How to Create an Effective Call to Action

How to Create an Effective Call to Action

Last updated on July 1, 2016 by Dusti Arab in Conversion Rate Optimization
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In the realm of digital marketing, there's a lot of terminology that gets thrown around, and often, it gets used in a context that can be hard for people new to the space to understand. But never fear! Instapage is here to help you navigate the sometimes tricky waters of the internet marketing world to get you the right data to help your advertising efforts be more successful.

One of the those words I'm sure you've heard - and maybe didn't want to ask about because it is used so frequently - is "call to action" or CTA for short. When creating landing pages, it's one of the most common terms you'll hear - but if you're new to landing page creation, it might not make much sense.

Today, we're going to cover what a call to action is, why it's crucial to the success of your landing page, and how you can make yours more effective. Throughout this how-to, we'll also showcase examples of what makes an excellent CTA. (So stick around pros - you will get something out of this, too!)

What's a call to action?

A call to action is a clear instruction designed to provoke an immediate response.

It's what you want your audience to do. You want them to "buy now" or "signup today."

It's the ask - and if done right, it should be irresistible. With your landing page, you've shown off what you've got for them, and now all they have to do is make the choice to move forward.

While your landing page articulates the value of the offer and whether or not it is for the prospect, a call to action encapsulates your unique value proposition and makes it clear to your new customer exactly what to do next.

An effective call to action makes it incredibly simple for a lead to make the choice to move forward in their relationship with your brand.

Why is your call to action so important?

Why would you spend time optimizing a landing page to convert leads to customers if you were just going to stumble when it was time to ask for something in return for the value you provide?

The call to action is the climax of the page. It's the focus of everything else - the one thing you want a user to do. (And yes, it should always be ONE thing).
Your call to action is what defines whether or not your page converts. It's that simple.

How to craft your call to action

First off, let's start by acknowledging that there is no one right way to craft a call to action. What will work for your audience will vary wildly based on niche, demographics, psychographics, and hundreds of other factors. The only way to know for sure what will work is by A/B testing.

There are 3 main factors that determine how effective your call to action is:

  1. The offer
  2. The copy
  3. The design

Each one of these plays a vital role in how leads react to your page, including how they determine how credible you are and whether or not they can trust you. We'll go into more depth for each of these factors to identify different concepts you can test. Spending time testing each of these elements will help you optimize your landing page for conversions faster than shooting in the dark (so bookmark this page for future reference).

1. The Offer

Offering a freebie of some sort is common practice to get users to opt-in and try a new product or service, and the reason it is common is because it works. If you can solve a small problem for a new user, that's an indicator you might just be able to solve their bigger problem, too.

However, something many companies fail to consider is the format of the offer. Format matters. Some audiences respond well to white papers, but if you try to sell a millenial on that, they'll laugh at you, and then move on to a competitor who offers a free video series instead.

What format does your audience want? Repurpose the same piece of content in different ways and test how they respond to it. It should go without saying the content needs to be genuinely useful to your audience, but it should also be in a small, digestible format. Solve one problem, then they'll come back and trust you can help them solve a bigger problem.

Some different formats to consider trying include:

2. The Copy

A strong headline is the key to getting someone to stick around on your page. Headline testing is a crucial tool in any landing page creator's arsenal (and it's ridiculously easy to do with Instapage), and finding the right message match between your headline and sub-headline is how you can get someone to directly take action and click your button.

After you nail your headline and sub-headline, you can start on your button copy. Where do you start with your button? Well, obviously it has to be short or words, but it can't be short on clarity.

Buffer doesn't leave anything to the imagination with their call to action here. They want to simplify your social routine, and hey help you do it right this second for free. That's a hard bargain to argue with.

Screenshot 2015-05-15 at 9.39.08 AM

A good CTA is heavy on verbs. There shouldn't be any passive voice on your landing pages, but when it comes to your CTA, it can make or break your page. Pages that convert use action-oriented verbs.

Another approach to try is using highly personalized call to action buttons. If you can incorporate a strong brand voice, in addition to having a compelling offer, your offer will do very well indeed.

3. The Design

Do you remember a few years ago when you'd see those awful website covered in yellow and red desperately trying to create a sense of urgency?

Yeah. How did that make you feel? I feel gross just thinking about those kinds of sites. Thankfully, the internet is maturing and moving on to design that is both effective for conversions and also pleasing for human consumption.

This landing page by Proposify is an example of a beautiful and effective design. The button pops, the copy is clear, and the image is perfectly suited to the page as well.

Screenshot 2015-05-14 at 3.39.05 PM

When it comes to design, you have many important factors to consider that will all contribute to your clickthrough rate, but to start, I'd recommend focusing on three primary elements:

  • Color
  • Placement
  • Sizing

This color infographic from The Logo Company does a great job of demonstratign the effects different colors have on how we perceive a brand. A quick note on button color - there is no one right color. Promise. However, your CTA button should be contrasting to the rest of the page. Play with different colors and see what appeals to your audience (and not just what you think is pretty).

Screenshot 2015-05-15 at 10.28.46 AM

Placement is an important factor to consider, in part because of heatmapping. In the states, your audience will tend to start reading on the left side of the page. However, using an image of someone looking or pointing in a direction will cue a viewer's eyes to a given focal point. There's a lot of psychology involved here, and I'd recommend doing some additional reading to discover what optimal placement looks like for your landing page.

This is a strong example of good placement. This page from Netflix places the copy and signup on the left side of the page, a strong move for CRO. The brightly-colored button is also well done and stands out appropriately.

Screenshot 2015-05-15 at 9.10.33 AM

Sizing is another important factor. Button size is a huge deal - and guess what? Bigger buttons tend to convert better. This test from econsultancy saw a 51% increase in conversions by increasing their button size to a laughably large size.

The important takeaway here is the more obvious you can make your button, the more likely your prospect is to click on it.

Have you seen any really impressive examples of great CTAs lately? Link them in the comments!

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