The call-to-action (CTA) is the pivot point of your marketing efforts. All your investment in building brand bias, crafting engaging content, great design, and user experience lead to the point where people would eventually turn from prospects to customers. You need to have an equally strong call-to-action game to harvest those conversions. See how:
What Is a Call-To-Action?
A call-to-action (CTA) is an element of web page content – image, button, or text line, designed to prompt users to perform a specific action. It’s usually a directive using action verbs such as “Subscribe now,” “Add to cart,” “Follow,” among others. Its goal is to lead the user to the next step of their buyer journey towards converting and, hopefully, becoming your client.
CTAs play a crucial role in conversions, no matter in what stage of the buyer journey the user is currently. Whether it’s getting them to subscribe to your email, learn more about your product, or purchase an item, it’s an element of your content that directly impacts conversions.
How to Create Great CTAs for Your Website?
There are multiple elements to a good and working CTA. Let’s start with its three main components:
- Where it is (Placement)
- What it looks like (Design)
- What it says (Copy)
How Many CTAs Are Too Many?
Some believe you need to have just a single CTA on a page, while others subscribe to the thought that the more CTAs you have, the more chances you have to convert. In reality, it depends on the type of page you’re looking at – whether it is a landing page, a product/category page, a support page, a top-of-the-funnel blog article, or yet something else. In any case, you need to track the performance of your CTAs and test out whether you need just one or multiple CTAs on a page.
In case you do use multiple CTAs, you have to make sure they don’t cannibalize each other. Prompting users to do different things simultaneously can lead to choice paralysis – users are faced with too many options, so they end up doing nothing.
So, instead of placing CTAs liberally on different parts of the page without a strategy, ensure that there is one good and relevant CTA on every page. Keep in mind that every new page a user lands on gives them another opportunity to do something. Suggest this opportunity with an appealing CTA, keeping in mind the stage of the customer journey the user is in.
Where to Place the Call-to-Action
In terms of placement, multiple eye-tracking studies have shown that users scan pages in an F-shape. This means that a user usually makes two glances across the page starting from the top-left and then scans down the left side. Using this data, it would be wise to place CTAs in three key areas: headers, side panels, and at the end of the page.
On the other hand, Grow & Convert estimates conversion rates for specific CTA locations like this:
- Sidebar: 0.5 – 1.5%
- Generic, end-of-post: 0.5 – 1.5%
- Pop-ups: 1 – 8%
- Sliders and bars: 1 – 5%
- Welcome gates: 10 – 25%
- Feature box: 3 – 9%
- Navigation bar: varies
Where to place the CTA also depends on the type of page and its purpose. For landing pages, the rule of thumb is that the CTA should be at the most prominent place and definitely above the fold. Make sure to test the page for mobile, too. No user likes to scroll endlessly to perform an action.
For editorial content, the CTA could be halfway down the page and relevant to the text, on the sidebar, and at the very bottom.
Pay Attention to the Design of the CTA Button
When it comes to the creative design of CTAs, there are a variety of approaches that work. Still, here are some design notes to keep in mind:
Show Users the CTA Button Is Clickable
One way of doing this is to add some 3D effects to it. For example, use a slight gradient or a small shadow to draw the attention of the user. Alternatively, for flat designs, you can emphasize clickability by using rounded edges for the button.
Use Negative Space
The CTA button should also stand out from the main body of the text. Negative space is a common design strategy to achieve this, as you can see in the example below:
Apply Contrasting Colors
Another way to make your CTAs striking is by using color contrasts.
Of course, you need to keep in mind that different colors work for different audiences, so you’ll need to test which ones are best for your page design.
Get Users Attention
Additional images can also be used to direct your users’ attention to your CTA. Whether it’s a person pointing to it or glancing at it, or using pop-ups, there are creative ways to capture the user and lead them to their next step.
Just make sure that the CTA images you use to stand out and are recognizable from other designs and supplementary visuals on the page while still corresponding with your brand’s visual identity. You don’t want users to confuse images with clickable CTAs, nor do you want them to think they are annoying ads.
Write an Appealing CTA Message
While placement and design are vital elements of a CTA, it’s ultimate words that will convince users to act. People have become so used to standard texts like “log in” or “sign-up” that they’ve learned to tune them out. Here are some tips on what your copy should be.
Keep the CTA Copy Short and Clear
The CTA copy must clearly say what’s going to happen when users click on it. Whether it’s telling them that they’ll be getting a free 7-day trial, a free ebook, or updates on promos and offers – the CTA should clearly set users’ expectations.
