What is the most important part of a website? It depends on who you’re asking. If you ask content creators, they’d say it’s content. If you talk to SEOs, they might agree, but only if the content is keyword-optimized. Web developers, meanwhile, might say website design or user interface is the most important.
Others could get more specific and point out particular parts and pages of the website, like above the fold or the homepage. But how do you combine all four aspects to deliver the results you want from your website, high quality leads and paying customers.
From a marketer’s point of view, however, all the elements mentioned above lead visitors to what’s arguably the most critical part of the website: the Call-to-Action (CTA). Here are some explanations for this.
- Content offers a value proposition to launch visitors on their buyer’s journey, which ends in a call-to-action inviting them to opt-in or buy a product.
- Website design and user interface enhance visitors’ experience by providing easy navigation, especially for pages that contain CTA buttons that lead to the bottom of the conversion funnel.
- Above the fold and homepage real estate make plenty of room for CTA buttons that will bring visitors to the opt-in or checkout page in just one click.
These elements work together to usher website visitors towards opt-in or action buttons organically. What seals the deal, however, is your Call to Action. It is that final drop in the bucket that tips the scale and makes audiences say, “I’m convinced. I’ll buy!”
The Bottom line: An effective CTA inspires action. If you want to increase website traffic, produce high-quality and keyword-optimized content. If you want conversions, use effective CTAs.
Calls-to-Action and Its Uses
Website copywriters and marketers should always use CTAs. Why? Because they are the shortest yet some of the most powerful words you could have on your website. Marketing campaigns need CTAs to be successful, whether the end goal is to increase sales or drive traffic to specific domains or pages.
CTAs are critical for the following:
Sign Up, Register, Become a Member
Getting Visitors To Share Content
Share, Tweet, Follow Us, Like Our Page
Buy, Upgrade to Premium, Call Now
Engaging with Visitors
Comment, Send Feedback
Encouraging Repeat Visits
Subscribe, Bookmark, Read Our Blog
When used at the right time, the right place, and in the right way, these CTAs can help you reach various goals and targets.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of writing a compelling call-to-action, however, let’s talk about supporting content first.
Content and CTA should Work Together
Remember Home Shopping Network (HSN) and QVC? It is remarkable how a host and product representative could make the most mundane household products seem like the most exciting things in the world. They could make audiences feel like they have to have a set of kitchen towels, or that a foldable ladder will improve their lives.
These home-shopping studios are very good at convincing viewers and getting conversions — so much so that QVC, after acquiring HSN last December 2017, grew to be the world’s largest television shopping network and the third largest e-commerce company in North America.
Just what is it that these studios are doing right?
Let’s look at how they present their content. QVC hosts talk about the products they sell extensively. They highlight the positive points of each item and sometimes interview professionals to back-up their claims. They create these beautiful and realistic sets, do product demonstrations, and show customer review clips on segment intervals.
Towards the end of every segment, you’ll always hear a perky voice say “Don’t miss out on this amazing offer. Call right now!” or something to the same effect.
The home shopping shows’ ingenious formula can also apply to website copies. Shopping networks demonstrate that when content and CTAs are in sync, they become more effective at getting responses from audiences. It’s not enough to simply tell readers to do something for you. It’s like a courtship, and your CTA is your marriage proposal. Before you could get a visitor to say yes, you need to convince them that what you have in store is worth their time and money.
Consider quality content as a prerequisite for effective calls-to-action. Text, video, audio, pictures, infographics, or a combination of these can help build your case. The content doesn’t have to be long, but it should resonate with your target audience.
The Bottom line: A convincing copy will make the difference between a successful CTA and a bounce.
We’ll discuss the ins and outs of writing CTAs later in this article.
Writing CTAs: Effective Action Words and Inducements for Clicking
Now for the meat of this discussion: how do you write a CTA that compels visitors to complete a specific action on your website?
- Be clear, concise, and straight to the point. What do you want your visitors to do? Buy? Visit your website? Fill out your contact form? Whether you’re writing a lead-in to your CTA or the CTA button itself, be succinct.
Also, don’t confuse your visitors. If you write “Contact Us” after a spiel about how your monthly newsletter can benefit readers, they might not sign up for the offer. It would be better to use “Subscribe Now” or “Sign Up Today.”
- Be specific. Sometimes you can get more click-throughs from your CTA button when you specify what visitors can get. For example, for a real estate website, “Browse 106 Properties” is more enticing than merely, “Listings.” The former indicates variety and options, and that a prospective buyer has over a hundred properties to choose from. They’ll know that browsing the website will be worth their time.
- Use verbs that resonate with your audience. It’s an opportunity to get creative and be memorable to your visitors. AYR (All Year Round), a US-based online retailer for women’s fashions, does this very well. They invite customers to sign up for their Monday newsletters, where they publish new arrivals, by saying, “Get it first.” Instead of saying “Buy,” it uses words like “Mine,” “I want,” and “All Yours.”
It’s good to have tried and tested CTAs to fall back on, but brands that use a more casual tone can benefit from witty, tongue-in-cheek variations.
