A call to action — sometimes referred to as a call-to-action or CTA — is an element on your website (text, banner, button, etc.) that asks users to take some specific, immediate action before they leave the page they’re on.
If the ultimate purpose of your website is to boost sales (for instance), then you need to consider how each and every page on your website furthers that goal. One of the best way to build your business (or the business of your art) is with clear, commanding calls-to-action.
Web visitors are distractible and impatient — and they’re also not nearly as familiar with your website as you are — so it’s important to give them some simple directions upon first arriving: “Learn more,” “Subscribe to My Newsletter,” “Buy now,” “Sign the petition,” “Watch the video,” etc.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re crafting your next call-to-action
1. Make sure people know WHY they should take this action
Why should they sign up for your service or newsletter? What have they been missing? And how will their lives improve by taking this action? You should make the benefits clear to your website’s visitors. Build up to the call-to-action with a few sentences or bullet-points that really create a sense of need.
2. Make the call-to-action BIG and BOLD and UPFRONT
Don’t be shy! If someone is new to your site, make sure it’s clear what you’d like them to do next — especially if your website is content-heavy; visitors might be distracted by other elements, and you want to focus them on that CTA. Also, keep the call-to-action above the fold.
3. Use simple, active language
Don’t get clever or cute. Calls-to-action should be direct and clear. Instead of saying, “To sign up or not to sign up?That is the question,” — try saying, “Sign up now to receive daily quotes from Shakespeare.”
4. Limit your calls-to-action to one or two per page
This gets back to having a clear understanding of the purpose of your site and how each page on your site works towards that goal. Is the #1 priority to grow your prospect/fan list? To boost sales? To drive visitors deeper into your website’s content? Once you’ve decided on priorities, make sure your homepage is encouraging those top one or two most desired actions. Any more options than that and you’ll be confusing visitors into web-paralysis.
5. Every page can have a call to action
Perhaps this is self-explanatory, but it’s worth reminding folks: every single page should be encouraging visitors to take an action — whether it be to share a blog post on Twitter, to “like” the article on Facebook, to sign up for a new service, to buy a product, to leave a comment, etc.
6. Additional, qualifying text is ok…
… as long as it’s concise. So your call to action doesn’t have to simply be “Get Started Now.” It could say “Sign up now to collect worldwide publishing royalties for your original music.” A little extra explanation can sometimes go a long way.
7. Test multiple calls-to-action
It’s ok to switch things around to see which approach yields the best results. Play around with language, colors, placement, etc. After you’ve analyzed the data, go with the CTA that had the most mojo.
Hopefully these tips help you make better use of the calls-to-action on your web pages. If you have tips of your own, I’d love to hear ’em. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
[Act Now button from Shutterstock.]