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10 tips for an effective CTA (call to action)

A call to action (CTA) is usually a button or link asking a user to take some kind of action during or after consuming content. They tend to be used as a marketing method to draw readers in through interesting content and then asking them to take action.

In this way CTAs can be pretty broad and they can be used on a number of different platforms, including as part of content on websites, in newsletters and on social media.

There are also so many different actions that a CTA can ask a user to take, from downloading a report to clicking on a link to consume more content to making a donation or purchasing something to signing up to a newsletter or membership.

Given how broad the definition of a CTA is, how do you go about writing and designing one that will be most effective? There are a number of factors to consider when constructing you’re CTA, so here are 10 tips for how to get the best results.

How you present your CTA matters

Campaign Monitor found that using a button over a link for a CTA increased conversions by 28%. Therefore how you present your CTA does make a difference.

Try to choose a button or similarly designed CTA over a link where possible, and if it isn’t possible consider how you can design your CTA so that it jumps out on the page.

Less is more

When it comes the wording of a CTA, use as few words as possible so that users can immediately see what it’s saying and get the message without having to take in lots of text.

And because you have so few words to play with, every word counts so be sure to spend time thinking how to sum up the action you want users to take.

Use engaging, action-orientated words

One other tip on wording is to use action-orientated vocabulary. You are more or less telling users to take an action so make sure the first word on the CTA is direct and action-focused.

Words and phrases like ‘get’, ‘book’, ‘sign up’,’shop’, ‘reserve’ and ‘visit’ all work well, for instance. In this scenario you don’t need to worry about pleasantries!

Create urgency

Giving users a deadline to take the action can be extremely effective as it is more likely to deter people from see the CTA, deciding they will return to it later and then forgetting or deprioritising it.

You can make sure users feel like they need to take the action immediately just through the language you use. For example, if you offering a discount on products, use phrases like ‘today only’ and ‘only this week’. Even including a simple ‘now’ can work well.

Use bright colours

It’s an obvious but important point. Your CTA needs to jump out on the page otherwise users won’t realise it’s important and may not even see it.

While you should think carefully about other colours used on the page and about your branding, try to choose a bright colour or colours for your CTA so it’s noticeable above whatever else you have on the page.

And ensure the text is large and stands out on the page

As well as considering how your actual CTA button will stand out on the page, ensure your text stands out on the page by thinking about making it quite big and choosing a bold font.

While you don’t need to go overboard, you want to make sure the words are quite a bit bigger than other text on the page so that when users are scrolling they notice it.

Try first person

It might initially seem a bit odd to change a CTA button from ‘start your free trial’ to ‘start my free trial’ but a study from Unbounced recently found it increased clicks by a whopping 90%.

This will, of course, vary depending on the industry, the action you’re asking users to take and the most common personalities of your key audience base, but it’s definitely worth testing this theory out.

White space is effective

If this seems very simplistic that’s because it is! But leaving white space around your CTA is an easy way to attract a reader’s attention, especially if they are scrolling down a busy page with plenty of text.

Think about where you put your CTA

Due to the fact we read from left to right, top to bottom, Campaign Monitor found that the most effective place to put a CTA button is the bottom of a page, especially on the right.

This also makes logical sense because you want a user to take an action when they know exactly what the action will entail. If the action is to buy tickets for an event, for example, users need to know what they event is and read details about it before they will even consider taking the action. There’s no point asking them to take an action if they won’t really understand what it entails.

Be careful of distractions

Finally, be careful of adding other elements to your webpage which look like your CTA and avoid attaching more than one CTA to a piece of content. This could distract users and prevent them from taking the action you really want them to take. Having more than one button on your page, for instance, could confuse readers and lead to them doing nothing at all.

Ultimately, it’s important to spend time thinking carefully about key elements of your CTA, including the wording, the design and where it sits on your page. Individually some of these tips might seem insignificant, but they add up to make a big difference to the overall impression your CTA can make on a user, and therefore the likelihood that they will click it and take the action you are asking of them.

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