How many times have you visited a website and clicked to download a PDF, or signed up for a service, or even downloaded software? Every time you’ve reacted in such a way, you’ve responded to an effective call to action, or CTA. 
Having a website is an essential tool for any business or organisation, particularly in these changing times. However, the key to a good website is making sure it is effective, i.e. users are prompted into making a purchase or an enquiry. But getting a call to action to actually work is not as easy as you might think. 

What is a call to action? 

First of all, let’s look at what a ‘call to action’ actually entails. A CTA is part of a website, or any form of advertisement or content, that encourages users to ‘act’ in some positive way. What the act is depends on the business or organisation’s objective. Ultimately, it is part of guiding a user’s journey through your website and ending in a positive action. 

Types of call to action 

There are a variety of CTAs that are consistently used by businesses and organisations in websites: 
Sign up – this CTA encourages the user to sign up to an event, a trial, such as for software or a training course. 
Subscribe – whilst a user acting on this CTA isn’t making a commitment to purchase a product, they are being encouraged to subscribe to a service, such as a newsletter or a series of blogs. This is used by businesses and organisations to build a potential customer base and develop relationships. 
A free trial – this CTA is inviting users to try out a product before committing to a purchase. 
Learn more – 99% of websites will include this type of CTA. Businesses and organisations will use this CTA to provide further information about a product or service with the idea that by knowing more, they will make an informed decision to purchase. 
Download – another CTA that is regularly used, it encourages the user to download a document or software. 

Writing an effective call to action 

Just adding a “Download” or “Subscribe” button won’t necessarily encourage website users to act. They need to be given substantiated, clear and compelling reasons to click that button.  
CTAs are often an afterthought; they should be a key part of the website design. Not only should they stand out in a way that the user can clearly see the call to action, all CTA buttons on a website need to be of consistent size, shape and colour. Be more descriptive in the CTA phrase and use action words, such as ‘get’, ‘try’ ‘now’ or ‘book’. The CTA, ‘click here’ is old and dated nowadays. 
Think about the design of the CTA button; can you use an arrow to indicate the next step? Add them to every page of the website. Most users will look at several pages before they make a decision to act. If the CTA is on just one page, there’s every possibility that the user will forget which page contained the CTA and abandon their action. 

Top tips 

What do you want to achieve? Before you start writing the CTA, it’s important to understand what you want to achieve through the CTA. For example, do you want the user to download a white paper, book a training course, make a purchase or simply to increase page views? Your goals will determine the design, shape and content of your CTA button, and where it sits on the website. 
Know your target audience. Understanding your target audience is a big step in establishing the correct CTA. When you focus on your business’s specific group of interests - e.g. people who want to buy indoor Christmas decorations for the festive season - your CTA message can be targeted to those potential buyers. 
Be careful with your words. What words you use can make or break a call to action. It is the difference between a user acting on your CTA, or clicking the ‘close’ button and going elsewhere. The CTA message must be clear and concise – you don’t want your user to wonder what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Remember, the CTA is there to guide your user into doing an action; it needs to tell them what to do and how to do it.  
Avoid using industry jargon or long phrases; you don’t want to bore your user into going to a competitor. Personalise your CTA by using inclusive words, such as ‘us’, ‘we’ and ‘you’. As well as encouraging users to act, you also want them to return. So, keep it friendly, keep it personal and be polite to build effective customer relationships. 
Short and sweet is neat! You don’t want your CTA to take up too much space on your website, and you certainly don’t want it to be too long. People get bored reading too much content, particularly if it is long-winded. A CTA needs to be to the point, without being sharp and rude. It should be a bite-sized ‘do it’ for users to read quickly and react immediately. Aim to keep your call to action content to a maximum of 150 characters, preferably less. 
Get creative! The design of your CTA is just as important as the content. It’s no good to create the best text only for the call to action button to be drab and unappealing in design. Think about the visual; consider its colour, size and shape. Display the benefits, emphasise the value, and utilise the power of white space. 
Test, test and test again! The best way to determine if a CTA is effective is to test it. There are a variety of tools available that will test how good a reaction your CTA will receive. Always test more than one design or text to find the CTA that works the best for your business or organisation, and gets the reaction you are looking for. 
Looking for a new website or ecommerce platform? At it’seeze Web Design Twickenham, we create stunning, easy to use websites that are affordable and effective. We can even arrange the photography for you. Contact us for more details. 
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