Harnessing the Potential of Calls-to-Action: What is a CTA, How to Use It & Best Practices

As an online business owner, you’ve probably heard the term ‘CTA’ thrown around – but what is a CTA, and how important can it be?

It is incredibly important! In the realm of content marketing, CTA or call to action play a crucial role in driving user actions and the conversion funnel. Join us as we explore the ins and outs of CTA, answering the burning question: What is a CTA, and why should you care?

As an independent digital marketing agency, we believe in the power of CTAs as it is a big part of an effective copywriting strategy. It drives conversion rates and increases the likelihood of your customers interacting with your content and eventually purchasing what you’re selling. Think of CTAs as a light in a dark tunnel guiding you through it. To learn more about our digital marketing strategies – feel free to contact us by phone at 0161 327 2635 or email [email protected] once you’re done reading this blog.

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From Clicks to Conversion: What is a CTA?

Let’s start with the basics: CTA meaning (also known as a call to action). It is a marketing term that does exactly what it says on the tin – it calls the user to do an action. It is usually in the form of a prompt or direct sentence that encourages the reader to perform a specific action, such as:

  • Contact you
  • Fill out a form
  • Subscribe to your socials
  • Go to a service page
  • Make a purchase

CTAs aren’t an exclusively online marketing technique, you can find this in any form of marketing material – think advertising on TV, YouTube videos, social media posts, etc. They’re usually concise and attention-grabbing, using compelling language and/or visuals to persuade the audience. 

The purpose of CTAs is to convert leads into customers, engage users, and drive desired outcomes. An effective CTA is strategically placed within the content and will always be accompanied by a link, a visually appealing clickable button, or an action to be taken that can eventually convert.

Different Types of CTAs and Their Purpose

Although the meaning of CTAs is straightforward, there are different types of CTAs in practice and each of them has a purpose and use. Different CTAs have their own place within a marketing strategy to improve the conversion rates of a website. CTAs go hand in hand with a marketing or sales conversion funnel.

#1 Clickable Buttons

Clickable buttons are an effective way to entice users to click through to another page or perform a specific action. They are often placed prominently on a website and will typically have a call-to-action text on the button itself. These buttons are perfect for driving users towards the most important pages on your website, which will help to increase engagement, improve bounce rate, and ultimately drive more conversions.

Examples of clickable buttons:

  • ‘Add to Cart’ button on an eCommerce website.
  • ‘Subscribe Now’ button on a blog page to subscribe to a newsletter.
  • ‘Learn More’ button on a product page for more information.

TIP: Don’t overuse clickable buttons, use them sparingly and strategically as a visual point of interest. Having a clickable button is a great way to break up a service page to make it visually dynamic.

#2 Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are clickable text or images that take users to another page or resource. They can be used to direct visitors to a specific page within your website or to a related external resource. Hyperlinks are a much quicker way to send users from one page to the next than clicking through a navigation menu. This is by far the most common form of CTAs you’ll find in content – it is used to guide the readers to different service pages that advertise your products which encourages them to engage or they can direct the user to contact you. 

Within hyperlink CTAs in content, you’ll have different types of CTAs that serve different purposes such as:

  • Related Content – linking to blogs and other informative content within your blog.
  • Lead Generation & Nurturing –  by directing traffic to areas of interest, you can capture more leads.
  • Product or Service Discovery – leads the reader to discover a product or service that you provide. 
  • Social Media Sharing – highlights your social media which creates further engagement, brand awareness and customer loyalty. 
  • Closing the Sale – after reading a long-form piece of content on your site, the customer can feel lost on what to do next. CTAs tell them what to do next and close that sale.

Hyperlink CTAs have SEO (search engine optimisation) benefits, they can be used for internal linking purposes so Google and other search engines can better index your page and therefore, rank better. When deciding on the text associated with a link, it’s always good to follow best linking practices. 

#3 Fill-Out Forms

Forms allow you to collect information from your website visitors, including their name, email, phone number, and more. By getting visitors to fill out a form to get in touch with you or provide their email addresses to sign up for your newsletter, you can generate leads and start building a relationship with potential customers. Take a look at our SEO A-Z guide, this is a good example of a fill-out form CTA that requires you to provide information in order to access the freebie.

#4 Pop-ups

Pop-ups are a more interruptive way to engage with visitors and encourage them to take action. Pop-ups can be used to offer an incentive for signing up for a newsletter or downloading a free guide or eBook. They can also be used to promote special deals or discounts. However, it’s best to use pop-ups sparingly and with caution, as they can sometimes be viewed as annoying or intrusive.

You can be clever with the language you use for these types of CTAs, you can evoke emotion out of your target audience which makes them more likely to click on the pop-up.

#5 Slide-Ins

Slide-ins are similar to pop-ups but are less intrusive as they appear at the bottom or side of the screen and do not obstruct the user’s view. They can be used to promote newsletter sign-ups, social media sharing, or offer incentives for staying on a page or visiting other pages on your website.

Why are CTAs so Important: Benefits of CTAs to Business Owners

CTAs have a direct impact on conversion rates and are an essential component of a successful digital marketing strategy. By making it clear what action a user should take, businesses can increase click-through rates and improve lead generation as CTA statistics show. Moreover, effective CTAs help to guide customers through the sales funnel and reduce the risk of them dropping out of the process.

Another advantage of CTAs is that they can alleviate decision fatigue. When presented with too many options, customers can become overwhelmed and struggle to make a decision. By providing a clear and straightforward next step, CTAs can make it easier for customers to take action and make a purchase or request a service.

