Digital Marketing

Call to Action (CTA): Getting Your Customers to Do It


We had already established that your website is the most important weapon in your fight for digital marketing success.

Also, I shared that to improve your conversions, you need to have quality content on your website.

In this article, we turn our attention to another critical component of an effective, high-converting website and that is the Call-to-Action.

This is the 3rd article in a 5-part series on how to get your digital marketing started on the right note. Missed the earlier articles? Read them by clicking the links below:

The difference between a converting website and an ineffective one is the quality of the Calls-to-Action

What is a Call-to-Action?

A call-to-action (CTA) is a visual cue or prompt that is specifically designed to encourage the audience to perform a specific action.

Typically, a CTA is presented in the form of a button or text link. It some cases it could also be a phone number for the audience to click and call.

These days, with instant messenger marketing being in vogue, some websites have taken to positioning the CTA to open up a live chat session for the audience to interact directly with the business in real-time.

Whatever the case, the main aim of a CTA is to make the audience respond and move further down the customer acquisition process, eventually converting into a lead or outright sale.

Convert your website visitors to leads and paying customers with the right CTAs!

Why are CTAs Important?

The truth of the matter is, most people like to be told what to do. Psychologically, people tends towards inaction rather than action when there is no clear instruction or direction as to what to do next.

CTAs are important because they help you focus your audience’s attention on the thing that you want them to, thereby increasing the chance of them acting exactly as you intended.

Even though the benefit is obvious, many websites actually do not have CTAs properly shown, or even at all. Do not make the same mistake as they have.

Without CTAs, the opportunities to convert your traffic and audience into leads and customers will be heavily suppressed, and all the hard work, time and resources that you’ve committed to building out your website and awesome content would be for naught.

What makes a good CTA?

According to Instapage, a CTA should always be a button. From our own experience, we find this to be true 99% of the time.

The reason for making your CTAs as buttons is that of familiarity. The vast majority of the general population knows from daily interaction and usage that a button is meant to be clicked/pressed upon. Which induces some action to be perform.

So, when visitors come across a CTA button on your website, they instinctively know to click on it. Familiarity breeds trust and trust breeds conversion.

For some cases, CTAs can be a mixture of buttons and well-placed text links. But for the most parts, stick to buttons for your CTAs.

The text of the CTAs clear and concise, leaving no room for imagination or misinterpretation of what you want your audience to do.

Avoid using high friction words such as “Submit”, “Download”, “Buy” and “Sign Up” on their own. As they imply that your visitors need to put in some effort or give up something to receive something in return.

Also, phrasing the CTA copy from the point-of-view of your visitors rather than yours helps improve conversion rate. For example, consider using “Get My Free Cheat Sheet” instead of “Get Your Free Cheat Sheet”.

Strategic intent

Most marketers only touch on the technical aspects of calls-to-action. Such as the color, size, design, placement on a webpage. So on, but seldom – almost never – going deeper to discuss about the alignment of the CTAs against the over customer acquisition objectives.

I’ll give you an example to illustrate what I mean.

Years back, I had a client who was pretty pumped up about the whole idea of CTAs and would insist on displaying an array of CTAs on every webpage of her website. Believing in the notion that the more CTAs being shown. The wider the catchment and thus the higher the conversion probability. So visitors to the site were greeted with CTAs to call, email, or fill up a form.

Problem was, the responses were spread across the acquisition channels and end up requiring a fair bit of manual effort to validate and consolidate into a centralised database.

And because the amount of information capture differs from one CTA to the other. This affected the quality of the database.

Also, because the client was ill-equipped to handle enquiries over phone. The responses generated from the call-based CTA resulted in a high percentage of missed follow-ups and return calls. which became a troubling customer experience issue.

The point is, don’t get carried away with throwing out multiple CTAs just for the sake of it. Make sure that the CTAs complement your mode of operations and play to and accentuate your strengths, not expose your weaknesses.

Examples of Calls-to-action

Many websites – perhaps yours as well – use a basic form of CTA, which is simply “Contact Us”. That usually redirects visitors to the contact information page.

