What is a call to action button?
Call-to-action (CTA) buttons are levers you use on a website, landing page, pop-up form, alert bar, or other online marketing materials to navigate users to perform an action. They include similar elements: placement, shape, color, and text. From a marketing standpoint, they have a very tailored goal: to compel a conversion.
These buttons can vary in form, color, design, and size depending on your goal and brand style. Some common examples of call-to-action buttons are:
- Transactional buttons (Buy something, register for an event)
- Test buttons (To access a sample, or take a test drive or try a product or service for free)
- Learn more (Download, access)
- Opt-in (The beginning stages of emailed newsletters)
CrazyEgg said it best… Call to action buttons are buttons, and can’t be replaced with other types of calls to action.
- They are not text.
- They are not hyperlinks.
- They are not gifs.
- They are not memes.
- They are not black holes.
- They are buttons.
Why are call to action buttons important?
A call to action (CTA) is vital to the success of your business. It is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response.
A CTA aims to get you to do something. As long as your marketing has a specific goal in mind, and a specific action you’re looking to invoke, a CTA should be there.
But in the digital age we live in, CTAs are tangible and extremely important. With all the online clutter out there, you need clear and concise CTA buttons that stand out and make a clear call to your visitors.
Long story short, call to action buttons are important because they lead visitors’ eyes towards the desired action. When there’s so much information on any giving page, it visually prompts readers to take the next step.
How do you write a call to action?
A great call-to-action button commands attention, and naturally, when marketers and entrepreneurs spot one, they’re especially intrigued. What’s the secret?
With button copy, you have a limited space to share what you want your visitors to do, so make it count. It plays a large role in determining whether or not users decide to click. Here are some copy tips for call to action buttons you don’t want to skip…
1 - Get personal
It’s effective to write button copy in the voice of your visitors. Examples are:
- “Claim My Spot”
- “Yes, I Want My Free Report”
Both copy lines are written from the perspective of the visitor. This copywriting technique subtly suggests that you, as a business, have already set aside something just for each visitor. Now they only need to claim what’s rightfully theirs.
2 - Use the “F”-word
Of course, we mean “free.” Time and time again, we’ve seen conversion rates rise when marketers simply add “free” to their buttons and other copy. Here are two messages that include this magic word:
- “Yes, I Want My Free Report”
- “Yes, Give Me My Free Report”
3 - Make it about them
Would you click on a button that reads “Start your 30-day trial” or one that says “Start the 30-day trial?”
Why? It hinges on one word… “you”.
Speaking to your visitors in the first person, even on button copy showcases the power of making something relatable to the reader. If you can put someone in the mindset that whatever you’re offering is already theirs, then you’ve just taken a big step from prospect to conversion.
For example, SaferVPN transformed its CTA buttons with a crucial shift, reports inbound marketing manager Shira Siegel. “Our experience shows that using the word ‘you’ better engages the customer and makes them feel like we are connecting directly to them, appealing to their individuality and personal choice,” she says.
The strategy is working for them. “Using phrases like ‘get yours now’ or ‘secure your internet’ has helped us to garner an increase of 10% in leads,” she remarks.
4 - Be specific
Imagine you opened an email from Cool Company Inc. The copy is ok, but what really grabs your eye is an e-book they’re talking about. You get to the bottom of the email and you’re faced with the word “more”.
Well, what’s that even mean? Are you going to get more content from the email? Will you get more product?
Instead, be more descriptive with your call to action copy. Tell visitors what the anticipated action is… Is it to “View more resources” or “Download an eBook?”? Specify it! Why? Because people want to know exactly what a button will do. There’s a big element of distrust online.
When visitors know exactly what they’re getting, it cuts out the ambiguity and makes people more likely to click.
5 - Know your audience
Each person needs a different reason because everybody has different interests and viewpoints. As such, your CTA button should reflect that understanding. You’d be hard-pressed to find a CTA that works equally well for a 55-year-old married mother-of-three AND a 20-year-old male college student.
Point blank: The more you’re familiar with your audience and their needs, the better your conversion will be. Even if you’re in a boring industry, you need to nail down what makes your audience tick and why. And when you do that, you’ll be able to tailor copy to your audience.
6 - Don’t be overly cute or vague
Cute copy is often vague. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Here are some examples:
- “Want it?”
- “Let me tell you about it...”
- “Click Here To Read The Greatest Article In Your Entire Life”
Meanwhile, further down the page, a separate CTA button with specific text is making it rain leads.
So, instead of using cutesie and ambiguous phrases, keep it simple and direct.
Let visitors be certain about what, exactly, they’re getting into. In fact, “Visitors are more likely to bounce than they are to click on a suspiciously vague button; so make sure your copy is clear about what that click leads to,” says Zoho.com.
