The elusive call-to-action. A colorful button that exists on your website as a complete mystery to you. You put it out there, but will people click on it, or not? The choice is theirs, really. Or is it? We’re here to tell you how to hack your calls-to-action, and know that people are going to convert, rather than just hope. And it actually won’t be as difficult as you think. With a few small changes, and some heavy testing, you’re sure to get calls-to-action that actually convert, rather than just sit on your site. Here’s how to do it:

#1 Implement Action Words

Any good call-to-action has a verb. You’re calling someone to do an action, like click the button. To get them to do that, there has to be an active description. Things like “download,” “try,” and “reserve” are action words that tell your potential client exactly what to do, making it very clear that an action has to be completed before they’ll get their offer. Verbs are also very direct. You don’t want to say, “please click this button, you know, if you feel like it.” No. You’re optimizing your site because you want conversions, and you want to generate leads. So create a call to action with conviction! “Download this guide now!” is much more convincing.

#2 Strive for Clarity

If anything, your call-to-action should be clear. It should tell a viewer exactly what they have to do, and what they’re going to get. While there are plenty of buttons out there that just say “go,” does that actually tell anyone anything? Not so much. A call-to-action button that says, “download the free guide now” tells clients exactly what to do: download; it also tells them what they’re going to get: the free guide now.


Werner CTA

This call-to-action makes it abundantly clear that when viewers click the button, they’ll be scheduling a free professional roof inspection. There’s no guessing or wondering what the offer is, it’s clearly laid out in just a few sentences, and it’s helped along with a visual, which breaks up the text on the page more, and calls more attention to the CTA itself.

#3 Use Contrasting Colors

You don’t want your call-to-action to blend in. The entire point is for it to stand out so people don’t have to search for a way to get in touch, or learn more about your company. Whatever the color scheme of your website, make sure you pick a button color that pops against its background. Research shows that green and orange buttons tend to convert the best, but your button will have to work with your site’s colors as well. Just don’t do blue on blue, or purple on blue. If your background is white, go with a deep blue. If your background is grey, go for a bright green button. It has to stand out attractively for people to see it, and then want to click on it.


Houzz CTA

This Houzz login page uses color very effectively, especially as they have two buttons. Since the background and header text are fairly neutral, your eye can’t help but go right to the brightly colored buttons that ask you to sign in. Choosing two different color buttons for the different options is a great idea too, because it easily differentiates them, and makes that distinction clear for the viewer.

#4 Use Large and Legible Text

Another good way to improve your call-to-action is to make sure the text is large and legible. You’re not trying to solve the world’s problems here, so you shouldn’t have a ton of text anyway. That means you can blow it up a little bit, and use a font that’s very legible. The clearer your call-to-action is to read and see, the more likely people are to take interest in whatever you’re offering.

#5 Go Easy on Text

Like we said before, you’re not solving the world’s problems here, you’re trying to get someone to convert. They don’t need an entire book on whatever you’re offering, they’re going to sign up for it. Make sure your CTA isn’t too text heavy, because the more text you have, the easier it will be for your button to get lost in the jumble, and honestly, most people won’t read a lot of what you put on there anyway.  You want to have enough information to be very clear what people are going to get from clicking the button, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.


Mogren CTA

Take this call to action for example. There’s absolutely no question what will happen when a viewer clicks that button. They’re scheduling an appointment, and they didn’t have to go through a lot to figure that out. Try to boil your CTA down to just one or two sentences that outline very clearly what you’re offering.

#6 Use You and Your

It’s a good idea to incorporate words like you and your into call-to-actions. This is a writing technique that makes your viewer feel like you’re speaking directly to them, and makes you seem more personable. Instead of saying “Improve site conversions” try “Improve your site conversions.” The second one makes it seem like you’re speaking directly to someone, rather than just advertising randomly to cyberspace.

#7 Create a Sense of Urgency

It’s a good practice to use words like “now” “today” or “soon” to generate more conversions from your call-to-action. “Download our guide” vs. “Download our guide today!” If you’re like most people, the second one probably seems more convincing. That’s because we’ve added a sense of urgency, something that prods people to click on the button now, instead of later. This is especially effective for e-commerce sites and sales promotions. “20% off sale ending soon” is a great way to get people onto your site, and right now.

#8 One is Never Enough

When it comes to call-to-actions, one is really never enough. While you don’t want to spam people with your CTAs all over your page, research shows that the more CTAs a site has, the more conversions it generates, which just seems logical, really. If you have extended content, you’ll want to have a CTA at the top of the page, in the middle, and again at the end. A CTA at the top of the page is standard, but we also advocate for additional CTAs within content, because that just makes them more accessible to viewers. That way they don’t have to scroll all the way to the top of the page to find the offer, and they’re more likely to click on it when it’s right in front of them.

#9 Limit their Options

We live in an age of abundance of choice. If you want a viewer to do something, make sure you limit their options. We know you might have 20 great offers, but it’ll be better to only offer one at a time. Your call-to-action should have one to two buttons, at most. One is best, because viewers only have the one option: to click on what you want them to. But if you’re asking them to post something to social media, you may need an additional button to connect them with the site. Even in that situation, it’s better to make one of the options more attractive than the others. By making these obvious changes, people are more likely to click on the button that you want them to.


Starbucks CTA

Starbucks® tends to do a very good job with their calls-to-action, for example. This is one of their new featured drinks of the summer. While they have a ton of other things on their website, this call-to-action front and center works to funnel people exactly where they want them: checking out this new drink. Now, imagine if they had a button for every single summer drink on one slider. Sounds pretty overwhelming, right? That’s why when it comes to calls-to-action, less options are better.

#10 Use White Space

One of the best tools you have in your web design toolbox is whitespace. A major positive about web pages is that you’re really not limited to a certain amount of space. You can pretty much take up as much room as you want, within the screen size limits, so it’s a good idea to give that CTA button a little bit of its own personal space. The more space that exists around your button, the more it will stand out visually. You don’t want it so far removed from everything else that it looks odd, but putting a good block of space around your button is a great way to make it pop. This way it won’t fade into text, and it will be hard to miss. Check this one out from our About Us page.

HADM CTAFirst of all, if you go to the page, you’ll notice that it’s the only thing in color. That alone grabs attention, but also the amount of space that’s around it really works to draw the eye right to the button. This isn’t a difficult fix either. Adding a little space above and below your CTA button won’t take you more than a few minutes!

#11 Change One Thing at a Time

Obviously, you’re going to test your CTA. (You ought to). Just make sure that as you test it, you only change one aspect of your CTA at a time. If you’re not seeing results, you might be tempted to change the size, font and text of your CTA, but when you do that and see improvements, you won’t know exactly what’s working for you, and what’s not. Start with one thing, like button size. When you know how that affects your conversion rate, then change your text. When you make one change at a time, your results are measurable, and you should eventually be able to figure out exactly how you can get the most conversions from one CTA.

It turns out that a call-to-action isn’t such a mystery after all! With a few improvements, and some cold hard metrics, you should be seeing improvements in your conversion rates in no time! If you’re still struggling with your CTAs, or if you have anymore questions for us about CTAs or inbound marketing, make sure you get in touch.

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