Calls to action are the final gateway between an agnostic visitor and a full-fledged lead (or customer, depending on your business model). The more conversions you get through calls to action, the more profitable your marketing campaign will be, and the more recurring revenue you’ll receive from every visitor who crosses your path.
The problem is, creating a good call to action is hard. Countless companies have succeeded in driving thousands of visitors to their sites, only to suffer from low conversion rates because they didn’t have strong enough calls to action. Whether you’re creating an ad-style banner image or you’re embedding some short text in the middle of your blog post, these 10 factors are what make a call to action great:
Your first job with any call to action is to make sure it’s visible. A user can’t buy a product unless they first see the product, right? For content-based CTAs, this means offering a callout as a separate line of text. For ad-based CTAs, this means putting the design in front of the user as soon as possible on the page. Once you’ve got their eyes, you can start working on the other elements of a successful CTA.
People trust other people more than they trust corporate brands. If you want to make a strong appeal, you’ll need traces of personality in your CTA. To get things started, write the text of your CTA in your unique, personable brand voice. Including images of people in your design can also increase conversions—people always respond well to faces. You can also make a callout to your personal brand as a kind of person-to-person appeal.
Social confirmation carries a powerful effect. If other people have reviewed your product (or service), show off those reviews and encourage more people to join in the benefits. Try to get a testimonial or two from your current or most active customers, and feature them near your CTA. If you can also include images of these real customers, you’ll capitalize on both the “testimony” and “personality” elements of a great CTA.
People don’t convert just for the hell of it. They convert because there’s a clear value to converting. In the case of buying a product, it’s your job to convince customers that your product is worth more than the amount of money you’re asking for it. Even for simple transactions, like asking for users’ email addresses, you’ll need to make a value proposition to make the CTA worthwhile.
When it comes to the value of your CTA, the full description of whatever it is you’re selling, and your motivations for selling it, clarity is king. The more transparent you are in your intentions and offers, the better. Let consumers know exactly what it is they’ll get by signing up for your newsletter, or highlight all the important properties that distinguish your product from the competition.
Clarity is important, but only if you’re being concise. Most CTAs do not afford you the room to fully and thoroughly explain every aspect of your business and product. Instead, you get only a few sentences. Finding a way to communicate your value and intentions in only a few words is a challenge, but a necessary one if you want to succeed. Remember, you can always include a link to more information for those who need more before making a decision.
Though it might seem strange on the surface, including a directional indication toward your CTA can actually increase your conversions. For example, if you include an arrow pointing to the “submit” button of your email list signup, you’ll see an increased conversion rate. Using human images with eyes focused on a CTA can have a similar effect.
It isn’t enough to make your CTA visible and direct people to it. Even if they find value in your offer and like everything you’re saying, they still might abandon you if the completion process is long, annoying, or otherwise inconvenient. Make your conversion process easier by reducing it to fewer steps, asking for fewer fields to fill out, and making it easy to understand exactly what’s required.
Tastefulness is a bit of a subjective quality, but we’ve all seen the spammy ads and landing pages that rely on gimmicks to hook users to conversion. They feature things like bombardment of words and imagery, exclamation points, and flashing colors, and they’re almost universally hated. Make your CTA visible and stimulating, but keep it in a tasteful realm.
Finally, a bit of reassurance in a CTA can go a long way. If you’re asking for an email address, assure your users that you won’t use it for anything they didn’t sign up for. If you’re selling a product, mention your money-back guarantee. Make people feel comfortable converting.
If you can create a call to action with all 10 of these objective qualities, you should have no problem getting your conversion rates to an acceptable point. As with any marketing strategy, you’ll need to expect a period of experimentation and refinement—your first generation calls to action probably won’t generate the conversions you need, but if you pay attention to your user behavior and continually roll out newer, improved versions, eventually you’ll settle on a setup that works for you.