance it Off! series:


The graphic here makes the ad essentially look like a piece of direct mail, except that it instructs users to “click” instead of mailing something to respond.

Plus, keeping with the best practices above, it encourages readers to “try it free for 21 days!” instead of asking for an immediate purchase.

From here, some advertisers decided to simplify their calls to action as they shifted from print to digital.

W magazine, for example, relied heavily on the “why not” approach in their print campaigns.

The basic idea here is that by addressing readers’ concerns and removing all barriers to action, you create the sense that there’s no reason not to try a product or service. In theory, this increases the chances that potential customers will take action.

Here’s how they used this logic in an old direct mail piece:

“This offer may not last long. So order W now—and see what you think of your free issue. After all, with so much to gain—and with absolutely nothing to lose—shouldn’t you at least take a look?”

The effect they’re hoping to achieve here is clear. By promising that readers have “so much to gain” and “absolutely nothing to lose,” they’re aiming to create a sense that not taking action would be an illogical choice.

If you’re worried that your call to action isn’t compelling enough to make readers want to take action, this can be an effective strategy. It essentially aims to shift a user’s mindset from “why” to “why not?”

As W magazine shifted to digital, they continued to use this approach. But they adjusted it to take advantage of the immediacy that comes along with digital campaigns.

Just take a look at this advertisement for their 1-2-3 Shrink diet program:


Of course, a similar ad could’ve worked in print.

But instead of asking potential customers to pay $4.00, then wait a few weeks to receive the program, they’re offering it immediately following payment.

For a reader who’s already interested in this program, that’s a pretty low barrier to entry. They could have the diet plan within minutes, and all that’s standing in their way is a few bucks.

So, why not?

There’s no significant reason they wouldn’t want to take action.

And W magazine wasn’t the only brand to make full use of this ability to earn immediate responses.

Another magazine, Audobon , attempted to entice readers with something beyond a simple subscription in their CTAs. Here’s an example from one of their old direct mail pieces:

“To begin receiving AUDUBON at once and to enjoy all the other benefits of membership in the National Audubon Society, simply return the enclosed form.”

The ad makes a brief mention of “all the benefits of membership.” For a reader who was aware of what those membership benefits were, this might’ve been a compelling offer.

But even if they returned the subscription card right after they received this advertisement, it would be at least a week — and probably more — until they started seeing any benefits at all.

With digital marketing, that all changed.

Even without direct mail, advertisers gained the ability to make offers that presented immediate benefits to their target audience.

For example, take a look at this early “Off the Grid” promotion from Banyan Hill Publishing’s Sovereign Investor :


In this case, the company encouraged users to reserve their spot “today!” and promised the first installment of an email series immediately.

This was a huge improvement over requiring potential customers to wait weeks for information. Plus, the idea of immediate gratification is much more compelling for most of us.

The ad also promises that there’s “no obligation,” includes a clear directive to “enter your email address below,” and encourages readers to take action “today” — meaning it checks all of the boxes for an effective call to action.

It’s also worth noting that in many cases, digital advertisements can convey much more information in a smaller space.

That’s because they don’t need to spend as much time spelling out complex directives.

For example, take a look at the copy from an old Earthwatch promotion:

“Got some free time? A week? A month? A summer?

Come volunteer for a conservation project in the wilds, an environmental project in the tropics, an archeological dig abroad.

Or if you’re busy now, cheer us on from the sidelines.

If our organization sounds like something that you too would take pleasure in being a part of — whether by participating actively or cheering us on from the sidelines — I urge you to send in the order form at your earliest convenience…so your adventures can begin with the very next issue of EARTHWATCH.”

The copy here is fairly compelling. After all, who doesn’t get at least a little excited about the idea of embarking on an adventure in the tropics?

Plus, it does a nice job of offering a few different options.

Spending a week, a month, or a summer on a conservation project or an archaeological dig abroad simply isn’t a viable option for many people. So it’s wise for Earthwatch to also encourage readers to take the simpler action of subscribing.

Still, it’s a lot of copy for what it’s asking. If the same offer had been presented in a digital campaign, it likely could’ve been a lot more concise.

For example, take a look at this email campaign from Early to Rise:


There’s still a fairly large chunk of copy here, but it’s all relevant to the campaign’s goal of enticing readers to click on either of the links.

It explains exactly what they can expect to gain by clicking, and why the company is qualified to be offering the promised information.

Of course, many of today’s consumers would be skeptical of a company offering the “one secret of multi-millionaires.”

And rightly so.

But remember, this is a campaign from the early 2000s — back when most people weren’t quite as skeptical of everything they read online.

In that context, this email worked and was likely very effective in driving clicks. And readers who did click either link were directed to this dedicated landing page:


There’s nothing on this page but a CTA and a field where readers can enter their email address to gain access to the company’s so-called “secret sauce.”

So once a reader makes it this far, they don’t need to spend time reading lines of complex copy. There’s one simple question — and if the reader’s answer is affirmative, they know how to take action.

A call to action this simple likely wouldn’t have worked in a traditional campaign because it doesn’t fully explain what, exactly, the product is, or how it benefits the user.

But with digital campaigns, where users are already familiar with a product and just need to be encouraged to take a final action that offers immediate results, simplicity works.

In fact, at this point, saying that simplicity works might sound like stating the obvious. But this wasn’t immediately clear to many of the first marketers making the shift from print to digital.

There was a clear learning curve as the industry shifted.

For example, another issue that many traditional marketers found challenging when they first switched to digital campaigns was striking a balance between weak and strong CTAs.

Today, most people are familiar enough with digital marketing that they know what’s expected of them when they arrive on a landing page. Most of us naturally know to look for large, brightly-colored buttons with a clear call to action, since they’re now a common landing page staple.

If your page doesn’t include an obvious call to action, you risk losing potential customers.

For example, take a look at this landing page for Rich Dad Education.


What, exactly, does this page direct visitors to do? What’s the call to action?

The only real directive on this page is “Pick your city.” But what’s the benefit of taking that action? What does it require of the user? And is there an immediate return?

It’s hard to say — because the page doesn’t include those details around this directive. In this case, I’d argue that the page doesn’t have a call to action at all.

There’s nothing compelling, risk-reducing, or benefits-oriented. So there’s little here to compel anyone to respond.

This makes it an ineffective landing page. Or, at the very least, not nearly as effective as it could be with a clear CTA.

But on the flip side, some digital marketers also make the mistake of making their CTAs too strong. I don’t mean that they present too many benefits, or make it too obvious what a reader stands to gain. That would be extremely difficult to do.

Instead, they attempt to force users to convert by making it the only action they can take on a page.

For example, check out this old popup from Joss & Main:


If a user lands on this page and is ready to join (or is already a member), this is likely extremely effective at converting them.

But what if a visitor isn’t ready to take that step? What if they just want to browse the site and see what the company has to offer before becoming a member?

Well, that’s too bad — because the pop-up blocks the rest of the content on the page until they share their email.

This means the user is stuck if they don’t want to respond. They can either “Join Now,” or leave.

This call to action example is a little too high-pressure .

It makes sense to encourage new visitors to sign up, but this ultimatum-style popup likely cost the company at least a few customers who would’ve signed up if they’d been given the opportunity to make that choice on their own.

Fortunately, many companies have learned to strike a balance where they guide visitors to take action without forcing them to do so.

Now, let’s take a look at how Joss & Main earns new members today. Instead of requiring visitors to enter their email upon arrival, they let them freely browse their products without a popup in sight. Users can learn about what the company has to offer and determine whether they’re interested in buying at their leisure.

They can also add various items to their cart as they browse. Then, when they click the cart icon, presumably to start the checkout process, they’re directed to the following page:


Here, they’re required to enter their email address to make their purchase.

But for a user who’s already prepared to spend money and complete a transaction, this isn’t a huge request. In fact, it’s a necessary step in the ecommerce sales process, since customers typically receive order confirmations and shipping updates via email.

By moving this requirement to a later point in the sales process, the company eliminated a barrier that likely cost them a significant amount of customers early on.

Of course, this is just one of many lessons marketers needed to learn in order to effectively shift their campaigns to the new digital landscape. We are sharing great call to action examples for sales on this article. So use them in your favor!

And while some of it might seem obvious in hindsight, that’s simply because many of us already know the standard “best practices” involved in creating online campaigns.

Call to action placement

What Makes a Good Call To Action? 3 Things That a CTA Must Present

From the days of magazine mail-in cards to now, marketers have been able to boil an effective CTA down to three elements:

  • A no-obligation statement
  • Some updated version of “mail your acceptance card”
  • sense of urgency around responding right away.

Let’s look at some call to action examples for each of these elements.

A No-Obligation Statement That Removes or Reduces Risk

Care.com’s CTA lets you know right away that you can search their site for free. That means website visitors don’t have to commit before they assess whether or not Care.com is the right portal for them.


All of Them Contain Some Version of “Mail Your Acceptance Card”

The call to action text for Litworth gets straight to the point. Sign up with them (i.e., mail in the acceptance card) and a writer will find paying publications.

For those of you who don’t know, not all publications pay, so this is a pretty attention-grabbing CTA. They continue to entice by listing all the benefits of signing up. Then you find out it’s all free. You’re in.


Encouragement to Respond Right Away

Disney World is the master of creating a sense of urgency. Like most vacation destinations, they run deals throughout the year.

If you respond before a certain date (in this case, October 8) you get a discount on your stay. That looming date is enough encouragement to get a website visitor to view the details and browse vacation options, at the very least.


Call to Action in Writing: Copywriting Techniques For an Effective CTA

We’ve come a long way from those early days of digital marketing. Still, the general approach that many traditional marketers took in their print campaigns can serve as a starting point for writing effective online copy .

And when combined with all of the advantages that digital marketing offers, they can be even more successful in driving results.

So with that in mind, let’s jump into five ways you can use a traditional marketing mindset to improve your online campaigns.

1. Emphasize Low Risk

The first of the three common elements in the traditional CTAs above was a focus on a lack of obligation or risk on the customer’s part.

From a consumer’s perspective, this makes perfect sense. The less you stand to lose from an action, the more comfortable you’ll be with the idea of taking it.

And even as the marketing industry evolves, this concept hasn’t changed a bit. Take a look at this CTA example for Amazon’s Prime Video service:


A free trial alone is enough of an incentive for many people to test the service. But beyond that, this call to action emphasizes that users can sign up “risk free” and “cancel anytime.”

If a visitor has any hesitations after initially landing on the page, these details can ease their fears about committing to the service. The knowledge that they can cancel at any time is likely compelling for users who are worried about forgetting to take this step at the end of the 30 days.

Plus, like every other digital campaign (and the remainder of the examples we’ll cover on this page), this ad gives visitors the option to take immediate action by clicking a button .

In this case, the user can start streaming content from the platform immediately.

And with no risk at all, that’s a fairly appealing offer.

2. Strive For Clarity

You can have the most beautifully designed landing page in the world, with stunning graphics and an impeccable advertising strategy in place for attracting traffic.

But if the copy on that page doesn’t tell visitors why they should take action, it’s useless.

Copy is what connects with visitors, and convinces them that they want to take action. It does this by explaining what they stand to gain by doing so.

Of course, there’s tons of room for creativity within marketing copy. An experienced copywriter can make even the least “exciting” products sound interesting.

But as you develop your CTA copy, remember to be as clear as possible about what you’re offering.

Innovative copy is great for spicing up a page and grabbing visitors’ attention. But if it creates any confusion about what that page is offering, it’s counterproductive.

That’s why the most effective CTAs are extremely straightforward.

For example, take a look at this email from Buffer.


To kick things off, it highlights the importance of Instagram for businesses . If a user isn’t sure why they should be interested in learning about the platform, that uncertainty is addressed within those first two sentences.

From there, the offer is completely benefits-oriented. The copy offers free information, asking for nothing in return.

The reader doesn’t even need to provide an email address or fill out a form. All they have to do is click a button!

And the button itself is more than a vague, uninspiring “click here” command. Its bright blue shade immediately stands out from the rest of the email’s content.

Then, its copy reinforces exactly what a reader will gain (growth tips) by clicking it. And its use of the action verb Get is a great way to inspire a sense of action.

If you’ve ever researched ways to optimize your CTA buttons, you’ve likely heard that it’s considered a “best practice” to incorporate action verbs .

And that’s true.

But if you think back to the traditional CTA examples above, you’ll realize that’s by no means a new concept in the marketing world. Each of the direct mail examples includes some variation of the directive “send,” “mail,” or “return.”

This is simple usability! You need to tell people what you want them to do in order for them to do it.

And although the exact verbs we use today are a bit different, the basic idea remains the same.

So even when using the three principles above, based on traditional campaigns, this Buffer email measures up.

It includes the same basic techniques that work for direct mail, but improves on them, because there’s no bulky paragraph with complex instructions for responding.

Instead, they use that valuable space to clearly explain what they’re offering — so that by the time the user reaches that simple button, they know exactly why they should click it.

3. Highlight Immediate Benefits

As I’ve mentioned a few times already, one of the biggest advantages digital marketing has over its traditional predecessors is the potential to deliver immediate gratification.

You can give your customers downloadable resources, access to tools, and premium services all within seconds of their conversion.

That’s pretty incredible!

Of course, it’s not quite as straightforward for all industries. SaaS companies, for example, can offer instant access to their full product — while ecommerce retailers and service-based businesses typically have a bit of a waiting period.

Still, almost any business can offer immediate payment processing and order confirmation.

