A call to action (CTA) is a prompt on a website that tells the user to take some specified action. A call to action is typically written as a command or action phrase, such as ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Buy Now’ and generally takes the form of a button or hyperlink. In digital marketing this can take the form of the text on a button (a CTA button) or a web link and in email campaigns CTAs are often links to a webpage where the user can take further action.
The call to action is a key element on a webpage, acting as a signpost that lets the user know what to do next. Without a clear CTA, the user may not know the next steps to take to purchase a product or sign up for a newsletter and is likely to leave the site without accomplishing their task.
A call to action makes it clear to potential customers which action to take next and helps remove friction in moving the user down the sales funnel. There can also be multiple calls to action on a page if there are multiple desired actions for the user to take.
For example, if a reader lands on a blog article and there is no clear call to action at the bottom of the post, it is likely that the reader will leave the site without completing any other tasks. However, if there is a CTA at the bottom of the post asking them to read more articles or to sign-up for an email newsletter, that can encourage them to continue interacting with the site.
A call to action can refer to any ask or request that you make of a user on the site, so a CTA can take many forms depending on the context. A call to action can be a closing statement in a blog post, a line in an email, or a CTA button on a website.
Here are some call to action examples you might typically see on a blog:
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For a B2B company, call to action buttons could feature text such as:
An effective call to action clearly communicates what the user can expect when they click on a button or take the next action, which can improve click-through rate.
Whereas on an ecommerce site, the CTAs may be more commercially focused:
Add to cart
Add to wishlist
In each case, the CTAs on the page tell the user what action to take next to continue interacting with the site and moving further down the conversion funnel.
Marketers employ a number of strategies for creating effective CTAs. Below is a list of some common ones:
Good Design: The best calls to action need to grab the user's attention, so a bright button color that contrasts with the color of the page or an email is an effective strategy.
High Visibility: Because the call to action should be the most noticeable thing on the page, the font size should be large enough to command attention.
Clear Benefit: Stating a clear benefit that the user will get from completing the transaction is an effective way to get them to click.
Actionable Text: A call to action, as its name implies, is designed to compel the user to take action, so an effective CTA should use action words such as "discover", "learn more", and "buy now".
Short in Length: A good call to action should be a short phrase, not a sentence. Most are no longer than five to seven words.
Sense of Urgency: Users are easily distracted on the internet, so a strong sense of urgency such as a limited time offer can help compel users to take action immediately instead of putting off taking action.
Every audience responds differently to various calls to action. There is no guarantee that one call to action will outperform another.
The overall success of a call to action can be measured via a conversion rate formula that calculates the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions, or times the CTA was seen.
To test the effectiveness of various calls to action on your website or landing page, you can use an A/B testing platform like Optimizely. This will eliminate any guesswork and give you data-backed information that helps you optimize for CTA's with the highest conversion.