Calls to action hold a special place in the hearts of Inbound marketers, and with good reason. Without a functioning call to action, our prospects don't have a reason or way to convert into leads. For those attempting to piece together the components of Inbound strategy, well designed CTAs are a critical part of your skill set. So, let's take a look at how to go about crafting one that converts!
We can't walk before we run. So before we get into the nitty gritty, let's review what a call to action is indented for, and why they're so crucial for your business.
A call to action prompts your audience to do something. It might be to download an eBook (hello, lead generation!) it might just be to click through and read another page on your site. We see calls to action many, many times every single day.
Things like "Subscribe to Our Blog", "Start a 30-Day Trial", and "Take the Free Assessment" are all examples of calls to action you've likely encountered on countless websites, but perhaps not recognized as a CTA. Now you know!
When you're ready to start creating CTAs there is one end-all, be-all component to consider. Before anything else, you'll need to clearly define what you want the prospect to do, and why the action is relevant and helpful to them.
I know, but it's too critical not to mention. Here's why:
Adding value to your customer's life is widely accepted as the heart of successful marketing and selling, so it makes sense that it is also the most important part of successful CTA design. All copy and all aesthetics should center around what your visitor will enjoy by converting. If you're interested in learning more about providing value and relevancy in your CTA, Unbounce wrote a great case study article on the matter.
When you know what you want the visitor to do, and can clearly define why they would be inclined to do so, you're ready to get started! Here are a few of my favorite tried-and-true tips for creating a CTA that converts:
SimplicityRemember the phrase "Keep It Simple, Stupid"? It may be sassy, but it rings incredibly true in the world of calls to action. Simplifying your design, copy, and overall messaging is incredibly important for ensuring the visitor understands how and why to convert.
Ironically, I've always found this to be the hardest part of designing CTAs. You'll probably encounter this issue as well – it's hard to communicate a compelling offer, benefit, and action under limitations!
As my mother is fond of saying, we'll have to "suck it up". Strive for ultimate simplicity at all costs.
Remember when you determined what you wanted your visitor to do? That should be the entire basis of your call to action. Focus on that end goal, and make sure all CTA components are guiding prospects toward the finish line.
Here's a concise CTAs that work well from Unbounce:
Colloquial CopyAnother tough one! Being that you're either a business owner or marketer, your whole job (and sometimes life) revolves around the company and offering you're promoting. When you're this intertwined with your brand, it's easy to forget that your audience may not know as much as you do. They also may not speak the same professional language.
David Ogilvy once said, "If you're trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular."
If you're not familiar with Mr. Ogilvy, he's regarded as one of the fathers of advertising with an amazing career spanning from the 1940s through the early 90s.
In other words, he peaked way before website calls to action were ever a twinkle in marketer's eyes.
Nonetheless, conventional wisdom still reigns true when inspiring customers to act. Speaking in familiar language that's free of jargon and is dripping in relatability to your audience is imperative for success.
Here's MTV using a CTA that clearly "gets" their viewers. Note the lack of capitalization and use of slang – also known as the unofficial language of MTV's Tween audience:
Smart colorsI don't come from a design background, but a little bit of research on the psychology of color quickly explains why your hue selection deserves extra attention.
Choosing the best colors for your CTA is about more than just "My business is a tree nursery, so we'll use green" – it requires an assessment of how your selected colors pop together. You may choose to use branded color schemes, which is great, as long as they contrast in an appealing manner and lend themselves well to clear reader comprehension.
I'll take any opportunity to look at shoes, so I headed over to DSW's site to see how their CTAs contribute to the buying process for this example.
In the image below, we see that DSW does a great job selecting a color that stands out for their CTA (Add to Bag), and also ties that color into a few other key portions of the page which contribute to the buying decision (image and customer ratings).
SizingTurns out, size does matter. Fortunately, it's all relative.
The best size for your CTA will vary depending on the layout of your page, and also the nature of the offer. It should organically flow with the rest of your site, and it should strike a balance between calling attention and spamming. Studies show really big CTAs tend to convert poorly, because users perceive them as irrelevant (my money says online ads are likely to blame for this).
The FTC has several potential actions for website visitors to take, so they keep each one relatively small but distinct:
Alternatively, Master Inbound is all about the sole purpose of getting people signed up and enrolled to begin their marketing innovation journey, so our CTA is large and alone on our page:
Feeling ready to start creating your own CTAs? The sooner the better! Remember, CTAs help give your website visitors a clear path to follow and an easy way to convert into leads or customers. Make sure you're investing the proper time into drafting calls to action that abide by these guidelines, and you'll start seeing fantastic results before you know it.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelholden/5221051227