“Limited Time. Act Now. Click Here.”
Why aren’t they clicking here?
You've written copy that would make angels weep, but you're not getting the click-through rate you've been hoping for. What went wrong?
Your call to action (CTA) is that last little push towards a conversion. It directs your reader’s attention to:
A good CTA includes the benefits of taking the call to action. Sign up for an email and get a free e-book. Buy this product and save 50%. Give your reader a chance to get a benefit or solve a problem, and they’ll be dying to engage with your CTA.
Calls to action come in many forms. You might find yourself using all of them or just one or two. The types of CTAs you use depend on the context. Here are a few of the options you have:
Here are more options to choose from for stronger CTAs that convert.
Your click-through rate is the ratio of users who click on a link to the number of users who see it. For instance, if 100 people see your CTA and only 5 will click on it, your CTR is 5%. You’ll want to tweak your copy to see if you can make this number higher.
Your bounce rate is the number of people who view your page and leave instead of going to the rest of your site. Take the number of single-page visits, and divide it by the number of total visits. A low bounce rate shows that your copy is effective.
Your conversion rate measures how many people perform your CTA (Sign Up, Download, Buy Now, Subscribe) out of your total viewers. A good CTA should yield a high conversion rate.
What are some good examples of improved CTAs that convert? Well, high-converting CTAs tend to add value to proposals.
But sometimes, your best efforts go unrewarded. Here are common problems you might have with your CTA and how to fix them.
TL; DR. Too long; didn’t read. It’s a common response on the internet. While you want your copy to be thorough and detail many benefits, the CTA button should be short and sweet. No more than 5 or 6 words.
If you need to add more detail, consider adding it as an extra line in smaller letters below the CTA. Even if you do that, the focus should always be on a few big words. Problem. Action. Solution or benefit.
Make sure every word counts. Use stronger verbs and exciting language to draw their attention and keep it there.
If you need to include more information without overwhelming your view, try it as a smaller line or two below the CTA. These “click triggers” can reduce anxiety or emphasize a benefit.
Using different sizes, shapes, and colors of text establishes a hierarchy to determine which elements are dominant. The CTA should be the most dominant, whereas click triggers and your main text are either sub-dominant or subordinate.
The click triggers that support your CTA could be in many forms:
It’s amazing how much difference a different color can make. A whopping 85% of consumers make their decisions based on a product’s color.
While reactions to color vary across time and culture, let’s focus on a North American audience for our example.
Remember, not all people relate to colors in the same way. This is just a generalization.
The human eye distinguishes over 10,000 different colors. While we can go into greater detail about them (there are college courses about color theory), let’s break it down into the simplest possible form.
Remember the color wheel you studied in kindergarten? It was a long time ago, but if you took art or graphic design later, you may still be familiar with it.
Our primary colors are red, blue, and yellow.
Mix two of these colors to get purple, green, and orange. Add white or black to get different tints and shades.
Try to use call-to-action buttons that employ complementary colors for maximum impact. Complimentary colors are opposite of each other on the color wheel. The basics are red-green, blue-orange, and yellow-purple.
They’re called complementary because one contains the color the other lacks. For instance, yellow and blue make green. The only thing missing is red — its complementary color.
A contrast in color not only grabs your attention but makes the CTA easier to read. However, always test to see if the color combination achieves your objective before going live.
Depending on your audience’s demographics and geographics, those colors could mean something completely different to them.
People press buttons every day of their lives. Whether it’s to turn on a computer or operate a vehicle, we know buttons perform actions.
It’s so ingrained in our psyche that even when something isn’t three-dimensional — say, some text on a screen — if it looks 3D, we’ll want to press it.
Rounded edges are easier to process and use less of our precious mental energy. If you use a gradient with the edge of the button, it could even look like it’s rising from the screen.
Even if you don’t make your CTA into a button, try to make it look like something you can click on, like a link. Make it stand out apart from the copy, but still a part of the overall effect.
Place your call to action where a person can see it. Most Western audiences read from left to right. Put the button where the eyes will naturally follow.
You want to make your button proportionate to your copy. Either make it the same width or slightly smaller to create a funnel effect. As always, do A/B testing to make sure you’ve come up with the right fit.
American consumers use mobile technology more than they do desktop computers. People can look for menus at restaurants, directions to stores, reviews of products, and everything else wherever they go. That’s all convenient, but this convenience comes at a price.
Old, outdated websites look long and skinny in a mobile browser. The text may be small and hard to read, and the call to action itself may not be large enough to press on without pinching and zooming in on the website first.
You can set your website to recognize what kind of device your reader is using and divert them to either the desktop or the mobile version of your page. On the other hand, you could optimize your page for both.
Be sure to check your page on a variety of devices to see any incompatibilities in your layout. You can also get software you can use to check compatibility if you don’t have access to all the devices you need to test.
