In digital marketing, the first step of the lead generation process is typically triggered by a CTA (call-to-action).
CTAs encourages visitors of your website to take action, such as completing a form, subscribing to an email list, or buying a product.
All revenue, conversions, and profit for your online business are dependent on the all-important CTA (Calls to Action).
A powerful CTA is so essential to the success of any online business that it is arguably the most critical portion of your online business.
Whether it’s for your website, online store, or your emails – if your conversion rate is doing poorly, it’s likely that something is wrong with your CTA and it needs to be tweaked and optimised.
This article will take a closer look at CTAs and how can you use it to give your online business a boost.
What is a CTA?
Your call to action (CTA) is where you motivate your audience to take real steps toward becoming a customer or client.
It can be the tipping point between a lead and a conversion. Most marketers agree that the call to action is the most essential part of your site or ad campaign, and skipping the CTA is a grave mistake that won’t bode well for your business.
Here’s a list of some of the most common types of CTAs:
- Buy buttons/“Add to cart”
- Sign up forms
- Email subscription field
- “Read More”
- “Try it Now.”
- Social media share buttons (Tweet this, Share on Facebook, etc.)
- “Chat with us” (online help chat)
You can find CTAs in almost every website in the world. A blog has a link that tells you to “Read more.”
You can find CTAs in emails (to tell you to follow a link), on web stores (“Add to Cart”) and banner ads.
Posting CTAs throughout your website is an excellent way to attract more conversions. In fact, if you visit Amazon, the homepage is made entirely of CTAs.
Why are CTAs so Important?
1. They Keep Your Sales Funnel Moving.
CTAs and sales funnels are like pancakes and maple syrup. They go hand in hand with one another.
CTAs are the bridges that link between the phases of the buyer’s journey. They tell the user on what to do next, prompting them to take immediate action.
Whether you want your user to check out your Youtube videos, give you their email address, or sign up for a free consultation, without a CTA all these actions are impossible to achieve.
With a clearly defined CTA, you’ve given your buyers the easiest route to the next step.
In fact, buyers are conditioned to seek out and use the CTAs. Your role as a business is to ensure a smooth buying process by giving buyers what they want.
2. Customers Want Them
CTAs aren’t just important for business – customers want and expect them.
Most users depend on the CTAs to bring them towards the next step. They’ve read your message, are interested in engaging with your brand, and look for the CTA button to learn what to do next.
Without a visible CTA, visitors get confused, and this can affect your chances of sealing the conversion.
There are certain situations when you want your CTA to be predictable. Predictability makes your business more trustworthy and speeds up the process.
The CTA is one aspect where it can be rewarding to be as predictable and intuitive especially when you wish to build up trust.
Strong calls to action on social media, websites, the end of videos, copy messaging, digital advertising, and elsewhere are expected parts of the campaign.
3. They Increase the Success of Online Ads
The call to action is the missing key that amplifies the power of a digital ad copy. Without the right CTA, your copy messaging will fall flat.
CTAs are also crucial in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Placing a call to action to your PPC campaign will help you convey the intent of the campaign clearly to your target audience.
Many times, you only have just one chance to make a good first impression on your audience.
With PPC ads and other forms of digital advertising, you can ill afford to waste any time with the audience’s attention span.
Sometimes the smallest missed opportunities can lead customers to pass over your brand in favour of your competitors.
Therefore you should place heavy emphasis on a strong, inspiring call to action, and make the CTA the main focal point of your ad creative. Otherwise, you may risk having your campaign falling on deaf ears. This isn’t a risk most small businesses can’t afford to take.
What’s inside a CTA?
A CTA is meant to attract a user to take a specific action that brings them closer to a conversion. And that’s why you need to tweak your CTA to become as compelling and as creative as it can possibly be.
There are three key features to a CTA:
- Where it is located(Placement).
- How it looks like (Design).
- What it says (Copy or Text).
For your CTAs to work, two things have to happen. Firstly, your audience has to be able to spot them easily. Second, they must instantly know what happens when they interact with it.
That means, for a CTA to be successful, it has to be placed correctly and designed perfectly. For the users to know what to do, the text on the CTA must be unambiguous and compelling.
There are 3 ways you can place your CTAs:
Have multiple CTAs– Contrary to popular belief, you should have more than 1 CTAs on a page.
The reason is that users nowadays tend to scan and skim web pages. If you have only 1 CTA, they can easily miss it, unless it is very prominently featured.
Therefore, the more CTAs you place on a page, the higher the chances that the user converts at any point, whether he is at the top, middle or the bottom of the page.
But take note that CTAs on a page do not conflict with one another. Make sure you don’t cause any confusion for the user. When there are too many options, choice paralysis can set in cause the user to make no choice at all.
Have CTAs on every page- You’ll want to give users the opportunity to convert whenever they feel like. Instead of second-guessing whether they are ready to convert or not, you should just go ahead and place your CTA on your pages.
For your website, having a floating CTA button on top of your website title bar will let you have a CTA across all your pages.
