What comes to mind when you hear “Call To Action”, or CTA?
Do you see a monstrous button with bolded text screaming click me??
A huge pop-up that says “subscribe to our newsletters” and a short form below it?”
Or a flashy, blinky “call lonely women near you” text below a picture of a scantily dressed woman??
Any one of these (and some others) you might have thought of are all CTAs. So long as they ask you to do something.
Since you’re reading about optimizing your CTAs for higher conversion rates, I assume you know enough about digital and content marketing to not require a formal introduction to CTAs.
So I’ll just close my eyes and dive right into giving you 9 golden tips you should employ to make your CTAs likeable, clickable, and convert-able. But first, an appetizer to whet your glands.
In a hurry? Jump to a section
- Types of Call To Action
- How To Make Your Calls To Action Convert Better
- And now, your dessert.
Types of Call To Action
There are topics that when we talk about their “types,” there will arise some sort of confusion because they have different types of types. You know wah ‘m sayin’?
See, I could tell you the types of CTAs based on the function they perform or instances of their usage — the ones listed on Hubspot, for instance.
I could also tell you the types of CTAs in terms of their appearance or introduction into the UI — the ones with Neil Patel.
But generally, I’d say there are just two types of calls to action.
- Button Call To Action
- Text Call To Action
Button CTAs are, well, buttons with text on them. You’ll always find those below forms. Some websites use them in their cookie acceptance notice. You’d see them on Facebook ads. And they’re common on homepages and sales pages too.
Text CTAs are just text. Without buttons. They often don’t have special backgrounds or borders, but their color is always different from the rest of the text on the page where they appear. And some people increase their font sizes.
Text calls to action are much less common than button calls to action, and because of that, many people don’t think of them as CTAs, especially when they appear within the body of a blog post.
For instance, inside a “How To Hire A Freelance Writer” article, you might find a paragraph like:
“… If you have never worked with freelance writers before, there is something you need to be aware of: not every writer can handle every type of content. If what you need is something that will persuade your audience to buy from you, then you need to. For non-sales content, you should . But if you need persuasive content that ranks on search engines, …”
Many people tend to think of those texts in blue as nothing but internal links, but I see them as calls to action and use them as such. Though sometimes, they’re just links — it often depends on where they point to and the qualities of the anchor text.
Some text calls to action are more obvious than the others. Like this one from Hubspot.
Not that obvious CTAs are bad. They’re, in fact, often more effective than ‘disguised’ ones.
These two types of call to action — button and text — encompass any and every type of CTA you might find out there.
And now, to the main course:
How To Make Your Calls To Action Convert Better
1. Make Your CTA Visible
Be it above the fold, within the fold, below the fold, or all over the fold, your call to action shouldn’t blend in with the page it appears on. It should be as visible as possible.
Not comfortable with visible calls to action? Try this:
— Set the links and text color on your landing page to the same color
— Set your button’s background color to the same as the page’s background and remove its borders
— Let the button text color match the page’s text color as well
Let it run like this for a month while you track clicks across your pages. I’m 95% sure you’d notice a huge drop in engagement and conversions. Not so good for business.
But if you can’t do that, It’s better to follow what works. Here’s SimilarWeb’s homepage:
And Google’s Search Central, formerly known as Webmasters:
2. Communicate Value
When you make a call to action, remember to include what the reader will get in taking that action.
Many Software-as-a-Service firms offer free trials of their products. Some, like Ahrefs, give one or two weeks of a one-time trial using a call to action like “Start your 2-weeks free trial.”
Others, like Eversign and Ubersuggest, offer a forever free plan with limited functions using CTAs like “Open a free account.”
That being said, you don’t have to be a SaaS business owner before you communicate value in your CTAs. If you want users to subscribe to your blog’s newsletters, tell them what they’re signing up for. Consider this newsletter call to action from Skillcrush.
3. Support Your CTA With A Description.
Don’t just jump at your audience with a “Subscribe To Our Newsletters” announcement. Instead, tell them why your newsletter is perfect for them. You can do this with a short description.