Most times the simple calls to action we’ve been conditioned to click are more effective than something crazy or cute
Let the other copy and design on the page convince someone to open the door. Your CTA should be a gentle push through it.
7 - Make it urgent, urgent; emergency
Going, going, gone!
Urgency works in all areas of copywriting. Playing hard to get works in the dating world and in business. So, if you want potential customers to take action fast, curate a sense of urgency. People are strongly attracted to things there are few of or that are only available for a limited time.
Urgency accelerates demand and prompts a quick visitor decision.
William Gadea, founder and creative director of animated video company, Idea Rocket Animation, emphasizes the importance of urgency as he says:
“The most important element of a call to action is immediacy. “This action you want them to take—it is not something to be done tomorrow or next week, it is something to be done now.”
Obviously, this is easiest to do if your offer expires at midnight or the webinar is tomorrow. But even if your CTA doesn’t seem particularly urgent, you can make it feel a bit more immediate.
So, how do you easily implement urgency? Start with words like “today” or “now” in your button copy.
Another option is to add a countdown to your landing page. Sometimes just seeing those numbers tick away can be enough to encourage signups.
Bonus call-to-action tip: If you use Leadpages, easily add a sense of urgency by incorporating a Countdown timer. Countdown timers can be set to a firm deadline or can act as an individual timer for each unique visitor to the page.
8 - Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself
Don’t be shy about keeping your CTA simple and straightforward. Remind site visitors what to expect multiple times, so there’s no confusion.
“If you want people to schedule a demo, your copy might be ‘Click below to schedule your free demo today,’ and your button would be ‘Schedule my demo,’” Kenneth Burke, a marketer at Text Request says.
Kenneth also points out that people are much more likely to take action if they know exactly what to expect.
Keep your call to action button copy simple and focused, and repeat the language you use in headlines or body copy. In the body copy, outline a problem your business intends on solving and the benefits of the guide. Then, in your button copy, answer the question readers would have.
9. Tailor your message to your medium
A call to action is only as good as the content around it.
You could have the most tantalizing CTA in the world, but if I put it on a completely blank page it wouldn’t convert worth a darn.
That’s where tailoring to the medium comes in. Social media, emails and landing pages are all created to offer something different, so your CTA should cater to what the most common responses in each medium are.
For example, on Facebook, the phrase “Share your thoughts” will get more traction than it would at the bottom of a landing page because Facebook is a simple click and type, while the landing page offers more form fields.
So, as you create call to action buttons, keep the context of your page in mind.
What is context for action?
This principle isn’t earth-shatteringly new.
The context for action (CFA) is any element surrounding a call to action that inspires action. The CFA is everything that precedes your call to action.
The yellow circle is the call to action. It is the last step in a “purchase decision,” separating the user from the desired end goal.
The black circle is the context for action. If you notice, it is literally everything else on the page.
The CFA isn’t one concrete thing to point at. It’s more of an idea — a way of looking at the elements that surround your call to action. It’s the context of the message in which your consumer makes the all-important decision of action or inaction.
Using the AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), the CFA would satisfy the first three steps. A good use of CFA builds compliance throughout the message, calling upon one or many emotional appeals to prompt action.
Think of all these elements in a medium as “parts” they have to stitch together to make a patchwork quilt of sorts. It’s a cascade effect of creating the main content, then fitting the other pieces together.
That’s all well and good, but the core of your message is diluted through that process.
If you start looking through this CFA lens, it will dramatically strengthen every aspect of your message.
What are design tips for call to action buttons?
While fitting in with the majority of modern blogs and websites, these buttons also follow some important best practices for call-to-action button design. Based on what we’ve seen at LeadPages and around the web, a call-to-action button that gets people to click will:
1 - Your button shape is attractive
These buttons are attractive, but they aren’t too ornate. That’s for a very good reason. You want your site visitors to look at your call-to-action button and immediately understand what they’re supposed to do.
And that means drawing on existing web-design conventions. It may not be thrilling, but “oblong object with prominent text” is likely to be the most effective model for a button.
2 - Contrast with its surroundings.
We’ve examined scores of split tests that aim to discover the best color for a call-to-action button. What we’ve discovered is that there isn’t a “best” color for everyone—there’s only the best color for your site.
The highest conversion rates tend to come from maximizing contrast while staying on brand. So if you have a black background, you may want to try a yellow background; if your blog uses a lot of red, try turquoise.
3 - Appear interactive
Flat design may be a web design trend (as opposed to design that mimics the 3-dimensional, tangible world). Yet, studies continue to show that people prefer to click CTA buttons that look like more than a collection of pixels.
If you are a flat-design purist, consider making your buttons entice in other ways, like setting up a color change upon a rollover or adding a subtle animation.
4 - Build momentum
Somewhat surprisingly, you can often improve your opt-in or click-through rates with a call to action button simply by suggesting forward motion.
