A Call to Action or CTA is a prompt to a user to get them to perform a specific immediate action.
Most CTAs are a line of text, a button, or an image. They tend to use verbs and time-sensitive phrasing.
Some common examples of CTAs include:
- Buy now
- Call now
- Subscribe now
- Visit a store today
- Start your free trial
CTAs including some kind of limited special offer or discount are also very common:
- Get 50% off when you order today
- Offer expires at midnight tonight
- Free gift for the first 10 customers
Strong CTAs are important because they encourage the user to act. Rather than using a link with passive language, CTAs are crafted to motivate the user to take immediate action.
CTAs are typically used on landing pages where the user has no other option but to click the CTA or click the back button on their browser. They’re also a must on social media ads. However, CTAs are also common on all types of web content to influence the user’s next action.
Types of CTA
Most eCommerce sites will contain multiple types of CTA. Some of the most common are listed below:
Purchase CTAs are the most common and important types of CTA on an eCommerce site. These are the CTAs that will encourage users to buy your products and services.
Purchase CTAs are typically simple buttons with text like “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart”.
Lead Magnet CTA
Lead magnet CTAs are commonly used to encourage newsletter signups. It can be difficult to persuade a casual web visitor to sign up to your mailing list when they probably already receive dozens of newsletters each day.
An uninspiring CTA like “Sign up to our newsletter” just isn’t going to have great results.
One of the best ways to increase conversions on newsletter subscription CTAs is by using what’s known as a “lead magnet”.
This is something attractive to the user that will entice them to fill out the form and submit their email address.
In content websites, lead magnets are typically ebooks, reports, or some type of valuable information. For eCommerce websites, it’s effective to over some kind of discount or coupon code as a lead magnet. Putting this discount code inside your first email is an excellent way to make sure that at least the first email you send out is opened too.
Social Sharing CTA
If you’re trying to build brand awareness and reach a wider audience, social sharing CTAs can help to spread your products and blog posts on social media.
Social sharing buttons are the most common form of social sharing CTA. Making these visible on all your product pages and sharable content makes it easy for individuals to share with their followers.
Persistent Header/Footer CTA
Persistent CTAs are usually in the form of a “sticky” banner or bar that stays at the top or bottom of the browser window as the user scrolls.
These are commonly used to display special offer discount codes and for newsletter signup forms.
Exit intent CTA
Exit intent CTAs are triggered when the website detects that the user is about to leave the site.
This is usually in the form of a pop-up or overlay to catch the attention of the customer before they leave your website.
You can often be quite effective in recovering abandoned carts on your eCommerce site if you use an exit-intent CTA to offer a one-off discount.
What is “Above the Fold”?
It’s often recommended to put your main CTA “above the fold”. This phrase comes from newspaper printing and refers to the headline and images people would see on the top of a stack of folded newspapers.
In a website, “above the fold” means the portion of the screen that the user can see without scrolling. Just like with newspapers, you should use this valuable area to grab attention and get the reader to take action.
Optimizing CTAs with A/B Testing
Coming up with effective CTAs is part art and part science. Sometimes making just a small change, like changing the color of a button, can have a big impact on conversion rates.
You can use split A/B testing to try out these small changes and see which versions of your CTAs are most effective.
While you can follow standard advice to optimize your CTAs, there’s no sure way of knowing exactly what will work best with your audience apart from experimentation.