Below are some examples of Alternative CTAs:
Send Me My Free Copy
Give Us a Holler
Make a Reservation
Save Your Seat
Start Your Journey Here
Count Me In
- Mention a perk. You can make prospective customers remember the benefits of your product or service by including a perk in the CTA. An example is SnackNation, a company that delivers healthy snacks to offices and homes. It has four CTA buttons on its homepage, and they only either say, “Get a Free Sample Box” or “Try it Free.” Another example is Evernote with its CTA, “Remember everything important.”
Highlighting aspirational benefits which your product or service can help customers achieve is also one way to do it. An example is Treehouse’s “Change Your Career, Change Your Life” lead-in.
- Create a sense of urgency. Prospective customers can get complacent when they know that an offer will never go away. When you put a time limit, however, you make them feel that they have to follow through now or else they will miss out on a wonderful opportunity. Words like “Now,” “Today,” and “Until Supplies Last” can help you create that urgent atmosphere.
- Offer Exclusivity or Highlight Scarcity. This is similar to the previous item, except it is more about making your visitors and prospective customers feel like they’re the VIP. When you offer something valuable that not everyone can access, it creates excitement. People are then more likely to click on your CTA and claim their exclusive offer. It’s just our natural psychological response to exclusivity and scarcity.
Examples of CTAs that denote both are “Get today’s specials,” and “Be one of the first 100 customers,” which you can follow with an incentive, like a free consultation or complementary token.
- Give two choices. There are two ways to go about this. First, you can offer one ideal and one less appealing option. For example, if you have a free eBook to offer, your options could be, “Yes, please,” and “No, I don’t need free insider information.” A turn-of-phrase like this emphasizes that the visitor could potentially miss out on if he or she doesn’t follow your CTA.
A second approach is to give options that are both advantageous for you and the customer. An example could be, “Sign up now,” and “Remind me later.” This style of CTA writing is very appropriate for freemium services. Dropbox, for example, has very convincing CTAs: “Try free for 30 days” or “get a free 2GB account.”
- Offer an incentive. So far, we’ve covered several examples that offer something free. That’s because incentives help to convince people to follow-through your CTA. If you’re already offering free trials and consultations, mention it in your CTA. “Get it free!” is a good example. “Claim your free trial!” is another excellent example because it suggests the reader is entitled to a product or service. All they have to do to claim it is click on your CTA button.
The Bottom line: Choose the right words and phrases that can make your target audience stop, read, and act. A/B test using different calls to action work with your target audience.
Aesthetics and Strategic Positioning
Creating effective CTAs doesn’t end with learning how to write them. You also need to learn how to present them. Keep in mind that it’s not just your choice of words that will make a CTA effective, but also how they look like and where they are on the page.
The rule of thumb is that CTAs must be easy to spot. As such, a website’s layout must have ample room for CTAs, and the overall design should draw the eye naturally to them. You can make your website interface and aesthetics achieve this by creating a dedicated button for the CTA. Hyperlinks (clickable plain texts that lead to other pages in your website) are acceptable, but CTA buttons have higher click-through rates than them.
How can you make CTA buttons stand out and be enticing to visitors?
Here is what you need to consider:
A rectangular, green CTA button is the standard today, but websites may use a different color that matches their color palette. CTA buttons should be easy to recognize, so they must have a definite shape or at least a distinctive border.
They also need a clean, neat font. You could lose conversions if your visitors have to pause for a few seconds to decipher what the swirly text says. Ensuring there’s plenty of white or blank space around a CTA button also helps.
Finally, be consistent with your CTA button designs. By using the same font and color throughout your website, you’re helping visitors find CTA buttons at a glance.
All that’s left is to place them in strategic locations so that visitors will be encouraged to complete the action.
You can approach CTA locations in two ways: make them visible all the time or make them available when they count.
Calls To Actions Always Visible To Users:
Above the Fold
At the right side of a page (following the reading direction of left to right) or in a image banner at the top of a web page.
Top Navigation Bar
At the top of a page (One click access to services).
Footer Navigation Bar
At the bottom of a page (following a convincing sales copy).
At intervals (long blog posts and lengthy text pages).
Calls To Actions Not Always Visible To Users (But Still Good To Use):
Not Always Visible
Specific CTAs inside Content (posts or pages)
At intervals throughout long copy at the top, middle, and bottom of posts or pages.
Popup Notifications (May be blocked)
Top, Middle, or Bottom Right/Left side of viewers screen.
The Bottom line: CTAs are useless when website visitors can’t see them or if they appear when visitors are not yet ready to click.
Although there are standard CTAs to fall back on, the rules in writing them are gray. A lot depends on your brand and the audience you’re appealing to. If you cultivate a very casual vibe rooted in pop culture, you can be unconventional and witty in your phrasing. If, however, your audience is more comfortable with a formal speech, you can get better responses from conventional CTAs.
For expert guidance in creating CTAs that convert, learn more about what you can do with Alkries LLC.