Today’s fleeting attention spans and fierce online competition mean it’s more important than ever to quickly grab the attention of users and even more importantly, drive them to take action. Businesses aiming for success must master the art of persuasion and at the heart of this art lies the “Call to Action”, or as we commonly refer to it, “CTA”.
The best CTAs can transform a casual website browser into a loyal customer, a curious reader into an avid subscriber, or a hesitant clicker into a decisive converter. They propel your audience into engaged users and can supercharge your marketing efforts.
However, crafting a truly compelling call-to-action is no walk in the park. For every shining example, there’s a vast sea of uninspiring CTAs that fade into the background and truly hinder your campaigns.
In this blog, we’ll discover the secrets to CTAs that not only grab your attention but also compel you to take action - whether it’s making a purchase, downloading a whitepaper, subscribing, or filling out a form. Let’s dive in.
What exactly is a CTA?
To put it simply, a CTA is a button or message on a website or ad that tells a user what to do next. Typically written as a command e.g. “Buy Now” or “Sign Up”, a CTA serves as a digital signpost and encourages users to take a specific action or helps them navigate through a website.
Without clear call-to-actions users may find it more difficult to find their way through a website and could leave without completing a desired action.
Commonly used CTAs
Crafting compelling CTAs requires clever adoption of action-verbs to influence user behaviour. Certain words incite action more effectively than others. Here are some of the most commonly used and click-worthy, along with our recommended use cases:
The Anatomy of Effective CTAs
Different industries and sectors call for different call-to-actions. For example, to encourage submissions SaaS often sees the use phrases like “Start Free Trial” or “Schedule Demo” while an e-Commerce website would focus on commercial options like “Add to basket” or “Buy Now” to clearly guide users into a sale.
The buyer journey also needs to be considered to ensure relevant CTAs are served at the appropriate time, and to nudge users down the funnel.
Regardless of industry, there are certain rules a marketing professional can follow in order to craft compelling CTAs. The below examples will guide you through each of these rules and explain what makes them so effective:
1. Ahrefs clear and concise invitation
Ahrefs, a trusted player in the marketing game, showcases the strength of clear and concise language with their straightforward invitation to “Sign up for Ahrefs”.
The CTA is even more compelling thanks to the surrounding copy that clearly conveys the value proposition. Users know to expect a comprehensive solution when they complete their sign-up. Finally, the social proof highlights the amount of users who joined Ahfrefs in the past week, making that sign up button almost impossible to resist.
2. Hootsuite’s Strategic Placement
To maximise the chances of users clicking on a CTA, strategic placement is key. The most common positioning is “above-the-fold” (the top half of a web page), at the end of a blog post, or beneath product descriptions on an e-Commerce site.
In this case, Hootsuite takes an innovative approach by placing their free trial button at the side of their article’s content. Most notably, this CTA “sticks” to its position and remains in view as users scroll through the content. It’s ever-present and ready for when users decide to progress in their journey.
By placing CTAs in these prominent positions, conversion rates are likely to be increased as users always know where to go next.
3. Figma’s Eye-Catching Designs
Figma, a platform used every day by our team of web designers, ingeniously mirrors its in-platform experience on its web pages by using an enticing mix of interactive elements - including visually appealing CTAs.
Making your action buttons stand out from the rest of your page is essential and here Figma uses bright colours, concise copy, and a playful link pointer cursor; the iconic ‘pointing hand’.
The entire landing page experience captures the same sense of joy users of the platform experience, and the eye-catching CTAs ensure users can navigate through to the next steps with ease.
4. Ted Baker’s Urgency Tactics
Scarcity and urgency tactics thrive in the world of e-Commerce where businesses are capitalising on the all-too-human fear of missing out (FOMO) to drive customer engagement.
Take this instance from Ted Baker, chances are you’ve encountered something similar, with a message offering a discount for your email. Retailers cleverly use time-sensitive CTAs like “Don’t Miss Out” to nudge users into acting quickly and snagging the “exclusive” offer.
