A call-to-action (CTA) is an image or text that prompts visitors to take action, such as subscribe to a newsletter, view a webinar or request a product demo. CTAs should direct people to landing pages, where you can collect visitors’ contact information in exchange for a valuable marketing offer. In that sense, an effective CTA results in more leads and conversions for your website.
This path–from a click on a CTA to a landing page–illustrates the much desired process of lead generation. In order to increase visitor-to-lead conversion opportunities, you need to create a lot of calls-to-action, distribute them across your web presence and optimize them.
By now you have probably become a firm believer in the value of calls-to-action. They are definitely going to be important triggers for your success with internet marketing. But where do you start? Most importantly, how do you determine what CTAs to create?
You should maintain a mix of CTAs that spans across different stages of the sales cycle. The more CTAs you build, the more opportunities you create to convert visitors into leads. What is more, the sheer quantity of calls-to-action provides you with valuable data around their performance. Collect these insights and optimize your strategies for maximum lead generation. Let’s start with the fundamentals!
Create CTAs for Well-Performing Offers
First, look at your analytics and find the offers that have traditionally performed well for your company. One good indicator of your offers’ success is the landing page visitor-to-lead conversion rate. It tells you how many of the people who have seen the page decided that it’s worth filling out the form to get access to the resources it provides. This metric illustrates both the appeal of your offer and the demand for it. If the historical conversion rate is high, then the chances are it will keep performing well in the future. So pick your top marketing offers and start creating CTAs based on them.
Create CTAs for High-Quality Offers
If you are a company that generates leads, you probably have some differentiation across your marketing offers. Some of them, like whitepapers and videos, are low-commitment, light-touch and highly compelling. Others, like product demonstrates and sales consultations, require higher commitment and are less compelling. The latter, however, are more tightly related to the bottom of your sales funnel and thus considered more valuable in terms of qualifying prospects and driving business results. You want to expose people to these types of offers in order to push them down the sales funnel. So pick a few high-quality offers and start creating CTAs based on them.
Create CTAs Based on Behavior
CTAs based on previous behavior are built by taking the information you know about your prospects and making educated guesses about what they want to see next. In this way, you engage them further with your assets and keep them on your website. Most importantly, such education helps to better qualify prospects and turn them into evangelists.
Let’s take as an example our webinar offer “How to Make the Inc. 500 List.”A visitor has just filled out our form to view this on-demand webinar. On the thank-you page, where we would place the video, we are also featuring a call-to-action, which is relevant to the topic of the webinar. Think about ways in which you can tweak the wording of your CTAs to fit in the context of the offer.
Create CTAs for Upcoming Campaigns
Another type of CTAs you want to start creating are those related to your upcoming campaigns, such as events and contests. For instance, if your annual conference is coming up in a few months, you should drive traffic to the respective registration page from your other assets (blog, social media, paid ads, etc).
For the power that calls-to-action have, they are not that difficult to create. The format of CTAs can vary from simple hyperlinked text and screenshots with some text overlay to elegant banners and pop-up overlay. In this section of the ebook, we will take a look at a few different tools and what options they give you for the creation of calls-to-action.
One of the most critical elements of leveraging the power of calls-to-action is to optimize their placement. Where do you get started? There are so many web pages out there. How do you decide which call-to-action belongs where?
Calls-to-action should be spread across your web pages. Your homepage, which people usually perceive as a very neutral space, should also have a call-to-action. As your most frequently visited page, your homepage presents a huge opportunity to drive traffic to a specific campaign. In fact, some say your homepage should have at least three or more calls-to-action that will target different personas or types of visitors.
The only place you shouldn’t be inserting calls-to-action are your landing pages. On a landing page, people should be able to find out more about your specific offer and convert. In fact, it is a best practice to remove from your landing page distracting elements, such as top and side navigation, information about other resources and, certainly, calls-to-action. They will confuse and distract visitors from completing the form.
