Why Your Website CTA Is More Important Than You Think

Categories
Conversion Rate Optimization, User Experience, Web Design

A website without a call to action is like a recipe without instructions.

Enticing language, mouth-watering photos, and a list of ingredients may excite someone to whip up a delicious meal. But if you don’t instruct them on the actual steps to follow, they’ll be left hungry and confused. 

The same can be said for a call to action (CTA) on your website. If you want your visitors to do anything on your site, you need a clear and compelling call to action.

In this blog, you’ll learn the importance of website CTAs, the most common types, and how you can optimize your CTAs to improve conversions.

Website CTAs Defined

A website call to action (CTA) is some form of text, banner, button, image, or other element that instructs and persuades a website visitor to take immediate action. It is typically the next step you want your audience to take on a web page. 

Just as the goal of effective marketing is to reach the right customer at the right time, the goal of a CTA is to prompt your reader to take action at the right moment on the right page. They need to be well written, well placed, and well designed in order to be successful and push customers from the consideration stage into the decision-making stage.

The Importance Of CTAs

Let’s revisit the recipe analogy above. 

If someone has all the ingredients your recipe requires but no instructions on what to do with them, are they still going to cook the recipe? 

No. If you’re lucky, they’ll still give it a shot and end up with something edible. More than likely, though, they’ll go find another recipe – one that does guide them through the process.

Your website exists to drive conversions, and the one thing that all high-converting websites have in common is an effective CTA. Depending on your industry and business goals, a conversion could be many different things – an online sale, a request for a quote, an email subscription, etc. 

Because there are so many different actions that can be taken on a website, you must guide your website visitors directly to the specific action you want them to take. Otherwise, they have to guess, which can frustrate your potential customers and drive them straight to competing websites. 

Ethical And Moral Implications Behind CTAs

Anytime you’re creating content designed to persuade humans to do something, it’s important to keep in mind the ethical and moral consequences that can come from dishonest, exaggerated, or otherwise misleading language. 

Essentially, it’s about respecting the autonomy of users by providing them with honest information, allowing them to make informed decisions without feeling misled.

Being clear and transparent about what users can expect from taking a specific action is paramount. This transparency prevents any potential harm that may arise from unclear or deceptive CTAs. 

Benefits Of CTAs

Supports Lead Generation

Like any new product or service, people have a better chance of knowing what to do with a set of instructions. A great CTA serves that exact function in supporting tangible results. 

It’s not enough to provide information. Giving people direction to take action on that information is the next piece of the equation to convert them into actual leads. 

Strategically giving your audience what they need to know and then encouraging follow-through empowers them to make decisions and bridges the gap between prospects and functional leads.

Supports Sales and Revenue

CTAs drive users to make purchases, contributing directly to sales growth. According to BNP Engage, implementing well-placed and relevant CTAs on your website can increase revenue by up to 83%

In many cases, a CTA is only the first step toward increasing sales and revenue for your organization. CTAs are highly effective for capturing user information, so even when users don’t make immediate purchases, their contact form submissions and email subscriptions provide valuable opportunities for future conversion. 

Provides Guidance to Visitors

Think of CTAs like helpful road signs for a tourist in a city they’ve never been to before. The better they can understand where they should be going and how to get there, the more likely they will be able to arrive at the intended destination. 

Prompts User Engagement

By directly addressing the user’s intent, CTAs prompt specific actions and interactions, ranging from clicking to learn more to making a purchase. 

A quality CTA can also boost customer engagement beyond your website. According to Digital Oasis, customers are 16x more likely to share their purchase on social media if you include a CTA button on your post-purchase page.

Boosts Conversion Rates

A strategically crafted CTA is a great way to drive conversion rates. Keep reading to learn about best practices for CTA text, placement, size, shape, and color. 

Reduces Bounce Rates

Call-to-actions (CTAs) play a crucial role in reducing bounce rates by providing users with clear directives and engaging prompts. 

Quality CTAs contribute to a more intuitive user experience, directing users to relevant sections and fostering a sense of progression through the site. 

By capturing user interest and encouraging interaction, CTAs entice visitors to stay on the website longer, thus mitigating bounce rates. 

10 Examples Of Website Calls To Action 

CTAs are essential in telling your readers or site visitors what to do next. The call to action can be different depending on the type of website and your desired action.

Here are a few examples of common CTAs.

