Calls-to-Action, better known in the business world as CTAs, are those things that every entrepreneur has to do, but more often than not, misses the mark on, especially early on. Kind of like lead magnets. Blame it on disliking the act of asking people for things, poor use of copy, or even a bad judgement call on what that CTA should be in the first place.
Whatever the case may be, it seems like everyone running their own brand should be brushing up on their CTA creation skills. Even established, and possibly jaded, content creators should seek to learn more about them, as it could really help to freshen up overused lines littering landing pages everywhere.
You see, this is one of the most important elements you’re presenting customers with. It’s the doorway to the next step in the buying process, so it has to be good enough to entice them. Otherwise, you’re out of a sale, or a few for that matter.
Sure, the page itself matters. The colors, the layout, the copy, it all needs to pull through. But if your actual CTA is lacking, it will still make customers hesitate, regardless of how much work went into the page otherwise.
So, if your idea of a good CTA is “Submit,” you’re in dire need of some help. And not everyone can afford to outsource their content, or hire a consultant to come in and set things straight, so consider this in-depth guide your ticket to success.
Let’s get started.
Yes, it’s not the most exciting way to start off a helpful guide, but it’s effective. Ironically enough, it converts well, despite its blandness.
Well, consider it straightforward. Customers know what to expect with this CTA. They’ll be taken right to the account creation process, so no time is wasted, there’s no pop-up, no additional steps or hoops to jump through before finally getting to the account creation stage.
It’s great in that it doesn’t waste anyone’s time. It’s no nonsense, and it shows, right from the start.
If this sounds like something you would enjoy, then maybe it’s very on brand for you. Consider it a viable option.
Here’s the thing: not every business model fares well with CTAs like “Buy now” or “Add to Cart.” For example, consider people who sell software. Images of the product, which is digital anyway, won’t really do much. People won’t be inclined to buy it unless they can see it for themselves, like with a demo.
By using “View Demo” as a CTA, you’re allowing them to see how the product really functions, and what it’s capable of. Directing them to something like this is way more inviting than “Contact Sales,” which is a terrible option. Grow your business with a demo, rather than being pushy.
Sign Up Free
Ah, here’s another one that’s very direct, and to the point. The level of creativity doesn’t have to be a high ranking one, however, when you have something free to entice people with. Nothing beats free, ever. Take note.
Not to mention, this CTA sets expectations. It lets people know that they can immediately start using the service after they create an account.
The “free” on the end of it just further solidifies the best part of the deal: they won’t spend a dime, they’ll just increase your conversion rate. They’re much more inclined to do so knowing there’s nothing riding on it.
Again, nothing beats free. Anytime people feel like they’re getting something for nothing, they’re much more inclined to join in on something, hence doing your business a favor.
From a business perspective, you may wonder how that’s possible if you’re not even making a profit of any kind, but you should remember: joining for free, trying something for free, is often just a trial period. If what you have to offer is good enough, they’ll likely be hooked.
That means it’s on you to deliver a high quality product. If you have what it takes, then you can afford to offer a trial period confidently. It may even increase your sales.
Whatever you do, make sure you specify how long the trial is, and what happens when it ends. Will they be billed automatically for the next month, the full year, or not at all?
Sometimes your product, although amazing, requires a little more of an explanation. Maybe there’s a lot to it, maybe it’s a little complicated to explain in a few, short, potentially vague paragraphs.
Well, that’s where “Learn More” comes in.
Consider Nest, more specifically their thermostat systems. Being tech, it’s a little tricky to set up. For anyone who’s never dealt with a digital product like that, it may even be a wonder learning how to use it. And now that it’s pairable with Google Home Hub, it’s gotten even more advanced. Hence, why the company decided to add this CTA front and center.
Once you click on it, you’re greeted with everything the setup can do, which includes seeing who’s knocking at the front door, seeing what’s going on in every room of your home, adjusting the temperature, keeping an eye on your backyard (important if you have children, or a puppy), etc.
More so, you’re also told what is included in the bundle package, and why it would be useful to have every one of those items in your home. It instills a “better together” feeling that’s hard to ignore when browsing around the page.
What’s great about the “Learn More” CTA is that it’s a low-commitment page. They’re not shoving you into a sales page, they’re coaxing you with information first. Explaining what it is, how it’s used, and how it could make your life better.
Imagine if you’d recently adopted a puppy, but needed to stay inside for business calls on a windy day. You don’t exactly want the noises of the outside world ruining client calls, especially if you live in the city. What are you supposed to do if you’re chained to the indoors, while your puppy prances around outdoors? Well, you can keep an eye on him, and intervene should the need arise. Once the call ends, you can go back to training and playing, knowing you didn’t miss anything important.
