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How To Create An Effective Call To Action

Creating an effective call to action (CTA) on your website is the difference between selling and not selling. Great CTAs encourage a visitor to take your desired action, which let’s face it…is to get in touch, sign up, buy…

In this post, I’m looking at what calls to action are, how to write them effectively, and how you can improve your CTA game.

What Is A Call To Action In Marketing?

In digital marketing, a call to action is a prompt that encourages a website visitor to take a specific action, usually an immediate sale, but the CTA can be to sign up for a newsletter, download your latest free guide, or simply to get in touch.

Where Do You Use A Call To Action?

CTAs are used in many places, most prominently, on your website. They can usually be found on each individual webpage, but the CTA may be different, depending on what action you want a visitor to take. For example, on your homepage, the CTA may be for a visitor to contact you in some way. But if you have a page that was designed to capture people at the top of the sales funnel, the message may be to sign up for your newsletter.

CTAs aren’t only used on websites though, they can be found on social media posts, newsletters, and landing pages linked to adverts – ideally, you should use them anywhere a potential customer may see you.

What do they look like? Most CTAs will be 2-3 words clearly separated from the rest of the text, perhaps in a box, a button, or by the font being bold, there may be other visual clues too such as an arrow or an image of a finger hovering near the CTA. They need to stand out from the rest of the information you have presented and make it clear you want a visitor to click that button.  

Below are some examples of calls to action from popular tv/film subscription services.

netflix call to action screenshot
Netflix encourage you to sign up with the CTA ‘get started’
disney plus cta
Disney+ prefers a more urgent call to action with the word ‘now’
britbox call to action
Britbox appeals to everyone’s love of a freebie with the word ‘free’ featured

What Makes An Effective Call To Action?

So, what makes an effective call to action? Well, it’s quite simple – if a person takes the action you wanted them to, for example, signing up for your newsletter, then the CTA was effective. You can measure the effectiveness of your CTAs by setting up conversions in Google Analytics or checking to see which pages people are leaving your website. The pages where people are frequently leaving could mean you don’t have a CTA, or the one you have isn’t effective.  

How To Write Effective CTAs

Now, here comes the tricky part…how do you write a good, i.e. effective call to action? The answer to this will depend on your business and at what stage in the buyer journey your customers are at. But…there are a few universally accepted rules around writing effective CTAs that maximise sales or sign-ups.

First, I’ll start with something you shouldn’t do, and surprisingly, I see a lot of – using bland generic words. For example, if you want a website visitor to download a guide, the worst thing you could use as your CTA is the word ‘download’…yes, it’s simple and to the point, but it’s too generic. Instead, use a reminder of what the customer is going to get by downloading your guide. For example – ‘download our guide and become an expert on SEO’. The same goes for words such as ‘sign up’, ‘buy’, or even worse ‘submit’ on a contact form.

mailchimp cta
Mailchimp uses its on-brand casual language to encourage click-throughs.

Action verbs do have their place though – just don’t use them on their own. You can start your CTAs with an action verb such as ‘shop’, ‘call’, ‘order’, or ‘book’, but just make sure the following words reinforce what the person is going to receive, or why they should click that button.

You can also try adding a sense of urgency to your CTAs, this is a common marketer’s trick, and subconsciously, works on most people! To add a sense of urgency, try adding the words ‘now’ and ‘today’ to your CTAs to make people think they’re going to miss out.

Another common trick is to mention the word ‘free’. Everyone likes something for nothing, so if you’re giving something away in return for a few details, remind people with the word free.

moz call to action screenshot
Moz know people like a freebie!

What If My CTAs Aren’t Working?

If you find your CTAs aren’t effective, you will know this if you don’t receive any enquiries or people don’t download your content. You need to change something, and it’s okay to do that. Adjusting and tweaking your CTAs until they do work is good practice!

To test the effectiveness of one CTA against another, you can also try A/B testing. This is where website visitors are shown one of two CTAs, and you are able to view which is the most effective (which got the most clicks). A large part of digital marketing and SEO is trial and error. You test things out, see if they work, and if they don’t you move on to the next!

Contact GrowTraffic

Contact GrowTraffic if you want us to write effective CTAs that increases clicks and wins clients.

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