CTA – definition
CTA ( call to action) is a term used in marketing and literally translated means ‘call to action’. CTAs are specific elements that encourage the user to take a desired action, i.e. to click on a link or button and, for example, submit a form, make a purchase, download an app, sign up for a newsletter, etc. CTAs usually take the form of a clickable button, icon or linked text and are used in advertisements, websites and online shops. CTAs most often use a verb in the imperative mode (e.g. ‘call now’, ‘find out more’, ‘buy now’, ‘sign up for a free account’), in order to elicit an immediate response.
Where is it appropriate to use CTAs?
There are many places and situations in the online space where CTAs can be used and, in doing so, improve the effectiveness of actions and increase conversion rates. Most commonly, call to action is used in the following areas:
Using the right CTA in an online shop can significantly improve the conversion rate. In e-commerce, CTAs usually come in the form of buttons that tell the user what to do, where to click and what to buy. Call to action allows you to guide the consumer through the stages of the purchasing process – keeping them engaged and making the transaction as easy as possible, through tailored messages.
CTAs are worth using on a website to get the user to take a desired action, e.g. submit a contact form, make a phone call, sign up for a newsletter, create an account, etc. It is most often in the form of a button or icon, but often also takes the form of a link in the text or the text itself.
Also for a blog, it is useful to use a CTA to encourage people to read the next post, follow on social media, add a comment under the post, etc.
3. Online advertising and email marketing
A CTA in online advertising is a must have. It is meant to interest and entice the user to click and go to a landing page to perform the desired action there. The content of the CTA used is of great importance, as are the form, colour and positioning. It is worth testing different CTAs in your campaigns to choose the most effective one.
CTAs are also used in SEO. We are primarily talking about content that is visible to the user in the SERPs (search results). The use of an effective call to action in the meta description, i.e. a short description of the content of the landing page, can help to increase the CTR (click-through rate).
How do you create an effective CTA? Good practice
There are no universal rules that will work in every situation. However, there are a few elements to keep in mind that will significantly contribute to effectiveness:
Content: the message must be clear and simple. The CTA should inform the user what will happen when they click and where they will be redirected. It is also worth highlighting the benefits the consumer will receive when they click – this can be done above the button or directly in the content of the CTA, e.g. “get 20% off”, “download a free guide”.
CTAs should be created using dynamic verbs, i.e. verbs that describe a change, process or action. They are most often used in the form of a verb in the imperative mode, e.g. ‘find out more’, ‘sign up’. However, it is also worth testing verbs in the first person singular, e.g. “I’m going in”, “I want to know more” – this often proves to be an effective treatment.
In addition to emphasising the benefits, effectiveness is improved by adding encouraging words such as ‘today’, ‘now’, ‘only’, which emphasise, for example, the time or quantity limitation of the offer.
Consider adding an exclamation point at the end of the CTA, which can further spur action and improve effectiveness.
Appearance and placement: content alone is not enough. The CTA should be distinctive and striking so that a user who is merely scanning the page with his or her eyes pays attention to it. It is important that it stands out from the rest of the page in both design and colour. Its appearance should also suggest clickability (button, bold or enlarged font, underlining, prominent colour, etc.).
Placement is very important – it is best to situate the CTA where the user’s gaze naturally travels. Typically, the CTA should be placed above the fold, i.e. in the area that is visible when the page/email is loaded, without scrolling. A good solution is for the main CTA to be visible all the time and to follow the user, even when scrolling – e.g. placed in the top menu.
In the case of a longer email or blog post, the CTA can be repeated several times.
Near the CTA, it is worth placing the most important information about the product or service. A user equipped with the right knowledge is more likely to click and move on to the next purchase stage.
Analytics: there is no universal recipe for a CTA, so testing, measuring and analysing is essential. It is definitely worth conducting A/B tests and checking the effectiveness of different versions of a CTA by analysing the CTR (click-through rate) and CR (conversion rate). Heatmaps, which show graphically (colours) how visitors behave on a particular page, are also an interesting solution. One of the most popular tools for this is Hotjar. We can test different CTA content and colours, as well as placement.
Examples of CTAs
The most commonly used and tested CTAs that can be observed look like the following:
- “find out more”,
- “add to cart”,
- “buy now”,
- “book now”.
They are also appropriate in the first person:
- “I want to know more”,
- “I’m coming in”.
They often emphasise the benefit to the user:
- “try for free”,
- “join for free”,
- “get a 15% discount”,
- “get £40 off your first purchase”.
In summary, the main purpose of a call to action is the click. The CTA should attract the user’s attention in order to turn him or her first into a potential customer and ultimately a customer of the company. CTAs help to navigate e-commerce shops, get the viewer’s interest and engagement, and get them to take the desired action.
What are your tried and tested practices when creating a CTA?