For instance, if the majority of your audience are bloggers and writers, and you already have a few thousands of people on your list, you can use a description like “Join over 6,000 bloggers and writers receiving productivity tips weekly…”
Darren Rowse does this effectively on Problogger:
4. Give Visitors Fewer Options
This is very important for your landing pages. Calling users to several actions on your landing or sales page is a sure-fire way to distract visitors and draw them away from your goal.
Getting rid of distractions on your landing page include scraping the navigation bar, the sidebar, and every link pointing to any page other than your goal. On your product sales page, make sure every link there either points to “free trial” or to “checkout”.
With your landing pages, focus on one goal:
If you want users to opt-in, ask them to opt-in.
If you want them to buy, ask them to buy.
If you want them to read the latest posts, ask them to read the latest posts, but don’t ask them to do all of these things.
5. Keep a Supporting CTA Close by.
Along with the main offer, keep another one close. But avoid putting it in the limelight.
For instance, if you run an ad for a sales page that discusses your product’s features and benefits, naturally, the page would end with a buy-now or free-trial call to action, sometimes both.
Already, the free-trial CTA is there to support the major action, which is “buy”. But sometimes, visitors to your landing page will answer none of these calls and opt to navigate off the page instead. Comes in the exit-intent CTA.
With the exit-intent CTA, you can call users to action based on their interaction with your page. You can gamble on the fact that someone who landed on your sales page through an ad needs a service like yours.
But if they’ve never heard of you and are not quite convinced, the next thing they’ll attempt is getting out.
Using the exit-intent function, you can bring up your opt-in form or better still, a link to a case study of how someone used your product to achieve something excellent.
An exit-intent CTA comes up whenever users move the cursor towards the top of their screen. Here’s one from Buildfire:
6. Avoid Being “Witty” With Your CTA
This has been a rule in copywriting since time out of mind. And while it’s often brought up while talking about headlines, it also applies to calls to action.
It is recommended that you avoid puns and play on words. In fact, don’t attempt to strike curiosity with the call to action; that’s the headline’s job.
Be concise and straight-to-the-point.
7. Use The Active Voice
A call to action is meant to get the reader to act, not to pass. Every of the CTA examples featured on this page used the active voice, not the passive.
The active voice is concise and effective in getting users to take action. Like the previous rule, the use of active voice is prominent in every piece of copy.
Also, some would recommend that you use the 1st person POV. As in “Start my free trial” as against “Start your free trial.” But that depends on your brand’s voice and tone.
8. Create Urgency
Like avoiding play on words, creating urgency is not reserved for the headline alone. Consider the text call to action by AWAI featured below; It creates urgency by using the phrase “right now.”
For decades, marketers have used this method — creating a sense of urgency — to convert leads on the spot. So don’t pass it up; use it effectively.
Other words and phrases that can help to create urgency include:
- Last chance
- Limited offer
- Ends by [insert date]
These words, and others, can help to create FOMO (fear of missing out) in the reader’s mind, making them buy there and then. Thereby boosting your sales.
9. Keep Testing, Keep Adjusting
Like most things in human life, calls to action aren’t set in stone, and the best thing you can do is to keep testing and to keep tweaking the elements on your landing page — CTAs inclusive.
So try out different phrases, change word length, tweak placements, tweak the colours, increase and decrease the number of times it appears in the copy, etc. And watch your conversion rate rise — or sometimes fall. Then you’d know what works for your audience.
Aaaand that’s it. Nine things that can help you to create better calls to action.
And now, your dessert.
Certain things don’t work for everybody (like sleeping on a mattress), but certain things also don’t work for anybody (like sleeping on a live wire). So if you’re going to try things out, make sure you’re trying things that work.
Great piece, right?
Do me a favour by sharing it across your favourite social networks — I’ll be grateful.
Joseph Olu is an SEO copywriter for SaaS and Health and Wellness brands. He is a contributor to top publications like ThriveGlobal and Hackernoon. He has also written for natural health brands like Phd-organics.