Make CTAs visible –Having your CTAs in strategic positions can garner maximum visual attention and focus from your users. To understand where are the strategic locations on your page, you need to know how website user scans a page.
Beginning from the top-left corner, a user typically makes two glances across the page horizontally from left to right, then looks (and/or scrolls) vertically downwards on the left side.
That means for websites in general, the top portion and the left side of your page are the prime CTA real estate. And you should place CTAs in headers, side-panels and at the end of the page or article.
Designing the CTA
A good design amplifies the CTA. When it comes to design, you may get carried away and end up with something that does not serve its main purpose, and instead just sits there and look good.
To ensure that doesn’t happen, your CTAs should be designed to be:
Recognisable- Your CTA should be instantly identifiable as something that users are meant to click on. Don’t let the design cloud the message, such as using a fancy font type that is hard to read.
Well-Defined- A CTA should be part of the page but stands out from the main body of text.
Use attention-grabbing elements, such as a strong outline, drop shadow, or contrasting colours to give CTA a clear definition from the rest of the text.
If you are going for a clean design for your website (which you should), you can also make use of white space to draw attention to your CTA.
White space around your CTA creates “breathing room” around it, which helps to bring definition and adds to its appeal.
Striking- Your CTA has to be able to call out loudly to the user. The easiest way to do so is to use strong contrasting colours that makes the CTA stand out from the page.
To talk about the ideal CTA button colour is impossible because such a thing doesn’t exist.
Most businesses test a variety of colours to find out which colour works the best for them. Sometimes it’s orange CTA. Sometimes it’s yellow CTA. Sometimes it’s green CTA and so on.
The key is to just choose highly contrasting colours, to make sure that your CTA stands out on your website page while making sure it goes with the flow of the website and doesn’t jar the user’s eye.
Appealing –When all design elements such as colours, images and typeface play well together, your CTA’s look should draw people to it.
Square-shaped buttons or square buttons with rounded corners are the most common shapes for CTA buttons. As it turns out, there is some actual psychological reasoning behind this.
According to neuro-aesthetics research, rounded corners draw people’s attention towards the center of the button; whereas sharp edges draw attention away from the center.
Writing the Copy
The text that you write plays one of the most crucial roles in a successful CTA. You can have a poor design or placement. But without any text, your CTA is dead in the water.
The rule of thumb here is just to keep the text short. Nowadays, nobody has the time to read long chunks of copy. Having a short text helps you to get your message across in the least time possible.
In order to compel a website visitor to act, the text in your CTA must:
Be clear -Your CTA must have an obvious thrust. The user needs to know what is going to happen if he or she clicks on your CTA. Similarly, your CTA must match what the user anticipates (such as the landing page).
For example, if a visitor is reading about a free guidebook that you’re offering, then the CTA should make it crystal clear that they are getting a guidebook for free if they click on the button.
If you are selling jackets, the CTA needs to let users know that if they click through, they can buy your jackets.
You should avoid any ambiguity or subtlety. That means no surprises, word puns, euphemism, or double entendre.
For example, some CTA buttons, use the word “Next.” It doesn’t tell the user much about what happens after the click action.
While traditional words like “Buy,” “Submit” and “Download” are easily identified, they are ambiguous when used alone.
Adding a couple more words such as “Download the Report,” “Submit Form,” or “Buy Now” will give the CTA zero room for ambiguity.
Communicate value –When you are asking users to act on your CTA, you are telling them to take a leap of faith.
Therefore you have to make them understand, why they should do it, and that they’ll get something of value in return.
For any action to happen online is an investment of time and effort for the user. Therefore the ROI must be apparent.
Ask yourself: “What’s in it for the user? Why should give you the time of their day?” Answer those questions in your CTA.
Are they getting a free sample? A welcome bonus discount? Or a weekly email newsletter? Make sure you tell your audience about it.
Your CTA text doesn’ have to be squeezed onto the “Buy” button. A short blurb or a small list of bullet points at the top of the button can help you deliver your value proposition just as well.
Provide assurance.Building trust is a big part of any online business and is the key to conversion. Sending the right trust signals is critical in landing pages and in CTAs.
Sometimes, with a few simple keywords, you can instil trust in your users. For example, a typical “Free Trial” CTA adds a layer of trust simply by telling users that “No credit card is required.”
All of your website’s power boils down to a fine point in your CTA. Because at the end of the day, the user’s action is what it’s all about.
Once you’ve understood the basics of what a CTA is, its function, goal, and proper content and usage, then you can create compelling CTAs that improve conversion.
CTAs are a vital tool to guide prospects through the buyer’s journey, taking them from “prospect” to “lead” to “customer.”
They are essential in helping you push visitors deeper into your website, encouraging them to engage with all of the valuable content you’ve created.
And this will ultimately help them make those crucial buying decisions.
So remember, don’t sleep on CTAs, because they are the critical first step to generating leads for your business.
About Murray Dare
A digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur,
Murray runs his marketing agency Murraydare.co.uk and several online startups.
Murray has helped startups and businesses achieve online success through a considered approach to marketing.