I like to think of myself as more than just a web guy, considering I’ve been online for more than 25 years now. I’ve seen, edited, and created thousands of web pages, sales letters, emails, and even advertising banners.
Something that was true when I started and is still true today is that the call to action (CTA) is in fact missing in action. It’s usually nowhere to be found or if it is there it is hard to find and often overlooked.
Before we get too far, let’s define what a call to action actually is. According to the information site Wikipedia:
Call To Action is a marketing term for any design to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale. A CTA most often refers to the use of words or phrases that can be incorporated into sales scripts, advertising messages, or web pages, which compel an audience to act in a specific way.
Now I’m sure you might be saying, “But Frank, I have an order button on my page!” That may be true, but unfortunately just one may not be enough.
Think about it. How many times does a visitor need to scroll down before they get to the offer? Is your copy compelling enough to get them there? Or are you creating links throughout the page that helps them get to the offer when they’re ready to see it?
I know this is a tricky game. You can’t ask too soon for the sale or opt-in and drive them off. But they should not have to hunt for your offer. And please don’t make me request a call or contact you to find out how much your product or service is. This just tells me it’s too expensive and you have to try to pitch me on a call. Though that is one form of CTA, I can’t imagine that it has a very high conversion. Though I’ve never tested it.
As I mentioned earlier having just one call to action is not enough. There has been some debate or conversation about what the optimal number of “touches” it takes to get a person to take action. And yet another amount to get a conversion into a sale.
It has been said you should have at least eight calls to actions on a sales page and can take up to 16 touches to convert to a sale. Personally, I believe it depends on several conditions depending on where the call to action is happening.
Where The Action Happens
You have to consider the source to get the person seeing your call to action to actually do something.
Obviously, in social media posts you have less opportunities to get the click than you might have on a full sales page. Or if you are doing a physical marketing campaign, you have more possibilities for the viewer to take action with a flyer or letter than you would with a postcard.
The key is that you make the most of the opportunity/space you are given.
Too often we assume the viewer knows what to do. Not only do we not give them enough calls to action, but we also don’t make it obvious what is needed to take the next step.
Don’t just put a link and think they know it’s a link and not just underlined text. That is one observation I’ve made during my time online. When hyperlinks (text links) were originally used they were a bright blue underlined text if they had not been clicked and would turn to purple if the link had been clicked the. Now, many of your website builders allow you to change the link colors.
While applying different colors to your text links, you should be aware that you are possibly affecting your conversion rate. The worst thing you can do is make it the same color of your text. You cannot assume they will know that just because it is underlined it’s a link.
If It Quacks Like a Duck
There is an old adage that says if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck! That’s exactly what I mean in your call to action. If it looks like you should do something than they will know they can take action to do something.
A call to action isn’t always directly related to the sale. It’s simply getting the viewer to do something, ideally clicking to buy. But it could be to opt-in for a free resource, newsletter, more information, schedule a free consult and more.
The thing many website owners miss is that not everyone reacts to the same thing. While some will click on a link, others are looking for a button. Remember this as you work on creating social media posts and even more so as you have banner ads and graphics created.
Imagine having an advertisement with just an image, a person, and text compared to the same image with text that looks like a hyperlink or even better, a button. While “we” know it’s not
an actual button or link, the visitor will click just the same. This has been time tested many times over the years.
As I’ve said before, testing is different for each application. What works for one market won’t for another. The same is true with the colors you use. So, make sure you test to see what works best for your market.
We’ve discussed a few places you might have a call to action. Such as sales letter, marketing pieces, ad banners, and postcards. But there are other places we could use a call to action too.
A CTA is often used in email but even then, it just looks like an underlined bit of text. It needs to have a “click here” or follow this link to get more information. Many email services even have an option to include a button. If using a button in an email, test what text works best for your market.
Other places often overlooked for a call to action are videos, blog posts, articles, just to name a few.
Call to Action Wrap Up
While we’ve just barely scratched the surface of call to action uses, I hope you will think about using them more. For example, if you decide to add more links on a page or email, don’t use the same text every time. Remember different word usage affects everyone differently. Be sure to use verbs in the action that invoke excitement or urgency.
When using a button test to see what button color works best for your market. From what I’ve seen, orange buttons have a good conversion rate. Please note if you have other buttons on the page such as a specific option, it should be a different color than your CTA, so it could be confusing.
I hope you’ve found this information useful. Of course, after an article like this I want to have a call to action, but since this is for a print magazine, I can’t do that! If you have questions about the article or how to use a call to action on your website, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!