And who doesn’t love knowing that they’ve successfully ordered a product to their home, without ever leaving the couch? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

But regardless of industry and business model, any company can offer their customers some type of immediate gratification. Even if it’s not in the form of their main product or service, they can give a lead or prospect something for converting.

Today, one of the most popular ways of doing this is offering free downloadable content.

For example, take a look at this CTA for Optinmonster’s guide to converting abandoned site visitors into subscribers.


If you’re unfamiliar with Optinmonster, it’s important to note that content like this is not their main product. The company sells tools for helping site owners increase their conversion rates and generate more leads.

But most people won’t be ready to sign up for a monthly plan during their first visit to the site.

In order to keep those first-time visitors interested, the company offers this free guide that’s directly related to its product, and highly relevant to anyone who’s considering purchasing a subscription to CRO tools.

After all, if someone is prepared to spend their marketing budget on a product designed to convert site visitors, why wouldn’t they want free information on accomplishing that same goal?

Including this option on their site gives the company the ability to offer all of their visitors an immediate reward for engaging with their content.

And this is a strategy that almost any business can replicate.

Just take a look at this pop-up offer on Rascal Rides:


The site caters to parents shopping for bikes, bike accessories, and safety gear for their kids. So it makes perfect sense that their visitors would be interested in a children’s bike shopping guide.

Even if a visitor isn’t ready to select and purchase a product right away, the site still offers something they can access immediately. Parents can start learning about the factors they need to consider while shopping within seconds of providing their email address.

So as you develop your CTAs, look for ways to provide immediate value to your visitors.

The sooner they can start seeing the benefits of taking action, the more compelled they’ll be to do just that.

4. Include Secondary CTAs

In the previous section, you likely noticed that the examples showing instant gratification weren’t for those companies’ main products or services.

That wasn’t by mistake.

Although your site is likely designed with one specific, high-value action in mind, that shouldn’t be the only action you give users the option to take. You might want all of your visitors to immediately make a purchase — but unfortunately, that’s unrealistic.

And when you limit your site to one call to action, you essentially give your visitors an ultimatum: Take that action, or leave.

When you add some extra options into the mix, however, you reduce odds of a visitor leaving simply because they’re not ready to take your main offer.

The first way to do this, as we covered in the previous section, is to come up with additional “offers” visitors can take advantage of for free.

The second is simply to highlight ways that a user can stay engaged with your content.

For example, take a look at this landing page from T.C. Pharma.


The main CTA button tells visitors to contact the company to learn more.

But if someone doesn’t want to take that action, they’re presented with a clear alternative. The button immediately to the right of the main CTA lets them view the company’s products.

This way, they’re not driven away from the site just because they aren’t far enough along in the buying process. They’re encouraged to stay and learn more — which could help them get closer to a conversion.

5. Establish Credibility

Many digital advertising platforms today offer advanced targeting options that help marketers reach people that are likely to be part of their target audience.

This allows brands to focus their campaigns on website visitors that could be qualified leads and customers. It’s a significant improvement over traditional options, which were typically limited to a particular TV channel or radio station’s target demographic. However, the one advantage of that old-school marketing approach was name recognition.

After all, ads on a local radio station are likely for businesses within a 20-mile radius of you — so there’s a higher chance you’ve heard of those businesses than the ones advertising to you on Facebook today.

So as you create ads for digital platforms, it’s important to remember that even members of your target audience may be unfamiliar with your brand.

And you have a limited amount of time in which to establish your credibility. Even if you’re advertising a free trial or another low-risk offer, you need to show your audience why they should trust you enough to take that step.

For example, take a look at this call to action example on this Facebook ad for a free trial from Pipedrive:


First, it’s important to note that this ad is intended for a target audience that’s already familiar with the concept of a CRM. This alone means that they need to set the rest of their targeting options fairly broad — beyond the other local businesses in their area.

And they show people who may be completely unfamiliar with their brand that they’re trustworthy by including important credentials.

They emphasize that over “50,000 sales teams” use their product to stay organized, and highlight the fact that the platform was “built by salespeople for salespeople.”

If a reader is interested in trying out new CRM software, this is plenty of information to get them interested in the free trial, even if this is their first interaction with the brand.

They know they’re by no means the first to try the tool. And if 50,000 other companies already use and like it, there’s no reason not to at least test out the free trial.

How Do You Know if Your CTA Is Working Well?

Once you’ve created your calls to action, whether they be in email, pop-ups or sprinkled throughout your blog posts, you’ll want to make sure they’re performing for you.

You can double check using website visitor analysis tools.

Understand How Website Visitors Are Interacting With Your Calls to Action

First, use heatmaps and scroll maps to determine whether people are responding to — or even seeing — your CTAs.

A scroll map shows you how far people scroll down your page before they leave. If they’re leaving before they scroll all the way to, say, a call to action at the end of a blog post, you might want to make the CTA a callout toward the top of your post.

A heatmap will let you see how often people are interacting with your call to action. If your CTA button beckons readers to learn more by clicking, the button should be a glowing, warm red, not a cool blue.

You can also use visitor session Recordings to see why users are interacting with your call to action the way they are.

A recording will show you how someone moves about the screen in real-time. Watching one will help you answer questions like, “Are people getting stuck somewhere in particular? Does it seem like they’re confused about the next steps with my CTA?”

A/B Testing Your Call to Action Buttons Is a Must

Once you’ve figured out what you think is the problem with a call to action button, it’s essential that you A/B test a solution. An A/B test will let you publish two versions of the same CTA to see which one performs better.

If your CTA button seems to be in the wrong place, for instance, you can test various placements to see which is more effective.

Start Using Crazy Egg Tools

Look at your CTAs and ask yourself, “What goal am I trying to achieve, here? How is my CTA message encouraging my website visitors to achieve that goal?”

Once you’ve answered those two questions, usability and testing tools can help you create the best CTAs possible.

Marketing has changed a lot over the past few years, but the ultimate goal has remained the same. You need to drive consumers to take action.

CTAs are essential for making this happen. So as a marketer, it’s critical that you learn to write effective ones.

As trends shift and new platforms emerge, the principles of writing effective CTA copy have remained consistent:

  • Emphasize a low barrier to entry
  • Include a clear directive
  • Encourage immediate action

Make your website better. Instantly.

Keep reading about copywriting.

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  • What Is Action Research? | Definition & Examples

What Is Action Research? | Definition & Examples

Published on January 27, 2023 by Tegan George . Revised on January 12, 2024.

Action research Cycle

Table of contents

Types of action research, action research models, examples of action research, action research vs. traditional research, advantages and disadvantages of action research, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about action research.

There are 2 common types of action research: participatory action research and practical action research.

  • Participatory action research emphasizes that participants should be members of the community being studied, empowering those directly affected by outcomes of said research. In this method, participants are effectively co-researchers, with their lived experiences considered formative to the research process.
  • Practical action research focuses more on how research is conducted and is designed to address and solve specific issues.

Both types of action research are more focused on increasing the capacity and ability of future practitioners than contributing to a theoretical body of knowledge.

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Action research is often reflected in 3 action research models: operational (sometimes called technical), collaboration, and critical reflection.

  • Operational (or technical) action research is usually visualized like a spiral following a series of steps, such as “planning → acting → observing → reflecting.”
  • Collaboration action research is more community-based, focused on building a network of similar individuals (e.g., college professors in a given geographic area) and compiling learnings from iterated feedback cycles.
  • Critical reflection action research serves to contextualize systemic processes that are already ongoing (e.g., working retroactively to analyze existing school systems by questioning why certain practices were put into place and developed the way they did).

Action research is often used in fields like education because of its iterative and flexible style.

After the information was collected, the students were asked where they thought ramps or other accessibility measures would be best utilized, and the suggestions were sent to school administrators. Example: Practical action research Science teachers at your city’s high school have been witnessing a year-over-year decline in standardized test scores in chemistry. In seeking the source of this issue, they studied how concepts are taught in depth, focusing on the methods, tools, and approaches used by each teacher.

Action research differs sharply from other types of research in that it seeks to produce actionable processes over the course of the research rather than contributing to existing knowledge or drawing conclusions from datasets. In this way, action research is formative , not summative , and is conducted in an ongoing, iterative way.

As such, action research is different in purpose, context, and significance and is a good fit for those seeking to implement systemic change.

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what is a call to action in a research paper

Action research comes with advantages and disadvantages.

  • Action research is highly adaptable , allowing researchers to mold their analysis to their individual needs and implement practical individual-level changes.
  • Action research provides an immediate and actionable path forward for solving entrenched issues, rather than suggesting complicated, longer-term solutions rooted in complex data.
  • Done correctly, action research can be very empowering , informing social change and allowing participants to effect that change in ways meaningful to their communities.


  • Due to their flexibility, action research studies are plagued by very limited generalizability  and are very difficult to replicate . They are often not considered theoretically rigorous due to the power the researcher holds in drawing conclusions.
  • Action research can be complicated to structure in an ethical manner . Participants may feel pressured to participate or to participate in a certain way.
  • Action research is at high risk for research biases such as selection bias , social desirability bias , or other types of cognitive biases .

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

Action research is conducted in order to solve a particular issue immediately, while case studies are often conducted over a longer period of time and focus more on observing and analyzing a particular ongoing phenomenon.

Action research is focused on solving a problem or informing individual and community-based knowledge in a way that impacts teaching, learning, and other related processes. It is less focused on contributing theoretical input, instead producing actionable input.

Action research is particularly popular with educators as a form of systematic inquiry because it prioritizes reflection and bridges the gap between theory and practice. Educators are able to simultaneously investigate an issue as they solve it, and the method is very iterative and flexible.

A cycle of inquiry is another name for action research . It is usually visualized in a spiral shape following a series of steps, such as “planning → acting → observing → reflecting.”

Sources in this article

We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.

George, T. (2024, January 12). What Is Action Research? | Definition & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 12, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/action-research/
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2017). Research methods in education (8th edition). Routledge.
Naughton, G. M. (2001).  Action research (1st edition). Routledge.

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Writing calls to action

Woman shouting through a loud speaker

Using colour blocks as CTAs

You can highlight call to actions using link text in a colour block.

Find out how to add a colour block to your page.

The dictionary definition of a call to action is “ an exhortation or stimulus to do something in order to achieve an aim or deal with a problem ”.

When we talk about a call to action (CTA) online we are referring to a piece of content intended to prompt a user to perform a specific act, typically taking the form of an instruction or directive.

It is, quite literally, a "call" to take an "action."

The action you want people to take could be anything: download a document, sign up for a webinar, get a voucher, attend an event, etc.

A CTA can be placed in your marketing materials; on your website, in an email or in a blog post. They can also take different forms; as a button, as a link or in an advert.

Call to action do’s

  • Do use verbs like; read, register, watch, download, join, donate, buy.
  • Do keep CTA text short, concise, jargon-free and actionable . e.g. Read Imperial Magazine
  • Do convey a sense of urgency – use language to convince users waiting to take action would result in missing an opportunity. e.g. CTA could read “REGISTER NOW” next to text “limited spaces available”.
  • Do write CTAs in the first person i.e. “Start my free trial”.
  • Do include extra information in or around the CTA to build trust – include numbers or information that show what the person will get e.g. CTA reads “Start my free trial” next to page text “ The best wireless headset is yours free for 60 days”
  • Do ensure the CTA text tells the reader what happens next i.e. ‘Download Imperial Magazine, PDF’ actually links to and opens the magazine PDF.
  • Do use bold, contrasting CTAs on your page that make an impact.
  • Do place the CTA in a prominent position on the page or repeat it in long content, i.e at the top of the page or in the sidebar.
  • Do create specific landing pages or surveys so that the CTA links through to defined content and not just a ‘contact us’ page.
  • Do remember to track your CTAs and update ones that are not getting desired results.

Call to action don’ts

  • Don’t use generic terms like ‘click here’ or 'read more' multiple times on a page - as these are not accessible .
  • Don’t place the CTA at the bottom of the page
  • Don’t go on too long, use concise text
  • Don’t link to content unrelated to the CTA
  • Don’t leave CTAs on your page that are out of date

You can see an example of a CTA button and colour block at the top of this page.

Try adding a call to action button, a document download button or a colour block to your College web page.

For more information on CTAs read 17 Best Practices for Crazy-Effective Call-To-Actions Buttons or 6 Proven Ways to Boost the Conversion Rates of Your Call-to-Action Buttons.

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Sales Letters: Four Point Action Closing

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This handout covers four points on how to write a good conclusion for a sales letter.

Securing Action

Having convinced your reader that your product or service is worth the price, you want to get action before the reader has a change of mind, before forgetfulness defeats you, before the money goes for something else—before any of the things that could happen do happen. Therefore, a good persuasive closing is essential.

A good action closing—or clincher—should include the following four points:

  • clearly state what action you wish the reader to take.
  • make that action easy through facilitating devices and careful wording.
  • date the action—if possible and appropriate.
  • provide a reader benefit as stimulus for action.

1) Clearly State What Action You Wish The Reader To Take

Should the reader order your product or service? Call your office to set up an appointment? Fill out a form? Visit a local dealership or store to see a demonstration? Invite the visit of a sales representative? On finishing your letter, your reader should know just exactly what you want done and how it should be done.

At times, you may have to name two actions and ask the reader to take one or the other. If you possibly can, avoid doing so. Some people faced with a choice resolve their dilemma by doing nothing.