As we mentioned earlier, the more precise and task-specific the CTA, the more effective it is. Also, The more aligned it is with your over objectives, the better it will perform.

You may want to “level up” your CTAs using the following examples.

1. Join mailing list

This is one of the most common CTAs especially among marketers and is very useful for building up a list of email contacts that you can subsequently market to with email marketing campaigns.

This CTA has low friction and can usually amass quite a fair bit of contacts in a short period of time. As long as you’ve communicated clearly to your audience the benefits of signing up to your mailing list.

The most effective use of this CTA is when you can express the value/benefits directly within the CTA text, such as “Get Free Weekly Tips”.

2. Call now

Usually more suited for businesses providing local services, such as HVAC maintenance. Electrician or house cleaning service, this is an effective CTA due to its immediacy and high commercial intent.

If you’re in the market to provide services within a short response time. Getting potential customers to cut through the chase and just call you straight away may be the best way to convert and generate sales.

3. Request for quote

While this may feel like a high-friction CTA, it works very well in particular for B2B products and services. As most business buyers do require official cost estimates for procurement approvals to be made.

When designed integrally as part of a larger B2B e commerce system. This CTA can also give the added benefit of collecting useful data about which products or solutions are more popular than the others. Thereby giving you insights to improve your product mix in the future.

4. Buy now (call to action)

Again, though “Buy” is a high friction word, when used in conjunction with “now”, becomes a very powerful CTA from an ecommerce perspective.

This CTA forces a sense of immediacy and urgency upon your site visitors and induces them to make a quick purchase decision. Often too your revenue generation advantage.

If you are an online retailer, or allow your visitors to make purchases directly from your website, this should be your CTA of choice.

5. Read/Discover/Learn more

Largely undervalued as a CTA, the “read more”, “learn more” or “discover more” buttons and text links can be found on most information or brochure sites as simply redirection devices to additional expanded body of text.

The best way to use this CTA is as an invitation to explore more insights and benefits that your product or service may bring to your audience. Acting as an intermediary to get your audience more immersed in the shopping experience, before entering into the purchase stage.

This becomes particularly useful when you are selling something that has a significant element of technology in it. Like most Software-as-a-Service (SasS) solutions as well as digital lifestyle gadgets and devices such as alkaline water filtration system.

Effective use of CTA on your website

Knowing where and how to use the different types of CTAs on various sections of your website plays a significant part in having a high converting percentage.

Where to put CTAs on the website?

The answer, as with most things in life, is: it depends.

Many marketers suggest putting your CTA above the the fold, usually within the main banner area. Personally. I would recommend this only for the following situations:

  • You are running a time-limited promotion campaign
  • You have a free resource to give out in exchange for data collection

Otherwise, it is more effective to have the CTA at the lower half of the webpage. When your audience has been exposed to more of your content and start having some level of trust and affinity towards your brand/business.

For catch-all CTAs such as “join mailing list”, you would want to make sure that it is being shown on every single webpage on your website so that your visitors won’t miss it.

How often should CTAs (call to action) appear?

As mentioned earlier, at least one CTA (call to action) should be present in each and every webpage of your website. With the exception of probably the legal and privacy notice pages.

But you also don’t want to over do it lest your audience gets distracted and confused. So keep to a maximum of 3 CTA appearances in total on any given webpage.

I would recommend that you have one main CTA (usually the one that drives the highest purchase intent) and a secondary. CTA (lead generation catchment for those who have not reached the buying stage of their shopping journey) one every webpage.

If your website layout allows, probably a repeat of either the main or secondary CTA at the side panel.

Got an offer that’s worth your audience taking action on?

You can have the most effective CTA in the world sitting on your website, but if you’re selling a crap product. That CTA (call to action) is not going to get you anywhere nearer to your business goals.

So, in the next part of this series, we shine the spotlight on that thing that you’re actually selling: the offer.

Read next: The Product Offer: Selling That Thing You Do