Interaction is the key to success when operating online. Without it - a business, product, or idea will not garner much success even if it gains general attention. This is where calls to action come in.
A call to action (CTA) is a prompt on your website that encourages a user to take some sort of action. This can include filling out a form, clicking a button, making a purchase, or just signing up to receive emails. Most often, a CTA will take shape on your site as a button or widget used to persuade a visitor to sign up for a mailing list or buy a product. Sometimes this is accompanied by offering a discount, free information, or some other benefit after completing the action.
Using Strong CTAs
Although a CTA can provide obvious benefits to a site, not every call to action is created equal. A strong call to action must:
- Create a reason that warrants the time and effort the visitor will spend interacting with it
- Clearly explain what to do so that the customer doesn’t feel misled
- Be emphasized within the website’s design so that it draws the visitor’s eye
If the benefit is not clear to the user or the user can’t find the CTA button, the chances of converting them to a customer drops significantly.
In addition to the presentation of the website call to action, the call itself can make or break a conversion. In a strong CTA, the prompt catches the user’s attention by using language that elicits interaction, interest, or involvement. This could be addressing concerns about the topic, such as “Not sure how to begin?”, or outlining the primary goal of the CTA such as, “Looking to make $50,000 a year from home?”. The button following the prompt should also elicit interaction by using terms that foster engagement such as “join”, “sign up”, or “register”.
Unfortunately, attention is fleeting on the internet so it is important that the remainder of the CTA keeps them engaged. While the specifics of the best practices for a call to action depends on the industry and situation, here are a few ways a website can more actively engage its customers with CTAs.
Be Engaging, But Not Pushy
CTAs should engage the user by taking a concern or point, elaborating on how they can help, explaining why their offering is valuable, and then guiding the user on how to receive that help in the form of a click-through. In some cases, websites may elect to use a type of gated content system where users are forced to perform an action – like provide an Email - to be able to view the site.
While there are always opportunities to include calls to action throughout your site and content, a website can appear too pushy through the overuse of CTAs. As previously stated, it is important to draw the user to the CTA for them to interact with it. Each additional prompt or button takes away from the others as a focal point on a page, so it is best to limit CTAs to 1 or 2 on the user’s screen at a given time. The exception of this would be for eCommerce websites with multiple products or offers being compared or advertised.
By using engaging CTAs, sites can direct focus to different offerings throughout their website and increase the chances of interaction with potential customers.
Free, Fast, or Easy
Calls to action need to be compelling and offer something of significant value to the user relative to the expectations placed them. No one wants to fill out a 25 field questionnaire to receive a 5% off coupon nor are they going to give you their SSN and mother’s maiden name just to be placed on your mailing list. In different industries, different benefits are more important to the user base. These benefits should cater to those users and should be used as selling points in a CTA.
For example, a site selling web services may benefit from using “easy” instead of “free” due to the perceived complexities of the internet for some users. Their CTA may read “Make SEO Easy!” and make the concept of search engine optimization less intimidating. Alternatively, a subscription service like Netflix offers a free trial for new customers so that users can see if they enjoy the service before paying, such as “Start My Free Trial”. This lowers the risks associated with their call to action and makes users more likely to sign up.
A website call to action can be a great way to sell someone a product or service with little hesitation on their part because of the minimized risk or convenience that is conveyed within the CTA.
Urgency and Importance
As mentioned previously, attention spans are limited online. A user who is on the fence about a website may choose to come back to it at another time, which increases the risk of a lost conversion. By instilling a sense of urgency in a website call to action, the chances of them waiting to interact are lowered.
If a user is expected to engage with a CTA, there needs to be a reason for them to do so. Often the prompt will require something from the user such as an E-mail address, payment information, or other type of information which some users may be hesitant to share. If it comes down to a risk-reward decision for them, the call to action needs to demonstrate the value of the offer so that they are more likely to comply.
What’s the Best CTA?
Now that the basis of what makes a call to action strong and how to use them effectively has been reviewed, here are some examples of call to action prompts that will point users in the right direction regardless of what the goal of the CTA is:
- Buy Now
- Get Help
- Register Now
- Sign Me Up
- Save Me Money
- Contact Us Today
- Start My Free Trial
- Try It For Free
- Read More
- Join The Team
As you can, CTAs aren’t just for contact pages. They are an effective way to engage visitors in all aspects of the website from landing pages to newsletters to web stores. To make a website as engaging and effective as possible, a heavy emphasis on strong and effective CTAs is more than just highly recommended - it’s a necessity.
Contact us today to learn more on how to effectively use CTAs on your website as well as how to properly incorporate them into your content.