2) Make That Action Easy Through Facilitating Devices And Careful Wording

Facilitating devices: order blanks, order cards, and postcards or envelopes already addressed and requiring no postage—remove some of the work in taking action. Also, your phone number (with area code and extension) are useful if you want the reader to call you. Finally, state your office hours and location if you want the reader to come to see you in person. References to these facilitating devices—preferably directing the reader to use them—reassure the reader that what you are asking is simple and requires little time and effort.

Careful wording: through careful wording, you can also emphasize that what you are asking the reader to do is simple. "Write and let us know your choice" suggests more work than "Check your color choice on the enclosed card." "Jot down," "just check," "simply initial" are also examples of wording that suggest ease and rapidity in doing something. Such wording helps reduce reader reluctance to take action.

3) Date The Action—If Possible And Appropriate

Name the date whenever you need the reader's response by a certain time. Tactfully tell the reader why you need it then—perhaps to meet the deadline for a sale.

4) Provide A Reader Benefit As Stimulus For Action

Always mention some benefit(s) the reader will gain by prompt action. Such a reminder of the desirability of your product or service—some- times called a clincher—comes appropriately at the ending of your letter. It not only provides motivation for the reader, but it also has decided psychological value as well because it emphasizes service attitude—rather than the greed stressed if you end with dollars and cents talk or the mechanics of ordering.

You should always include elements 1, 2, and 4 of the four point action closing when you are writing a letter relating to sales. You should use dated action, item 3, ONLY when it is appropriate for your writing situation.

Some examples of closing paragraphs follow. Determine whether or not they include all elements of the four point action closing needed for a tactful, yet persuasive letter ending.

  • Mr. J. B. Nickle, our Memphis representative, will be glad to call at a time convenient for you. Fill out and mail the enclosed postcard, and he will come to your home and explain how your Stair Traveler can make your daily living more pleasurable.
  • You can begin to enjoy the unusual reception of a famous Foremost set by placing your order now.
  • Call our toll-free number, or mail the enclosed postcard indicating a day and time convenient for our representative to visit you. He'll give you a list of SIB users in the Lafayette area and explain additional advantages of using Superior's Ice Breaker. You can then order your winter's supply and join more than 150,000 apartment and industrial firms who have used SIB for ice-free parking lots.
  • If you have any technical questions concerning our products, please call us toll free at (800) 555-9525 and ask for Technical Service. Our staff will be pleased to lend whatever assistance they can.
  • We are enclosing an order blank and postage paid envelope for your convenience.
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Calls-To-Action: What They Are, Why You Need Them, And Why Yours Are Failing

Calls-to-action are an integral part of generating leads, and yet so many higher ed websites don’t have them. Here’s why you should.


Back in graduate school, I was meeting with a potential advisor about my thesis. As I explained each aspect of my theory and the basis for my research, he kept responding with “so what?”

“I want to explore how professional sports teams use social media.”

“So I can better understand the value they’re providing to fans.”

“So they can learn what content resonates with fans and what doesn’t.”

This went on for nearly an hour, as my professor implored me to probe deeper into my idea and find better meaning and justification for my paper.

I left that meeting frustrated of course; I was younger back then, annoyed by the fact that my original, half-baked idea for a thesis wasn’t only not being approved without question, but wasn’t being met with a resounding round of applause.

As the years have passed since that encounter, however, I find myself repeating those words.  So what?

Your social media post went viral.  So what?

Your blog post is gaining web traffic month-over-month.  So what?

Your article ranks on the first page of Google.  So what?

The Value of a Call to Action

I don’t ask these questions to be a jerk. Rather, like my one time graduate professor, I’m prompting you to consider at a deeper level what the goal of your website is and if your small victories – like a well-ranking blog post – are actually helping you achieve those larger goals.

I often tell friends and colleagues that nobody decides to apply to a college or university because they read a particular news story, blog post, or any single web page on your article. The journey to choosing a school or college is long and arduous, and your content needs to guide prospective students along that path, one phase at a time.

And calls-to-action are how you do it.

What is a Call-to-Action?

A call-to-action, often referred to as a CTA, is a prompt, typically in the form of a button, designed to persuade a reader to take a particular action.

Your call-to-action is a signal to a web visitor, providing them direction and guiding their website experience. For example, after reading an article about your application requirements, a logical call-to-action might be to submit an application. Or after reading about important questions to ask campus tour guides, a relevant call-to-action would be to schedule a visit.

Do You Need a Call-To-Action on Your Website?

A good call-to-action guides a reader through the applicant journey, leading them to additional relevant information and keeping them engaged with your institution online. Over time, this engagement increases their propensity to take meaningful action with your school, whether that’s submitting an application or deposit, or for alumni, making a gift.

Without a call-to-action, your reader is left to self-navigate their website experience. And when left to their own devices, the odds that they’ll exit your website naturally increase.

For example, let’s examine  an excellent blog post  published by the Tufts University Office of Undergraduate Admissions. This piece addresses a topic relevant to prospective students and is well-written, but there’s no call-to-action at the end of the article. So what is a reader to do?

Tufts University Admissions Blog Post - calls-to-action example

When we don’t offer students with a clear path forward, we run the risk that they’ll choose to exit our site. And if that’s the choice they make, there’s no guarantee that they’ll come back.

So what could Tufts have done differently? On a blog post about going to college close to home, students may have been interested in seeing a student profile of a local current student. Or they might be interested in taking an interactive quiz after reading this article. Tufts could have included a registration prompt for an upcoming open house event. Or in the event that nothing was scheduled for the near future, a call-to-action to schedule a visit to campus.

How to Write a Call-to-Action that Delivers

Of course, inserting a call-to-action into your various web pages and blog posts doesn’t guarantee that anyone will actually click on them. In order to be effective, your call-to-action needs to be compelling and relevant to your website user. But at a more basic level, it needs to be prominent, and it needs to be explicit in its directive. If you deploy CTAs on your website, but find your conversion rate is subpar, chances are you’re making a mistake in one of these three key areas.

Mistake #1: Your CTA Isn’t Visible

If readers don’t see your call-to-action, they’re not going to click on it. That may sound like elementary advice, but .edus are loaded with barely-visible calls-to-action in the form of plain text hyperlinks and monotone colors.

Why does your cta need to be visible? 55% of website visitors read blog posts for  less than 15 seconds . Many of these readers are skimming your content, searching for headings, images, and key phrases that may signal to them that the page they’re visiting is worth their time.

For content skimmers, a plain text or hyperlinked call-to-action is likely to be skimmed over in search of more eye-catching content. To get users to recognize your call-to-action, your CTA needs to be one of those eye-catching assets. And often times, that requires the use of a call-to-action button.

Sidebar CTAs - calls-to-action example

Take a look at the two articles above. Each of them contains a call-to-action in the sidebar, but one is easy to miss, while the other immediately catches your attention. In the example at the left, the call-to-action is written in bold, but the hyperlink isn’t, and it’s the same color as the rest of the text. If you’re skimming an article, you’re much more likely to glance at the Twitter module below the call-to-action.

In the example on the right, however, the call-to-action is in the form of a button, which features a bright red color that immediately stands out against the white page background. It doesn’t take 15 seconds to see that prompt and consider taking action.

Tips for Crafting a Visible Call-to-Action

  • Use buttons whenever possible
  • Choose a contrasting color that pops against your background
  • Avoid plain text
  • Use short, simple language that’s easily skimmed

Mistake #2: Your CTA Isn’t Explicit

In higher education, four calls-to-action reign supreme across the .edu landscape:

  • Request Information

These calls-to-action are not without merit. In fact, each call-to-action example above plays a valuable role in the sales funnel for higher education administrators.  Editor’s note: we’ll be covering the main issue with the Request Information call-to-action and landing page in the coming weeks.

The issue crops up when we apply the format of these commonly-used CTAs to other offers and call-to-action buttons. My colleague Angela Sanders briefly touched on call-to-action best practices  in a recent blog post , but as a reminder, your CTAs should begin with an “action” verb followed by specific keywords that describe your offer.

I like to say that your call-to-action should make sense if it was taken completely out of context. For example, in the examples below, you can see the difference in CTA button language. In the example below on the left, the language is generic. “Click here” doesn’t offer students any compelling reason to click on the button nor does it tell students what to expect upon doing so. The example below on the right, however, is action-oriented and much more explicit, and offers students a clear direction as to what is going to happen when they click on the button — in this case, subscribe to emails.

CTA Buttons - calls-to-action example

Now, you may be thinking, ‘yes, but doesn’t the language above the call-to-action button clearly communicate what students will do when they click the button?’ And to answer your question, yes it will. But do you want to rely on that? Remember, students skim your content, and while a call-to-action box may catch their attention, that does not necessarily mean they will take the time to read the contextual information above it.

Explicit calls-to-action don’t just apply to your content offers, however. Your website is likely full of call-to-action buttons, all created for the singular purpose of guiding students on a learning journey. Here too, explicit and compelling copy is key.

Olivet Nazarene University, near Chicago, does a great job with this. On their academics page, shown below on the left, notice that their CTA language, “Find my Interest”, is explicit and compelling.

Now compare that call-to-action to another academics page from a similar college on the right. Which call-to-action is more compelling to you?

what is a call to action in a research paper

These are subtle differences, but when you consider that these pages receive thousands of pageviews a year, even a subtle shift can make a massive impact on your website engagement and lead generation efforts.

Tips for Crafting an Explicit Call-to-Action

  • Use action verbs
  • Avoid generic language, such as ‘read more’ or ‘click here.’’
  • Treat your CTA as a verbal contract with your user

Mistake #3: Your CTA Doesn’t Match Your Content

Despite your best efforts, hopes, and dreams, students don’t commit to your institution, or even to the idea of applying to your institution, during a single visit to your website. Rather,  as I’ve written about in the past , students progress through a journey, during which their needs and goals gradually shift.

There are three stages of the applicant journey:

  • The awareness stage, where prospective students are focused on problems;  ie: can I get an MBA without quitting my job?
  • The consideration stage, where prospective students are focused on solutions;  ie: what schools near me offer part-time MBA programs?
  • The decision stage, where prospective students are focused on products;  ie: what is the tuition for State University’s Evening & Weekend MBA program?

While forward-thinking schools are beginning to create content for each stage of the applicant journey, these same schools have been slower to diversify their library of calls-to-action, limiting their ability to guide top-funnel or early-stage students through their website.

This result often occurs when marketers fail to think like a consumer. We rarely make an offer on the first house we visit or buy the first car we test drive. Choosing a college is a similarly large investment. Why are you expecting your prospective students to apply after reading an awareness level blog post?

Related:   How can you tell what applicant phase your students are in and deliver them personalized content? eCity Interactive’s Content Marketing Specialist Melissa Bischoff has the answer.

In many ways, failing to accurately map your calls-to-action to the appropriate applicant journey phase can override the first two mistakes. Your call-to-action can be visible and compelling, but if the CTA doesn’t match the applicant phase of the student reading your content, it’s not going to be relevant and it’s not going to be clicked.

Creating relevant calls-to-action for each phase of the applicant journey isn’t difficult. The key is mapping the commitment of your CTA to the applicant phase of your students.

  • In the  awareness   phase , prospective students are on the hunt for value-based, educational content that addresses their pain points and questions. Rather than prompting them to apply, ask them to sign up for your email list, follow you on social media, or download an eBook.
  • In the  consideration   phase , prospective students are focused on solutions, but not necessarily ready to commit to your solution in particular. This is the time to deploy calls-to-action to connect with a member of your admissions team, read an alumni success story, attend an open house event, or, for shorter certificate programs, start an application.
  • In the  decision   stage , prospective students are actively evaluating their options. Now is the time to prompt students to submit an application, schedule a campus visit, or send in their deposit.

Haas School of Management Call to Action - calls-to-action example

Consider the above example from the Haas School of Management at UC Berkeley. Rather than ask students to apply to their program, or even visit campus, they are generating prospective student leads higher in the admissions funnel through an educational eBook that addresses a key challenge — getting an advanced degree while working and raising a family — that students interested in their Evening & Weekend MBA program are facing.

The students who download this piece may not be ready to commit to Haas’ Evening & Weekend program, but by providing value to these students, and collecting their contact information, the Haas admissions team can now nurture those students through subsequent stages of the applicant journey until they ultimately reach a decision about applying or enrolling.

Of course, your prospective students don’t exactly tell you what stage of the applicant journey they’re in — that would make creating contextually relevant calls-to-action a whole lot easier. And short of a blog or microsite built within a marketing automation platform, you likely don’t have the data required to identify those phases.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to. If you aren’t sure what phase of the applicant journey website visitors are likely to be in, consider the context and tone of a particular webpage and work backwards.

  • If your webpage contains high-level content that addresses an audience pain point but doesn’t overtly promote your particular institution, classify it as awareness-level content.
  • If your webpage contains key program or product details, such as tuition, admission deadlines, curriculum, and financial aid, classify it as consideration-level content.
  • If your webpage contains differentiating factors about a particular program or major, such as career outcomes and student testimonials, classify it as decision-stage content.

Another way to provide contextually-relevant calls-to-action is to match your CTA to seasonal cues. For example, if a particular graduate program begins every August and January, you might consider swapping out awareness-stage calls-to-action for decision-stage calls-to-action each July and December, since students browsing pages in the weeks leading up to admissions deadlines may be more likely to respond to an application prompt.

