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What is a CTA (Call-To-Action) and How To Make it Work?

Written by

Emmanuel O.

Reviewed by

Andrew Strassmore

Fact checked by

Artem Goryushin

June 27, 2023

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Elementary

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CTA (Call to Action) is one of the most popular marketing terms. It refers to all the elements calling for a target action, e.g. to buy a product, to order a service, to subscribe to an email-newsletter. The most common CTA is a button to order or register on a website.

A Call to Action is not only found on the Internet and not only in sales. For instance, a TV commercial for a charity is a call to attend a charity event. On a charity’s Web site, the call to action would be “Donate Money.”

Calls to action may be “soft” and “hard”. They are used at different stages of the purchase funnel.

Soft CTAs do not ask the client to buy a product, but give him an opportunity to get to know the product or the company. Soft CTAs include, for example, calls to get demo access to a service, subscribe to a newsletter, or download a presentation. If a customer has just heard about an offer, he’s unlikely to be ready to buy right away. He needs to learn more about the product, and soft CTAs are needed to give him that opportunity.

Hard CTAs are appeals to buy the product. Often, in order to increase conversion, they make a good offer with a limitation. For example, give a discount that is valid for a few hours.

Where to place the button with CTA?

There are many options for the position of CTA elements on websites. Which one to use depends on the target audience, product, business model, purchase funnel and many other factors. In this section, we’ll show you frequent examples of CTA elements.

Home page of a website

The main page (home page) of a multi-page website is most often accessed by users who want to go to the desired section of the resource or learn more about the company, its product. On the home page the goods are rarely sold; for this, there are landing pages, as well as product cards.

Often you can find soft CTAs on the main page: invitations to sign up for mailing lists with discounts and promotions, individual offers, contests in which you can win products of the company. Such CTA elements are forms for collecting contacts. Next to the form they write what the user will receive if they leave their data.

Sometimes the form is made in the form of a fixed panel at the bottom, at the top or in the first part of the screen. It does not move while the user is viewing the page.

Another option for CTAs on the home page is an appeal to subscribe to social networks with corresponding buttons. These are often placed in the top right corner along with the phone number and address, or at the bottom of the page.

The home page can also have CTAs for users who are already familiar with the product. For them, clickable advertising banners with information about discounts and promotions are set up.

Category page

On the category page the user chooses from different options, compares prices and characteristics of goods. Here he may be interested in promotions and discounts. Therefore, along with the button “Buy”, which is placed under or next to each item, the button “Subscribe to action” or “Show products with discounts” is placed.

Merchandise card

Online stores have an “Add to cart” or “Buy” button under each card. The CTA can also be a “Subscribe to keep track of price” button. By subscribing, customers will receive email news about discounts on an item.

If the item is out of stock, add a button “Let me know when it’s in stock” or a button with similar text. This way, the store simultaneously collects contact information and retains some customers.

Blog article

Articles are read to get information. Therefore, they usually do not sell products directly, but use soft calls to action, add links to commercial pages close to the article on the topic.

One of the variants of CTA in informational articles is a pop-up with an offer to subscribe to the newsletter. Not to be annoying, the pop-up is usually not displayed immediately, but only when the user has spent some time on the site.

Landing 

A landing page is a page that is designed to lead the user to a targeted action.

Oftentimes, a few CTA buttons are installed on a landing page. This is especially important if the landing page takes up more than three screens. Often CTAs call to buy, add items to cart, or leave your contacts. Sometimes they’re replaced with creative calls to action, such as “Get Started in Digital.”

Instead of several CTAs sometimes fixed panels with buttons are used. A panel like this moves after the user.

What should be written in a CTA?

The wording of the CTA depends on the product, the audience, the style of the sales page, and the stage of the purchase funnel. Here we’ve put together some common recommendations for what to write in calls to action.

What value the user will get

To come up with an effective CTA, it’s important to understand what value the visitor will get when they click the button. The call to action can be phrased so that it can be followed up with the phrase “I want…” The visitor wants to buy a book at a bargain, and the site has a promotion? You can place the button “I want a book at a discount.

Offers that are hard to turn down

Offer a free trial or free book, or a brochure. Such offers are hard to refuse. This type of CTA works especially well for companies that sell services and software.

Offer instant results. If the site sells software, the button can be called “Install Now.” Use trigger words in the Call to Action – words that are hard to get past. 

Clear Actions

User should have a clear understanding of what will happen next after he presses the CTA button.

The most common recommendation is that the CTA button should stand out from the site. To do this, you can:

  • choose a color that contrasts the background of the site
  • make the button with CTAs larger than other buttons on the site
  • install the button in the space free of other content
  • add unobtrusive animation
  • add arrows to the page to direct the customer’s attention to the CTA

The button should also have harmonious proportions: not too big and not too small. Otherwise it will be annoying. The shape should be familiar to users: oval, rectangular or rectangular with rounded corners. Buttons are not recommended to be round or triangular, even if they fit well with the design.

How CTAs work?

A Call to Action technology is not always successful the first time. CTAs are tested and refined to increase site conversion. Even the color of the button can improve or worsen conversion rates. 

Here’s what can be done to increase CTA clickability.

  • Measure current CTA performance. To analyze a Call to Action and improve it, you need to count the clicks and conversions you already have.
  • Analyze how visitors behave on the website. You can use different services which show what users clicked on, what they read, and what content they did not reach.
  • Build hypotheses as to why users do not click on CTAs. They estimate whether the product information is clear and whether the buttons are convenient and easy to find.
  • Run an A/B test. This is a study where users are shown different versions of the site in turn, and then compare the conversion rate – the share of clicks on the CTA in total traffic.

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