Top Tips to Maximize The Power Of Your ‘Call To Actions’

Call to actions are essential, but make sure you are getting them right


Getting your call to actions (CTAs) right can be the difference between attracting users and turning them away. A simple tweak to the language of the placement of a CTA can have a notable effect on its performance, as can something as simple as changing its color. With this in mind, we’ve put together six top tips for getting the most out of your website’s most important button.

Make it low obligation

One of the most effective features of a CTA is the ability to remove obligation (or, at least, perceived obligation). Users will be immediately suspicious that you’re asking for money, or a commitment in terms of a contract, so allay any fears you can. If the product is free, make that clear. If a free trial can be offered without obligation, make that even clearer. It’s far easier to sell to someone already using and relying on your product - if you can, remove money from the conversation, initially at least.

When offering a free trial period, it often helps to tell the user exactly how long that period is. This encourages users to envisage themselves using your product during that timeframe, and it offers assurance that no money will be asked of them before that time.

Choose your words carefully

The language of a CTA is incredibly important. Whatever you’re selling or promoting, urgent language can be deployed to encourage click-through. Words like ‘now’, ‘try’, ‘buy’, ‘join’, ‘explore’, ‘learn’ are all direct enough to encourage the user to take action.

But ‘Sign up today!’ is just the start when it comes to persuasive language for a CTA. Where possible, make the wording relevant to your site - ‘Give Google AdWords a try’ is more enticing than ’Start free trial’, for example. If your product suits a playful tone, use one. If it could be described as an impulse purchase, use language of urgency.

Lay the groundwork

This point relates to the matter of obligation; before asking a user to submit information, you should let them know exactly what they’re getting in return. In fact, you could comfortably argue that the user will usually have made up their mind before getting to the CTA, and that the wording of it can be at times inconsequential.

The answer is somewhere in the middle. Of course, users want to know what they stand to gain by signing up, and many consider the user’s decision to be more about the ‘feel’ of the site, but wording can give that final nudge. If it’s a choice between a button that reads ’Submit’ and another that reads ‘Get your free trial now’, which do you think the user is more likely to click?

Keep it clear

Importantly, a CTA button is not about tricking someone into heading to a different part of your site - the user will be naturally looking for it. CTAs are so well established that a user will instinctively look to the CTA as a signifier as to why the page exists. Are you asking them to sign up for email alerts? Offering them a trial? Selling them something? The potential customer wants to know this before they fully engage with your site.

Make the CTA incredibly easy to find on the page. It should be intuitive. Leaving white space around the button is an option, as is displaying it in a color slightly at odds with the rest of the page - particularly useful if the site has an otherwise limited palette. It should be above the fold, of course, and the button itself should use simple, digestible language and be limited in its wording.

Make it as easy as possible

As an extension of the matter of clarity, the entire process of the CTA should be boiled down to its essentials. When putting together a signup form, for example, ensure only the relevant information is requested - the more you demand, the more likely a user is to abandon the process.

It’s a particularly effective technique to allow users to register using a social media account, or a Google account. The added ease of having personal details already entered can make the difference for many users.

Make it personal

Where appropriate, personalize your CTA. Studies like that from the University of Texas have found that users prefer a personalized experience, both because it makes them feel more in control and it reduces the user’s perception of information overload. Importantly, the user won’t necessarily be presented with any less information, they’ll just feel it’s more relevant to them and thus be more receptive to it - it creates a more relatable, manageable framework for engagement.

For a time, luxury vodka brand Grey Goose directed users to its ‘Discover a cocktail tailored to your taste’ button - and here the notion of personalization meets gamification. OKCupid, a popular dating site, asks for just the user’s sexual orientation and gender, with a simple ‘Continue’ button implying that the signup process is quick and easy (‘Join the best dating site on earth’ is an inspired tag-line, too). Such a move might not seem brilliant on the surface, but the user knows they’ll only see content tailored to both of these defining features from the outset.

Oh, and make it a plain button. No gifs, no pictures, no memes, no plain text - users expect a button. Gifs are messy, pictures aren’t immediately obvious, memes have no place on a professional site and plain text often gets lost among the noise. Simplicity is key. 

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