You'll find at least one Call To Action (CTA) on almost any website. CTAs are exactly what they sound like: a piece of text, button or image that encourages a user to take some form of action. That action might be clicking a link, entering an email address, downloading a report or purchasing a product. Whatever you want a visitor to your website to do, a CTA is a great way of prompting them to do it.
CTAs are so important that even small changes to their wording or placement can yield huge results. Forbes reported on the efforts of one marketer, who found that simply changing a CTA from the third person ("Get your free template") to the first person ("Get my free template") increased conversions by a stunning 90%.
Whatever your goal, it's clear that a lot of value can be gained from using effective CTAs. The next step, then, is to ask yourself whether you're using CTAs on your website, and whether or not you're doing so efficiently.
When to Use a CTA
A Call To Action has the most impact when it comes at just the right time. Imagine a user visiting your site. They may have been brought there by some content on your blog, and once they finish reading they'll (hopefully) feel inspired, fired up, and excited.
This is the perfect time for them to encounter a CTA. Even something as simple as a line of text encouraging a sign up or share at the end of a blog post can have a huge effect. You've done the hard work of reaching your users and speaking to them in a meaningful way - now capitalize on that. Tell them what you'd like them to do next!
Similarly you can tailor CTAs to various points in your customer's journey. Perhaps they've just completed a purchase - prompting them to "Continue Shopping" is likely to have little effect. They've just finished shopping, and probably aren't ready to start again. However, at this point in time, a newsletter sign up might be well-received, particularly if the newsletter contains useful information about a product they've purchased.
Similarly popups should be used with caution. A email list popup can capture visitors you might otherwise lose, but having it appear as soon as they arrive on your site is likely to yield poor results. Give them a chance to read, browse and engage with your content, and then provide a CTA.
How to Use a CTA
The wording of a Call To Action matters. Often it's a good idea to opt for something simple like "Sign Up" or "Buy Now". Straightforward action-oriented directions like this can be effective, but often a CTA is even stronger when it contains some kind of value proposition. Consider something like, "Want to know more about our products? Sign up to our newsletter!" This not only tells your visitor what to do, but underlines what they will get out of it.
The visual design of your CTA also plays a role in how effective it will be. Make it visually arresting. Make it large. Make sure it isn't surrounded by clutter, and that it stands out from the page without looking ugly. Use color to your advantage. In many cases, buttons are preferable to basic text links, as they make your CTA highly visible.
It's also important to think about what happens after a user follows your CTA. Will a click take them to a page specifically tailored to their needs, where they can immediately get what was promised by the CTA, or to a generic contact or shop page on your website? If they've entered an email address, will they get a thank you and confirmation, or simply be dumped back to your homepage? The journey doesn't stop when a user takes action. Quite the contrary - that one action is just the beginning.