Use Action Words in Your CTA Copy
It’s referred to as call-to-action because it should exactly do just that – spring people into action. These can be:
- Subscribe for free exciting content
- Add to cart and get 10% off
- Get a free quote
- Get started
- Sign up free
- Join free
- Claim your free trial
- Book a demo
- Shop now
Again, different action verbs work for different users on their user journey. CTAs such as “Learn more” or “Subscribe for free content” are a good fit for those in the awareness stage. You’d want to use phrases like “Get a free quote” for prospective customers in the Think and Do stages.
This is where analyzing data can help you find customers that are leaning toward specific CTAs. If you take the time to explore where they are in the buyer’s journey, you can lead them to a CTA that works best for them.
Communicate Value in Your CTA Copy
We’ve alluded to this a few times earlier, but it’s worth repeating that if you’re going to ask users to do something, you should be clear on what they’ll get in return.
People want to know exactly what they’ll get in return for the action you’re asking them to take. Take advantage of this in your CTAs. As noted by Marketing Land, words like “Download” or “Buy now” don’t say anything about the value proposition.
To come up with a better CTA copy, ask yourself, “Why should the customer click here?” “What’s in it for them?”
It’s important to note that communicating value doesn’t have to be on the button itself. You can always position it somewhere close to the CTA button.
Create Fear of Missing Out
Once you’ve communicated the value of your offer, create urgency. The fear of missing out is a powerful trigger for action. Show your users what they’d miss if they don’t act now.
Include Trust Signals in Your CTA
As with most things in digital marketing, building trust is a vital component. This is why you should include trust signals in your CTAs and landing pages.
For example, adding “Cancel anytime” under the CTA copy is an instant assurance for those users claiming their free trial that they can still change their minds and opt-out if the product does not meet their needs.
Another way to add trust signals is by using social proof. Adding information about how many people are already using your products, for example, can be that little nudge that will take the user to the next step of their buyer journey.
Test Your Calls-to-Action
Monitoring analytics data and A/B testing is a staple of any digital marketing campaign, be it SEO or social media. It’s no different when it comes to CTAs. While there are standard best practices when it comes to calls-to-action, it’s simply a must to test different types and designs of your CTAs.
Below, just a change to a single word boosted conversions by 14.79%:
You can use tools like Unbounce or HubSpot to create a multivariate test for your CTAs. These tools make it easier to create different CTAs, monitor performance and analyze results.
If you’re performing below the desired outcomes, you can tinker with the different elements mentioned above (design, placement, copy) to see what specific changes can make a difference.
5 Examples of Great CTAs and Why They Work
Netflix’s Free 30-Days Trial
Netflix’s CTA shows complete confidence in the quality of its product. It’s also clear on what’s going to happen to those who click every step of the way. From stating when they’ll get the email reminder that their trial is about to end, to the assurance that you can cancel anytime, it’s just a win all around for users.
Lyft’s Personal Ride Discount
Similarly, Lyft does a great job of communicating all the benefits of clicking their CTA. From the exact discount amount to the number of rides it applies to, up to when the offer is good for, everything is crystal clear – while the action words “Ride and save” give you no other choice but to click on it.
Canva’s New Design Introduction
In much the same way, Canva does an excellent job of surrounding their CTA with a slew of pertinent info. They highlight the updated product features while assuring that you switch back to the older version anytime you need to edit older designs.
Hotjar’s Homepage CTA
It’s simple and effective what Hotjar does with its homepage CTA. It’s just a couple of bright red buttons that lead to the same place, emphasizing that it is both free and doesn’t require a credit card.
It also does a good job of highlighting the value proposition of understanding your users while adding the supporting copy that you can “uncover insights to make the right changes.”
It’s no hard sell – just pure value.
Spotify’s Get Free CTA
The same goes here, and it’s important to note what these companies have in common. When you’re confident about what your product offers, you really don’t have to sell people on trying it. This CTA does it in three simple lines: “Music for everyone,” Millions of songs. No credit card needed,” and “Get Spotify Free.”
CTAs can be a really fun exercise in digital marketing if you spend enough time with them. From the creative concept and customizable elements to the ability to test and adjust, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to high-performing CTAs.
Ready for more? See these five tips on how to improve lead nurturing with marketing automation.
This is a guest post by Manuel Fornillos.