Simply getting visitors onto your website will not grow your business. Getting visitors to willingly follow a specific path on your website, however, will grow your business. These paths are created through specific offers and direction you provide to visitors on your site, known as calls to action. Calls to action will turn your website into an active marketing asset instead of a static placeholder.
Every business owner should be leveraging calls to action to collect visitors’ contact information in exchange for a valuable offer. Whether your free marketing offer is to get visitors to sign up for a free consultation or to download a white paper, a call to action button is how your visitors will know what action to take next. But what exactly is a call to action? How can you create one? Where would you place a call to action? In this post, we’ll answer all your questions about calls to action and arm you with the best practices on how to create a compelling call to action for your business.
What is a Call to Action?
A call to action is either text or image (usually a button) that directs your audience to take a specific and immediate action. For example, you’ve probably seen hyperlinked text or buttons with simple and direct phrases like “Get a Free Quote Now” or “Download Our Free Guide” on numerous websites before. Below is an example of a call t0 action for a free auto insurance quote.
Why Do You Need a Call to Action?
There are three reasons why you need a call to action on your website.
1. Calls to Action Provide Direction
A call to action provides your visitors with direction. After landing on your website and reading the information you have provided, what’s next? A clear call to action gives visitors certainty on what their next step is, and prevents them from having to make decisions which can lead to disengagement. A call to action is also an opportunity to reinforce the value that your business provides.
2. Calls to Action Offer Functionality
Many small business websites are static and have limited functionality. There’s written content on the site about your business but not enough information to help you complete a sale. Adding a call to action to a static website increases its functionality and converts your site into a strategic marketing asset.
3. Calls to Action Build Contact Lists
Since a call to action captures anonymous visitors’ key contact information, you’re automatically growing a list of potential customers just by adding a button and form to your site.
How to Make an Effective Call to Action
An effective call to action is made up of three main components: an offer, a button, and a landing page
The call to action should include an offer that is attractive to your target market. In the example below, H&M offers 20% off and free shipping for an item, in exchange for signing up for their newsletter.
Next, the offer should be tied to a call to action button. The button should be close in proximity to the offer being made, but not close to other buttons on the page that may compete with the call to action button or confuse the reader. You want them to feel as though their path is crystal clear, without any questions or decisions. Use color and size to make the button stand out, but not so much so that it detracts from other important elements of the page or distracts the reader. Netflix does a great job simplifying the path for their visitors:
The button should also include text that makes it very clear to the reader what this button will do. For example, phrases like “Download”, “Start now”, or “Sign me up!” are okay, but a bit too general. Be more specific such as with “Download the ebook”, “Start a free trial”, or “Sign up for the webinar”. Again, do as much as you can to provide the reader with clarity on where they are going, what they’re doing, and why they are doing it, at all times. The below is call to action button on the Startup Institute website doesn’t just say “download”, but rather tells you exactly what you’re downloading:
3. Landing Page
Lastly, the call to action button is linked to a landing page or form where you can capture your visitor’s contact information in exchange for your marketing offer. For example, when visitors click on our “Get a Demo” call to action button below…
...they are directed to this effective landing page, where there is a form aligned to our offer:
Your website should have at least one call to action that is aligned with one of your marketing goals. For instance, if your current marketing goal is to grow your email subscriber list, your call to action could potentially be to sign up for your email newsletter or blog. You could also offer prospects a special first time shopper’s discount in exchange for their email address. The Appcues website prompts visitors to subscribe to their blog with a “Get on the list” call to action, and a clear picture of what a subscription entails.
Important Elements of an Irresistible Call to Action
Think of a call to action as the sales pitch or special offer that you’re going to make to your visitors. It should be targeted to their interests, should include a clear set of benefits, and of course it should encourage them to take action. Business owners often struggle to create effective calls to action, as they worry that they might appear pushy and turn potential customers away. The key is to focus on making a relevant offer that is clear and beneficial to the customer. If your call to action appeals to your audience, they’ll be more likely to exchange their contact information for your marketing offer. To help you craft an irresistible call to action, we have a few tips to share with you.
1. Explain Benefits Clearly
A great call to action identifies the visitor’s problem and offers a distinct solution. First, consider your visitors’ needs and problems and come up with an offer that directly addresses them. Use specific language that outlines the perceived needs, as this lays the groundwork for a sales offer and puts your visitor in the right mindset to consider taking action. Next, identify your product or service as the solution they’re looking for and explain how and why it will solve your visitors’ problems. List the benefits, making it clear how each one helps your customer. Once again, you don’t want to just be clarifying to the visitor where you’re taking them or what you’re giving them, you want to clarify why.
2. Include a Single, Direct Action
After you’ve outlined your offer and the way it helps your customer, call for him or her to take a single, direct action. This should take the form of a command statement that uses an action verb and urgent language..
Examples of action verbs for calls to action are:
To create a sense of urgency, combine your verb with words and phrases like:
-For a short time
-Limited time only
Many websites contain multiple objectives, which is to be expected with a variety of products and services, and different audience segments. Multiple objectives are okay, as long as you do not put several calls to action on the same page. If you give too many options at once, visitors are likely to get distracted or overwhelmed and ultimately leave your website without making any choices.
If you do have multiple objectives, include the options on different pages, so that the different paths you’re creating different visitors do not cross.
3. Place the Call to Action in the Right Place
Make sure your call to action is in the right place on the page. Generally, it should be listed near the top of the page so that your audience won’t need to scroll down to see it. Ideally, center it at the top as the reader’s eye will automatically go to it. Surrounding the call to action with white or empty space will also help it to stand out form other elements on the page and catch the reader’s eye.
4. Make Your Call to Action Eye-Catching
Be sure that the call to action is designed with an eye-catching color or graphic. Use bright colors to emphasize your text, but avoid using tacky fonts or flashing images that remind people of early Internet ads. Contrasting colors can also help your message stand out. For example, red on blue is difficult to read, while yellow on blue is much easier on the eyes. In most cases, you should also make the call to action fairly large. Your prospective customers will feel drawn to a large, well-placed button with a clear call to action.
5. Make Your Offer Multiple Times
While you don’t want to bombard your readers with sales pitches and blinking “buy now!” buttons, don’t be afraid to make a good offer multiple times. Try putting your call to action on several different pages of your website or integrate it within your sidebar. If you’re writing a blog post announcing your product, include a call to action near the top of the page and again at the bottom. The first call to action will prepare readers for the offer. By the time they’ve reached the end of the page, they’ll be ready to take action and fill out a form. As long as your call to action graphics are well designed and easy on the eyes, it is okay to place it in multiple locations.
Types and Examples of Calls to Action
The first step to creating a call to action is figuring out what type of call to action to set up on your website. There’s a wide range of call to actions, from directing your visitors to follow you on social media to getting them to sign up for a free trial of your product. Below are a few examples of the types of calls to action businesses use on their websites:
Content Download Call to Action
Social Sharing Call to Action
Contact Us Call to Action
Book an Appointment Call to Action
View Testimonials Call to Action
How to Create Your Own Call to Action Button
Now that you know what goes into an effective call to action, it’s time to create one. You can design buttons on your own using this CTA optimizer. This free online tool will allow you to create a call to action button for download as a PNG file or an embedded HTML code. For guidance and pointers on how to use this free tool, be sure to read our review on the CTA optimizer.