A forward-facing arrow or another graphic element at the end of your CTA button copy motivates people to keep moving through your process.
5 - Make it obvious
People aren’t frothing at the mouth, clamoring over your site in a game of “Where’s Waldo” with your CTA.
Go to sites like Spotify, Dropbox, Firefox, Amazon, or even Leadpages, and you’ll instantly see a noticeable call to action. You gain nothing from hiding your CTA, so make sure it’s easily identifiable when you use it.
6 - Visibility is paramount
Danyal Effendi, a marketer at PureVPN, pointed out this very practical tip: make your CTA stand out. “The CTA should stand out and should be visible clearly. The best thing to make it stand out is to use certain colors such as green, red, or orange with contrast from the background,” he says.
PureVPN uses CTA buttons with bright, which is not only on-brand but has the added benefit of standing out on both light and dark backgrounds.
While this step is pretty straightforward to implement right away on your own landing pages, Danyal takes another step to make CTAs stand out: breathing room.
“Leave plenty of space to make it easy for readers to identify it immediately without hindrance and take the required action,” he remarks.
Here’s a helpful hint: Before you publish your landing page, try taking a step back and squinting. Does your call to action stand out clearly from the background? If not, try to rework the page to make it pop.
And don’t forget about leaving enough space on smaller screens, too. Be sure to double-check how your button looks both on a desktop screen and on a mobile device.
What is the best color for a call to action button?
A call-to-action button is a collection of 4 things: placement, shape, message, and color. If these 4 aspects are in line with each other, you’ll have a great call-to-action button.
“Bearing this in mind, you need to know that we have some general design principles and guidelines,” says designer Paul Olyslager. “If you want a design element to stick out, you can give it the complementary color of the background color…”
He goes on to say ”Little hint: for large buttons, choose a color that is less prominent (relative to surrounding elements and the background) and for smaller buttons, you may want to choose a brighter color.”
Whatever your button color choice is, make sure that the color is prominent, yet flows with the overall page design.
Another source suggests that there are certain colors that perform better than others. “Generally speaking, green and orange buttons are reported to perform best,” says Wordstream. So, if they are within your color scheme, incorporate them in your button design.
What are minimum-effort tips for call to action buttons?
1 - Have one
A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The same can be said for call to action buttons. Nearly 70% of small business B2B websites don’t even have a true CTA. By realizing and acknowledging the fact you need one, you’ve already put yourself way ahead of the game.
2 - Optimize for mobile and desktop
Consider where your prospects will be encountering your call to action. Interested prospects are likely to search for and through your content on a variety of mobile and desktop devices. So, make sure your button translates on all devices. The last thing you want is a jumbled, pixelated or broken button.
Hint: Tools like Leadpages can help optimize buttons for all platforms.
3 - Use social proof
One of the best conversion tactics they use to create enticing calls to action is to borrow authority.
“Instead of saying how awesome your content is yourself, why not include your customer advocates’ words in your CTAs?” says Jillian Woods, a Content Marketing Manager at Influitive.
Influitive makes use of social proof in multiple places on their website, from the homepage to blog posts with case studies.
“People trust people–not brands–and are more likely to click on something if a real person has endorsed it,” Jillian says.
Try reaching out to happy customers or encouraging feedback on social media to collect social proof from your customers that you can use on your pages.
4 - Test
The amount of variables for successful calls to action is staggering. Between audience, page design, surrounding copy, the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn in the night’s sky, message medium, and everything in between, a killer CTA button takes a while to perfect.
That’s why you need to test. Test and test and test some more. Run split tests as we do at Leadpages to find the absolute best CTA for your personal situation.
5 - Focus on one goal
Sean Martin works with all kinds of marketing clients at Directive Consulting. His advice for their CTAs: choose one goal for the entire campaign. It “really helps focus your landing pages’ user experience,” he said.
For instance, the company’s homepage has two buttons but just one CTA: get a free proposal.
It can be tempting to include small asks, like encouraging social media shares, in addition to your main conversion goal on a landing page. Avoid that temptation and ask yourself, for each page, what your singular goal is. Don’t overload your users with too many offers or distractions, keep them focused on what matters to you—converting!
Your Facebook ads or email links should be in line with that goal, your page should expand on that goal, and your button should include that exact goal. Don’t confuse a lead out of a purchase.
Bonus call-to-action tip: Don’t forget the power of “free.” Even if you think it’s obvious that your offer is free already, remove any trace of doubt by adding the word to your call-to-action button.
What will your highest-converting CTA look like?
With all of these call to action button copy and design tips we’ve listed above, you will be on your way to higher conversions. So, once you implement the ideas, we want you to spread the news!
What are those call to action button pieces of knowledge you’ve got that drummed up a crazy amount of leads? Is there a call-to-action tactic that’s gotten great results for you or maybe it didn’t work at all? Share it in the comments!