How to Create the Right Call-to-Action: 7 Tips on Converting Your Website Visitors

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

So what’s the secret to a CTA that works? Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind.

A compelling call-to-action (CTA) is one of the most effective ways to entice a prospective customer to take action, whether that action is buying a certain product, signing up for a free trial, or signing up for a newsletter.

Compelling CTAs will increase your conversion rates, boost click-through rates, drive sales, and, ultimately, improve your bottom line.

So what’s the secret to a CTA that works?

Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind.

Related Article: CRO101: Defining Conversion Rate Optimization & Its Importance

1. Be Specific and Precise

You never want to assume that a visitor to your website knows what to do. You can’t just take for granted that a potential customer knows what to buy or where to sign up for your newsletter without prompting. The most effective CTAs tell the customer exactly what to do and when to do it.

The bottom line? Vague CTAs are a surefire way to kill your conversion rates. Always be as specific and precise as possible; ideally, you will want to leverage the power of strong, powerful, action-oriented verbs.

Case study done by Curtis Dustin years ago

2. Make the Benefits of a Taking a Specific Action Crystal Clear

The copy in your CTA shouldn’t focus on what the prospective customer has to do. It should focus clearly on how he or she will benefit from taking action. CTAs that begin with “get” are inherently more successful than those that begin with “buy,” “order,” “click,” or “sign up,” as they focus on what the prospect will receive instead of what he or she has to do.

For example, trying structuring your CTA along the lines of “Get [BENEFIT of PRODUCT/SERVICE]” or “Get your free [PRODUCT/SERVICE].”

3. Always Use the First Person

When it comes to enticing customers to do things, the first person is always more effective than the second person or third person.

Consider this example: Unbounce.com, a site that provides marketers with a platform to build, publish, and test landing pages, changed the CTA on a PPC landing page that pitches a free 30-day trial from “start your free trial” to “start my free trial.” The result? Unbounce.com saw an impressive 90 percent increase in its click-through rate in just three weeks.

The power of the first person boils down to basic psychology. People like to feel like a company is offering something directly to them.

Related Article: How to Transform Your Static Site into a Responsive Website

4. Make It Time Sensitive

Making your CTA time sensitive can give prospects the little extra nudge they need to take action. Behavioral scientists argue that when a person feels a sense or urgency, he or she is more likely to suspend deliberate thought and take action quickly. There is a variety of ways to produce a sense of urgency in your CTAs, including creating a sense of scarcity and imposing a time limit on a specific offer.

For example, you might craft a CTA along the lines of “Get [DISCOUNT or FREE PRODUCT] while supplies last.” You can also leverage the power of time-related works, such as “now,” “fast,” “quick,” “hurry,” “rapidly,” “close,” “never,” seconds,” and “instant.” The takeaway? Increasing urgency has been proven to increase the likelihood of consumer action.

5. Mitigate the Risk

The best CTAs are not only incredibly compelling and enticing; they also emulate consumer anxiety by taking away any risk. People will always be reluctant to sign up for something or make a purchase, especially if they have to fork over their personal or payment information. By assuring customers that there is no risk in your offer, you will make people feel more confident about taking action.

Netflix exemplifies this principle. It not only offers a completely free trial, it also assures customers that they can cancel at any time.

6. Using Time to Measure Distance Instead

The latest version of Waze now uses estimated time instead of kilometers or miles to describe distance.  The UK’s largest estate agency group Countrywide lets property shoppers choose how long they want to commute as one of the listing filter options. Restaurant listing site OpenTable lets its U.K. customers book tables they can reach their restaurant reservation within minutes.

Why? Studies have shown that Local Search measured by travel time instead of miles or kilometers are converting 200 to 300 percent better.

7. Use the Right Colors

It doesn’t just matter what your CTA says. What it looks like also is important. Even minor tweaks to the color and design of your CTA button can have significant impacts on conversion rates. Ideally, you will want to use a bright color for your CTA button, such as green, yellow, or orange. You also want to ensure that there is a high degree of contrast between the button and the page. This will help draw a customer’s visual attention to the CTA, helping drive up conversion rates.

For example, a study conducted by Content Verve, a content company specializing in conversion rate optimization, found that changing the CTA button color from dark blue to bright green on a major European e-commerce site boosted conversions by almost 36 percent.

Related Article: 5 Conversion Rate Optimization Principles to Consider

Be Warned: One Man's Meat Can Be Another's Poison

While it's beneficial to study what others are doing with their CTA, there is no one thing that works for every site. My suggestion? Apply some of the finding and tips I mentioned in this article, then do thorough A/B testing to find the best CTA that works for your visitors.

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