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CTA: Amplify Your Results

First off, what is a call to action? In marketing, a call to action (CTA) is a directive to the visitor to incite an instant answer, most often by using an urgent message such as “call now!”, “find out more” or “visit a store today”. A CTA doesn’t need to be so bossy however. It could just be a simple request like “choose a style ” or “watch this short video”.

An obvious CTA would be inviting the website visitor to buy a product or give personal details and/or contact information to the company/website. Brilliant marketing tactics often use a combination of several consecutive small CTAs. This chain of CTAs forms a pattern of behavior or choices making it easier for the viewers to complete with just one last CTA. This is a much more gentle way to direct consumers to a complete a larger, more difficult request.

An example could be the purchase of a designer handbag. The website could request you choose a color, a size, a material preference, and a style you would like the purse to have. Once you get to see all of your personalized choices combined into your “dream” designer handbag, you’re more likely to purchase it.

By going through those steps, you have completed all of the company’s CTAs—including the final one, which was purchasing the designer handbag! If you had been asked to buy the handbag first thing, without making all of the minor choices leading up to the purchase, would you have done it?

In website designing, a call to action is usually a button, pop-up, banner, or some type of text or graphic on a website designed to prompt a viewer to click it and continue down a “conversion funnel”. A CTA is a necessary part of inbound marketing and permission marketing in that it actively tries to convert a website’s visitor into a lead and then, finally, into a customer.

The ultimate goal of a CTA is a click, or a scan, in the case of a QR code (quick response code, or a matrix barcode), and its success can be measured in a couple of different ways, which will be discussed in greater detail later.

What are the different types of CTAs?

There are several different forms of CTA buttons, and while each type’s goal is to get visitors to perform a certain action, the kind of action can vary greatly. E-Commerce websites’ most commonly used CTA is the “add to cart (or bag, or basket, etc)” or “buy now” button. The main goal of this button is to persuade consumers to purchase an item, and the button is generally found on individual product pages.

Once you have filled your cart with all of your desired purchases, you can then click pay and buy the items. A similar type of CTA button is the “download” button as they both encourage the visitor to click the button. Sometimes these buttons will have additional information on them, such as what version of the program is going to be downloaded, etc.

Next CTA is a “trial button,” which tries to entice their site’s visitors to sample their offerings—usually in the form of a free trial. Whether it is a free download or a free account, its main goal is to get you “hooked” on the product so that you will want to purchase the whole program (or product) once the trial is over. This button doesn’t usually have more text on it other than “try XYZ,” but some sites choose to offer more information.

The “learn more” CTA button is most generally used at the end of a teaser paragraph, or an introduction paragraph. The buttons are generally simple, but are often large in order to attract the reader’s attention. When the button is clicked, it usually leads the reader to the full website, containing much more detailed information such as pricing, processes, promotions, etc.

The last common type of CTA buttons is the “sign up” button. This one comes in two general versions- one that is usually directly associated with a sign up form, and another that acts as an “add to cart” button. The second type allows visitors to purchase or sign up for an account or service before they actually reach a sign up form.

Is Your CTA Working?

First of all, there are two types of CTAs that are proven to be inefficient. The first kind is a weak CTA, or a lack of call to action all together. Second kind is too strong, or too forceful of a CTA. If neither of these problems applies to you, then there are two ways to find out if you have a successful call to action.

The most accurate way to check is to use conversion rates, which calculate the number of button clicks divided by the number of times the CTA was seen. Another way to test the effectiveness of your CTA is using A/B testing. This is when several graphics are presented to users and the graphic with highest success rate becomes the default.

Improving CTA Results

Sometimes it is just a minor tweak that could change the effectiveness of your CTA, here are a few suggestions that could help increase the success of your button! One possibility could be changing the color of your CTA button- is it currently blending in with the background?

Make sure your CTA is near the top of your webpage so visitors don’t have to scroll down to see it. Make sure your call to action button is the right size- if it is too small it may go unnoticed. Lastly, your CTA should have an element of urgency—use words like “now” or “today”. Reminding people to do something now can increase the chances of them actually doing it right now.


An efficient call to action is the cornerstone of a successful site and includes drawing together best practice in creative visual design, usability, and influential copy writing. When your CTA is done right it can generate measurable conversions. This in turn leads to a high return on investment, which is what every website is looking for!

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...

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