Tips for Crafting a Contextually Relevant Call-to-Action

  • Create at least one call-to-action for each applicant phase
  • Track CTA performance and optimize or replace as necessary
  • Host your blog and calls-to-action on a marketing automation platform, enabling smart CTAs
  • No marketing automation platform? Adapt your CTAs based on seasonality and enrollment timelines

Your .edu likely sees tens or hundreds of thousands of pageviews a month. Are you getting the most value out of that traffic? Calls-to-action provide direction to web visitors by leading them to additional relevant information and keeping them engaged with your website. Without them, readers are left to their own devices after completing the task that originally brought them to your website. And when left to their own devices, too often that next task is going to take place on a website other than your own.

But calls-to-action, by default, are not enough. In order to be effective, your calls-to-action need to be  prominent, explicit, compelling, and relevant  to your web visitors.

Deploy buttons whenever possible, and use a button color that pops against your background. Use short,  action-oriented language , and make sure that your call-to-action or content offer is  contextually relevant  to your content and your user.

Your prospective students are on an educational decision journey, and your website remains the single most influential map. Does your .edu offer pinpoint directions? If not, consider this my call-to-action.

Want to receive updates on the latest in higher education, design, and development? Sign up for our monthly newsletter.


Stephen App

Stephen App helped pioneer the content marketing strategy at eCity Interactive , Volt’s parent company. He launched the Hashtag Higher Ed podcast (now called Higher Voltage), and built a unique community of higher ed leaders that has continued to flourish. Today he is working in new pastures at CampusSonar, and you can connect with him on Twitter @StephenApp .

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Linking Research to Action: A Simple Guide to Writing an Action Research Report

What Is Action Research, and Why Do We Do It?

Action research is any research into practice undertaken by those involved in that practice, with the primary goal of encouraging continued reflection and making improvement. It can be done in any professional field, including medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, and education. Action research is particularly popular in the field of education. When it comes to teaching, practitioners may be interested in trying out different teaching methods in the classroom, but are unsure of their effectiveness. Action research provides an opportunity to explore the effectiveness of a particular teaching practice, the development of a curriculum, or your students’ learning, hence making continual improvement possible. In other words, the use of an interactive action-and-research process enables practitioners to get an idea of what they and their learners really do inside of the classroom, not merely what they think they can do. By doing this, it is hoped that both the teaching and the learning occurring in the classroom can be better tailored to fit the learners’ needs.

You may be wondering how action research differs from traditional research. The term itself already suggests that it is concerned with both “action” and “research,” as well as the association between the two. Kurt Lewin (1890-1947), a famous psychologist who coined this term, believed that there was “no action without research; no research without action” (Marrow, 1969, p.163). It is certainly possible, and perhaps commonplace, for people to try to have one without the other, but the unique combination of the two is what distinguishes action research from most other forms of enquiry. Traditional research emphasizes the review of prior research, rigorous control of the research design, and generalizable and preferably statistically significant results, all of which help examine the theoretical significance of the issue. Action research, with its emphasis on the insider’s perspective and the practical significance of a current issue, may instead allow less representative sampling, looser procedures, and the presentation of raw data and statistically insignificant results.

What Should We Include in an Action Research Report?

The components put into an action research report largely coincide with the steps used in the action research process. This process usually starts with a question or an observation about a current problem. After identifying the problem area and narrowing it down to make it more manageable for research, the development process continues as you devise an action plan to investigate your question. This will involve gathering data and evidence to support your solution. Common data collection methods include observation of individual or group behavior, taking audio or video recordings, distributing questionnaires or surveys, conducting interviews, asking for peer observations and comments, taking field notes, writing journals, and studying the work samples of your own and your target participants. You may choose to use more than one of these data collection methods. After you have selected your method and are analyzing the data you have collected, you will also reflect upon your entire process of action research. You may have a better solution to your question now, due to the increase of your available evidence. You may also think about the steps you will try next, or decide that the practice needs to be observed again with modifications. If so, the whole action research process starts all over again.

In brief, action research is more like a cyclical process, with the reflection upon your action and research findings affecting changes in your practice, which may lead to extended questions and further action. This brings us back to the essential steps of action research: identifying the problem, devising an action plan, implementing the plan, and finally, observing and reflecting upon the process. Your action research report should comprise all of these essential steps. Feldman and Weiss (n.d.) summarized them as five structural elements, which do not have to be written in a particular order. Your report should:

  • Describe the context where the action research takes place. This could be, for example, the school in which you teach. Both features of the school and the population associated with it (e.g., students and parents) would be illustrated as well.
  • Contain a statement of your research focus. This would explain where your research questions come from, the problem you intend to investigate, and the goals you want to achieve. You may also mention prior research studies you have read that are related to your action research study.
  • Detail the method(s) used. This part includes the procedures you used to collect data, types of data in your report, and justification of your used strategies.
  • Highlight the research findings. This is the part in which you observe and reflect upon your practice. By analyzing the evidence you have gathered, you will come to understand whether the initial problem has been solved or not, and what research you have yet to accomplish.
  • Suggest implications. You may discuss how the findings of your research will affect your future practice, or explain any new research plans you have that have been inspired by this report’s action research.

The overall structure of your paper will actually look more or less the same as what we commonly see in traditional research papers.

What Else Do We Need to Pay Attention to?

We discussed the major differences between action research and traditional research in the beginning of this article. Due to the difference in the focus of an action research report, the language style used may not be the same as what we normally see or use in a standard research report. Although both kinds of research, both action and traditional, can be published in academic journals, action research may also be published and delivered in brief reports or on websites for a broader, non-academic audience. Instead of using the formal style of scientific research, you may find it more suitable to write in the first person and use a narrative style while documenting your details of the research process.

However, this does not forbid using an academic writing style, which undeniably enhances the credibility of a report. According to Johnson (2002), even though personal thoughts and observations are valued and recorded along the way, an action research report should not be written in a highly subjective manner. A personal, reflective writing style does not necessarily mean that descriptions are unfair or dishonest, but statements with value judgments, highly charged language, and emotional buzzwords are best avoided.

Furthermore, documenting every detail used in the process of research does not necessitate writing a lengthy report. The purpose of giving sufficient details is to let other practitioners trace your train of thought, learn from your examples, and possibly be able to duplicate your steps of research. This is why writing a clear report that does not bore or confuse your readers is essential.

Lastly, You May Ask, Why Do We Bother to Even Write an Action Research Report?

It sounds paradoxical that while practitioners tend to have a great deal of knowledge at their disposal, often they do not communicate their insights to others. Take education as an example: It is both regrettable and regressive if every teacher, no matter how professional he or she might be, only teaches in the way they were taught and fails to understand what their peer teachers know about their practice. Writing an action research report provides you with the chance to reflect upon your own practice, make substantiated claims linking research to action, and document action and ideas as they take place. The results can then be kept, both for the sake of your own future reference, and to also make the most of your insights through the act of sharing with your professional peers.

Feldman, A., & Weiss, T. (n.d.). Suggestions for writing the action research report . Retrieved from http://people.umass.edu/~afeldman/ARreadingmaterials/WritingARReport.html

Johnson, A. P. (2002). A short guide to action research . Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Marrow, A. J. (1969). The practical theorist: The life and work of Kurt Lewin . New York, NY: Basic Books.

Tiffany Ip is a lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University. She gained a PhD in neurolinguistics after completing her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and linguistics. She strives to utilize her knowledge to translate brain research findings into practical classroom instruction.

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21 Action Research Examples (In Education)

action research examples and definition, explained below

Action research is an example of qualitative research . It refers to a wide range of evaluative or investigative methods designed to analyze professional practices and take action for improvement.

Commonly used in education, those practices could be related to instructional methods, classroom practices, or school organizational matters.

The creation of action research is attributed to Kurt Lewin , a German-American psychologist also considered to be the father of social psychology.

Gillis and Jackson (2002) offer a very concise definition of action research: “systematic collection and analysis of data for the purpose of taking action and making change” (p.264).

The methods of action research in education include:

  • conducting in-class observations
  • taking field notes
  • surveying or interviewing teachers, administrators, or parents
  • using audio and video recordings.

The goal is to identify problematic issues, test possible solutions, or simply carry-out continuous improvement.

There are several steps in action research : identify a problem, design a plan to resolve, implement the plan, evaluate effectiveness, reflect on results, make necessary adjustment and repeat the process.

Action Research Examples

  • Digital literacy assessment and training: The school’s IT department conducts a survey on students’ digital literacy skills. Based on the results, a tailored training program is designed for different age groups.
  • Library resources utilization study: The school librarian tracks the frequency and type of books checked out by students. The data is then used to curate a more relevant collection and organize reading programs.
  • Extracurricular activities and student well-being: A team of teachers and counselors assess the impact of extracurricular activities on student mental health through surveys and interviews. Adjustments are made based on findings.
  • Parent-teacher communication channels: The school evaluates the effectiveness of current communication tools (e.g., newsletters, apps) between teachers and parents. Feedback is used to implement a more streamlined system.
  • Homework load evaluation: Teachers across grade levels assess the amount and effectiveness of homework given. Adjustments are made to ensure a balance between academic rigor and student well-being.
  • Classroom environment and learning: A group of teachers collaborates to study the impact of classroom layouts and decorations on student engagement and comprehension. Changes are made based on the findings.
  • Student feedback on curriculum content: High school students are surveyed about the relevance and applicability of their current curriculum. The feedback is then used to make necessary curriculum adjustments.
  • Teacher mentoring and support: New teachers are paired with experienced mentors. Both parties provide feedback on the effectiveness of the mentoring program, leading to continuous improvements.
  • Assessment of school transportation: The school board evaluates the efficiency and safety of school buses through surveys with students and parents. Necessary changes are implemented based on the results.
  • Cultural sensitivity training: After conducting a survey on students’ cultural backgrounds and experiences, the school organizes workshops for teachers to promote a more inclusive classroom environment.
  • Environmental initiatives and student involvement: The school’s eco-club assesses the school’s carbon footprint and waste management. They then collaborate with the administration to implement greener practices and raise environmental awareness.
  • Working with parents through research: A school’s admin staff conduct focus group sessions with parents to identify top concerns.Those concerns will then be addressed and another session conducted at the end of the school year.
  • Peer teaching observations and improvements: Kindergarten teachers observe other teachers handling class transition techniques to share best practices.
  • PTA surveys and resultant action: The PTA of a district conducts a survey of members regarding their satisfaction with remote learning classes.The results will be presented to the school board for further action.
  • Recording and reflecting: A school administrator takes video recordings of playground behavior and then plays them for the teachers. The teachers work together to formulate a list of 10 playground safety guidelines.
  • Pre/post testing of interventions: A school board conducts a district wide evaluation of a STEM program by conducting a pre/post-test of students’ skills in computer programming.
  • Focus groups of practitioners : The professional development needs of teachers are determined from structured focus group sessions with teachers and admin.
  • School lunch research and intervention: A nutrition expert is hired to evaluate and improve the quality of school lunches.
  • School nurse systematic checklist and improvements: The school nurse implements a bathroom cleaning checklist to monitor cleanliness after the results of a recent teacher survey revealed several issues.
  • Wearable technologies for pedagogical improvements; Students wear accelerometers attached to their hips to gain a baseline measure of physical activity.The results will identify if any issues exist.
  • School counselor reflective practice : The school counselor conducts a student survey on antisocial behavior and then plans a series of workshops for both teachers and parents.

Detailed Examples

1. cooperation and leadership.

A science teacher has noticed that her 9 th grade students do not cooperate with each other when doing group projects. There is a lot of arguing and battles over whose ideas will be followed.

So, she decides to implement a simple action research project on the matter. First, she conducts a structured observation of the students’ behavior during meetings. She also has the students respond to a short questionnaire regarding their notions of leadership.

She then designs a two-week course on group dynamics and leadership styles. The course involves learning about leadership concepts and practices . In another element of the short course, students randomly select a leadership style and then engage in a role-play with other students.

At the end of the two weeks, she has the students work on a group project and conducts the same structured observation as before. She also gives the students a slightly different questionnaire on leadership as it relates to the group.

She plans to analyze the results and present the findings at a teachers’ meeting at the end of the term.

2. Professional Development Needs

Two high-school teachers have been selected to participate in a 1-year project in a third-world country. The project goal is to improve the classroom effectiveness of local teachers. 

The two teachers arrive in the country and begin to plan their action research. First, they decide to conduct a survey of teachers in the nearby communities of the school they are assigned to.

The survey will assess their professional development needs by directly asking the teachers and administrators. After collecting the surveys, they analyze the results by grouping the teachers based on subject matter.

They discover that history and social science teachers would like professional development on integrating smartboards into classroom instruction. Math teachers would like to attend workshops on project-based learning, while chemistry teachers feel that they need equipment more than training.

The two teachers then get started on finding the necessary training experts for the workshops and applying for equipment grants for the science teachers.

3. Playground Accidents

The school nurse has noticed a lot of students coming in after having mild accidents on the playground. She’s not sure if this is just her perception or if there really is an unusual increase this year.  So, she starts pulling data from the records over the last two years. She chooses the months carefully and only selects data from the first three months of each school year.

She creates a chart to make the data more easily understood. Sure enough, there seems to have been a dramatic increase in accidents this year compared to the same period of time from the previous two years.

She shows the data to the principal and teachers at the next meeting. They all agree that a field observation of the playground is needed.

Those observations reveal that the kids are not having accidents on the playground equipment as originally suspected. It turns out that the kids are tripping on the new sod that was installed over the summer.

They examine the sod and observe small gaps between the slabs. Each gap is approximately 1.5 inches wide and nearly two inches deep. The kids are tripping on this gap as they run.

They then discuss possible solutions.

4. Differentiated Learning

Trying to use the same content, methods, and processes for all students is a recipe for failure. This is why modifying each lesson to be flexible is highly recommended. Differentiated learning allows the teacher to adjust their teaching strategy based on all the different personalities and learning styles they see in their classroom.

