Your website exists to inspire an action from your visitors. Shorter attention spans mean you need to do so very quickly. Younger browsers are making a decision to stay or go sometimes faster than pages can even load properly. Attention spans have shrunk from 12 seconds with Gen Y to 8 seconds with Gen Z.

Calls to action (CTAs) have historically been used as small on-page enticements – think of them as little ads – to encourage people to click to lead generating pages, which collect a little personal information from a prospective customer in exchange for something that has value to them, usually a piece of content or offer. CTAs often do not appear on every page of a company’s website, and that needs to change. Any site page can be a “landing” page or entry page because, depending on what someone is searching for, Google or other search engines could direct them from the search results to an interior  page, a blog post, FAQ page, or any other non-homepage page.

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Therefore, a best practice is including a CTA on most if not all of your pages. That’s not enough, though. There are some better ways to drive your customers to do what you want via a CTA — or multiple CTAs, including the language to use, where and how many to place on a page, and revisiting any existing CTAs.

What Does Your CTA Really Say?

Hopefully, your existing CTAs are asking the visitor to take an action. If not, that’s the first thing you should look at. Don’t be bashful or coy about what you want. State it clearly and cleverly — and be truthful. The first best practice is  a CTA has to deliver on the story you’re telling

If your CTA boasts, “Click here for FREE Arianna Grande tickets,” there better be some free tickets for everyone who clicks at the end of that rainbow. If the CTA says, “Click here to enter for FREE Arianna Grande tickets,” the visitor shares their email, gets a coupon to your business and entered into a contest where the prize is a free pair of tickets. Otherwise, if there really are no tickets for anyone who clicks, that’s called clickbait and, guess what, all of your customers and potential customers HATE clickbait.

While you may get a lot of clicks with clickbait — hence the name — your credibility can take a freefall. With many options available in virtually any type of business, staying credible and honest with your customers and prospects should always be a top priority.

Now, there are some ways to be cunning with CTAs (notice we said cunning not conniving):

  • Answer a question: Your prospects are looking for something and you might have it. This should be one of your go-to CTA types. It could be a product. “Need a Widget? Click here.” It might be a service. “Headaches from your Widget Wrangler? Click here for a fix.”
  • Evoke an emotional response: For now, your customers are still human beings and human beings are emotional. We respond to things that feed our egos via first-person language. “Get my free week!” is a great option for a company with a subscription-based service. A third of the country’s households have dogs and/or cats, so you have a pretty good shot of pulling on heartstrings and getting clicks with a powerful pet-related CTA.
  • People also respond to color and size: If you’re using a CTA button to encourage clicks, look at the colors of your existing site pages and use a color that will stand out and a button size that will be easy to click on a smaller mobile device’s screen.
  • Give FOMO a try: There’s a growing anxiety in folks called “fear of missing out,” and it doesn’t just relate to social activities. Instinctually, most of us do not want to feel like we’ve been left in the dark. CTAs can encourage some strong responses with something as simple as, “Click here, your neighbors already did it.” Or, for a business that is very competitive, “Check out our free resource guide — because your competition already downloaded it.” On this same mindset, people love feeling like they’re on the inside track, so try using the phrase, “Let you in on a secret.”

CTA Placement

If you’re still reading, we mentioned short attention spans early in this post. Placing CTAs in multiple locations on the same site page is another best practice. BUT! Only link to one page despite your multiple placements, like a hallway with only one door. You want only one action per page, because it’s tough enough to get a prospect to click on one action, much less two or three.

For blog posts, try placing a CTA after the first 100 words (as we did above). Consider using one on a column on the right side of the page. Include one at the end of the post. This is not a time to be subtle. Don’t be bashful, but also don’t be obnoxious. You can mirror and align your CTAs with different language as long as the ultimate message and link are the same.

Utilize your photos and videos, too. You are much more likely to get eyes on a page that have visual elements so use them! Consider placing a text-based call to action in the caption to a photo or video.

And, don’t ignore your existing pages. If you are serious about improving your CTAs, go back and look at your older pages and update the CTAs, look at their placement and do some testing on language and buttons. Pick a few pages where you can have the same CTA and experiment and test to discover which choices are garnering the most-solid responses.

We always say your site should never be “set it and forget it,” so consider adding a regular CTA audit and update into your regular site maintenance schedule.

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You'll never look at marketing the same way again

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