Head to a website, browse the range of items and make a purchase.
Sounds pretty simple, right?
People tend to think that’s how easy it will be when they start their own eCommerce site.
The reality is that unless you’re Apple or another huge international brand, your browsers need a little convincing. This is where your calls to action (CTA) comes in. Your CTA should be thought of as an action that prompts the visitor to realise the benefit your product or service is offering.
Generally, the CTA has two parts: the copy and the button. Sometimes the button is a link and sometimes the copy is just a single line of text.
What is a call to action and why are they important?
By definition, a call to action (CTA) is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as “call now”, “find out more”, or “visit a store today.”
A CTA is also the logical conclusion to the body copy. Your copy must answer the visitor’s questions and calm their fears, engage with them and lead them straight into the arms of your CTA.
Where and how should a call to action be used?
Whether on your product pages, your newsletter signup page or an email marketing campaign, a call to action should feature wherever you want a visitor to navigate somewhere specific.
Think about what your user wants to do and use their instinct as a guide. A useful technique is to speak in first-person as if you are in the client’s head. “Start MY Free Trial”, as opposed to “Start YOUR Free Trial”. This conveys a sense of ownership and intimacy between the visitor and the product, and can be a powerful engagement tactic.
Key elements of calls to action that work
Your CTA should stand apart from the rest of the page elements. This means its colour and size must make it instantly recognisable as an actionable element of the page.
There is no universal colour that is proven to work. However, use a contrasting colour that stands out, is memorable and eye-catching. You can choose to remain within the palette of the page and your brand, but choose a shade that contrasts with the background, text and images. White space is another great tactic to ensure the CTA has room to breathe and make an impact.
Use trigger words to get your message across.
These include: Get, Download, Go, and any words that define the action you wish the user to take.
If you choose to take an angle of gentle persuasion, words that work well include: Start, Build, Learn and Discover.
You can also appeal to their negative feelings: Sick of losing? Troubled by your data security? Worried bug infestations? Confused by kids these days? If you give the impression that you can solve a problem, you will be seen as an authority.
The CTA must be easy to find. In fact, it must find the visitor. Users don’t really look for what to do next, they must be told. The button and text need to be front and centre, and it’s advisable to include it at the end of a particularly lengthy page rather than expect the user to scroll back to the top.
Now! Before it’s too late! Ends tomorrow! Urgency is important, but don’t over-do it.
Examples of great calls to action
Amazon has complete faith in the quality of their site and keeps their copy short. They add value to the sign-in process by using it as an opportunity to promote their level of security.
With Google Chrome, they promote the idea of free in both the main line in regards to the price, as well as in the subline with the number of devices the browser is compatible with. The button is simple and to the point to tell you exactly what will happen.
People love to customise and they also love to cook. The genius of Crust’s “Build Your Own Pizza” is in the little chef’s hat, which plays upon the popularity of cooking shows and the idea that anyone can be a great cook. It’s small and not placed front and centre, but it’s a great example of an enticing call-to-action.
Evernote’s call to action works within their theme and logo, explains their service in two sentences and makes it simple to follow the prescribed course of action. Often a sign-up process is long and convoluted and while it can be justified, showing a visitor how simple it can be is persuasive enough.