Of course, differentiated learning should undergo the same rigorous assessment that all teaching techniques go through. So, a third-grade social science teacher asks his students to take a simple quiz on the industrial revolution. Then, he applies differentiated learning to the lesson.

By creating several different learning stations in his classroom, he gives his students a chance to learn about the industrial revolution in a way that captures their interests. The different stations contain: short videos, fact cards, PowerPoints, mini-chapters, and role-plays.

At the end of the lesson, students get to choose how they demonstrate their knowledge. They can take a test, construct a PPT, give an oral presentation, or conduct a simulated TV interview with different characters.

During this last phase of the lesson, the teacher is able to assess if they demonstrate the necessary knowledge and have achieved the defined learning outcomes. This analysis will allow him to make further adjustments to future lessons.

5. Healthy Habits Program

While looking at obesity rates of students, the school board of a large city is shocked by the dramatic increase in the weight of their students over the last five years. After consulting with three companies that specialize in student physical health, they offer the companies an opportunity to prove their value.

So, the board randomly assigns each company to a group of schools. Starting in the next academic year, each company will implement their healthy habits program in 5 middle schools.

Preliminary data is collected at each school at the beginning of the school year. Each and every student is weighed, their resting heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol are also measured.

After analyzing the data, it is found that the schools assigned to each of the three companies are relatively similar on all of these measures.

At the end of the year, data for students at each school will be collected again. A simple comparison of pre- and post-program measurements will be conducted. The company with the best outcomes will be selected to implement their program city-wide.

Action research is a great way to collect data on a specific issue, implement a change, and then evaluate the effects of that change. It is perhaps the most practical of all types of primary research .

Most likely, the results will be mixed. Some aspects of the change were effective, while other elements were not. That’s okay. This just means that additional modifications to the change plan need to be made, which is usually quite easy to do.

There are many methods that can be utilized, such as surveys, field observations , and program evaluations.

The beauty of action research is based in its utility and flexibility. Just about anyone in a school setting is capable of conducting action research and the information can be incredibly useful.

Aronson, E., & Patnoe, S. (1997). The jigsaw classroom: Building cooperation in the classroom (2nd ed.). New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

Gillis, A., & Jackson, W. (2002). Research Methods for Nurses: Methods and Interpretation . Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.

Lewin, K. (1946). Action research and minority problems. Journal of SocialIssues, 2 (4), 34-46.

Macdonald, C. (2012). Understanding participatory action research: A qualitative research methodology option. Canadian Journal of Action Research, 13 , 34-50. https://doi.org/10.33524/cjar.v13i2.37 Mertler, C. A. (2008). Action Research: Teachers as Researchers in the Classroom . London: Sage.


Dave Cornell (PhD)

Dr. Cornell has worked in education for more than 20 years. His work has involved designing teacher certification for Trinity College in London and in-service training for state governments in the United States. He has trained kindergarten teachers in 8 countries and helped businessmen and women open baby centers and kindergartens in 3 countries.

  • Dave Cornell (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/dave-cornell-phd/ 25 Positive Punishment Examples
  • Dave Cornell (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/dave-cornell-phd/ 25 Dissociation Examples (Psychology)
  • Dave Cornell (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/dave-cornell-phd/ 15 Zone of Proximal Development Examples
  • Dave Cornell (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/dave-cornell-phd/ Perception Checking: 15 Examples and Definition


Chris Drew (PhD)

This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.

  • Chris Drew (PhD) #molongui-disabled-link 25 Positive Punishment Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) #molongui-disabled-link 25 Dissociation Examples (Psychology)
  • Chris Drew (PhD) #molongui-disabled-link 15 Zone of Proximal Development Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) #molongui-disabled-link Perception Checking: 15 Examples and Definition

2 thoughts on “21 Action Research Examples (In Education)”

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Where can I capture this article in a better user-friendly format, since I would like to provide it to my students in a Qualitative Methods course at the University of Prince Edward Island? It is a good article, however, it is visually disjointed in its current format. Thanks, Dr. Frank T. Lavandier

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Hi Dr. Lavandier,

I’ve emailed you a word doc copy that you can use and edit with your class.

Best, Chris.

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That White Paper Guy

How to make an effective call to action in a white paper

Any white paper without an effective call to action is wasting a huge opportunity..

A call to action answers the question, “What do we want our ideal prospect to do after they finish reading our white paper?”

call-to-action - How to make an effective call to action in a white paper

Knowing how to craft one can make a big difference in your results.

Here are 10 tips on how to write a more effective call to action in your next white paper.

Tip #1: Put it at the end

A call to action is not like a “Buy now” button that you can sprinkle all through an online sales letter.

You use it once, right at the end of your white paper. That means at the end of your concluding summary.

Tip #2: Keep it short, clear, and precise

A call to action doesn’t have to be long and involved. In fact, it can be conveyed in one sentence.

Here’s the simple formula I use to write a call to action: “To find out more about how your business can gain [key benefit explained in white paper] with [product or company name], [do something].”

The rest of these tips focus on the “do something” part of this formula.

Tip #3: Don’t be vague

In a call to action, you want to be as precise as possible.

Think of this like giving directions. Do you say, “Go down here a-ways and after that you’ll need to make a turn?” or do you say, “Keep going on Main Street for three blocks, and then turn right at the stoplight.”

As a rule, the more specific the call to action, the better… and the easier it is to measure the results.

So tell them something specific:

  • Go to this landing page.
  • View a short demo.
  • Take an online survey.
  • Request a free trial of our product.

Tip #4: Don’t send them to your home page

A phrase like, “For more information, visit AcmeSoftware.com” is not  an effective call to action.

The only exception is a business with quite a simple value proposition and just a few pages on the web.

For example, I wrote a white paper for one client that uses proprietary software to cut corporate wireless costs. The value proposition was easy to see, and their website only had three pages.

For that white paper, I used this call to action:

“To find out how much your business can save on wireless, contact [company name] at [phone number] or visit [website] for a free analysis.”

Tip #5: Don’t ask for the order

Many salespeople think that a call to action means to ask for the order. After all, they’ve been taught, “Always be closing!”

Just like in this notorious speech by Alec Baldwin from the movie version of  Glengarry Glenn Ross.  (Click to watch, but beware of extreme profanity).

photo of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glenn Ross movie

There’s nothing wrong with selling, at the right time and in the right place. But a white paper is not the time or place.

Instead of selling, a white paper works best if it helps, teaches, and explains.

There will be time for selling later, after your company has established more trust with the prospect.

Tip #6: Build your white paper into your sales cycle

Most B2B companies that use white papers have a more complex sales cycle than the one I mentioned above.

For best results, build your white paper into the company’s sales cycle.

How? Talk to the sales manager or product manager and explain the plans for the white paper.

Discuss where this paper fits into the sales cycle, and what makes sense for the next step.

This may take some hard thinking and negotiating. But without it, your call to action can never be as powerful.

Tip #7: Consider your purpose and audience

Your call to action should ideally match the purpose and intended audience for your white paper. This is where your white paper planning comes in.

Let’s say your purpose is to generate leads, and your target audience is COOs in mid-range enterprises with problems making good hires.

You probably can’t ask a busy executive to download a demo version of your HR software to test-drive it.

But you could ask them to take a 2-minute survey to see how their company’s hiring process compares to other firms in the same sector.

Be imaginative, and come up with an easy next step.

Tip #8: Deliver prospects to your website

Another good tactic is an ROI calculator, where a prospect can enter numbers into a widget and see how much they could save or profit with your solution.

A ROI calculator can be ideal for a CFO audience.

But keep it believable. Don’t just pull numbers out of thin air. Use real customer experiences or metrics to build your calculations.

Always be looking for ways to get an interested prospect to interact further with the company, most likely through its website.

Tip #9: Get the resources to create the next step

But wait a minute, that 2-minute survey doesn’t exist yet. Neither does that ROI calculator.

So you better get busy.

In other words, if there isn’t already a “next step” in your sales cycle, you need to create one.

And if you can’t do that all by yourself, you may need a researcher, a writer, and a Web developer… and the resources to engage them.

This suggestion goes beyond creating a call to action, but it will help generate much better results.

Tip #10: Think ahead to the NEXT call to action

At the end of the next step, always have another  call to action to keep prospects engaged.

Perhaps this is a good time to ask them to watch a short video, or subscribe to your e-newsetter of monthly tips.

Your goal in each step is to engage each prospect more, collect a little more information from them, and draw them deeper into your sales funnel.

In other words, build a cascade of conversions, each drawing them closer and closer to the company.

Do you have any tips on making calls to action? Please leave your comment below.

Want to hear whenever there’s a fresh article on this site? Subscribe here to stay in the know on long-form content . From time to time, we’ll also send you word about some great new resource or training. And you can unsubscribe any time.  

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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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Best Practices and Lessons Learned for Action Research in eHealth Design and Implementation: Literature Review

Kira oberschmidt.

1 eHealth Cluster, Roessingh Research and Development, Enschede, Netherlands

2 Biomedical Signals and Systems Group, University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands

Christiane Grünloh

Femke nijboer, lex van velsen, associated data.

Full overview of all categories and description of settings for each category.

Full list of categories per setting variable.

Action research (AR) is an established research framework to introduce change in a community following a cyclical approach and involving stakeholders as coresearchers in the process. In recent years, it has also been used for eHealth development. However, little is known about the best practices and lessons learned from using AR for eHealth development.

This literature review aims to provide more knowledge on the best practices and lessons learned from eHealth AR studies. Additionally, an overview of the context in which AR eHealth studies take place is given.

A semisystematic review of 44 papers reporting on 40 different AR projects was conducted to identify the best practices and lessons learned in the research studies while accounting for the particular contextual setting and used AR approach.

Recommendations include paying attention to the training of stakeholders’ academic skills, as well as the various roles and tasks of action researchers. The studies also highlight the need for constant reflection and accessible dissemination suiting the target group.


This literature review identified room for improvements regarding communicating and specifying the particular AR definition and applied approach.


The way health care is organized and executed is of great societal concern, as it affects our quality of life. Hence, health care systems and eHealth technologies used to support health care should be designed in a way that meets the needs and expectations of their stakeholders. One way of doing this is through action research (AR). According to Bradbury and Lifvergren [ 1 ], AR in health care “seeks to (1) improve patient experiences and the health of populations, (2) reduce the per capita cost, (3) improve the work life of those who deliver care, and (4) bring health care providers into circumstances that allow for continuous learning together with patients.” AR has been used as a research framework in nursing and health care, for example, to improve the quality of patient care and investigate changes in action [ 2 ]. AR is a collaborative approach, where people affected by the change envisioned in AR become active members of the research team. AR is often used in the design of eHealth systems. However, existing literature reviews of AR in eHealth predominantly focus on the development of new frameworks [ 3 - 5 ] but not on how eHealth AR is currently carried out. Therefore, this literature review outlines the state of the art of AR in eHealth design.

eHealth projects cover a wide variety of topics and technologies and can therefore greatly benefit patients, professionals, and many other health care stakeholders. However, to gain the most from eHealth systems and technologies, it is crucial that they match with what is needed in practice [ 6 ]. To ensure such a match, Van Gemert-Pijnen and colleagues [ 6 ] suggest, among other things, working together with relevant stakeholders in all stages of the project, implementing the study results in practice, and continuously evaluating the process. Similarly, co-design has been mentioned as a useful technique for creating eHealth systems that suit the needs of the end users [ 3 ]. These ideas fit well with the principles of AR, which will be outlined below.

Definitions of AR have changed over the years. AR originated with Kurt Lewin [ 7 ], who described it as several consecutive circles of planning, action, and reflection. These cycles are shown in Figure 1 , developed by Williamson and colleagues [ 2 ]. In later definitions, the cyclical nature of AR remains one of its key features. Reason and Bradbury [ 8 ], who build on Lewin’s work, define AR as research that (1) involves stakeholders not only as participants but also as members of the research team, (2) consists of (at least) 1 cycle of planning, action, and reflection, (3) establishes direct changes, and (4) then evaluates those changes in and with the community. Their work [ 8 ] includes many interesting examples of AR from various fields. Furthermore, Bradbury and colleagues defined 7 “choice points for quality in action research” [ 9 ], criteria that can be used to plan, conduct, report, and assess AR projects .

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is jmir_v24i1e31795_fig1.jpg

Action research cycles (adapted from Kurt Lewin [ 7 ] by Williamson and colleagues [ 2 ]).

Within AR, different variations exist, such as action design research (ADR) or participatory action research (PAR). Usually, there is agreement on the main principles of AR explained earlier, but some authors or groups emphasize some aspects over others. For example, as the name suggests, ADR incorporates elements of design research into AR [ 10 ], whereas PAR highlights the involvement of the community [ 11 ]. For a more detailed overview of the similarities and differences between some of these approaches, see Williamson et al [ 2 ] or Coghlan and Brannick [ 11 ].

