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Definition: Call-to-Action

Definition: Call-to-Action

A call-to-action (CTA) is a prompt that encourages visitors to take a specific action.

The action could be anything from applying for a job to signing up for a newsletter. They can be represented by items like buttons, links or images and can appear on your website, emails, ads or pretty much anywhere else you reach your audience from.

CTAs are the next step in the conversion path after good, persuasive content. Let’s say you finish reading an email about a Black Friday sale, or a blog post about the initiatives of a charity organization. You might be interested in buying a pair of shoes you saw in the email ad or maybe you’re genuinely impressed by the work the charity does.

Lead conversion is about driving that interest into action, and that’s where CTAs come into play.

Having a CTA in either example (“Shop now” or “Donate here”), will make it easier and more enticing for the visitor to take the course of action you want them to. 

What makes a good CTA?

Goal setting

CTAs are directly related to specific marketing goals. First, you need to determine what you’re trying to achieve.

  • Get a form filled out
  • Sell a product
  • Increase email subscribers

It’s common to have multiple CTAs on a web page.  For example, Uber has two blue Sign up buttons in different locations to ensure the user can see them.

Netflix has two, as their two objectives are clear. Join or Sign in.

The purpose of your CTA, and whether or not there are other CTAs on the page can affect its look and placement on your page. 

Good CTA traits

Some characteristics of good, compelling CTAs include…

Invoking a sense of immediacy 

Words and phrases like “Join now”, “Don’t miss out!” or “Get started now” urge the visitor to click on your CTA right away. 

Immediacy plays a large role in lead conversion. Even if you capture your visitor’s attention, they’re a lot more likely to convert if they feel inclined to do so immediately compared to bookmarking your page and forgetting about it later. 

Clear, actionable text

CTAs don’t contain too much copy, so it’s important to make your words clear and impactful. Vague verbs like “Click here” or “Submit” don’t tell your customers want they’re getting into after clicking on your button. Instead, go for straightforwardness.

  • Join now
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give X a try
  • Get my free X
  • Start your free trial
  • Learn how to X
  • Get a quote

Or, you can add a bit of creative flair to your CTA. These might be a bit more general, but you can include supplementary copy on your page to explain what you’re offering. 

  • Start your journey
  • Yes, sign me up!
  • Let’s talk

The important thing about CTAs is that you can test and measure them.

Low commitment

Most visitors browsing your website aren’t looking to put their money down right away. Offering free trials, free resources or any other action that doesn’t require payment right away will garner more clicks than CTAs that explicitly ask your visitor to buy something.

Even if you’re promoting a certain product, CTAs such as “Add to cart” or “Add to wishlist” may be more likely to convert compared to “Buy now.”

CTA placement

Where your CTAs appear on your web page mostly depends on what type of page you have. If you have a blog post, putting your CTA at the bottom after you’ve made your case makes more sense than putting it at the top before your reader has any idea of what you do.

But for a landing page, you probably don’t want visitors to scroll down to find your CTA, so you would put it at the top. 

Additionally, you could put CTAs in your top menu or footer so that they appear across your whole website. This is effective if you have a universal CTA that applies to all pages, such signing up for an account.