November 4, 2015

What makes an effective call-to-action?

In our haphazard and complex world we are bombarded with advertising every day. From television to public transport, we have ads and media thrown at us almost constantly. Most people think that they are unaffected by these advertisements but I can almost guarantee that you are not.

Have you ever found yourself reading or watching something on the internet, only to find 30 minutes have passed and you’re 8 clicks away from where you started? Chances are you were prompted by a call-to-action somewhere along the way. All it takes is one small, insignificant click on a strategically designed and positioned call-to-action to jump you into another world of new interactions. Everyone is competing for your click, that includes businesses, bloggers, not-for-profit organisations and media outlets, just to name a few.

A call-to-action (CTA) is text or image, which prompts the user to take action. This action can be anything from subscribing to a newsletter to making an appointment. In the best case scenario a CTA should direct the user to a landing page where information is collected in exchange for a piece of marketing material or a contact page.

In order to increase conversions, a good CTA should be formed to target a specific type of user. For example, we need to know where our potential lead is placed in the sales cycle. Are your visitors most likely to be in the awareness, consideration or purchasing stage? You should ensure you are showing the correct CTA for the individual lead.

Now we come to the specifics of our CTA. What should it say, what should it look like and where should we put it?

Essentially, CTAs are buttons and our buttons are for actions. The text on the button should begin with a verb, like ‘Get a quote’, ‘Book an appointment’ or ‘Download’. You should think about what you are asking your target to do.

The color you choose for your CTA is very important. This color should be used sparingly across your website and other collaterals, reserving it specifically for calls-to-action. For example, if you have a yellow and blue color scheme, you could consider using the blue as the overall theme and yellow as the CTA because it’s the brighter of the two colors. Also, consider the way the color makes you feel, yellow for example portrays feelings of happiness, elation and good will. You can learn more on color from our Color Harmonies article.

Lastly, we have positioning. The position of your call to action is one of the most critical decisions to make. The homepage of your website is most likely the most visited page, therefore it should have at least 2 CTAs on the page. You want your CTA to be clearly visible, with as little as possible interaction with the space around it. Short paragraphs of strategically written content or bullet points followed by a CTA is a practical method of encouraging your potential lead to use your CTA.

It its most basic form, a CTA should express value to the viewer and prompt them to take action. When a CTA is correctly worded, designed and positioned, it becomes a door to the valuable information you wish to share with your audience.