  1. Learn More – Use this one when you want your visitor to keep reading or learning about your product, service, or offer.

    learn more cta button example 
  1. Shop Now – Often used on e-commerce sites to instruct visitors to start shopping or browse a product collection.

    shop now button cta
  1. Subscribe – This action verb is commonly used in pop-ups and in website footers to get users to subscribe to email newsletters.

    subscribe website cta
  2. Book Now – For services, classes, trips, and events with scheduled times, this is great to have as a call to action button

    book now website call to action
  1. Get in Touch – This is the text you should use for your contact form. It’s much better than a button that just says “Submit”.

    get in touch website cta
  1. Download Now – For additional content, downloadable guides, and unique resources, this is the CTA you’ll want.

    download now website call to action banner
  1. Get Started – One of the most common CTAs, this one can be used for just about anything, prompting users to take action.

    get started website cta
  1. Sign Up – Commonly used with subscription-based services, this CTA is great for events, courses, and free trials.

    sign up for marketing tips website call to action|
  2. Try for Free – Some of the best CTAs contain the word “free”. If you’re able to offer a free trial, this button text can give your conversions a big boost.

    try for free website call to action
  1. Join us – This is a great action word to get people involved in an event, to be a part of a group, or to join your online community.

    join us website cta banner

CTA Placement

Just as a business has more than one goal, websites typically have more than one CTA. Each type of CTA holds a different level of importance.

  • Primary CTAs prompt the ultimate goal a company wants to receive from a website visitor. In the case of an e-commerce site, this would be something like “Buy Now”. For an event venue, it might be “Book a consultation”. You get the idea.
  • Secondary CTAs give the user an opportunity for a conversion beyond the #1 goal. For example, maybe that user isn’t in the mindset to make an immediate purchase. By offering an alternative, less committal CTA, such as “Subscribe to our email list” or “Get in touch”, you can meet that user at the lifecycle stage they’re at and still capture them as a lead for future nurturing efforts. 

Where you place your primary and secondary CTAs is almost as important as what you say in them. There’s a fine line between nudging users to take the next step and bothering them to do so. 

If your call to action copy is compelling and users see the value in your offer, they will take the next step. But shoving a pop-up in their face and asking them to give you their email address is just going to annoy them, especially if it’s their first time on your website and they’ve only been there a few seconds.

While there is no single best placement for a call to action, there are some best practices. When designing your website, map out how a potential customer will flow through your content and pages. This can help you figure out where the best place to put your CTAs is to maximize the probability of success. 

Ultimately, A/B testing your call to action phrase is the best way to find what works and can be great for trying out different CTA copy, shapes, colors, fonts, and placements.

CTA Buttons

Button CTAs can go just about anywhere. Buttons work best when there is an attractive offer around the button that leads users to want to click it. It’s best to educate your readers or offer something of value just before asking them to click a button.

The goal of the below CTA copy is to make the user curious enough about what lies behind the button to want to click it to visit the next page.

digital marketing cta button

CTA Banners

Call to action banners have many of the same design principles as buttons. The main differences between a call to action button and banner are the size and placement. CTA banners are usually placed at the bottom or top of a landing page and span the full width of the page.

Website banners are excellent for calling out news, updates, notices, sales, or promotions. For example, it’s common to see a banner at the top of e-commerce websites offering “free shipping.” 

free shipping cta banner

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was common to see banners outlining a business’s response to the virus, with companies adding a small notice to the top of the landing page, linking to their response.

covid-19 website cta banner 

For conversion purposes, CTA banners are a useful tool for grabbing the attention of the reader, offering them a unique value proposition, and incentivizing them to take the next step.

Anchor Text CTAs

Anchor text CTAs are often overlooked in favor of big, flashy, button and banner CTAs. However, they can actually be more effective at drawing clicks out of viewers. This is because anchor text CTAs take advantage of a phenomenon known as Banner Blindness.

Banner Blindness occurs when users are so accustomed to seeing banners and pop-ups telling them where to click that they eventually grow immune to them. Customers are so used to seeing and ignoring ads that banner CTAs can often look like them. As a result, they tend to ignore them.

Anchor text solves this problem by using regular text to call a user to action. The fact that they blend in well with the text may be the reason they are so effective. HubSpot found that between 47% and 93% of all their blog post leads came from anchor text CTAs. 

For blog pages in particular, including text with a hyperlink is a great way to send readers to another landing page to view more content, download a useful resource, or get in contact with a company. 

Here are 3 examples of anchor text CTAs for our digital marketing checklist:

Including anchor text CTAs throughout your blog post, particularly towards the top and right at the end, is the best way to utilize this strategy.

It’s best to include the CTA immediately after teaching your reader about something. Hit them with some valuable information, then offer them a resource to learn more about that topic.

Include an anchor text CTA about 150-200 words into your blog post, then include a similar CTA at the bottom. For some readers your intro may be enough for them to click, for others, they’ll want to read the entirety of the blog before taking more action.

