Calls-to-Action That Really Drive Action

You spend a lot of time ensuring the message and design of your digital banners, ads, emails, blogs or web pages are perfect for your offering and your audience. Be sure your calls to action (CTAs) uphold the same standards. Calls to action work to get users to do something (take action) and give them a reason to do so (incentive). While CTAs can be used to drive a variety of actions, their main goal is to turn prospects into leads—or even better, customers. That’s why it’s so important that your CTAs live up to their name. Below are 10 ways to get more action with your calls to action.

Use Action Words

“Read This Now.” Did we get your attention? Good. When you want someone to do something, you have to be strong and direct. Starting your CTA with a powerful action verb lets your audience know what they should do right away without question. Compare “Read This Now” with a softer, more passive CTA like “Continue.” Which CTA would get your attention?

Choose Your Colors Wisely

Color can elicit emotions and make people take action. Color can also make something stand out from other elements. When choosing the color of your CTA button, it should resonate with your brand and your audience. Many designers choose to make their CTA button the same color as the logo to create a quick connection between the two. While studies show that orange and green buttons perform best, it really depends on your audience, your brand, background colors and other design elements. Whatever color you choose, it’s important to make sure it has a strong enough contrast to stand out and drive action.

Be Short and Sweet

Sometimes less is more. That’s often the case for CTA buttons. Shorter text allows for readers to focus on one action without being distracted. Remember, you don’t need to write complete sentences for a call-to-action. It’s better to say what you need to say, and nothing more. For instance if your offer is about new software for businesses, it’s enough to say “Download now,” instead of “Download our new business software today.” The rest of the copy can cover the sales pitch, the CTA is there to close the deal.

While the suggested word count is between two and five, depending on the device it’s being viewed on, it’s  also important to keep the words themselves short (one or two syllables).

Pick the Right Size

Creating the right size CTA button sometimes requires having a Goldilocks mindset. Your button should be large enough to be read quickly, but not overly large that it looks like a billboard. In other words, just right for your design and layout. Use a natural hierarchy to determine the relative size of the CTA based on your story flow. Remember, the main goal is to have it stand out without screaming at your audience.

Use the First Person

People are passionate about things that belong to them. By changing your CTA copy from second person to first person, you create an immediate sense of ownership with your readers. In fact, studies show that this simple change can increase click-through rates (CTRs) by up to 90%. So next time you create a CTA for a free sample, consider going with “Get My Free Sample,” instead of “Get Your Free Sample.”

Create a Sense of Urgency

“Save 25% Today.” “Secure Your Spot.” These words can create a sense of urgency in many people, also known as a “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO). Being aware of this trending phenomenon and using it in your CTA copy can drastically increase your response rates, much more than offers alone.  

Add Graphics or Animation

Another effective tactic to drive click-throughs is to use graphics to call attention to the CTA button. Simple arrows (either static of animated), can be used to point to the button and show readers exactly where they need to take action, much like an “X” near the signature line on a printed document. Another way is to make the button animate upon rollover or hover to draw added attention to it. These are just two examples, but there are many graphic elements that can be used to drive the reader to take action.

Use White Space

Much like most logo requirements call for minimum white space directly around the logo, so should CTA buttons. Having space around a CTA button allows it to stand out from other elements, saying “look at me.” While it may seem counterintuitive to take up valuable space with nothing, especially in digital banners and mobile pages that already have limited real estate, it actually helps to increase overall aesthetic and response rates.

Set Expectations

When it comes to online transactions, even non-financial ones, many people are still very skeptical about clicking buttons, showing interest or providing their information. So if you want them to take an action, you have to let them know exactly what they’re doing and what it will result in. For instance, if someone is reading a blog about travel in Italy and there’s a call to action that reads “Get Started,” it could mean they’re being connected to an airline, a hotel, a travel agent, or they’re requesting a brochure. Chances are if a reader doesn’t know what their action will lead to, they won’t take any action at all. By having more direct CTAs like “Book My Flight” or “Search for Hotels,” your audience will know what to expect and can make educated decisions on whether to take action or which action to take.

Give Them a Way Out

No one likes to feel pressured into doing something. So don’t make them. It’s perfectly fine to have a “No Thanks” option for calls to action.

The Bottom Line

There are many tactics you can use to increase your click-throughs, and your conversion rates. While we’ve highlighted some of the most common ones, it’s important to test what works best for your business. With A/B testing you can change a color, a word, a placement, but only change one element at a time for accurate results. Once you discover what works to drive action, stick with it—until it’s time to test again. Remember, testing is fast, easy and inexpensive and you can always improve CTRs.

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