In general, AR and AR approaches such as ADR are similar to participatory design (PD) approaches that are used in human computer interaction (HCI) research. However, AR emphasizes reflection on and learning from the process that was carried out, whereas the main aim of PD is to create a solution [ 12 ]. AR, as opposed to PD, does not start with a clear goal of what needs to be developed but defines this throughout the process together with stakeholders. Additionally, AR is more immersive and calls for stakeholder involvement for a longer period of time due to its iterative cycles [ 13 ]. Nevertheless, in some cases, studies that are described as PD-related ones also meet Reason and Bradbury’s criteria [ 8 ] for AR [ 14 ]. Hayes [ 12 ] argues that AR and HCI research can supplement each other, as both often provide solutions on a local scale. As Hughes [ 15 ] describes, there is no standard way of implementing AR in health care due to the broadness of the field. Instead, there is a variety regarding the why, how, and with whom AR in health care is carried out [ 15 , 16 ]. For example, levels of stakeholder engagement and the context in which AR takes place can vary [ 16 ]. Other differences among AR studies include the topic, country, project duration, main target group, and methods used. Therefore, these aspects are considered in this review. The purpose of this review is to give an overview of the current literature on eHealth AR and summarize the best practices and points of improvement for future eHealth AR projects. Special attention is paid to the contextual variables of the research (eg, setting, duration, number of stakeholders), as this is expected to influence the outcomes, best practices, and points of improvement of a study. To provide an overview of AR in eHealth, this literature review addresses the following subquestions:

  • What is the context of AR eHealth projects?
  • How do eHealth AR studies define and operationalize AR?
  • What are the best practices for conducting AR in concrete eHealth studies?
  • What are the lessons learned from conducting AR in concrete eHealth studies?

Study Selection and Screening

The search was carried out in June 2020. PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar were searched using combinations of the search terms “action research” or “participatory design” and “eHealth,” “health technology,” “digital health,” or “telemedicine.” PubMed was chosen for its extensive medical database, and Scopus and Google Scholar were chosen as large scientific databases. Searching for “action research” turns up articles that include similar and related keywords like “participatory action research,” “action design research,” or “action-based research.” “Participatory design” was included as a search term because PD has significant overlap with AR, and both are sometimes used to supplement each other. The list of synonyms for “eHealth,” although not exhaustive, is expected to cover the various facets of the field. The initial search yielded 739 results. Articles were included if they (1) used and explicitly mentioned AR and (2) were about eHealth or health technology. Papers were excluded if they (1) were not written in English, (2) only included a study protocol but did not report results, or (3) only included a review of other articles. Full-text screening of the same 15 articles was performed by 2 authors (KO and CG); the authors discussed whether to include the studies until an agreement was reached. Next, the first author screened the full texts of the remaining articles, with some exceptions where a second opinion was necessary. These were again discussed between the first and second authors until an agreement was reached. Ultimately, 44 articles were included, reporting on 40 different projects. Figure 2 shows the flowchart of the inclusion process.

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Inclusion flowchart of the literature search and screening process.

Data Extraction

For each study, the definition of AR that was provided by the authors, and the related AR approaches that they cited (if any) were extracted. Additionally, information about contextual variables of the study was derived. Specifically, we identified the topic, country, organizational context, project duration, types of stakeholders involved, the main target group of the research, and methods used. The types of involved stakeholders were grouped according to the framework described by Schiller et al [ 17 ], in which they define the main stakeholder categories as the public, policy makers, and governments, the research community, practitioners and professionals, health and social service providers, civil society organizations, and private businesses. Finally, the best practices and lessons learned were derived. The best practices and lessons learned were activities that could move forward and benefit the AR project, without necessarily being recognized as standard components of AR. The difference between what was seen as a best practice and as a lesson learned was based on the timing and reporting of these actions. An activity was labeled as a best practice if researchers already planned their project with this in mind (eg, mentioning it in the description of the methods). On the other hand, lessons learned were those points that researchers came to know during their project, which were reported mainly in the discussion section. From the first 5 articles, the best practices and lessons learned were extracted by 2 authors (KO and CG), and they compared their results. The remaining data were extracted by 1 author (KO) in consultation with the second author where a second opinion was necessary. Furthermore, 5 authors published not 1 but 2 papers about their project. For these papers, the same study context was described whereas the definition of and approach to AR and the best practices and lessons learned were reported separately, as these sometimes differed between the articles. A reflection on 2 projects was included in 1 article. In this case, each project context was reported separately whereas only 1 AR definition and approach as well as one set of best practices and lessons learned were outlined.

A general overview of all the included studies describing the AR approach, AR definition, and contextual variables was obtained. The contextual variables (topic, location, target group, stakeholders, duration, and methods used) were categorized. Furthermore, the studies were mapped in a matrix based on the study duration and the types and number of different stakeholders that participated in the study. The contextual data were coded and categorized inductively. To identify which AR approach was the most used, the citation frequency of each approach in the included studies was recorded. Furthermore, the cited AR approaches that were available were accessed and checked for cross-referencing. All cited AR definitions were mapped to show the relationship between them. The AR definitions used, best practices, and lessons learned were coded by 1 author (KO). The best practices and lessons learned were coded individually first and then combined for both categories.

The setting of the included studies was described based on 6 categories (topic, location, duration, involved stakeholders, target group, and methods). Multimedia Appendix 1 presents all the categories and the description of the setting for each study. The most common aspects of each category will be discussed below.

We identified 9 broader categories of the research topics in the 44 included studies (see Table 2.1 in Multimedia Appendix 2 for the full list). The most common were home care and telemonitoring, and health promotion and education (both n=8), followed by electronic medical records and health information systems (n=7), and mental health services (n=5).

The studies were set in 21 different countries, Australia being the most common (n=5) followed by the United States (n=4) and Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (all n=3). Some studies from nonwestern countries, like Tanzania or Colombia were included, but no country was represented more than once or twice. Within the different countries, studies took place in various contexts, the most prevalent of which were rural areas (n=6) and hospitals (n=5). All contexts and countries can be found in Tables 2.2 and 2.3 of Multimedia Appendix 2 .

Target Groups

Among the 44 studies, 2 studies explicitly focused on 2 different target groups at the same time, whereas all other studies had 1 main target group. In most cases, the target groups were patients (n=11). Of these, the most common group was patients with cancer (n=3). There were 6 studies each focusing on clinicians as well as children and young adults, and 5 studies targeted older adults (see Table 2.4 in Multimedia Appendix 2 for the full list of target groups).


In many cases, several stakeholders were included in the study, up to 6 different types of stakeholders included in some cases. In summary, 20 different types of stakeholders were involved (see Table 2.5 in Multimedia Appendix 2 for the full list). Health care workers (n=18) and patients and their representatives (n=12) were involved the most, followed by governmental bodies (n=9) and general nonmedical staff members (n=8). When clustering these stakeholder types according to the framework defined by Schiller and colleagues [ 17 ], the largest group consisted of practitioners and professionals (n=48), followed by members of the public (n=38). Policy makers and government bodies (n=13), the research community (n=10), private businesses (n=6), and civil society organizations (n=3) were represented less often. The only group that was not represented at all included health and social service providers.

Not all of the 44 studies reported the duration of the project (n=7). Studies that did report the duration (n=33) lasted from a few months (n=5) to more than 10 years (n=2). The majority (n=13) of these studies reported a project duration between 2 and 3 years, and the average project duration was 2.7 years. Figure 3 shows the distribution of the 10 most frequently involved types of stakeholders for the different project durations in the 33 projects that reported the project duration. Stakeholder types are shown in the order of how many times they were involved in total; however, because some studies did not report project durations, the numbers in this graph differ from those described above. The 2 biggest stakeholder groups, health care workers and patients, were rarely, or in the case of patients even not at all, involved in long-term studies.

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Heat map showing the most commonly involved types of stakeholders against the project duration.

In Figure 4 , the study duration is mapped against the number of different stakeholders that were involved in each of the 33 projects that reported a project duration. Studies that did not report the overall project duration are not included in the figure. Most of the included studies lasted for up to 2 years, including 2 or 3 stakeholder groups. There are some longer studies including more stakeholder groups.

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Heat map showing the number of stakeholders involved against the project duration.

Research Methods Used

As mentioned earlier, AR is a framework that does not advise the use of a single methodology, and studies can therefore include a variety of different research methods. Most of the 44 included studies indeed used several methods, with some studies employing up to 6 different methods . Interviews were used most frequently (n=24), followed by focus groups (n=22), workshops (n=14), and surveys (n=13). On average, studies used nearly 3 different methods (average 2.8). All methods can be found in Table 2.6 of Multimedia Appendix 2 .

AR Definitions

The articles contained 44 definitions of AR. They could be grouped according to 4 different aspects that they emphasized. First, 21 studies emphasized that in AR projects, practitioners and other stakeholders become (co)researchers (n=21). Second, AR is a cyclical process that includes different stages (n=19). Third, 14 studies described how AR focuses on solving a practical issue and aims to extend research knowledge. The fourth aspect was that AR takes place in a community setting (n=10). Further, 2 studies included 3 of these aspects in their definitions, and only 2 other studies mentioned all 4 aspects. Most studies included either 1 (n=16) or 2 (n=17) of the aspects, whereas 7 studies included none of these points in their definition or did not at define AR in detail. Table 1 provides an overview of the number of mentions per aspect and the studies mentioning these aspects.

Number of mentions and studies mentioning the aspects of the AR definition.

AR Approaches

Table 2 gives an overview of the AR approaches that were cited at least twice in the included articles. The AR approach was not cited in 4 studies. In some cases, different papers from the same authors were cited; however, as these eventually described the same approach, the citation count was added up. The most commonly cited approach was that proposed by Reason and Bradbury [ 8 ]. As described earlier, the key elements of this approach are that AR (1) involves stakeholders as coresearchers, (2) consists of plan, act, and reflect cycles, (3) makes a change in practice, and (4) evaluates the said changes in and with the community. Overall, most definitions share these main aspects but differ in terms of the aspects that are particularly emphasized. For example, Baskerville and colleagues [ 55 ] highlight the duality of practical work and scientific knowledge, whereas Baum and colleagues [ 56 ] underline the need for reflective practice that includes all stakeholders. Figures 5 and ​ and6 6 depict the cited approaches in more detail. There are 3 independent researchers or groups that are mentioned as being the origin of AR, namely Lewin [ 7 ], Trist and colleagues [ 57 ], and Freire [ 58 ]. Wherever the origin of AR was mentioned, some cases have named 2 of these, as observed in Figure 5 . The cited AR approaches also frequently refer to each other and sometimes authors collaborate with each other, for example on books about AR (see Figure 6 ). There are no very distinct groups conducting their own AR, but the different AR groups are often connected and build upon each other’s work.

Overview of the most cited action research approaches in the included articles per author or research group, including the number of citations.

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Overview of the action research approaches referred to in the included articles, indicating those papers that are mentioned as “the origin” of action research. Studies that either name an approach as being the origin of action research, or are being named as such, are highlighted in blue for better readability.

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Overview of action research approaches referred to in the included articles. Arrows indicate citations between the action research approach papers. The number of times that the articles included in this review cited each approach is indicated in the box. We have used different arrow thicknesses for better readability. Blue boxes indicate those papers that were available and checked for citations.

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

As previously described, an activity was identified as a “best practice” if researchers already planned their project with this in mind (eg, mentioning it in the description of methods). Lessons learned were those points that researchers came to know during their project. These were mostly reported in the discussion section. In total, 85 best practices and 66 lessons learned were identified, which were clustered into 22 categories of best practices and 16 categories of lessons learned. Among the 44 papers, 3 papers did not indicate any best practices that they followed, whereas 12 papers did not include any identifiable lessons learned. There were 8 overlapping categories, identified as best practices in some articles and as lessons learned in others. These will be discussed in more detail below.

Best Practices

The identified best practices in the 44 studies were most often related to the use of a specific method (n=9), namely personas (n=2), world café, journey mapping, role play, scenarios, case studies, design cards, and mixing different types of data collection methods (all n=1). Other best practices were a continuous evaluation of the project and a reflection on the process by the research team (n=8). The importance of establishing active contact between researchers and stakeholders and raising the confidence and skills of stakeholders was emphasized by 7 studies. The improvement of stakeholder skills mainly referred to research and analytical skills, allowing stakeholders to set up their own studies or continue the work after the project was finished. There were several specific suggestions to improve the regular project team meetings, for example, to always use the same agenda or to share a common area (office space) to make contact easier. Some other best practices concern the reporting and presentation of outcomes (n=6). The complete list of best practice categories can be found in Table 3 .

Overview of all best practice categories and number of mentions per category (N=44).

Lessons Learned

Apart from the best practices, the lessons learned from each study were identified. The most common lessons learned were increasing stakeholder knowledge and skills (n=8) and continuous evaluation of the project and reflection on the process (n=6). Both of these had been identified as best practices in other articles (more on this overlap below). Recommendations for the use of specific methods were also common (n=5). Lessons learned regarding reporting, adapting the project to fit the needs of stakeholders, fostering a welcoming environment, and the questionable replicability of the research were each mentioned 4 times. All lessons learned are shown in Table 4 .

Overview of all lessons learned categories and number of mentions per category (N=44).

Overlapping Best Practices and Lessons Learned

As stated earlier, some aspects were identified as best practices in some articles and as lessons learned in others. In total, we identified 7 such overlapping aspects. Overall, the most mentioned aspect was the importance of raising stakeholder skills and confidence (n=15, where best practices= 7 and lessons learned=8). Many articles reported the need for stakeholders to learn new skills, for example related to academic research, or the need to be convinced about their ability to perform these tasks. Almost all the studies that reported this as a best practice or lesson learned involved health care professionals as stakeholders. Other commonly mentioned points were recommendations for specific methods, even though the suggested methods differed (n=14, where best practices=9 and lessons learned=5) and there was continuous reframing and evaluation of the project (n=14, where best practices=8 and lessons learned=6). Continuous reframing often referred to the iterations of planning, action, and evaluation in AR projects. Studies that described this mostly did not include this cyclical nature of AR in their definition of it. In total, there were 10 recommendations regarding the reporting and presentation of results (best practices=6 and lessons learned=4), for example calling for open and accessible publishing of outcomes. The best practices and lessons learned included recommendations about meeting regularly (n=9, where best practices=7 and lessons learned=2), adapting to the needs of stakeholders (n=8, where best practices=3 and lessons learned=5), and investing in the relationship between partners (n=6, where best practices=3 and lessons learned=3).