It’s not exactly a CTA to swear by, but depending on your business model, “Contact Sales” may be the best option you have.
Still, it could certainly be worse. This particular CTA is straightforward, and will give people exactly what they click on.
But, who would benefit from such an “on the nose” CTA?
Well, for one thing, companies who function with person-to-person sales. For instance, consider your average freelancer. Most freelancers work alone, providing services of all kinds to businesses. It’s considered B2B. The way they manage their business websites is by having people contact them for potential working relationships (sales).
Sure, freelancers could use the “Learn More” CTA, where the services are explained, but that’s something that tends to be on the website’s home page anyway. It’s become a pretty standard practice. And CTAs like “Try for Free” won’t work either. Freelancers charge by word, or by the hour, and simply don’t have the luxury of offering free work in the hopes of establishing a long-standing contract with a client.
By opting for this CTA, and using a chatbot that can handle basic questions after hours, freelancers could always be accessible to their clients. And furthermore, Google Ads could help market them across the internet, so they don’t have to rely on their landing pages and query letters. It’s a melding of several tools, all coming together to grow their business.
Here’s one for subtleties sake. It’s not very direct at all, in fact, it could be anything. It could be a demo, it could be a spin on “Learn More,” or it could be something else entirely.
This CTA works very well, especially if your product pages are more like landing pages. It would lead to more exposition that is useful to your audience.
If you find yourself wondering how you can be mysterious, while still enticing people to click on your CTA, this may be an option to consider.
This is what you ideally want your audience to do. Whether you’re selling goods, services, or both, you’re essentially trying to turn a profit in order to run your business successfully. You not only want them to shop, you need them to.
And the funny part is that this is actually a very good CTA to use. Sure, you let them know what you essentially want them to do, but also, it lets them know that they are going to be taken to a product page, or even a broad category within your digital store.
This is a great idea if you have plenty of products in one place, however. “Shop Now” can be elevated with specifics, such as “Shop Women’s.” It beats taking them to a product page for one item that they may or may not even want. No, with a broad category, they could have a handful, if not hundreds, of items to sift through, depending on your inventory size.
Think of this CTA as a branch of “Explore.” Both are mysterious, and capable of adapting to a variety of situations. However, this one is more about detailed information than its counterpart.
For example, using “Explore” works well for brands like REI, or Eddie Bauer, known for creating equipment that you can use to explore the outdoors.
But “Discover” works when you’re showcasing something like a compelling YouTube video, something that shows people what types of exciting things they could do if they shopped with you. Climbing mountains, hiking trails, snowboarding down some steep hills? You got it, here’s a good coat to do it all in.
Tack on a good PR stunt to market everything, and suddenly, your marketing plan just soared to new heights.
It’s funny how much meaning can be hidden in one single word, isn’t it?
Get _% Off
It may not be better than free, because nothing is, but the next best thing is getting a certain percentage off.
As a rule of thumb, let’s do a simple rundown of something important really quickly:
Depending on the tax rate in your State, 10% off will roughly just cover tax on your purchase.
Sales above the 75% mark are rare to come by, and typically only show up after the holiday season, when stores need to get rid of old inventory in order to roll out items for the new year. At this point, businesses aren’t making money, they’re just trying to get rid of leftover product.
The best, most meaningful sale you’re going to get in a store is 50%, at which point, the business is still making a profit, which means items are actually pretty overpriced in store. Hence, why ecommerce is on the upswing. Coupon codes and discounts online often make things cheaper than in brick and mortar stores.
The funny part about this is that most people do not know these facts. Most people just assume that if something is on sale, then they’re getting a good deal. It doesn’t matter what number is in front of the percentage sign, as long as it’s there.
Using that psychology in our favor is key to making this CTA work. Promise your audience a sale that you’re comfortable with, and you’ll find more people clicking on that button.
For certain business models, the “Our Work” really is the best CTA option, and here’s why: because for freelancers, graphic designers, and other entrepreneurs who run service-based business models, the objective is to convince potential customers into working with them.
And nothing says “Here’s why you should work with me,” like a CTA button that leads you to a stunning portfolio filled with previous projects. It shows people what you’re capable of, and puts that skill on full display.
Oddly enough, this was once OKCupid’s CTA. It is now “Join OKC,” but it was “Continued” for quite a while there.
And yes, it definitely doesn’t seem impressive at all, but it’s actually brilliant. It keeps it super short and casual, kind of like “Come on in.” There’s no gimmick, no pressure, just a gentle nudge.
