Calls to action are curious entities to say the least. If you were to ask a thousand everyday consumers whether or not those “Buy Now” and “Click Here” commands they see every day actually have any impact or influence on them, you can guarantee 999 would say no…not a chance. Of course, some of those polled might be perfectly accurate having to some extent built up a strong resistance to such forms of direct marketing, but the simple fact of the matter is that as far as most are concerned, calls to action work.
Now, the kinds of calls to action that do the businesses these days are wholly different than those of years gone by as the ever-present sense of desperation and begging has thankfully been done away with. From a modern perspective, very few consumers still believe those “Offer Valid For Only 5 Seconds!” or “You’ve Been Specially Selected From a Pool of 3 billion!” shouts from businesses that base their operations around pure fiction. Or in other words, to simply throw a call to action out into the public and expect anyone to bite is no longer a viable approach…unless the goal is one of failure.
Instead, the way a modern call to action works is entirely more subtle and relies more on the build-up and surrounding information than the command itself. Roughly translated, a call to action these days must first be justified in a manner whereby those the business is targeting believe that it is in their best interests to make the click.
It could be that they’re hooked on what you have to say and want to find out more, perhaps you’ve already convinced them your product is unmissable or really anything else that signifies benefit for the customer – they won’t click unless there’s something in it for them.
CTAs represent the navigational tools that take a website’s visitors from where they are at the time to the place they need to be. As such, without CTAs a site can prove too tricky to navigate and put off a fair chunk of those getting there in the first place. However, it’s not quite as simple as putting a ton of CTAs all over the place in something of a random manner, as just as is the case with everything else in web marketing there are certain rules to follow.
For example, CTAs that fade into the background are neither use nor ornament. Technically speaking, the CTA is the button that ends the reader’s time on the current page and send them elsewhere, so to a large extent it should be one of the most easily-identifiable features on the page. That being said, it’s important not to go too OTT with bright, bold and shouty CTAs or the whole thing could come across as a little desperate.
Next up, it’s hard to believe that the specific place on the page you put the CTA can make or break so many conversions, but it’s also 100% true. For example, stick a CTA at the beginning before you’ve even told anyone what you have to offer and nobody’s going to hit it. Likewise, the same holds true for random CTAs in the middle of nowhere. But at the same time, you don’t want to make it too hard to find right at the bottom of page six – precisely why adding two or three strategically is never a bad idea.
- Simple Steps
Just because a visitor hits the button doesn’t in any way mean they’ll convert. Instead, it’s merely confirmation of their interest and it’ll now be in the hands of the resulting pages as to whether or not the conversion happens. Chances of success can be maximised by making the rest of the process as simple as possible with as few steps and forms to fill out as you can get away with. Forcing folk to sign up for membership never fails to boost bounce rates, asking for their life story is never a good idea and generally delaying the checkout process with marketing or anything else…well, let’s just say you’ll be lucky if anyone bothers hanging around.
Last but not least, never overlook the importance of a little experimentation to see what works and what doesn’t. Use real-time, daily and weekly analytics to see what kinds of clicks your buttons chalk up when you move them to different areas of the page, change their size, play with the colour and so on – you might be surprised how big a difference it makes.
The final takeaway: calls to action can be powerful marketing tools but must not be underestimated in their complexity.