For all other website pages, try to align your CTA with the content of the page as well as the stage of the sales cycle the visitor is likely in if they’re visiting that page. So if a visitor is on one of your product pages, they’re likely further along in the sales process to be interested in a free product demonstration than if they are visiting your About Us page.
Your Product/Service pages, About Us page and Contact Us page all need to include calls-to-action or the visitor will be deciding on their own what to do next. You need to help them decide what to do next. In fact, every page on your site should help visitors understand what they should do next; therefore include at least one call to action on every page.
Just because someone already converted into a lead by downloading your ebook or registering for your webinar, doesn’t mean you can’t continue to nurture them with other related content and leveraging more middle-of-the-funnel offers like a free trial or a consultation. Add CTAs for these types of offers within the body and at the end of your ebooks and webinars, too.
Do you speak at industry conferences and events? Depending on the event’s particular guidelines, you may be able to include a CTA for an offer directly within your presentation. Especially with the rapid adoption of QR codes, you can easily refer people to a specific page and give them further information about your company. Don’t forget to archive your presentation slides to your website or a platform like SlideShare.com to get more muscle out of your content.
Make sure to include CTAs both in the sidebar of your blog as well as on every individual article you publish. In addition to image/button CTAs, you can also include text CTAs within the body of your blog content. At the beginning, middle or end of every blog article, you need to place some sort of call-to-action that will encourage people to either:
- Download some content
- Follow the business on social media
- Subscribe to the blog
- Join your newsletter or blog digest email
When designing your CTAs, make sure it resonates with the content you have introduced in the blog post. For instance, if you write about how Google Instant affects SEO, the call-to-action at the end of the post can be related to search engine optimization.
Every email you send should include a call-to-action. In fact, the subject line itself should serve as a call-to-action. Once recipients open your email, they should see a link in the first one to two sentences of the message, at least one link in the middle and one link at the end. These links can go to the exact same page, thus reinforcing the consistency of your language. In this way, if recipients take action on any link, they have essentially clicked on the call-to-action.
Include a call-to-action within all videos you produce. It’s important to make your CTA simple and include a shortened, easy-to-remember URL. In this way, if someone embedded your video on their website or blog and others viewed it outside the context of YouTube, your CTA would remain intact and still make sense.
In Paid Media
Paid media encompasses a range of formats, including banner ads, Groupon emails and even press releases. An example of that would be Google AdWords: you pay for ads that show up next to specific search results. Every paid search ad should include a call-to-action that is consistent with the landing page the visitor will go to after they click on the paid ad. In this sense optimizing the language and design of your paid ads is the same as crafting CTAs.
In Email Signatures
Every little effort helps. Include a CTA in your personal email signature and encourage other employees, especially members of your sales and marketing teams, to do the same. For example, some email signature of Fritz and Andre employees encourage people to subscribe to our award-winning blog, check out our customer case studies or grade their website using Website Grader.
Facebook offers several opportunities to get your CTA out there: via a custom business page tab, through Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories, and simply through wall posts on your page.
You can also publish Facebook photos that introduce CTAs. For example, you can create an album that tells a compelling story and also invites connections to take some action.
Consider customizing your Twitter background to include a simple CTA. While Twitter backgrounds aren’t clickable, you can place a short URL, mission statements or a branding message in your background design. For instance, Fritz and Andre’s Twitter background includes branding.
Furthermore, you can use your Twitter bio and link as CTA real estate. Most importantly though, leverage your tweets as individual CTAs for your offers. Each of your tweets should include a link. In fact, in his Science of Social Media research, Dan Zarrella discovered that verbs are the part of speech that generate the most shares. Twitter updates that include verbs have a 2% higher shareability than the average tweet.
When giving industry-specific advice on LinkedIn Answers include text CTAs for downloadable content like webinars and ebooks when applicable. You can also go into the DirectAd function and create an ad for your offer. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn Groups–these are engaged communities of people looking to have discussions with fellow industry thought leaders. Make announcements in these discussions about your upcoming events or newly published resources.
