Creating an Effective Call to Action (CTA)

October 6, 2017
Posted in Web Design
October 6, 2017 Eugene Volkov

…emails with just one CTA were found to have increased clicks 371% and sales 1,617%.

Every business knows how important it is to market effectively. From reaching out to followers on social media to creating a well-designed website that showcases the best of what your business has to offer, it’s clear that the more developed your marketing strategy, the better chance you have of growing your audience and drawing in customers. So why is it that so many business owners forget the most essential part of marketing — the call to action?

Although calls to action  may seem obvious — after all, you’d expect that a web post or sidebar would tell readers how to buy your product, right? — they’re commonly misunderstood, or not focused on as much as they should be. But there are obvious benefits — after one business changed its design to focus on relevant, well-placed CTAs, its conversion rate increased 22% quarter over quarter. And you can harness this power by thinking specifically about how to improve your calls to action and make them more appealing to users.

This guide will take you through the benefits of calls to action, some tips for designing and placing them, and how to evaluate how effective they are for your audience. Ultimately, the goal is to increase your own conversion rates and improve your business, simply by tweaking one aspect of your marketing.

The Purpose of the CTA

A call to action, or CTA, is the part of your marketing — whether in an email blast, Facebook post or online ad — that tells the viewer what they should do next. It often takes the form of a button that viewers can click to automatically take them to the next step, but it can also be a link or an instruction.

Often, CTAs direct people to go to your website and purchase your product; however, it can also be a call to share the post, tell others about your business or participate in a contest you’re putting on. That’s why business owners use CTAs for different purposes — to convince customers to sign up for a free trial, download a piece of further information or head to another of your social platforms.

So why are CTAs so important? To start, they’re incredibly effective — according to WordStream, emails with just one CTA were found to have increased clicks 371% and sales 1,617%. It works for social media, too — AdRoll reported that adding CTAs to your Facebook page can increase your click-through rate by 285%. Plus, it’s relatively easy to place your CTAs in a section of your content that readers will see; Unbounce found that more than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA.

Fun Statistics

Numerous research shows how effective CTAs are when done well — across all platforms, from social media to video to email marketing.

The location of the CTA, and the medium it’s presented in, is also crucial. Grow & Convert, which estimates conversion rates for certain CTA locations, and found that generic, end-of-ost CTAs and sidebars are the least effective, with the lowest conversion rates overall (0.5% to 1.5%). However, CTAs in pop-ups, sliders and bars, both had higher rates, while including a CTA at the welcome gates led to a whopping 10% to 25% conversions. Video is a particularly effective format, as research from KISSmetrics found that CTA in videos got 380% more clicks than in sidebars.

The appearance of your CTA matters, too. Statistics from SAP — which found that making their CTAs orange increased conversions by 32.5% — and Performable — which did the same for red CTAs and saw a 21% increase — speak to the effectiveness of bright, bold colors in getting the attention of readers. Another design technique is making CTAs look like buttons, which boosted clicks by 45% for one company. Finally, personalizing your CTAs is crucial, as HubSpot found that targeted CTAs lead to 42% more conversions than untargeted ones.

Is the CTA Placement Obvious?

It’s clear from the statistics above that the placement of your CTAs matters — a lot. But what techniques are effective, and what tips should you keep in mind when figuring out where to place CTAs?

The first rule of thumb is you should have no more than one CTA per page. The reason for this is that you want to keep your viewer’s attention focused on that particular CTA — so, for example, avoid telling them to share a video AND download a link AND buy a product, all in one location. This creates too many tasks for viewers to keep up with and usually just leads them to abandon your site altogether. Instead, keep it simple — give them one task to accomplish through one CTA.

Another clear principle is to make sure that your CTA is easy to find. As a Forbes article points out, your followers have to be able to see your CTA in order to click it, so make sure that it’s in a visible location and is in a color and style that does not blend into the background around it.

Design & Copy

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for designing CTAs:

  1. Create need-focused CTAs. You might want your customer to do something, but what’s in it for them? Base CTAs around what customers can gain from purchasing your product or doing what you direct them to do, and make sure your CTA displays that prominently.
  2. Get the customer to feel Instant gratification. Many businesses include “congratulations” pages that thank the user for downloading or purchasing their product — they can even play a cool video or send them a follow-up email. This kind of instant gratification, which activates the pleasure centers in the brain, helps customers feel like they made the right choice, and can lead them to click on other CTAs on your site.
  3. Keep it simple. Don’t create unnecessary complexity in your content or anxiety in the customer.
  4. Don’t use stock photos. Stick to simple images that feel unique; it makes the experience more authentic for customers.
  5. Don’t use common language. Phrases like “Download Now,” “Buy now,” “Learn more,” and “Subscribe” feel fake and contrived, and readers can smell them from a mile away. More than that, they just don’t inspire any kind of excitement or passion in the reader; instead, you should try to think of language that is unique to your company or hints at some of the rewards to come.
  6. Instill a sense of urgency. Language that implies your offer is time-sensitive or limited-time-only helps to convince viewers to follow the CTA more than they would if it was just an open invitation.
  7. Make them feel an urge to belong. Implying to viewers that they’re about to join thousands of others in doing what your CTA urges them to do helps them to feel like they’re part of a community, and encourages them to engage with your company.
  8. Inspire curiosity. It sounds simple, but your CTAs should make viewers actually want to click — and they’re never going to do that if they’re boring or uninspired. Try to make people who see your CTA click because they wonder what’s going to happen next or what the secret is that you haven’t revealed.
  9. Use social proof. Studies show that people tend to trust other consumers more than the companies themselves. That’s why social proof is so important — it’s anything that shows users what others think about your product. Incorporate it into the text around your CPAs so that viewers can feel like they’re making the right decision.

Five Examples of Awesome CTAs

  1. Spotify makes the CTA clearly visible, with a location in the center of the page and a green color that stands out.
  2. The same can be said of Misfit Wearables, which incorporates a simple but clearly visible button with text and visuals.
  3. Medium has two buttons, but it’s clear which one they want you to click because of the coloring.
  4. Basecamp’s CTA is personalized for the site, which mentions trying it out for free after some introductory copy and an arresting graphic.
  5. VelocityPage does some things right — like the bright colors for their buttons — but it breaks the one-CTA-per-page rule. How will viewers know which button to click? Limiting their CTAs may be more effective.

Testing Your CTAs

After you implement new CTAs, you’ll want to see what effect they’re actually having on conversion rates. The top two methods for testing CTAs include heat mapping and Google Analytics. The first tracks where users’ cursors travel around your site and where they linger the longest, which can help you understand if your CTA placement is effective. Google Analytics is helpful for tracking your conversion rates and seeing which links viewers click on the most.  

Let’s Get to work on your CTA

Designing CTAs is not an art, its a science – our gang at Productive Shop can help. With expertise in drawing visitors to your site and encouraging conversions, we have the tools and the know-how to help your business be the best it can be within your industry, let’s grab a cup of Joe to see how we can help.

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