We’ve talked a lot about calls-to-action on the blog. How to get people to click on them. How to design them. And even how to make them “smart” so different people viewing your website will see different calls-to-action.
But wait a second … didn’t we skip over something crucial there? We’ll admit it -- we’re missing one key post answering two questions that people ask us all the time:
- What is a call-to-action in the first place?
- What makes people actually click on calls-to-action?
So … that’s how this post was born. We’re going to take a step back and review the basics -- and if you’re feeling confident to start creating calls-to-action of your own ...
Download our free call-to-action templates here to create your own CTAs, and download 101 examples of effective calls-to-action here.
What Is a Call-to-Action?
A call-to-action (usually abbreviated as CTA) is an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a "call" to take an "action."
The action you want people to take could be anything: download an ebook, sign up for a webinar, get a coupon, attend an event, etc. A CTA can be placed anywhere in your marketing -- on your website, in an ebook, in an email, or even at the end of a blog post.
Still not sure what they are? You’ll know them when you see them. Here’s a compilation of what CTAs can look like:
In most places in your marketing, you have only one CTA -- but sometimes, there are special instances where you might include multiple CTAs. We're not going to worry about that much, but if you're interested, you can read more about using multiple CTAs here.
But here’s the catch with getting started with CTAs: you can’t just slap “Click Here!” on a neon button, insert it on your website, and start racking in the clicks and leads. There are several crucial elements you need to include in a CTA if you want to entice people to actually take an action from your content.
A Checklist for an Effective CTA
When you’re creating your first call-to-action, it’s easy to get all turned around and end up making something that people won’t click on. To save you time and effort, here’s a quick checklist for the essential elements of a quality CTA.
Eye-Catching Design: For someone to click on your CTA, they have to first notice its existence. This is pretty much the one time you can veer off course from your branding guidelines: Your CTAs’ colors should contrast with your website design, yet also appear large enough to be noticed (we’ve seen them perform best around 225px wide and 45px high).
Copy That Makes People Want to Act: It's not enough to say "Submit" as your CTA's copy -- you need a concise, jargon-free phrase that uses actionable verbs to catch people's attention. If you want more CTA copywriting tips, check out this blog post.
A Clear Value Proposition: People should know exactly what will happen when they click on a CTA. Are they expecting to download an ebook or a PowerPoint template? Get a product demo or sign up for your weekly newsletter? Make sure the CTA explicitly tells them what they’re getting in exchange for their click.
A Specific Page (Ideally a Landing Page) Aligned With One Stage in the Sales Cycle: A CTA is most effective if people are taken to a dedicated landing page after clicking it, rather than a random page on your website. For example, a CTA is still a CTA if it points to a “contact us” page (which isn’t a landing page), but it won’t be as effective driving leads and customers as a specific, focused landing page for a free ebook download. Also, CTAs should be created with a specific stage in the sales cycle in mind. For example, you wouldn't include a product demo CTA on a blog post created for brand new visitors -- your clickthrough rate would plummet.
… And that’s the basics of CTAs. Hope that cleared up any questions you might have!
Next Steps: Create a CTA of Your Own
And that’s pretty much all you need to know if you’re unclear on what a CTA is. But if you want a deeper dive into creating and optimizing CTAs, you could download this ebook for more details. And if you’re itching to start creating, you can download our free PowerPoint template of 27 different types of calls-to-action.
How are you going to use CTAs in your marketing? Share your ideas with us in the comments!