How to Convert Viewers on Videos with a Call to Action

Learn how to convert viewers with a Call to Action on videos, where to place it, which type to use, and what CTA copy will increase conversion rates.

Lisa Marinelli


Alyce Currier


The State of Video Report is here! Uncover data and insights about video strategy, creation, distribution, and audience engagement and conversion that’ll help your business thrive with video.

Have you created a great video that’s getting tons of views, but it’s not driving the conversions you were expecting? Or do you want to get more eyes on a piece of educational content that your audience would find valuable? Well, you might need to add a Call to Action to your video!

With Wistia, you can customize your video with interactive lead generation tools like Calls to Action, a Turnstile email collector, or Annotation Links. These simple additions to your video can help you convert viewers into customers, create opportunities for deep engagement, and collect all kinds of interesting data.

Let’s focus on Calls to Action in this post. A Call to Action (CTA) is a customizable and linkable message, image, or HTML script that appears anywhere in your video. It lets your viewers know what action you want them to take next.

To help you set up the most successful video Calls to Action, we’ve analyzed 58,643 CTAs in Wistia-hosted videos to see exactly how people are using them today and how different options, such as placement and copy, impact conversion rates.

How to add a CTA to videos

First things first. Let’s talk about how you can customize a Call to Action for your video. All the magic happens in the Wistia Customize panel.

When you select “Call to Action,” you can see the available customization options. These can vary based on which type of CTA you choose. The first thing you want to do is enter the time where you want your CTA to appear in the video. Next, select the type of CTA and then fill in the rest of the fields.

Simple, right?

Where to put the Call to Action

You can place a Call to Action anywhere in your video, but we think of placements as pre-, mid-, or post-roll. Unlike Annotation Links, CTAs stop the video entirely to show your text, image, or HTML content. (If you don’t want to stop your video, try adding an Annotation Link instead.)


Pre-roll Calls to Action appear at the very start of the video — the placement with the highest visibility. So it’s a no-brainer to put the conversation opportunity at the very beginning, right?

Well, not quite. Without being presented with any information beforehand, the audience may not know why they should follow your CTA. This makes them more likely to skip the CTA, or worse, not watch the video.

If you ask us, you can place your CTA in the pre-roll, but we don’t recommend it.


Mid-roll Calls to Action can be anywhere between the very start and the very end of your video. They are designed to target viewers when they are most engaged.

A mid-roll CTA can be effective when you want to be surgical with your timing. For example, if you have a long educational video, you can place a CTA mid-roll if you want people to stop and have the opportunity to explore another big concept on a different page. As long as you get the timing right — immediately after the video covers a crucial piece of information, for instance — you could get a good number of clicks.

However, inserting the CTA in the middle can upset the natural rhythm and flow of your video and take away from the user experience.


Post-roll Calls to Action appear at the very end of the video. They’re visible to the fewest viewers — but these viewers are the most engaged because they’ve already watched your video and they’re likely super interested in the topic. Most CTAs are placed in the post-roll.

When you’re thinking about where to place your CTA, remember that it’s important to balance user experience with conversion goals!


Here’s what we found for where to place the CTA in your video timeline.

Most-used CTA placement

We found that nearly all customers using a Call to Action are choosing the post-roll option:

The overwhelming majority of customers — a whopping 92.5% — are placing their CTA at the end of the video. Only 7.3% choose the mid-roll option, and a tiny 0.2% go for the pre-roll CTA.

This makes sense! Putting your CTA at the end of your video is a classic conversion strategy. Assuming your content delivers, you can prompt action without degrading the experience. Post-roll CTAs allow your audience to get all the information from your video and click through as high-quality leads.

But there are also plenty of use cases where a mid-roll CTA makes sense. Let’s say you’re launching a new feature. You can use a mid-roll CTA to offer viewers the opportunity to leave the video and try it out, rather than making them wait until the end. It’s a good way to catch viewers when they are most intrigued to learn more.

Highest-converting CTA placement

And it turns out mid-roll Calls to Action convert the best. Keep in mind, of course, that mid-roll CTAs can appear anywhere in the video besides the beginning or end, so it covers a wide range.

Though only a fraction of the total Calls to Action were mid-roll (7.3%), these had an average conversion rate of 22.1%, compared with a post-roll conversion rate of 16.9%. The pre-roll CTAs fared more poorly, with an average conversion rate of just 8.9%.

If you want your viewers to follow your CTA more than you want them to complete your video, we think a mid-roll CTA is your best bet. For example, if you have a four-minute educational video with the goal of getting people to sign up for your email newsletter, you might want to place your CTA 30 seconds into your video.

