Call to Action
Call to Action: Brief Summary
A call to action (CTA) is a request or instruction, which is intended to generate an immediate and specific response from its audience. Calls to action can take many forms, including text and audio, and feature on different types of content. However, they are most commonly associated with online marketing strategies and found on web pages or adverts.
Within this context, a call to action will typically be written as a clear and direct prompt, such as “call now”, “sign up”, “buy now”, “donate” or “watch this video”. The underlying purpose of a call to action is usually to persuade individuals to take the desired action, with that action being beneficial for the marketer or website owner.
Call to Action: Detailed Summary
A call to action is a marketing concept, which is strongly associated with the sales industry. In this setting, a call to action would typically be designed to encourage the audience or user to make a purchase, as is the case with the CTA “buy now”. With that being said, it could also be intended to encourage an individual or business to take the preferred next step, with CTAs like “start now” or “request a call back” being good examples of this.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that calls to action are widely used and are in no way limited to businesses or marketers hoping to generate financial transactions. For example, an online service could use a call to action to encourage users to “register for a free account”, while a website may ask users to “subscribe to our newsletter”. A CTA could also be featured at the end of an email, in a catalogue or brochure, or as part of an advertisement.
In all cases, the call to action is designed to generate an in-the-moment response from the user. Often, it also functions as a sort of signpost, providing clarity and indicating what the next step in the user or customer journey is.
Many websites include a call to action on their landing pages and users may be directed to a landing page from online advertisements, social media links, search engine results pages, or other websites. A website may have multiple landing pages, targeted towards different types of users, and a CTA can be tailored in much the same way.
With regards to website design, it is common for landing pages or other web pages to include a button with the CTA on it. This functions in the same way as any other call to action, attempting to generate a particular response from the user. Yet, placing the CTA on a clickable button means the action becomes significantly easier to perform. By contrast, a call to action like “call us now” may rely more heavily on users taking initiative and acting independently.
Some modern consumers or internet users adopt a cynical approach towards promotional content and find it relatively easy to ignore. By including a call to action, marketers can encourage these users to actually contemplate what to do next. As a result, a good CTA can boost sales, downloads, sign-ups or other key performance indicators.
Creating An Effective Call to Action
While a call to action can encourage users to perform a particular action, its presence alone is not a guarantee of success. The best CTAs are used in combination with well-designed and persuasive promotional content, such as a landing page, product page or brochure, and there are a number of best practices to consider along the way.
One of the first things to ponder is the kind of language you want to use. If you are trying to encourage sales, for instance, you have options like “buy now”, “place an order” and “add to basket”. You might find that “buy now” performs better than “place an order”, or vice versa. It may, therefore, be beneficial to use more than one of these options on different web pages, experiment, and test them to see which performs the best.
Visibility is a vital consideration too, because users need to be able to see the call to action and identify it as one. Many landing pages are designed with the call to action placed “above the fold”, meaning scrolling is not required to see it. However, “below the fold” CTAs can work well in certain circumstances too. Regardless of placement, you do not want your call of action to blend into a so-called wall of text, so try to make sure it stands out.
The content that surrounds or precedes the call to action is also of critical importance, because it is this information that many users will turn to when deciding whether they actually want to perform the action that is requested in the CTA. This content needs to offer sufficient detail and clarity, and needs to explain the benefits of the action that is being requested. For instance, why should a user sign up for your newsletter? How will they benefit or what will they gain?
Finally, a good way to improve the effectiveness of a call to action may be to combine it with language, which creates a sense of urgency. A simple “buy now” CTA after a product description may not inspire the same desire to act as it would if it was accompanied by a message saying that it is a limited time offer, or that stock is running low. It is important to be truthful and avoid misleading people, but try to create a sense that the best time to act is right now.
Measuring a Call to Action’s Performance
There are many different ways to present a CTA to users or potential customers, which is why it is sensible to measure performance and make changes as you go. With online marketing, a large number of CTAs include a clickable link, or a clickable button, so one way to measure performance is to simply track click-through rates.
Depending on the nature of the action being requested, it may also be necessary or advantageous to measure conversion rates. This could allow you to see how many people who click a CTA button labelled “sign up” actually do so, or how many people who click “add to basket” actually go on to enter payment details and complete their purchase.
Finally, A/B testing can be useful when it comes to comparing the performance of different calls to action. This allows you to try out different wording or different designs and see which one performs best, using key metrics like click-through rates. After running your tests, you can then use the best performing CTA on your promotional content.
A call to action can have a significant bearing on the effectiveness of marketing content, improving conversion rates by actively commanding users to perform a specific action, in the moment. A CTA can provide much-needed guidance for an audience, making it clear what their next step should be, and can also help them to make their minds up.
It should be noted that CTAs can be used to encourage a wide range of different actions and can be featured on a variety of different types of content too. A call to action that works well for one marketer or business may not work quite so well for another, so it is also sensible to experiment with different CTAs and to monitor performance.