Ever Wonder How To Effectively Use Calls To Action (CTAs)?
A call to action, or CTA, is an effective way to lead your website visitors to the next step on their journey with you.
Maybe that’s getting on your email list, requesting a demo, learning more about your offerings, or something else entirely.
But, calls to action are only effective if done right!
To help you out, we’ve written a beginner’s guide to show you call to action examples for websites, and explain some best practices to make your calls to action stand out and work for you!
First: What Is A Call To Action, Anyway?
A CTA is an instruction you provide to your reader that tells them what to do next.
It could be something as simple as asking them to follow you on social media, or as intense as buying your product.
Generally, we see CTAs show up as buttons on a web page.
Ideally, you want to have clear calls to action on most pages on your website. This will encourage site visitors to keep exploring your brand, rather than leaving your site.
Things You Can Do With Calls To Action
So, maybe you want to add some CTAs to your website, but you aren’t sure exactly what they should be.
Here’s my tip: think of the ultimate thing you want your visitors to do. The big thing that’s going to make you money. This is going to be your ultimate CTA, because it leads to a conversion.
However, it’s not always going to be appropriate to use that as your CTA, because a conversion requires a certain level of commitment from your website visitor.
Think of it this way: most people aren’t going to land on your homepage, click a “BUY NOW” CTA button, and turn into a customer. The journey that most people take isn’t going to be that short or straightforward.
Therefore, hitting website visitors with “BUY NOW” CTA buttons every time they turn around isn’t helpful. It’s spammy and overly sales-y.
So, make sure you have other CTAs on your website that don’t require quite as much commitment.
This way, you will be able to reach people at more stages of their customer journey.
If you’re a photographer, your ultimate goal is likely getting people to book your services.
Your ultimate, “end-game” CTA is going to be something like “Book your session now!”
However, as this isn’t appropriate for every page, and every section on your website, you also will have CTAs throughout your website that are related to getting visitors to book their session, like “view our portfolio” or “check out our packages & pricing”.
Here are some more ideas you can use for your CTAs:
- Get them to join your email marketing list
- Offer them a coupon code
- Tell them to share or follow on social media
- Encourage them to learn more or view a demo
- Have them start a free trial
Best Practice #1: Lay The Groundwork First
You can’t just throw a “BUY MY PRODUCT NOW!” CTA on your website and expect people to do what you say. You have to establish trust first. You know this, ‘cuz we just discussed this.
In addition to using the right CTA in the right place, make sure whatever page/section you are putting your CTA on has enough background information so the CTA you’re using actually makes sense.
This includes giving people more info on what they’re getting into by clicking on your CTA, so describe the benefits. If you’re offering a free trial, for example, let them know that there’s no commitment and they can cancel anytime. Netflix does this well:
So, make sure whatever page you’re putting your CTA on has enough background information so people are encouraged to do what you say. This includes giving people more info on what they’re getting into by clicking on your CTA, so describe the benefits. If you’re offering a free trial, for example, let them know that there’s no commitment and they can cancel anytime. Netflix does this well:
As a general rule of thumb, the more commitment your CTA requires, the more detail you will want to include.
Best Practice #2: Make It Action Oriented
You want your visitors to do something, right? Then you’ve gotta make your CTA action oriented. You basically want to punch them in the face with something they should do. You know….kinda like this:
Okay, maybe not quite that violent, but you get the idea. Start off your CTA with an action word, like any of these:
Notice how “click” is not on that list? That’s right. Please don’t use “click here for ______” as your CTA. It’s not inspiring.
Best Practice #3: Consider Creating A Sense Of Urgency
You want to inspire your visitors to take action now, not five years from now (aka never). So you may try to create a sense of urgency with words like:
- Limited time only
- Don’t wait
Personally – I think a little goes a long way with these words. Only use them if they feel right. If it reads too much like a late-night informercial, reconsider!
Best Practice #4: Make It About THEM
When you’re writing your CTA, pretend you’re the user. Think from their point of view.
Instead of having the CTA read “download (brand name)’s free marketing plan,” change it to “download your free marketing plan.”
Some studies have shown that just making this change has resulted in a 90% increase in click-through rate. Cool, huh?
Best Practice #5: Make It Easy To Find
Don’t make people hunt for your CTA or what to do next. Your CTA should be obvious. Put it in an obvious location where users are going to look next. Make it big and bold and in a contrasting color. Apple is notoriously bad at this:
bad or missing CTA….where am I supposed to click next?
If you have multiple calls to action on one page, make sure your main CTA stands out by making it larger and more prominent.
Best Practice #6: Don’t Have Too Many CTAs
Contrary to what you might have heard, “buttons everywhere” is not a good approach.
Why? Too many buttons results in your website visitors getting overwhelmed.
When you have 3, 4, 5, or more CTAs all in one area, they’re all competing for attention.
The end result is the opposite of what is intended: NONE of them stand out.
Best Practice #7: Commit To Trial & Error
Try different CTA variations and see what works best for you.
Test out different copy/wording, sizing, color, and placement.
If you’re adding CTAs to your email marketing, you can set up split testing (also called A/B testing) campaigns where you actually send out two variations of the same email and see what works best. Play around with it and see what works best for you!