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The Call to Action – Beyond the Imperative

The call-to-action (CTA) is one of the most important elements of any commercial website. Generally coming in the form of a button, you might be forgiven for thinking this is the single, non-optimisable aspect of your site. Which is why we’re welcoming you to this CTA-anatomy crash course.

The Anatomy

Coming in the form of a button, the CTA doesn’t often consist of much content or written text at all. It’s common for CTAs to be phrased as imperatives, with expressions such as ‘place your order now!’ or ‘Sign up today!’ being frequent. Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll notice that there are many CTAs which are accompanied by a so-called Lead-in or Lead-out. Additionally, you’ll also find CTAs are in close proximity to logos, confirming the site’s trustworthiness.

These additional elements aren’t always absolute necessaries, yet they can contribute to an increased click rate. It’s time to take a closer look at the anatomy of successful CTAs.


The Lead-In

Before your eyes jump straight to the clickable button, you’ll often see a short introduction. The lead-in is this short introductory sentence, usually placed above the CTA. Its aim is to indicate to the readers what will happen when they click the button. Phrases such as “your registration is completely free“ or “available for immediate download“ would be examples of standard lead-ins. Large sites such as Amazon and Sportscheck no longer use lead-ins to introduce their CTAs, which shows you don’t necessarily need them to be successful, but they might make sense for some select projects.


The Call-To-Action Button

Obviously, being a button, the CTA has to be clickable and it has to be distinct from the other elements of your website. Here, the size and colour of the button are the decisive features. Not only that, but your button has to be clearly labelled. This is certainly one aspect of your site where it pays to have a professional web designer’s touch.


The Lead-Out

This is, as the name suggests, the sentence or phrasing which follows your CTA button. This could be something as simple as the information that goods are “In stock“, for example, directly below a CTA button labelled “In the Shopping Basket“. Lead-outs could also contain the information that the customer’s personal information won’t be shared with third parties, thus increasing the customer’s trust and brand loyalty.


The Signs of Trust

Displaying any trustworthy awards next to your CTA is wise. Signs such as those from the “Trusted Shop“ or any other applicable awards are useful to display. When you’re setting up your website, it’s advisable to make sure the award and the CTA are both immediately visible to the user.


Room for optimisation?

Beyond the exact phrasing of your button, there are a few things you need to consider:

-Make sure your button is clearly visible. Your users shouldn’t have to work to discover that clickable icon. The CTA should be a little set off from the rest of the content, but it shouldn’t be hidden.

-Make sure your button is coloured correctly. Here, it’s worthwhile experimenting with that paint pot to find out what works best for you. Red, for example, is still viewed with some controversy, as it’s not clear if it symbolises a warning or if it attracts attention.

-Size and Font. Don’t forget these two essential factors. Remember the aim of the button is to clearly show your customers what they should expect from clicking the CTA. The main requirement here is that they can easily read the button.


The CTA is an essential element to many websites, but it’s easy to overlook its importance. There’s a lot of potential for optimising the common CTA, though – we hope you’ve found this brief crash course useful.

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