4 Factors to Consider When Developing CTAs

When developing CTAs there are several factors that you need to consider. These factors play a pivotal role in creating effective CTAs that motivate potential customers to take specific actions. By carefully considering these factors, you can increase click-through rates, improve lead generation, and ultimately drive more sales.

Understand Your Audience’s Needs and Desires

An effective CTA is tailored to your audience, it’s the only way it’ll get through to them and increase your click-through rate (CTR). In short, a CTR is the frequency with which your audience clicks on your link or post.

Having a good idea of what your target audience needs is important – identifying their pain points and motivations. What do they need and want, and what problems do they need to solve? By understanding their goals and desires, you can create CTAs that directly address their needs and provide the solutions that they are looking for.

To create CTAs that resonate with your audience, use language and terminology that is specific to their industry or niche. This will show that you understand their unique challenges and can help provide tailored solutions that meet their needs.

Use the Right Words and Tone

The right words and tone can provoke emotion, establish a brand voice and create a sense of urgency, while the wrong ones can lead to apathy or even drive users away. So, it’s crucial to understand the impact of emotive words on search intent and how to use clear and concise language, along with strong action verbs, to guide customers towards their desired outcomes.

Using emotive words in your CTAs can encourage users to take action by appealing to their emotions and psyche. For example, words like “hurry,” “limited time,” or “exclusive offer” can create a sense of urgency, while “join,” “belong,” or “community” can evoke feelings of inclusivity and connection. These words can serve search intent by addressing users’ needs and desires and motivating them to take action.

Use clear and concise language to guide users towards the desired outcome and avoid potential distractions. CTAs should clearly communicate what users can expect by clicking on them and provide a compelling reason for doing so. Using strong action verbs such as “buy,” “subscribe,” “sign up,” or “download,” can prompt users to take action and eliminate any hesitation they may have.

Let’s look at some examples:

The Purpose Examples
To Buy Order, shop, reserve, add to cart, save, view, pick 
To Subscribe  Try, get started, sign up, join, refer, register
To Give Away (Freebies) Download, get, grab, claim, take advantage of, don’t wait 
To Learn Learn more, see more, see how, find out, start, check it out, click here, continue, swipe up, need more (information), be sure
To Donate Donate, commit, volunteer, adopt, give, support
To Contact Call, get in touch, visit, get a quote, get more
To Evoke Curiosity Be the first, explore, unlock, dare, uncover, demystify, investigate
To Create a Sense of Happiness Pamper, treat, enjoy, celebrate, ignite, reveal

Create a Sense of Urgency

You may have heard this advice before but what does it mean? Essentially you’re playing into the fear of missing out that most people have. Fear of missing out on a great opportunity, a great product or a great deal.

By setting time-sensitive CTAs such as ‘limited time offer’, it urges users to act on the offer instead of waiting for another time and possibly forgetting about your service or product. You can also incorporate phrases like ‘don’t miss out’ or ‘don’t delay’. These phrases reinforce the idea that time is of the essence.

Positive Example Negative Example Why?
Hurry, sale ends at midnight. Shop now and save! Feel free to check out our products whenever you have time. The first example has urgency and says exactly what the reader should do.

The second one is vague, has no urgency and is indirect.

Make CTAs Visually Appealing

While the copy is important in crafting a convincing CTA, it’s equally important to focus on the visual elements that make it visually appealing to potential customers.

Visual elements such as colour, font, whitespace, and contrast all play a significant role in making the CTA attractive and eye-catching. For instance, contrasting colours help to make the CTA stand out and draw attention to it while whitespace helps to break up the text, making it easier for readers to scan through and comprehend the message.

A bold and easy-to-read font is ideal as it helps to grab the reader’s attention quickly and convey the message in a clear and concise manner.

4 Best Practices for Optimising Your CTAs

Not all CTAs are created equal, and for them to be effective, they must be designed and optimised with best practices in mind.

Keep It Simple and Concise – simplicity and conciseness are crucial to maintain their effectiveness. Keep instructions clear and direct, and it will increase the likelihood of potential customers following through on the CTA. 

Place the CTA in Strategic Locations – By placing the CTA in a strategic location, you can increase their click-through rates and conversions, ultimately boosting their overall marketing performance. One of the most common strategic locations for a CTA is known as ‘above the fold’ – this is the area of a web page that is visible without scrolling. Place CTAs throughout the text, such as at the beginning, middle and end of a piece of content. 

Offer Clear Incentives or Rewards – Offering clear incentives or rewards can be a game-changer – incentivising prospective customers can increase the likelihood of them completing the desired action. So, what kind of incentives or rewards should you offer? It’s important to provide something that is relevant to the action you want them to take, and that provides real value to the customer. For example, if you are selling an online course, offering free advice or exclusive content that complements the course material can entice your audience to take action.

Test Different Variations of CTAs – A well-crafted CTA is nothing if you don’t learn and experience it. With every piece of content, you need to test various wordings and appearances of CTAs to see what your target audience resonates with and what makes them take action. Variations can include differences in wording, design, colour, placement, and more. How can you test it? A/B testing has been designed to test the effectiveness of marketing methods. With A/B testing, one variation of a CTA is shown to a portion of the audience and another variation to another portion, with data collected in near real-time. Based on the results, you will know which CTA variation performs better and adjust accordingly. 

Want to Improve Your Lead Generation? We Can Help

We hope that you now know what is a CTA, how to use it and how it can help your business grow. If this seems like a lot, don’t worry – we can help.

As a digital marketing agency, this is our job – to help businesses grow and expand with our unique strategic approach. At the core of our operations, it is search engine optimisation (SEO) followed by content marketing. 

We provide a range of digital marketing services, from digital PR to PPC – there is something for everyone. Get in touch today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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