And for people who are already pretty jittery about potentially meeting their future partner, seeing a super laid-back CTA is just the right thing. It helps to ease them into what is an inevitable roller coaster of decision making.
In other words, CTAs can be used as a way to help your customers reclaim some sense of control, or even peace of mind. It is a tool to help their emotional state, given the chance.
Add to Cart/Bag
Imagine that you’re looking around a clothing brand website. Like any ecommerce site of this sort, there’s images of the clothing from all angles, in flattering lighting. There’s models wearing the clothes, so you can better imagine what it would look like worn. You can immediately get outfit inspiration, and look at that, there’s also accessories to wear with it.
The thing is, when you see that “Add to Cart” or “Add to Bag” button under an item you’re already excited over, it’s the final push you need to actually make the shopping experience real. At that point, even if you don’t get everything you place in the cart, you’re shopping. You’re committed to at least contemplate a purchase.
And everything becomes so much more exciting at that point. The items for sale become enticing, the cart begins to swell with potential. It’s a thrill ride that’s been aided by the CTA.
What We Do
Notice, there is not a single action verb used in this CTA. Nothing to tell people what to do. It’s almost as if you don’t care what the audience does, you’re giving them free reign.
Well, this CTA may certainly be unorthodox, but it’s useful in its own right. Think of it as taking an educational route, where you teach people what your company does, and why, before asking them to purchase anything.
But let’s put it this way: although this CTA oftentimes works, and is certainly a great alternative to a more pushy, salesy approach, it’s still reliant on everything else on the page to even be clicked on. If you have a boring page, stock images that aren’t even reflective of your brand, or the content being presented, and an overall bland landing page, then you won’t get much out of this CTA. For people to want to learn more, they have to be intrigued first.
Follow the Magic
What, is it too cheesy? You may laugh now, but this is what Disney built their entire business on, remember? Depending on what you’re brand is all about, this may just be relevant.
For instance, if you have a handmade soap company, you probably don’t need this CTA. That is unless you have a brand new product launch for a magical-looking soap. Maybe it’s swirly, glittery, and reminiscent of a crystal ball. Obviously, you would create a landing page for this new soap, and…
“Follow the Magic” would suddenly make sense, wouldn’t it? It would be relevant, and it would actually help to bring it all together. Customers could click it and be transported to the product page, where they could learn more about the product’s ingredients, production process, price tag and overall look.
In other words, even quirky little CTAs that don’t quite seem ideal can work given the right brand or product launch. Just because it may not seem right now, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you at some point in the future.
Spotify may have this covered, it may even be what we think of when we hear this particular CTA, but it’s a good one to consider. Think about it: the main goal is to get people to sign up for a premium account. They also have a free membership, but that one isn’t heavily advertised, so it’s safe to say it’s the secondary metric here.
And it works.
Those who show up because they’ve heard of Premium can find it easily. And those who land on the page out of curiosity can check out the details, and still choose the free membership instead, to give it a try first. Maybe that’s all they need.
But hey, they are now users of the service. So, if their situation ever changes, where maybe they cancel another membership, or have a lifestyle change that would benefit from music downloads without the aid of WiFi, then… they’ll finally go Premium.
If you have a similar model, a free version and a paid one, it helps to market both, but push the paid one heavily for obvious reasons. Just make sure it’s enticing enough to make people want to pay for it on a monthly basis.
Sign Up With Facebook
Here’s the thing: say what you will about privacy issues and snooping on people you used to know, the fact of the matter is that most people have a Facebook profile. It’s a staple amongst social media platforms.
And that takes a little while to set up, right? There’s your name, your basic information, like birthday, workplace, school, marital status, location, etc. Then there’s the images of yourself you have to carefully select, the privacy settings you should glaze over, and finally, the people you should friend request.
It’s a whole thing.
In fact, most sign-ups for things are ordeals that take much longer than most of us care to spend on any one mundane task.
And that is where this CTA shines the brightest. It works under the impression that the last thing people want to do is spend time signing up for something. So instead, it offers them the chance to sign up with Facebook. They can click on the button, allow permission to obtain information, and presto, it’s all done. All that information is transferred over, cutting the time spent signing up in half, at least.
It’s a great incentive, a great nudge in the direction you want them to go. It sympathizes, offers a solution, and makes it easy for the customer. It’s a win-win situation.
Take Me There
Sometimes, people like to be handheld to their destination, because, well, sometimes they don’t have a destination in mind. And that’s okay, they’re just there to browse, kind of like you do whenever you walk into a store and get greeted by one of the staff. Unless you’re on a very specific mission, you’re likely to go to the standard “just browsing” answer.