Effective CTA Design

While there is no one-size-fits-all for CTA design, the most effective designs leverage human psychology. 

Here are a few tips for designing CTAs that will stand out in the right way:

Consistency

The design of your CTAs depends on the design of your website. Usually, you want a consistent CTA design across your site. The color, size, shape, button text, and placement all need to be considered and work well together.

Size

In terms of CTA size, the most important consideration is making it large enough to be easily viewable on all devices, particularly mobile. 

That said, bigger isn’t always better. While you want it to stand out, your CTA should still be proportionate to its surroundings. 

White Space

By adding some white space around your CTA, you can help draw attention to it without it needing to be obnoxiously large to be noticed. 

As a bonus, white space also helps avoid visual clutter, which is a key part of having a clean, uncluttered web design

An experiment by Open Mile resulted in an incredible 232% increase in conversions after removing clutter from their landing page and adding white space around their CTA.

Shape

Opt for a shape that distinguishes the CTA from surrounding elements. Common shapes include rectangles, rounded rectangles, and circles.

Among these, rounded rectangles are especially popular. This is for a few reasons:

  • Curved edges point inward towards the CTA copy, whereas straight edges point outward towards the rest of the page content.
  • Rounded shapes take brainpower to process.
  • Humans instinctively prefer to avoid pointy things.

Color

Color psychology is used in marketing all the time because it’s proven to affect how consumers make decisions. There’s a reason so many fast food restaurants have red logos – because red is known for increasing hunger and attracting attention. 

To leverage color psychology on your website, consider using colors that will evoke emotion:

Contrast

  • Red evokes passion, excitement, and urgency.
  • Orange encourages immediate action.
  • Yellow grabs attention and is optimistic.
  • Green means “go” and is easy for our brains to process.
  • Blue creates trust and sense of security.
  • Purple is calming and soothing.
  • Pink is romantic and seen as feminine.
  • Black is sleek and used for luxury.

Even more important than your CTA color is how it contrasts with the rest of the page. You want your design to stand out without clashing. For example, a blue background with red buttons is just too much for our human eyes. If you’re not an artist, don’t worry. Color pallet generators are great for finding contrasting colors within the same palette. 

A/B Testing CTAs

As we’ve discussed, there are a lot of possibilities when it comes to CTA text, placement, and design. With so many options and so few sure-fire strategies to rely on, it can be a huge undertaking to determine what CTA variation will convert best on your website. The solution to this conundrum is A/B testing.

Also known as “split testing”, A/B testing involves conducting an experiment, or a series of experiments, to compare two or more variations of a CTA , the goal being to determine which variation performs better in achieving a specific goal.

Here are high-level instructions for conducting such tests:

  1. Determine the KPIs you want to measure – This will probably align with the overall goal of the CTA. Examples include newsletter subscriptions, purchases, or an increased click through rate (CTR) to the landing page the CTA directs to. 
  2. Create the variations – Choose the CTA you want to test. This is your “A version”. Now create a version of that design with a single element changed. This could be a different color, font, message, or something else. The alternate version of the CTA is your “B version”.
  1. Split your audience – Use a random assignment method to ensure that users are assigned to the different variations randomly upon landing on your site. This helps eliminate bias, protect the integrity of the test, and ensure that each group is representative of the overall audience.
  2. Run the test – Test both versions of your CTA simultaneously to account for potential external factors that could influence results. To ensure you collect a large enough sample, it’s recommended to run your test for at least one month. 
  3. Evaluate the results – Analyze the data collected during the test to determine which variation your users were most responsive to.
  4. Implement changes – Implement the successful changes identified through the A/B test. Ensure that these changes align with the overarching goals and enhance the overall user experience.
  5. Iterate and repeat – A/B testing is an ongoing process. Based on insights gained, continue refining and testing different CTA elements to continually optimize performance.

If this process sounds complicated, it’s because it certainly can be. Luckily, you’re not on your own when it comes to A/B testing. Optimizely and VWO are just a couple of the many A/B testing tools available. 

Additionally, this free guide offered by Hubspot and Kissmetrics is perfect for businesses new to A/B testing or for companies in need of a method for tracking their existing tests. 

Are Your CTAs Optimized? Let’s Find Out.

If you’ve read the entirety of this blog and are looking to take action, there are a few ways you can do so. Reach out to us if you need help improving your web conversions, learn more about our Web Design, SEO, and PPC services, or read some related content here:

About the Author

Nick Footer

Nick Footer is an entrepreneur and founder of Intuitive Digital, a national award-winning digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. With over 15 years of experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses improve their online presence through search engine optimization, paid advertising, and website design.

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