How to Optimize a Call-to-Action
In this section we seek to help you create compelling and relevant calls to action. We’ve seen single changes in buttons that can improve conversions by well over 30%. A button sounds like a simple decision, but there are a number of variables that quickly make the decision feel complicated. How big should the button be? What color? What should the text of the button say? Here are a few tips to make your buttons more successful.
Make It Clear What the Offer Is
Your CTA should clearly describe what the offer is. If you’re giving away a whitepaper about getting more Twitter followers, you may want to say something like “Download the Free Whitepaper on How to Get More Twitter Followers.” It’s a best practice to make your call-to-action specific, revealing some details that will encourage visitors to take action.
Make It Stand Out
If your CTA blends in with the rest of your page, you won’t get much traffic to your landing page. Make it contrast with your website’s color scheme so that it stands out on the page.
Color matters. Strong, contrasting, colors generally perform better than colors that blend in with the theme of your landing page. Take this example from Carelogger, who increased their conversions by 34% with a red button instead of a green one.
A big button gets noticed. It doesn’t have to be huge, but if your button is too small, it can be ignored. We’ve found that a good button size is around 225px wide and 45px high.
Make It Action-Oriented
Begin with an action verb like “download” or “register” that makes it very clear what action visitors will be taking on the subsequent landing page. Your button text should tell people what to expect.
Firefox improved their conversions by 3.6% (over 500 more downloads per test) when they changed their button text from “Try Firefox 3” to “Download Now – Free.” “Download Now,” “Get Started Today,” and “Start Your Free Trial Now” are all good examples of strong calls-to-action. Try out different verbs and see which one resonates with your audience best.
Keep It Above the Fold
Make sure your website visitors can see your CTA without having to scroll down the page, another best practice to increase click-through rates. When deciding where to put your button, think about the ﬂow of your page. Does it follow the path of your eye? Does it ﬁt the average browser size? Browsersize from Google Labs is a great tool to ﬁnd out what portion of your page most visitors can see without scrolling.
Craft the CTA Based on Context
The CTA should match the information on the page where it’s located. By tweaking your call-to-action to reflect the messaging of its context, you increase the click-through chances of that CTA. For instance, the verbiage of a CTA on your About Us page will be different from the verbiage of a CTA located in one of your product pages.
Place on the Most Relevant Blog Posts
Place the most relevant CTAs on each of your blog posts. For example, HubSpot has created blog posts about Facebook and SEO. On the Facebook blog posts, you’ll see a CTA advertising a Facebook whitepaper. On the SEO blog posts, you’ll see a CTA advertising a SEO whitepaper.
Create Alignment between CTAs and Landing Pages
Testing has proven that the more consistent you can keep your calls-to-action and landing pages, the higher your conversion rate will be. If the language you use on that page is too different from the CTA, it might confuse visitors and result in their leaving the page. The connection between these two lead conversion tools should be seamless.
Optimize Your Landing Page, Too
A call-to-action drives traffic to a landing page–so in order to successfully convert this traffic into leads, you’ll need to optimize your landing pages. You can do that by experimenting with different page layout, images and form length. There is a range of opportunities for optimizing the conversion rate of your landing pages, which could affect how your calls-to-action perform.
Include CTAs for Different Stages of the Buying Cycle
Different offers appeal to different segments of the traffic visiting your site. A whitepaper might appeal to an early sales cycle visitor while a free consultation might appeal to a later sales cycle visitor. In order to capture the maximum amount of traffic hitting your site, you need to cast a wide net. We recommend having at least three CTAs on your homepage: one for early, one for mid, and one for late sales cycle visitors.
You should implement the above-mentioned best practices as you can, but you must test your CTAs to see what will resonate with your audience. Test different messaging, colors, and placement on your pages, and see if you can get more page views on your landing pages. Here we revealed some standard best practices, but it’s up to you to see what works best for your business.