On the other hand, if you want people to watch your entire video, a post-roll CTA works best. Let’s say you have a product overview video and your CTA sends folks through to another video that dives deeper into a concept. Viewers who have made it to the end of your first video are likely interested in learning more. And you can give them exactly that with a post-roll CTA.

Typically, many people use Annotation Links mid-roll to offer pathways to other content without interrupting the viewing experience. Then they’ll use a post-roll CTA to drive conversions for the main action they want people to take. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect that the longer a viewer sticks around, the more likely they are to be a strong lead.

Consider where you might include a Call to Action before beginning production, so you can incorporate these stops when you’re scripting. This can help improve your conversion rates.

Which type of Call to Action to use

Calls to Action in Wistia come in three flavors: text, image, and HTML. Each one is designed to perform a specific job:

  • A text Call to Action lets you customize a clickable message that will be shown to your audience in the video.
  • An image Call to Action shows a clickable image that you customize and upload.
  • An HTML Call to Action lets you add scripts for specific HTML content to appear in your video.


Here’s what we found on the most popular and highest converting CTAs.

Most-used type of CTA

Over three quarters (79%) of customized videos contain text Calls to Action. Another 15.4% have image CTAs, and the small sliver of blue in the graph is the HTML option, which only accounts for 5.6% of CTA users.

Text CTAs are the easiest to implement, so it makes sense that they’re the most popular option. All you need are a few words and a link, and boom, your videos are instantly converting better than before.

Highest-converting type of CTA

But you know what? Spending a few minutes to add an image is an even better idea. Our results show that using an image Call to Action pays off with even better conversion rates — 21% for images compared to 18.5% for text.

Adding an image can mean including logos, branding, and personal colors in your CTA. This is a big deal because color is one of the most powerful tools marketers have in their toolboxes. Our advice? Make the image Call to Action fit the video, and use contrasting colors to make the main copy stand out.

Image CTAs are clickable, so if you want to use a button, include it in the image you’re using for the CTA.

What CTA copy converts best

Regardless of what type of Call to Action you use and where you place it, you’ll need to use persuasive copy to get clicks. Given that most of our customers use text CTAs, it’s even more imperative to create succinct and interesting CTA copy.

Our analysis confirmed that the best CTAs are made up of power words and action words. Here’s a look at each.


Here’s what we found on the best converting CTA copy.


Power words work everywhere: regular copy, Facebook ads, and, of course, Calls to Action. These are the words that are purportedly the most persuasive in the English language:

  • You: Invoking the power of self is one of the most effective ways to use language to engage with an audience. It helps frame your copy as if it’s written only for the viewer. There are parts of the brain that are only activated by our own names, but using “you” is the closest alternative that still achieves great results.
  • Free: It’s a magic word in marketing. When we hear that something is free, we’re much more likely to choose it, as it lowers the threshold for decision-making and implies that we’ll be getting a great value.
  • Now: We humans are not good at delayed gratification. “I want it all, and I want it now,” in the words of Freddie Mercury. Our brains are activated more strongly by the idea of instant reward than waiting, so words such as “instantly,” “immediately,” and “now” trigger circuits in our brains unconsciously.
  • New: Novelty is something our brains crave. It piques our interest and helps us learn new things. Therefore it can be a great word to use in CTAs, as it will make your audience automatically want to find out more.

Unsurprisingly, our data shows that power words consistently produce high conversion rates.

“You” turned out to be the star. Videos with CTAs that included the word “you” converted 19.1% of the time.

As persuasive as these words may be, only about one-sixths (16%) of text CTAs employ them. There’s still a lot of potential for more persuasive, personal language in video CTAs — all the more reason to use psychology to your advantage to get your audience to follow through!


It shouldn’t be too surprising that the most effective way to get people to follow your Call to Action is to use highly actionable verbs like these:

  • Click
  • Download
  • Register
  • Sign up
  • Buy
  • Try

However, not all CTAs use such definite language.

Just 66% of Calls to Action include an action word. This number should be much closer to 100%. Any CTA should be actionable, with clear-cut language that drives viewers to complete the video experience by clicking, downloading, trying, or buying.

When you see how effective action words are, it seems even more obvious to include them in your CTAs. Just check out the difference in conversion rates between CTAs with specific action words and ones without.

Interestingly, the real winner was the word “Download.” We suspect that folks who use “Download” provide a piece of educational content in the form of a PDF cheat sheet or another supporting asset at the end of their video. If the audience found value in your video, they might feel compelled to download your additional offering, and your CTA will just nudge them in the right direction.

Start converting more viewers!

When you combine a persuasive Call to Action with a great video, you can give your audience value and help them figure out what to do next — and you’ll be seeing your conversion rates improve in no time.

Lisa Marinelli


Alyce Currier


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