And this CTA really comes in handy during those times. It gives customers a sense of control, despite not having a sense of direction. It’s offering the option to be taken somewhere potentially interesting, such as a specific product page, an about page, etc.
Download On the App Store
If you have an app, this is crucial, because everyone expects you to have your app available on the App Store. Most Americans have iPhones, or other Apple devices, such as the Watch, or iPad. So that’s kind of an essential for success.
This is especially true for mobile game developers. Their whole business is making mobile games for people to enjoy. No amount of well-designed websites or landing pages will make a difference if their product pages on the App Store are terrible.
So it won’t help to add in any other CTA at that point. Sure, you can add in a “Learn More” CTA, for example, but everything people are going to want to know will already be on the product page on the App Store…
Or at least should be.
Everything from seller information (your business name), to the size of the app, languages provided, age rating, reviews, photos, videos, etc. is all featured on the App Store. With a simple “Download On the App Store” CTA, customers have access to everything they could ever want to know before converting.
Nothing is more convincing than this CTA, especially during the month of January. Maybe even February, when people try again to stick to their New Year’s resolutions.
This CTA is all about starting something. It’s a journey in some sense, whether it’s a new career, a fitness regime, an online course, you name it. And the objective is to motivate people to get started on their goal.
Obviously, when paired with a well-designed landing page, this can make for some high conversions.
A good plan is to incorporate plenty of original photography and video to illustrate the goal, and make it a visual representation of what the customers could expect if they chose to go with you. Essentially, helping them see what being your customer looks like.
Another pro tip is to be very detailed in your copy:
What will they get from being your customer? What comes with the membership?
Why you over anyone else offering something similar?
Is there value? Bang for people’s buck? What’s the major feeling of winning that you’re providing? Maybe there’s a coupon code, or some sort of exclusivity or limited time offer.
Copy that reflects their current situation, sympathizes with their issue(s), and provides a solution in the form of what you’re offering.
Note, this one is particularly important. More so than the rest. It’s the one that points out the reality of their situation, and offers the opportunity to change it.
This CTA may not seem that special. In fact, you’re probably wondering why this is the last to appear on this guide.
But not so fast, there’s some context needed here in order to elevate this seemingly bland CTA. If you simply slap this text on a button at the bottom of your landing page, or on the side of your blog, you’re probably not going to get much for your time.
No, what you need is relevancy, which has been the whole theme of this, in case you haven’t noticed by now. Relevancy reigns supreme as king, always.
For example, if you find yourself reading a blog post on how to become a better leader at work, you’d likely be intrigued if a little pop-up offering more tips on the subject slid onto the bottom corner of the page. It’s not in your way, but it’s noticeable, and it’s relevant to what you’re reading about. You’re already interested, you’re searching for information, tips, advice. And look at that, you can enter your email address, hit “Subscribe,” and get these tips sent directly to your inbox.
Suddenly, you don’t need to spend more time searching for tips. You could subscribe, close the browser, and immediately go do something else with your time, knowing full well that the research and digging part is being handled for you as you focus on something else.
That is when this CTA works. With the right context, it becomes something much more than bland. It’s more of a tool, a non-pushy one at that. Offering something unpaid is oftentimes a step in the direction of a monetary lucrative conversion anyway.
Mastering them should be your number one priority as an entrepreneur. It’s how you stay in business!
But it’s easier said than done, we know. You’ve probably gone through a series of CTA options, testing each one, wondering what you’re doing wrong. Or better still, when you noticed something was messing up your conversion rate, you probably went back into your landing page and edited it all, except for the CTA, thinking it had something to do with the design.
We’ve all been there, don’t worry.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend hundreds on courses, books and other resources to learn the tricks of the trade. You just need a nice rundown of ideas, like the ones in this helpful, little guide. And there’s always the option to outsource some of it, all of it, or just enough. You can even hire a consultant to teach you the ropes and set everything up.
In case you missed a few lessons, here’s a basic rundown of your absolute takeaways:
Try to use 2-3 words as your CTA. One word doesn’t cut it, and anything longer is just going to hurt you in the long run.
Words like “try,” or “now,” or even “start/stop” are ways of adding in urgency without being overly pushy.
Words like “free” and “save” use monetary incentive, which is always valuable to the audience. This is why percentage and dollar symbols are also effective.
Hopefully this helps improve your CTA game, and increases those sales.
So, which CTA idea most surprised you, and why? Maybe it was unexpected, or just plain boring to you?
Let me know in the comments section below, I love hearing from you all!