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Call-to-Action 101

By | July 8, 2014

Most people would agree that the call-to-action is the most important part of a landing page or email message, whether it’s meant to collect leads or inspire a purchase. So it’s important to take the right steps to ensure that there are no obstacles standing in the way of your audience and the end goal of your page. Below are a few tips to consider when designing calls to action for your landing pages, emails or any web pages that are part of your conversion funnel.

CTA button FB

Be specific.

Vague, lackluster verbiage such as “Buy Now” or “Click Here” is pretty bad, but “Submit” is probably the worst CTA you can use. Stick to clear and concise wording when choosing CTAs so that your audience knows exactly what they are doing when they click the button. For example, “Download the Conversion Guide” is obviously more descriptive than “Download Now.”

Stand out.

Don’t be afraid to draw attention to your CTA. The user clicked on an ad or email link for a reason, and the last thing you want is to hide the main purpose of your page and potentially lose the user’s attention. Try to stick to one main CTA, but if you really need to have more than one, make sure to prioritize, so that the more valued one is more prominent.

Easy ways to help your CTA stand out:

1. Contrast between button color and text color.

2. Choose a button color that goes with your branding but doesn’t blend in with the page.

3. Make sure the button and text are large enough compared to the rest of the page elements.

4. Use a rollover effect such as changing the button or text color.

White space is your friend.

It’s OK if your page isn’t filled from top to bottom with images and text—in fact it’s better if it isn’t. Don’t bury your call-to-action in the middle of too many distractions. Determine how much information your audience needs in order to decide whether or not to click on your call-to-action. The greater the investment by the user, the more information they will likely need in order to convert.  For instance, you probably need less details to get a user to download a free whitepaper than you would need in order to convince your audience to hand over their credit card information and purchase a $200 industry trend report.

Create urgency.

This one is pretty simple: If a person feels they are going to miss out on something, that person is more likely to convert. Use a limited-time offer, an exclusive discount for a same day purchase or remind that supplies are limited.

Point it out.

Ideally your page is designed well enough that the user can easily determine what they need to fill out or where they need to click. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use certain elements in order to help guide the user’s eyes where you want them to go. Using images that face towards the form or CTA, adding an arrow to the CTA button and aligning page elements so that there is an easy transition from information to the form or CTA are just a few ways to help lead your user in the right direction. If you have a dedicated designer on your team they should be able to help do this in a subtle way.

Reduce anxiety.

Eliminate any reasons your audience may have to worry about converting. If they’re signing up for a free trial, make sure to highlight the word free. If the user is paying for something, call out any warranties or money-back guarantees that you offer. Also, using logos for secure checkout or accredited organizations that your company is part of can help to ensure your audience that you company is legit.

Test. Test. Test.

Remember that no two audiences are identical, and therefore, what works for one landing page will not necessarily work across the board. The above tips are starting points, but you should continually test aspects of your page in order to establish what works best for your audience. If you use multiple landing pages for different segments of your audience, you will find that even those segments don’t always respond to the same things. If you don’t have the internal development resources to conduct testing there are plenty of good resources that make it relatively easy to run tests, such as Optimizely, Unbounce and Google Analytics Content Experiments.

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Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee via Flickr.

2 Comments

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About Angela Fabek

A three-time graduate of Kent State University, Angela holds undergraduate degrees in both Fashion Merchandising and Marketing, as well as a Master's degree in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management with a focus in User Experience. Currently an Email Marketing Specialist, Angela started her career at Fathom working for Enterprise Education clients and recently transitioned to the e-commerce team. Her focus is on developing and executing strategy for both performance-based and customer nurturing campaigns and helping with conversion rate optimization on customer websites. Outside of work, Angela enjoys spending time with her family, sampling wine and trying all the delicious food Cleveland has to offer with her husband and friends.

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  • Dennis Kubitz

    Hey Angela! Nice article. In regards to highlighting words and CTA’s, I’ve personally found it rather “tacky”. I feel that the CTR is much lower when it looks more spammy than a traditional plain text hyperlink. My question to you is do you split test (A/B test) subject lines and the main body of your email? I’ve split test many email subject lines and noticed that this is the biggest obstacle with engaging subscribers of my email list. The difference in subject lines could mean a difference of up to 4% open rate which leads to a higher CTR. Is also like to comment on your statement about the importance of saying free and highlighting it. Sometimes email providers hit you as spam when you use words like free, cash, and spam. I personally use the phrase “No Cost”. What are your thoughts on this? If like to pick your brain sometime with your knowledge and experience. Add me on linkedin and message me.

  • Dennis Kubitz

    Holy moley! Iphone spell correct had a lot of errors!

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