CTAs like this are everywhere in the world of e-Commerce, and whilst they are great at creating a sense of urgency, they serve another purpose - collecting users' email addresses. We’ll have more on the importance of that later.
5. Basecamp’s Solution-Orientated, Benefit-Driven Copy
A well-established formula for crafting compelling call-to-actions involves anchoring them with benefit-driven copy. Basecamp’s latest homepage serves as an ideal example.
“Where it all comes together” speaks directly to teams experiencing project management challenges, and it’s a phrase that suggests a comprehensive solution. Further, the explicit benefit statement, “helps small teams move faster and make more progress” communicates exactly the value-proposition in a compelling manner.
The CTA button itself not only offers a clear command to “Try it for free”, but also taps into a user's emotions by promising to make their work life more enjoyable.
6. Jasper’s Mobile Optimised Buttons
Is your site prepared to convert mobile traffic? It should be, considering the latest statistics reveal 56.69% of global web traffic originates from mobile devices. Rewind back to 2012 and this figure was a mere 10.88%. It’s clear optimising for smartphone devices has never been more important.
A whole blog could be dedicated to CTA best practices for smartphone visitors but for now we’ll focus on two aspects Jasper.AI does right.
Firstly, their focus on one conversion goal stands out - directing users to “Get a Demo”. Despite the presence of the “Start Free Trial” CTA, Jasper.AI highlights the demo button by highlighting it in a rich purple hue and adding an arrow, a detail that studies have shown can boost CTA click-through rates by up to 26%. Considering the limited real estate on mobile, it’s even more important to adopt desktop best practices of limiting options. Too many choices can lead to decision paralysis and overwhelm users.
Secondly, Jasper has strategically placed another call for users to book a demo on their navigation bar. Similarly to Hootsuite’s desktop example, this persistent navigation remains accessible as users scroll, ensuring it's available when users are prepared to take the next step.
7. Shopify - CTA Personalisation
A recent HubSpot study analysing over 330,000 CTAs discovered that personalised call-to-actions convert 202% better than general options.
There’s a good reason for this - personalised CTAs allow you to customise messages for each stage of the buyer journey. For example, Shopify offers a guide for small business ideas with the simple CTA of “Learn More”. This appeals to users at the top-of-the-funnel, individuals thinking about launching their own venture.
For those further down the funnel (previous website visitors, newsletter subscribers etc) Shopify strategically serves a “Sign Up” CTA with the ad focusing on how simple it is to start selling on the platform. It’s a fitting invitation for this stage of the journey.
Implementing CTA personalisation isn’t limited to ad campaigns. Tools like HubSpot give marketers the power to tailor messaging based on various criteria e.g. location, device, previous website interactions and more.
8. Rave Coffee’s Stand-Out Email Capture CTA
With the nearing end of third-party cookies, brands need to implement innovative ways of collecting first-party data, and one method of doing so is through newsletter sign-ups.
Rave coffee encourages newsletter subscriptions through standard forms, but they also cleverly invite them to find their “perfect coffee” through an interactive quiz. The bold “Take Our Quiz” CTA, set against the vibrant yellow and coupled with the 15% discount, stands out prominently and importantly, is a fun way for new-users to interact with the website.
Upon clicking the CTA, users follow a 6-step quiz to find their brew and only get their recommendation - and discount - after they provide their email address at the end of the experience.
Making your email capture CTAs stand out is vital to catching users’ attention, and through collecting first-party data like this, brands can continue to serve journey-appropriate messaging to prospects and improve their marketing efforts.
The Importance of A/B Testing
The CTA examples we’ve discussed highlight best practices and are proven strategies, but they should only serve as the foundation for your efforts. The best call-to-actions for your audience and niche can only be discovered through a/b testing.
Experimenting with action verbs, graphic elements, surrounding copy, and colour choices can yield invaluable insights, and allow you to optimise your lead generation or e-Commerce efforts.
Do you need help crafting compelling CTAs? Contact our team of conversion-minded professionals, and let’s collaborate on finding the best ways to prompt action from your audience.