Calls to Action (CTAs if you love acronyms) are one of the most important elements of any website (the same goes for email, sms, ads and much more). Its one of those elements where even the smallest of changes can produce considerable results. When was the last time you spent any time reviewing your CTAs? Does your site even have compelling Calls to Action? If you’re still reading this article past those two questions then I guess the answer to one or both of those is a big NO. So lets have a closer look at what CTAs are.
What is a Call to Action?
Essentially a CTA is an instruction to users with the aim to provoke an immediate response in the form of an action like clicking. On a website this can take the form of a banner, button, graphic or text encouraging the user to click. It is the start of the conversion funnel taking a user through to being a customer. The more important the action is the more time you should spend on the call.
How Do I Create a Good One?
Well its actually fairly simple, there are 3 distinct blocks you can build together into a great CTA.
Verb + Benefit + Time / Place = Great CTA
Always start with a verb. This is your action word: Win, Register, Download, Buy etc. The verb gets straight to the point. Now a line of text becomes a command.
The benefit is the part that lets the user know whats in it for them. The emphasis should be on the user. Sometimes the verb and benefit can be the same word, like upgrade. In “Download new version now” the benefit is the new version. If we take the following “Sign-up for our newsletter now” where do you see the benefit? Exactly. This CTA has no benefit for the user, if anything the benefit is the site gets more signups. “Get Weekly Offers by email” might be a better option as it clearly states the benefit of the action.
Time / place these two are interchangeable and should always be at the end. Time is a great way to increase clicks as it puts a limited timescale for the user to complete an action. “Download New App Now” or “Claim Free Voucher Today” This encourages the user to complete the action, who knows maybe tomorrow the free voucher will not be available anymore. Psychology! Place is the option. “Share This” or “Start Here” but NEVER “Click Here to….” I can’t state that strongly enough. Users know what a link or button does, we don’t need to tell them that it can be clicked. If you need to tell a user that something is clickable then you need to start again. So never “Click here to buy” when “Buy Now” would work much better.
The shorter you can make your CTAs the better, remember that buttons by there nature offer only limited space for text. It goes without saying that you should be using short, simple words that are in everyday use for your audience, and not long complex ones.
I’ve Crafted My Great CTA Text, What Now?
Its important to stay focused with your Calls to Action, too many on one page for different things will most likely mean users won’t click any of them no matter how good they are. Too many require the user to think and as supermarkets have learnt when they stock to many varieties of a product customers become less inclined to buy when faced with too much choice. Who would have thought choice isn’t actually something that drives customers.
So Resist the urge to splash CTAs around your page and instead think about position and contrast.
Position is just as important as a good text, why? Well even the most compelling CTA is nothing if the user does not see it. The best places are generally Top left, Centre, Top right. You would really want to tune position using A/B testing but in the short it needs to be above the fold(ie no scrolling), I have seen far to many sites with CTAs at the bottom of a page.
When I talk about contrast I basically mean making your CTA standout from the rest of the page, it needs to really draw the eye. This can be achieved with two simple visual tricks. The first is the use of white-space. Having white-space around your CTA is a great understated way of drawing the eye to it, it removes it from the clutter of the rest of the page. The second is using alternative colour, make sure your calls are all a distinct colour from the rest of the page. You will notice many of the large successful eCommerce sites tend to use a muted colour design and then Orange coloured buttons for Calls to Action.
Hopefully this will give you a good basis to create great Calls to Action for your site. Remember keep A/B testing until you get the most effective combination of words, colours and placement.