How To Craft Effective Calls To Action

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On the surface, making a Call to Action seems easy enough. How hard could it be to add a simply button that says, “Buy Now”? But the truth is, there are many variables to consider when it comes to crafting an effective call to action. Everything from your conversion, to your bottom line, to your engagement depends on a healthy CTA, and each little decision can affect your overall success.

If you’re not familiar with a CTA, don’t worry. It’s fairly straightforward. A CTA is merely an invitation for users to respond to a request. This is usually a button with a little copy. Sometimes, it’s just a link. Whenever you want a user to take action, you use a CTA. As you can imagine, there are thousands of different ways of doing this. Different types of CTAs might invite the reader to:

  • Make a purchase
  • Read something
  • Subscribe to a newsletter
  • Download an ebook
  • Trial a product
  • Follow your social networks

With so much potential for CTA, it’s clear that they have a pretty important job in the world of marketing. Here are some tips for creating an effective CTA:

Take A Look At Existing CTAs

Knowing what a solid CTA looks like can help steer you in the right direction. The four pillars of a successful CTA should include: 1) A statement that reduces buyer risk and gives consumers confidence to try or buy; 2) Verbiage that clearly tells the user what action to take next; 3) Encouragement for them to take action now. This means you’ll need to create a sense of urgency; 4) Be easy to find. With these four ingredients, you’ll have a recipe for success.

Take a look at some of the best CTA examples, and pay attention to what they’re doing. For example, Netflix’s persuasive CTA copy reads, “See what’s next. Watch anywhere. Cancel anytime.” It then prompts users to click a button that reads, “Join Free For A Month.” Theskimm offers similarly compelling CTA material. Their copy reads, “theSkimm makes it easier to be smarter. Let’s try waking up together.” The CTA button copy reads, “Join Millions of Others.”

Split Testing

One of the most critical elements of conversion optimization is split testing. Split testing is how you ensure your marketing efforts are working. With a split test, you’ll test different variables to see which works best. In one type of split testing, you’ll start with the original version of what you’re testing, called the control, and test against your control with a variant. With another type of split testing, A/B testing, 50% of your traffic is sent to one portion, and 50% to the other. You’ll analyze your results to see which produces the best outcome. There are a few ways you can split test your call-to-action:

  • Change colors
  • Use different verbiage
  • Alter button size
  • Play around with placement
  • Change font and text size

Consider Your Placement

Where you put your CTA can make all the difference. When you place your CTAs strategically, you ensure that they’ll get maximum attention, which increases their effectiveness. Studies have shown that users tend to scan pages with an F-shaped pattern. This means that they begin looking at the page starting at the top left corner, work their way across the page horizontally, then scroll vertically towards the bottom and across. Keep in mind that the second horizontal line consists of a glance that’s about half as short as the original glance.

These studies can help you make better placement decisions. But keep in mind this shouldn’t be a replacement for heat maps, which give you more information than studies will show. There are plenty of different placement options for a CTA. On a product landing page, for example, you might test a “Book A Demo” button to the left of the header image, or further down towards the bottom, beneath the product’s list of features. Of course, there are pros and cons to both. It’s up to you to test and measure results to see what works best.

The Right Copy

How you word your CTA can change the way people take action. Take a look at some of your favorite websites. Pay special attention to product landing page and take note of the type of action words they use. Popular phrases include:

  • Get Started
  • Sign Up Free
  • Create Account
  • Start Free Trial
  • Book A Demo
  • Learn More
  • Explore
  • Add To Wishlist

As you can see, there are endless possibilities for your CTA—especially on your landing page. And as previously mentioned, you can split test the way certain words produce certain actions. For example, you might want to see how the world “Explore” stacks up against “Discover.” Or, you might see how “Book A Demo” works against “Request A Demo.” You’d be surprised at how one word can make a difference.

Utilize Heat Maps

Heat maps are a great way to analyze your site visitors behavior. With heat maps, you can see where your users are going on your page, and easily recognize how different parts of the site catch more eyes. There are two primary types of heatmaps: eye tracking and mouse tracking. The mouse tracking is the more popular option, as it’s much more sustainable. Mouse tracking collects data from actual visitor movement, versus eye tracking, which is gathered through sample data and studies. Popular heat map options include Crazy Egg, Hotjar, and Mouseflow.

Some heat map studies have proved particularly interesting. For instance, a Nielsen Norman Group Study found that people tend to ignore stock photos, and would rather look at the faces of real photos. This is evident when you analyze the tracking movements that take place on a “Team” page—the study found that users spent 10% more time looking at photos than their biographies, although the bios took up 316% more space.

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