Chronology of Overlapping Best Practices and Lessons Learned

When observing the publication timeline, most of the overlapping aspects appeared as a lesson learned in earlier publications, and then as a best practice in papers published at a later point in time. This was the case regarding stakeholder skills, appearing as a lesson learned in 1999 [ 33 ] and as a best practice in 2016 [ 25 ]; continuous reframing of the project was a lesson learned in 2003 [ 19 ] and best practice in 2009 [ 42 ]; further, having regular meetings was a lesson learned in 2006 [ 72 ] and a best practice in 2018 [ 27 ], and adapting the research to stakeholder needs was a lesson learned in 2007 [ 32 ] and a best practice in 2016 [ 77 ]. Such a clear timeline could not be seen for accessible reporting, appearing as a lesson learned in 2017 [ 78 ] and a best practice in 2007 [ 45 ], and the relationship between partners appearing as a lesson learned in 2017 [ 36 ] and as a best practice in 2008 [ 38 ].

Principal Results

To identify recommendations on how to conduct AR in eHealth studies, this literature review analyzed the setting, AR description, and best practices and lessons learned in 44 studies. The most important recommendations from this review, which will be discussed in more detail below, are as follows: actively raising stakeholder skills and confidence; fulfilling multiple roles and tasks as a researcher; fostering constant reflection and evaluation; ensuring open and accessible dissemination; reporting in a more structured and comprehensive way.

These recommendations are not exclusively related to eHealth, despite them being derived from a review of eHealth AR studies. Hence, it is possible that the recommendations are also relevant for AR in various other fields. Therefore, where possible, examples from different disciplines are discussed below to explain or supplement a recommendation.

Stakeholder Skills and Confidence

Being involved in a project as coresearcher can potentially increase stakeholders’ confidence, besides teaching them new skills [ 79 ]. However, this does not happen automatically. Similar to our findings, the narrative review conducted by Harrison and colleagues [ 80 ] also identified educating the research team as the most important task when stakeholders are involved in health care research. Nevertheless, there is limited research on how skill training for stakeholders could look like, and this can vary greatly between studies. Stakeholders in some eHealth studies might need to learn content-related information [ 81 ], whereas other studies require methodological or statistical skills [ 54 ]. Researchers should provide adequate training and material for their project and encourage stakeholders to make use of it. The studies included in this review that recommended stakeholder skill training almost exclusively worked with health care professionals. The relationship between recommending skill training and working mainly with health care professionals remains unclear. A possible explanation could be that other stakeholder groups in other studies already had the necessary skills and thus did not require any additional training. Another possibility is that other stakeholders were not given the same roles that health care professionals held, and therefore, they did not need skill training. Finally, as we will discuss later, reporting of AR activities was not always very extensive. Thus, stakeholders outside the health care sector were possibly trained, and these studies did not report on this aspect. Generally, not all participants prefer the same level of engagement in a project, and researchers should respect these preferences [ 82 ].

Tasks and Roles of the Researcher

Different aspects of the role and tasks of the researcher in an AR project are discussed. Brydon-Miller and Aragón describe the many different tasks that action researchers need to fulfil as their “500 hats” [ 83 ]. These are not specific to eHealth studies, but they can occur in any AR study. As researchers and stakeholders have many varied duties, their roles are not fixed and might change over the course of the project [ 19 ]. One main task of the researchers that continues throughout the project is the need to foster a welcoming environment for all stakeholders [ 42 ]. Researchers should also be present and actively involve themselves at a higher level than that needed in non-AR projects [ 38 ]. Additional AR-specific tasks for the researchers include investing in partner relationships [ 35 ] or breaking down power structures [ 28 ]. Generally, AR studies demand more self-reflection and awareness from the researchers than other projects and researchers should keep this in mind when entering an AR project.

Constant Reflection

The importance of continuous reframing and evaluation of the project was emphasized in several studies. Although evaluation is 1 of the AR cycles, studies providing recommendations on this topic rarely included this in their definition of AR. Owing to the lack of reports on AR cycles, which will be discussed below, it is unclear if these studies still followed the AR cycles without reporting on them. However, sometimes, it seems that periodic planned evaluation is not enough. Instead, the participants need to regularly reflect on the current status of the project and their role in it. Therefore, new AR projects should create suitable spaces for evaluation and reflection in ways that fit the projects and stakeholders. This is especially important because reflection can become difficult once a person is in the middle of the project [ 49 ]. Holeman and Kane [ 53 ] emphasize that reflection should not only take place within the project, but it should also be explicitly reported to help other researchers. If action researchers take reflection seriously and include honest evaluations in their publishing, the AR community members can learn from each other. Additionally, researchers and other stakeholders within the project learn and benefit from constant reflection [ 9 ].

Accessible Dissemination

Another important aspect concerns paying attention to open and understandable dissemination of results within the community and among researchers. Action researchers need to communicate findings to the academic world while also finding ways to inform the target group about the project in ways that suit the target users’ needs. An example of open and accessible dissemination can be found in Canto-Farachala and Larrea [ 83 ]. They present the results of their AR project regarding territorial development on an interactive website, allowing others to learn from their work. However, it seems that accessible reporting is still not the norm in AR, as Avison and colleagues [ 62 ] describe that many AR studies are generally “published in books rather than as articles. Action researchers have large and complicated stories to tell.” Future AR projects should attempt to narrate their stories in such a way that others can learn from them.

Comprehensive Reporting

The different way of describing AR studies also leads to another issue, incomplete and elusive reporting. Although most studies did provide at least a short description of what they saw as AR, 7 studies provided no definition at all. Additionally, there were only 4 studies that included 3 or all of the 4 aspects of the AR definition in their description. Even the most mentioned aspects appeared in less than half of the included papers. Even though most papers did cite an AR approach of definition, some did not. In combination with the often-limited descriptions of AR, this makes it difficult to obtain a clear picture of how AR is perceived and performed in a particular study. This resonates with what Bradbury and colleagues [ 9 ] describe as 1 of the quality points of AR, namely “action research process and related methods (should be) clearly articulated and illustrated.” The best practices and lessons learned that were extracted from the included studies were seldom mentioned explicitly. Best practices were often hidden in the description of the project, without much reasoning. Similarly, lessons learned were often described as adaptations made during the project or as plans for the future. Although we observed that some lessons learned turned into best practices over time, we think that researchers could benefit more from each other’s work by providing concrete recommendations. This review is a step in that direction. Both aspects show that the reporting of AR studies in eHealth can be improved to show more clearly what eHealth AR projects can look like and help others in setting up such projects with specific recommendations.


Approximately a third of the included papers (14 out of 44) were published more than 10 years ago. This also means that some of the technologies that are described in the older papers are now relatively old. However, this literature review focuses mainly on the AR methodology and lessons learned about doing action research. Therefore, there was no exclusion criterium regarding the publication date of the papers.

The search yielded several PD-related papers. These papers could have been included, given that some definitions of PD are very similar to AR. However, as our aim was to provide an overview of how AR is done, these were excluded as the researchers of these studies themselves did not identify their studies as being related to AR (ie, not referring to, mentioning, or describing AR). Although this offers a clearer picture of how researchers conduct AR, it also creates a potential limitation in that best practices and lessons learned could be enriched from PD literature.

This overview of AR approaches focuses mostly on the interconnectedness among the approaches, without a comprehensive comparison of the content. Comparing the approaches with regard to the specific aspects of AR that they describe would be a review in and of itself, going beyond the scope of this current review. Therefore, we decided to focus on the definitions that the authors themselves provided even when they also cited AR approaches, as these are most likely to reflect their own vision of AR.

This review illustrates how AR is conducted in eHealth studies. Studies that fulfilled the inclusion criteria mainly took place in western countries and lasted for 2 to 3 years. Different stakeholders were involved, but the most commonly involved groups were health care professionals and patients. As for the methods used, most studies opted for focus groups and interviews. Even though many studies cited the AR approach proposed by Reason and Bradbury [ 8 ], their own definitions of AR were often not explicit in terms of how they implemented AR. Future projects should report their AR definition as well as the best practices and lessons learned more clearly. Other recommendations include paying attention toward developing the skill and confidence of the stakeholders, being aware of the changing role of the researcher, frequently evaluating the project, and disseminating results in an understandable manner.


Multimedia appendix 1, multimedia appendix 2.

Authors' Contributions: KO performed the literature search and analysis and was a major contributor in designing the study and writing the manuscript. CG contributed to the design of the study, assisted with the search and analysis, and made major contributions to the manuscript. FN and LvV contributed to the design of the study and substantially revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant 857188).

Conflicts of Interest: None declared.

How To Write a Call to Action That Works [Tips + 6 Examples]

Ready for your marketing campaigns to actually drive results? We’ll show you how to motivate your audience with a killer call to action.

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Table of Contents

You know how they say a closed mouth doesn’t get fed? If you want someone to do something, you gotta ask for it. Writing a killer call to action (CTA) is one strategy to get what you want.

Whether you’re trying to get people to buy your products, sign up for your emails, or join your cult, crafting the perfect call to action is essential for success.

But how do you write a call to action that stands out from the crowd and actually drives results? In this blog post, we’ll show you how to motivate with some powerful examples of moving calls to action and tips on writing them yourself.

Bonus: Download a free guide to social advertising and learn the 5 steps to building effective campaigns. No tricks or boring tips—just simple, easy-to-follow instructions that really work.

What is a call to action?

A call to action is a word or phrase that prompts action. It is a marketing term to describe urging your audience to act in a certain way.

A call to action can appear as a clickable button or simply as a piece of text. Call-to-action buttons and phrases can appear at any place in the user journey that you want to direct your audience.

Let’s say you’re trying to sell a pair of shoes on Instagram, and you’re crafting clear social media CTAs . You might have a call to action at the end of your social post caption that says, “Click the link in our bio.” The link in your bio could lead to a product page with information about the shoes on it. The call to action on this page would be an “Add to shopping cart” button.

CTAs aren’t just for social media. They can also appear in emails for an email marketing campaign, on paid ads, at the end of a blog post, and on landing pages.

CTAs are common in print marketing, too — think billboards or flyers that scream “Call Now!”

Examples of common CTAs

You’ll see plenty of CTAs around, but there are a few tried and tested phrases on repeat.

These common CTAs are uncomplicated phrases that tell your user exactly what to do and what they can expect once they follow through. There’s power in simplicity, which is why you’ll see these words used over and over again.

Some of the most common CTAs are:

  • Try for free
  • Add to cart
  • Get started

Why is a good CTA important?

A well-crafted call to action serves as a bridge or a well-lit path. It guides your user where you want them to go. Which, if your business plan is in the right place, will be toward your goals.

A strong CTA will grab customers’ attention and incentivize them to take the decisive step necessary to achieve their goals. Effective CTAs give customers confidence in your business. They can communicate security, trustworthiness, and convenience, all of which can increase conversions or drive traffic where you want it to go.

Calls to action can also combat decision fatigue. When someone has too many options, they can become overwhelmed by choice. CTAs can help cut through decision confusion by giving your reader a direct command. Now, go read the best practices for creating effective CTAs.

Best practices for creating effective CTAs

Much like cutting your bangs, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about creating CTAs. You’ll need to consider things like copywriting, design, visuals, and placement on a webpage.

It might seem like a lot, but we’ve got you covered with the handy best practice list below!

Make it concise and clear

The CTA should be concise and lay out a clear request for the customer, whether that be for them to join a mailing list or purchase a product or service. Don’t write your reader a paragraph with the CTA buried within it; you want them to be able to immediately know where they should go.

Squarespace curious candles get started call to action button

Source: Squarespac e

Make it visible

People don’t scour your web page. They don’t read every word, and they certainly don’t like searching for something. If your CTA isn’t immediately obvious, you will lose your viewer’s interest in seconds. Remember, a competitor is likely doing the same thing you are, and your customers are spoilt for choice.

Make your call-to-action buttons or phrases clearly visible on your page. You can tailor your imagery or site design to point to the CTA for added visibility. Take Fashion Nova, for example. Here, the banner model’s body points toward the Shop Now CTA.

Fashion Nova up to 70% off sitewide

Source: Fashion Nova

Use white space

A great way to make sure people can see your CTA is to surround it with white space.

Don’t be scared of white space on your website! It allows your viewers to breathe in between content and can highlight important information.

Surrounding your button CTA with white space makes it pop.

shop west elm Canada site with white space

Source: West Elm

Use contrasting or bold colors

Stop signs are red for a reason. They pop out among cityscapes or the countryside because that bright, arresting red isn’t at risk of blending in. Do the same for your CTA button colors.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t veer away from your brand colors. A secondary brand color can do the job well. (And if you want to know more about brand colors and a consistent style guide , we’ve got you covered.)

McDonald’s crispy savory waffle fries order now

Source: McDonald’s

Have well-considered page placement

Where you place your call-to-action buttons matters a great deal. You want to consider the natural flow of your user’s journey. You’ll have some users who immediately want to get shopping or head to the next page, and you’ll have users who want to scroll through your landing page before moving on.