Ask customers for feedback about how your site looks on their devices. Eliminate clutter so your page doesn’t take too long to load on a mobile.
Learn how to write powerful attention-grabbing B2B copy here.
Imagine a stranger has stopped you and asked for directions. (We’ll pretend that GPS doesn’t exist in our example.) You tell them, “Turn right at the corner. No, forget that. Go straight. I mean, you’re supposed to do a hard u-turn at the red light. Oh, wait.”
Chances are the stranger will get mad and either give up completely or find some other way to get there.
You’ve been there. You sign onto Netflix after a long day of work and try to choose from thousands of entertainment options. Half the time, you end up browsing the movies for 20 minutes until you get frustrated and decide on something else.
Avoid decision fatigue by not overwhelming your reader with too many options. Do you want them to sign up for an email? Download a free trial? Or can you simplify it by offering a way to do both with one sign-up?
Reciprocity means you give something to get something. A person might give you some basic information: name, address, phone number, and e-mail if they get something back. Be sure to ask something to show that you’re not just mining for information — you’re looking for a way to help them, too.
But if you have too many form fields to fill out, they may get tired and close the window instead. Only ask for must-have data. You can always get more information later when they’re more invested in your message.
As designer Coco Chanel famously advised, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” You could approach your copy the same way.
Too many colors? Too many font sizes, images, form fields, or calls-to-action? Even removing one thing can give your page a much cleaner look and help it load even a nanosecond faster than your competitor’s.
Don’t forget to plan ahead and make your website shareable. Pay attention to how it looks on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media giant is capturing your demographic’s attention at the moment.
While SEO and paid advertising are the foundation of getting attention and generating leads, the one thing you’ll have less control over is how many people share, save, or email your pages to someone else. Make sure it looks good in any format, and the description isn’t cut off in a strange place.
Here's how you can craft perfect CTAs and improve conversion rates.
Testing… testing… is this thing on?
You’ve read the list and you have a good idea of where you might have gone wrong. So it’s fixed now, right? Not necessarily. After every iteration, you need to test again before going live.
Before you do anything else, use “The Squint Test.” All you have to do is look at your copy and squint until you can’t make out the words anymore. Is the call-to-action still visible? Does it stand out against the rest of the page?
The Squint Test isn’t very scientific, so use other methods to see if your new and improved CTAs are working out. Try one or more of the following:
The best way to test is A/B testing. Split your copy into two versions. Test equal amounts of both and see which one is the most successful at CTAs and conversions. Change one thing and repeat.
Heat maps track which parts of the page are getting the most attention and how long that attention lingers. Most heat maps take the form of an E-shape, but they can be very different depending on the layout.
Sites like Hotjar gather this data for you. If you want to do it yourself, use an open-source program like Clickheat and run your own simulations.
User testing pays people to view Beta versions of a website and give verbal feedback while performing the tasks you give. You’ll get real-time feedback as to how effective your site is at driving traffic to your call-to-action.
Surveys are simple to use but aren’t that useful on their own. Be sure to use a variety of tests before you decide whether or not your changes are good enough.
Your call to action tells your audience what to do next. It’s arguably the most important piece of your copy, aside from your headline and your value proposition.
All your best efforts will come to nothing if you don’t direct your reader into hitting subscribe, buy, download, or whichever goal you have in mind.
However, sometimes you don’t get a high conversion rate. That means it’s time to go back and tweak it and see if there’s anything you can do differently.
Is your CTA too short or too long? You want to shoot for about 5 or 6 words. Be sure to include both the action you want them to take and the benefit they’ll receive. Trying using first-person pronouns like “my” or “me” for better results.
Choose the right colors to create an optimal mood. Red inspires aggression, whereas green has more calming effects. Check a color wheel for more ideas.
Don’t overlook the size of your CTA. It should stand out without overwhelming the rest of the text. Be thoughtful about where you place it and the shape of the button and surrounding white space.
Did you optimize for mobile? People view the internet from many different devices:
You need to make sure that your page is attractive and easy to navigate, no matter where your audience is reading.
Do you have too many calls-to-action? It depends on what kind of copy you’re writing. If it’s the main website, and people need more options, you can include them.
However, it’s usually better to focus on one or two CTAs so that they aren’t spread too thin. Do you want them to subscribe to your email list or go straight to downloading a free trial? How far are you along the funnel? Test it and see.
You should always track your stats. Measure your click-through rate, bounce rate, conversion rate, and any other statistics that will tell you how successful and how persuasive your copy has been.
The wonderful thing about the world wide web today is that you have the opportunity to test and tweak your writing in real-time. This helps you make changes in response to how your users interact with it. Take advantage of this convenience and continue to alter your content to fit your customers’ moods.
Are you feeling better about your ability to write a call to action that converts? Let me know in the comments.
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