Action men – and women. Don’t they make you sick. You know the ones – up at dawn for a 50km bike ride while you’re still drooling into your pillow. Surfing gnarly tubes when you’re surfing your Facebook feed. Hiking to the tops of mountains on their holidays – and flooding social media with their victorious photos.
If you’re a mere mortal (like yours truly) and can’t compete with these folks in real life, don’t despair – you too can become a man or woman of action! Transform yourself into that little known superhero – ‘Call to Action Man’!
What’s a Call to Action?
Call to Action (CTA for short) is a fancy marketing term for directing a prospect to take an action that you want them to take.
Calls to Action should be used in all your marketing, from email marketing right through to billboards. But they are essential on websites.
Why are CTAs so important for websites?
It’s so easy to get distracted in the online world. There are now over 1 Billion websites worldwide (a milestone reached in September 2014) not to mention 1.3 billion Facebook Profiles, 347 Million LinkedIn User pages and let’s not even get started on Pinterest boards…
Studies have shown that average attention spans are getting shorter. From 12 seconds in 2000, attention spans dropped to an average of 8 seconds by 2013, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. On the internet, an alternative focal point is just a mouse click away.
Before you lose visitors from your website, you need to make them count by prompting them to take the action that you want. If you are a business, this is usually related to generating a lead or making a sale.
If it’s not crystal clear to visitors what action they should take, visitors are unlikely to seek it out themselves unless they are already highly motivated to purchase or connect.
You need to tell visitors to your website what action to take next.
How to do Calls to Action right
Inbound marketing experts Hubspot list some best practices for CTAs on their website.
CTAs should be:
- Visually striking with copy that compels you to click the offer.
- Brief – two to five words long is optimum
- Action-oriented – use a verb like “Download” or “Register”
- Located in an easy-to-find spot and logical spot on the webpage. Most usability experts advise placing a call to action ‘above the fold’ – that’s in the top portion of your website that visitors first see when they arrive on your page.
- Contrasting with the colour scheme of the webpage in order to stand out. Buttons are the most popular format for CTAs as they stand out from the content more than other links.
- Large enough to see from a distance, but not so large as to detract attention from the main content on the page.
- Clear and easy to understand, letting visitors know exactly what they will get by clicking on the CTA.
Example Call to Action text
Here are some ideas for Calls to Action text. Remember, it’s a ‘call to action’ not a ‘call to apathy’ – so use a verb.
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Urgency and Scarcity
It can be helpful to create a sense of urgency. It can be as simple as adding words “now” and “today” to the directive.
You can also use the concept of ‘scarcity’ to inspire people to take immediate action, by using phrases like this near your CTAs:
Offer ends June 30
Places strictly limited
Never to be repeated
Order now and receive a free gift
Be a little Different
If it suits your brand personality, don’t be afraid to be a bit cheeky and surprise people with a funny or different call to action:
Be Awesome Now
Make them Jealous!
Supercharge your Business
Multiple Calls to Action
Sometimes a choice of CTAs on a web page is needed to appeal to customers at different stages of the buying cycle. A lead who is ready to buy may click on the ‘register now’ button, while a prospect who is not yet ready to commit may want to ‘find out more’ or ‘start a free trial’.
However don’t fall into the trap of offering too many options. Keep in mind the title of Steve Krug’s blockbuster book on web design and usability is Don’t Make Me Think. There is such a thing as too much choice, particularly on your website.
Where should I put my CTAs?
Your Calls to Action provide a roadmap through your website. They clearly tell your visitor what action to take at every point. Therefore, each and every page of your website should have a call to action. They don’t all need to be ‘salesy’ messages. An invitation to website visitors to subscribe to your email list or like your Facebook page helps capture visitors so you can build a relationship with them.
Calls to Action are essential for any business website
Your website is a big investment for your business so you need to make sure it is working for you. There are a number of elements that make up a successful website including design, usability, and well written content.
Including Calls to Action throughout your website is an essential part of this mix. CTAs are the tools that convert passive website visitors into active prospects and leads. They give visitors a clear and logical set of directions to follow when they are on your turf.
Embrace the superhero within and become a Call to Action man. Your visitors (and your business) will thank you for it.
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