A call to action should be placed under your header and at the bottom of your page. You want to capture people immediately (if they’re willing) and give those who need a bit more time another opportunity to hit that CTA at the bottom.

Squarespace all you need to power your ecommerce website get started

Source: Squarespace

Write benefit-forward supporting text

Supporting text is the content that comes before or in between your CTAs. It can be blog content, email body copy, the text on your website, or any copy that supports your CTA.

This extra information is your opportunity to show your audience the benefit that befalls them when they click your CTA.

ecommerce websites that stand out browse templates and learn more

For example, maybe you’re trying to get an audience to sign up for your email newsletter. If you want to convince people to hand over their email addresses, you’ll have to tell them what that newsletter will do for them.

A copywriting newsletter might say something like, “We sift through thousands of copywriting samples and pull only the best for you to repurpose for your own use. Plus, we tell you exactly why they work, so you don’t have to spend time puzzling through strategy. Impress your clients, save time, and look like an expert. Sign up today.”

The supporting copy highlights benefits so the call to action feels extra compelling. The reader knows exactly what to expect when they sign up for the email newsletter and how it will benefit them.

Create thoughtful copywriting

Aside from benefit-forward supporting text, the rest of your copywriting needs to be on point. Everything, from your site headers to your social posts, needs to be in your brand voice and speak directly to your audience.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the language you’re using both in and around your calls to action. Powerful words strike a chord with your audience’s emotions. White-hot CTA copy is an explosive way to skyrocket your ROI. (See what I did there?)

That being said, don’t confuse your audience. While your surrounding text can be full of powerful language, your CTAs need to be clear so your audience knows where they are headed. “Take the Quiz” or “Shop Now” gives your audience everything they need to know about where the button leads.

feeling fatigued? order today and get your energy back learn more and take the quiz

Source: Qunol

Test, test, and test again

The only way to really know if you’re using the best version of your CTA is to test it. Running A/B tests on your calls to action will show you which strategy performs the best.

It’s a simple method: You change one element (like your copy, placement, or colors) and let it run for a set amount of time. Then, see how it compares to the previous version.

6 great call-to-action examples

Now that you know what to do, it’s time to check out what others are doing! Get inspiration for your next CTA from the examples below.

Oh, how we love a good mystery! Whether it’s a cheesy crime drama or a surprise gift from a company, there’s something about not knowing what you might get that is just so enticing.

Glossier’s “It’s a mystery!” CTA makes us itchy to click that button just to see what’s on the other side.

What's that? a special offer for you first order It’s a mystery! CTA

Source: Glossier

Article uses color to its advantage with the website’s call-to-action buttons. Their secondary brand color is a bright coral, which you can see is used for the “Add to cart” CTA button.

It’s clear, eye-catching, and concise, everything a great CTA button should be.

Article beta cypress green left chaise add to cart CTA

Source: Article

Coco & Eve

Coco & Eve’s email marketing campaign uses a discount code as a CTA. Who doesn’t love saving money? Incorporating your discount code into your CTA is a clever way to get people to click.

take an extra 20% off sitewide discount code

Source: Coco & Eve’s email campaign

While this strategy worked well in Coco & Eve’s email campaign, they ran into CTA limitations on other platforms, like Facebook. If you’re advertising on LinkedIn or Facebook, you’ll know that the apps force you to use a set of standard CTA copy on the buttons.

While this poses some limitations, you can still add supporting text that motivates your audience to click. Below, Coco & Eve included the discount code on the imagery instead, which is just one of many clever ways to go about Facebook advertising .

friends and family sale

Source: Coco & Eve on Facebook

Twitter’s “Tweet” CTA uses its own brand-specific language. Before the rise of social media, if you had told someone to tweet something, you’d be met with a blank stare. (We’ve come since 2006, truly.)

To do this yourself, just create a globally-used platform that makes birdsong synonymous with snippets of thought. Easy.

Twitter homepage with Tweet CTA

Source: Twitter

Tushy uses social proof as supporting text in its Instagram story ad . The “100,000+ 5 Star reviews” statement below serves to motivate others to grab a Tushy. Social proof is one of those marketing tactics that just works. People look to other people to determine what’s hot and what’s not.

Social proof works a lot like the bandwagon effect , a kind of cognitive bias. The bandwagon effect is pretty much exactly like it sounds; when a majority of people like or endorse something, it’s often picked up by others. And, with 100,000 5-star reviews called out, Tushy is using the bandwagon effect to its full advantage below.

Tushy free shopping on bidets

Source: Tushy on Instagram

NatGeo dangles a free trial in its Instagram ad, one of many effective call-to-action ideas you can shamelessly steal. Although, when so many people are doing it and finding success, is it really stealing?

redeem free trial for National Geographic online

Source: NatGeo on Instagram

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Colleen Christison is a freelance copywriter, copy editor, and brand communications specialist. She spent the first six years of her career in award-winning agencies like Major Tom, writing for social media and websites and developing branding campaigns. Following her agency career, Colleen built her own writing practice, working with brands like Mission Hill Winery, The Prevail Project, and AntiSocial Media.

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A Call to Action: Action Research as an Effective Professional Development Model

Profile image of Jeanne Dyches

Professional development is one of the most pressing and challenging issues in education today. Action research, which asks individual teachers to focus on a particular issue in their classrooms as means to improve instructional practice (James, Milenkiewicz & Bucknam, 2008), responds to the criticism of fragmented, decontextualized professional development because it provides a learning space in which teachers can learn about their students as well as their own teaching practices. Action research wields the power to bridge the gap between theory and practice, empower teachers, and impact student learning.

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Jeanne Dyches

what is a call to action in a research paper

Andrew Johnson

For teacher professional development, you do not have to rely on experts to tell you what does and does not work or to explain to you what research says about something. Action research enables you to become your own expert. This article describes how action research can be used to develop each of the four types of knowledge necessary for teacher expertise: pedagogical knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, content knowledge, and knowledge of learners and learning.

Action research can be defined as a systematic observation of one’s own teaching practice. It is a way to link theories and research directly to classroom practice. It also empowers teachers to make the changes that are best for their own teaching situations. In this sense, action research is an effective and economical way to attend to the professional development of teachers. This article describes the basic elements of action research.


The aim of the study is to investigate the contribution of action research to teachers' professional development. In line with this goal, a group of teachers were asked their opinions. The working group of the study is comprised of six teachers working at a state primary and middle school. The study is an example of " Case Study " , one of qualitative research methods. The content analysis technique was utilized in the analysis of the data. To sum up, the teachers expressed that action research had a positive impact on their professional development in various aspects.

International Educational Research

Osama al-Mahdi

Teacher professional development had received a growing interest in the past decades due to their importance in improving teachers' knowledge, skills and values. There are various approaches and types of teachers' professional development. This paper begins by discussing the definition, characteristics and models of teachers’ professional development. Then it outlines some ideas related to teacher professional learning communities (PLCs), communities of practice (CoPs), mentoring and coaching. Next, the paper focuses on action research as one of the widely used approaches in both research and teacher professional development. The potential benefits of action research in building teachers’ professional capacity is presented next. The paper concludes with a discussion about the implications of utilizing action research in the educational development program for school principals in Bahrain Teachers College.

Professional development of high quality is basic to nearly all modern suggestions to improve education. Teachers’ professional development is a significant factor for making reforms at any level effective. Action researches are conducted to understand, evaluate, and then change and improve educational practices. The goal of this study is to examine how effective action research is in teachers’ professional development and determine level of usefulness for teachers’ professional development. This study is a blended one in which qualitative and quantitative research method and techniques. The working group is comprised of 6 teachers of different branches working at a state primary school. Training Evaluation Forms and Self-Assessment Form were used as data collection tools. It was found out that action research adds up to teachers’ professional development.

ken zeichner

George Richardson

Abstract Conversations with teachers and professional development leaders enable us, as researchers, to highlight the ambiguous promise of action research within the context of mandated teacher professional development in the province of Alberta, Canada.

Angela Yicely Castro Garcés , PROFILE Journal

Teachers’ professional development is a key factor to have more reflective educators capable of working on teams to find solutions to problems that arise in their classrooms. The objective of this study is to analyze the impact that the collaborative planning, implementation, and evaluation of classroom projects, developed through collaborative action research, have in the professional development of in-service and pre-service teachers in a BA in English program. This is a qualitative research study focused on collaborative action research. Data were collected through journals, surveys, and meeting proceedings of collaborative sessions. As a result, it was possible to describe the processes and dynamics generated, as well as the changes perceived, which contributed to the professional development of the participants.

Arab World English Journal (AWEJ)

When talking about the educational field in Oman, teachers' professional development is a considerable concern. A variety of professional development strategies have been introduced to teachers of English and have been put into practice. Action research is one of these strategies. It is introduced to teachers through a voluntary course, Research for Professional Development (RPD), which is a sixteen-session course and lasts for one semester. This course aims to raise teachers' knowledge and skills of action research in order to support them, as research practitioners, to enhance the quality of their work and to show initiatives in their schools. However, as it is relatively new in this context, this study attempted to explore teachers' beliefs on the values of this course with regard to their professional development and the extent to which these teachers adopted this strategy for their ongoing professional development after the course. The study was conducted in the Dakhiliya region of Oman and the data was collected from eight teachers through a semi-structured interview. The findings indicate a conception of the RPD course as a means to enrich Omani teachers' knowledge and skills of AR. The practical side of the course also raises participants' awareness of the possibilities of improving their work and gives them insights to solving their students' problems through systematic inquiries. This study also reveals that, although participants master this tool, very few of them conduct action research after the course and this is due to the lack of time, heavy responsibilities and lack of support. Therefore, this study raises the issue that although providing teachers with knowledge and skills of PD strategies is essential, enabling them to apply these strategies relies heavily on paying attention to their needs.


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New York House Special Election Live Results 2024: Suozzi wins

Democrat Tom Suozzi won the special election today in the 3rd Congressional District after the seat was vacated when the House voted to expel then-Rep. George Santos. Suozzi, a former House member, faced Republican Mazi Pilip, a Nassau County legislator and Ethiopian immigrant who served in the Israel Defense Forces. The race impacts the closely divided House, where Republicans hold only a narrow majority. Polls closed at 9 p.m. ET.

  • D T. Suozzi + Gain 53.9 % 91,338
  • R M. Pilip 46.1 % 78,229

The expected vote is the total number of votes that are expected in a given race once all votes are counted. This number is an estimate and is based on several different factors, including information on the number of votes cast early as well as information provided to our vote reporters on Election Day from county election officials. The figure can change as NBC News gathers new information.

Source : National Election Pool (NEP)

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Great Lakes ice coverage reaches historic low

  • February 13, 2024

NOAA researchers at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) report that they’ve seen a steady decrease in ice coverage across the Great Lakes, which has  reached a historic low. 

Together, Great Lakes ice coverage was measured at 2.7 % on February 11, 2024. 

Coverage on each of the lakes was measured as follows:

Lake Superior 1.7 %

Lake Michigan 2.6 %

Lake Huron 5.9 %

Lake Erie 0.05 %

Lake Ontario 1.7 %

Lakes Erie and Ontario are basically at – or tied with – their individual historic lows for the date, making both essentially ice-free.

“We’ve crossed a threshold in which we are at a historic low for ice cover for the Great Lakes as a whole,” says GLERL’s Bryan Mroczka, a physical scientist. “We have never seen ice levels this low in Mid-February on the lakes since our records began in 1973.” 

A sandy beach is dotted with chunks of ice. The waves are hitting the beach and there is no ice out on the water.

The current winter season (2023-24) began with very warm air temperatures, resulting in slow ice formation. January 2024 did see some periods of cold, but they were not sustained long enough to allow ice coverage to increase with our current year peak reaching between 15-20% coverage during the third week of January. Maximum ice cover for the year usually peaks in late February or early March and, on average, the Great Lakes experience a basin-wide maximum in annual ice coverage of about 53%.

Communities around the lakes have strong economic ties to the ice levels and the changes in ice cover can have big impacts on the people living there. Many local businesses in the area rely on ice fishing and outdoor sports which can only happen if the ice is thick and solid. Some fish species also use the ice for protection from predators during spawning season, and there’s increasing evidence that the ice plays a role in regulating many biological processes in the water. Shipping schedules are heavily impacted by the formation of ice, as well.

The absence of ice can also make the shoreline more susceptible to erosion and increase the potential for damage to coastal infrastructure during the winter months due to high winds and waves. Thick ice often acts to dampen the large wave action and protect the shoreline. Lack of ice cover can also increase lake effect snow. 

what is a call to action in a research paper

In concert with the U.S. National Ice Center , NOAA obtains, produces, and delivers environmental data and products for near real-time observation of the Great Lakes to support research on ice cover changes and decision making at various levels.

The relationship between ice cover and Great Lakes water level fluctuations is complex, explains GLERL researcher Lauren Fry. “Evaporation happens when there is a large temperature difference between the air and water,” says Fry. “We tend to see the highest evaporation rates during the fall and early winter when the surface water is relatively warm and cold blasts of Arctic air enter the basin.”

People are often surprised to learn that much of the evaporation on the Great Lakes happens while ice is forming, she says. Fry compares it to the difference between the way a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold day evaporates as steam, whereas a cold glass of ice water on a warm summer day results in condensation.

To view up-to-date information on ice, visit the Great Lakes node of Coastwatch . 

Media contact: Alison Gillespie, [email protected] , 202-713-6644.

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Popup call to action.

A prompt with more information on your call to action.


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  1. Choosing a Research Topic

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