The beauty of a call-to-action is the need for them never diminishes. How we use them or where, when, and why—these things might differ according to the action we want users to take, but those CTAs will always be necessary. Because of the changing nature of ecommerce and marketing, the different types of CTAs have grown and adapted over the years. We now have 9 pretty solid CTA types, from the simplest of questions to large, elaborate buttons. So, what are they, and how can you incorporate them into your ecommerce site?
Let’s start with the easiest and move through the list to the most involved designs.
1. Ask a Question
We already know your ecommerce site has a blog, right? Right? Because you know that websites with blogs attract 55% more visitors than those without. The easiest way to incorporate a call-to-action is to ask a question at the end of each blog. Get those readers involved by inviting them to comment on your content.
Engagement is a great way to keep those users coming back. Not everyone is going to make a purchase the first time they visit your website. If you give them a reason to visit over and over again, the chances of them buying something in the future goes up exponentially.
And all you have to do is ask a question.
2. Go for Subtle
The next easiest of the CTAs is a subtle hyperlink, whether inside your blog or in headlines and titles. Make sure the link tells readers exactly where they’ll go when they click the link. Text such as “Click here to see more examples of CTAs” would be quite effective. “Read more about how to design CTAs with PowerPoint templates” might also prompt some curious clickers. You can also offer up information about new products within your blog, product descriptions, and other general copy without taking attention away from the information the reader was there for to begin with.
3. Simple Buttons
We’ve already shown you how easily you could create your own simple CTA buttons in PowerPoint, so there’s no reason to be intimidated by these. Most feature contrasting colors, straightforward text, and little else in the way of design. You can get creative with the shapes you use, but be sure to test any changes you make. You may find the simple rectangle gets the best results.
You can also boost the effectiveness of the CTA by using A/B testing for the text. Try a few different combinations, but be sure to only test two at a time. Some previous test results show addressing the reader as “you” get more clicks, but you won’t know until you try for yourself.
4. Banner CTAs
If not used correctly, banners can look like any other ad out there. With good text and a design that matches your site, however, users will recognize the banner CTA as an offer for more information, discounts, and other special offers. Using these may include some knowledge of code, but you can definitely design them without a lot of fuss and frills.
The beauty of the banner, besides its location at the top—making it very visible even to those planning to skim—is that you can use them on any page. Your blog, your product pages, and even your about page can all feature a banner CTA without obstructing the user’s view.
5. Big, Fancy Buttons
Some marketers love the big, fancy buttons that looks as though they incorporate a great deal of design. These do have their merits, especially if you use the additional space to let users know exactly what they’ll get if they click the button. Images of products can appear alongside targeted text, with one smaller button urging users to click through to the landing page.
Fancy buttons may look hard to make, but they don’t have to be. Simply choose a textured background, insert a PNG of your images, and present the text in an easy-to-read font and color. Finally, add that smaller button in a contrasting color, and suddenly you’ll have a button fit for a graphic design major.
Why are these fancy buttons so popular? Simply put, they catch the eye. You don’t want to go overboard and make your buttons obnoxious, but you do want users to really see the offer and be tempted to click. By offering something visually stimulating and informative at the same time, you can cover a lot of bases.
6. Sidebar CTAs
If your offer is so great you want everyone to see it, a sidebar CTA is a great plan. Similar to the banner CTA, the sidebar button should be visible on just about every page on your website. You can use various different design techniques, but the most effective might just be a smaller version of your big, fancy button. After all, you want your call-to-action to stand out. If you create something that blends into the background, you’re not likely to see a large click-through rate.
Something to keep in mind when placing a sidebar banner is the natural way visitors will read your site. Most read in something of an “F” formation, with the title first, a skim down the first few lines, and then any subheadings. If your sidebar is on the right side of the screen, it might not be seen, no matter how flashy and fun it looks. The only way to know for sure is to test several different placement options, but our suggestion would be on the left side of the screen above the fold for the highest number of clicks.
7. The Sneak-Attack CTA
A smaller version of your fancy buttons might also be used on various pages when readers least expect them. For instance, you might place a CTA on product pages right in line with the rest of the products. As viewers peruse a selection of boots, they’ll be confronted with a CTA that offers some accessories to match.
The design is easy enough, as well as the placement. The real key is to not overplay your hand. If you’re using more CTAs than products on your pages, users might not appreciate that. The key to a sneak attack is that no one expects it, right?
8. CTA With Social Proof
What better way to catch a visitor’s eye than a CTA with a testimonial? Anyone shopping around on your site will want to know what others think of your products, right? By creating a CTA with a quote from a treasured customer, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Make sure the quote can easily be attributed to a real person. We consumers are wary by nature, and we don’t want to be hoodwinked by manufactured reviews. Include a real name, the person’s job title, and even a photo, if the person giving the testimonial is amenable. The more relevant the reviewer, the more believable your CTA will be.
If you’ve had some experience creating CTAs in PowerPoint before, these should be pretty easy. Again, a textured background will offer something pretty to look at, and then you’ll just need a small logo, a bit of text, and that photograph (if the reviewer agrees! This is really important).
9. Pop-Up CTAs
Okay, so there’s a bit of controversy around HubSpot regarding the pop-up CTAs, but what doesn’t work for some might be perfect for your business. We don’t suggest interrupting a user’s experience to present the CTA, so be sure coding only allows the pop-up after viewing has been completed. These could be prompted to appear at the bottom of a blog or when someone hits the next button on a product page.
One thing we’d rarely recommend is a pop-up CTA before the shopping session can even begin. Some ecommerce sites refuse to allow visitors any sort of browsing experience until email information can be captured. While it’s a great way to get some qualified leads, we don’t imagine you’d get many.
Also, while you may not need a design degree to create these, you’ll definitely need someone who knows a bit about coding. Getting the pop-up to appear when it’s supposed to might take expert knowledge.
Start with these templates
And there you have it: 9 different CTAs you can use throughout your ecommerce site. We highly recommend a healthy mix of the various types for the best results. As always, test, then test, then test again. Find what works best for your company and don’t be afraid to go your own way.
Have any of these calls-to-action brought better results than others? Are there CTA types you’ve tried that we didn’t include here? We’d love to hear about them in the comments! (See what we did there?)
If you don't want to build your own from scratch, you can download some free templates that you can easily customize to your needs:
Originally published Dec 12, 2013 10:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023