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How to Create Compelling Calls-to-Action that Grab Attention

A call-to-action, or CTA, is what makes the difference between the curious and the converted. If you write compelling content, you’ll have readers interested in checking out your website. But they’re unlikely to do what you want them to unless you explicitly ask.

User experience is most effective when it’s designed to be as literal as possible. Good CTAs help by explaining to the visitor exactly what they should do next. Whether it’s subscribing, submitting information, registering or even purchasing, a call-to-action is what will prod a reader to take that step.

Most CTAs are extremely brief snippets of text (sometimes known as microcopy) that has to be precise enough to carry out its purpose, and compelling enough to inspire action. Many times you only have a few characters for a CTA, either in an image or button form.

Good microcopy follows many of the same principles of any good marketing copy, but with dramatically less word count leeway.

Creating Effective Calls-to-Action

Here are our tips for successful CTAs to maximize your site’s conversion rates.

Make it transparently action-oriented

Phrases like Get Started, Join Today, Try it Out, Buy Now, Add to Cart and Add to Bag tell the customer exactly what is expected of him or her. A commanding verb that connotes motion is usually best.

Make sure not to use complicated industry lingo or vague wording that forces the user to guess what they should do. As soon as a transaction becomes complex, most visitors will simply ditch your webpage and search for their desired product elsewhere.

Include keywords that are consistent with the offer and landing page

Instead of saying Buy Now, how about Buy the Book Now? Add some context to your call-to-action to emphasize what the customer will receive if he clicks on the button.

A good CTA is about forging the right relationship between promise and delivery. A great CTA will also resonate with the rest of the content that originally got the user’s attention.

Make it attention-grabbing

You need to grab your prospect’s attention both with bold design and with compelling text. Don’t be afraid to use brighter colors than appear on the rest of your website. As long as the rest of the page isn’t too loud, using a high-contrast “accent color” can be extremely effective.

Give your CTA button an interesting border, or make the font larger. Below the CTA, you can add a short line of supporting text that offers special deals, urgency-injecting offers, or free shipping to hold your customers’ interest.

Ensure appropriate on-page placement

CTAs generally appear on the middle or right side of product pages and landing pages. It’s a good idea to put them where customers expect them to be, instead of experimenting with innovative design.

Although web designers used to say that the most important design elements on a given page must appear “above the fold,” this is no longer the standard. Recent studies demonstrate that users do scroll down for interesting content. So feel free to place your CTA further down on the page if that’s where it belongs.

When multiple CTAs are called for

Tell your customer more than once what you expect from him or her. You don’t want all your great supporting content to distract from your main purpose, which is driving conversions.

Pages can include more than one action recommended, as long as you make it clear to the visitor which option is the primary action. For instance, there can be a large Buy Now button and a smaller text link nearby for More Details.

Test and analyze. Then, test and analyze again.

Don’t just put your CTA up there and forget about it. Try different designs, placements and microcopy wording to see what works best.

Since this is arguably the most important element of your site, do extensive testing and track conversions meticulously. After a while, even if the CTAs appear to be doing their job, test again and see if you can improve conversions even more.

Let us know what you think!

Got more CTA “best practices” to share? Let us know in the comments below!

See what we did there?
Written by Jason Thomas / July 18, 2014

Jason Thomas has been helping launch and develop start ups for 10 years. Jason's passion is working with motivated entrepreneurs to validate and implement ideas that grow their business.

Jason is a husband, father, and homesteader in training. In his spare time he's generally outside working with his hands and getting dirty.

Articles by Jason Thomas