Getting people to act on their digital impulses is no simple feat. Here’s how to entice customers with persuasive calls to action.
Top image by Sergey Mironov
How many times have you actually clicked a button that says, “CLICK HERE”?
In reality, it’s more likely that you’ll click or tap a button that entices you to act. Perhaps you wanted the item that came with the click, or you were worried the deal/offer/information would disappear.
A lot of work goes into crafting an effective call to action (CTA) that gets people to behave in the intended way — whether that’s filling out a form or making a purchase. You’ll know you’ve pulled off a perfect CTA when you convert website visitors into actual customers or users.
Read on some call to action tips to get you started. Then check out our tutorial on creating simple CTA buttons for your ads and other marketing materials.
1. Sell the Benefit
Image via Netflix
Website visitors need a reason to click that button and hand over their information (or money). Sell the benefit of what you have to offer in the CTA.
Netflix does a great job of this with its “Join free for a month” CTA. It’s a little long, sure, but it tells customers exactly what they’re getting — and it’s free!
The benefit you are providing or selling to users must be clear and desirable. Good call to action examples include phrases like “Start your free trial,” “Download the coupon,” or “Start saving now.” See how each of these phrases gives the user something valuable? Use supporting text in headlines and subheads by giving would-be customers more context and information on the complete benefits package.
2. Start with a Strong, Actionable Verb
Image via The West Australian Good Food Guide
Strong action verbs will encourage users to act. Just reading an active verb often makes you feel a push to do something.
Start CTAs with strong, actionable verbs so that website visitors know exactly what they should do next. Don’t use fluffy language or hint at it. Start with that direct action.
What does an actionable verb look like? Examples of calls to action include:
- Buy, shop, or order for e-commerce websites.
- Subscribe, download, or watch for websites that offer a special promo or element to users.
- Reserve, sign up, or join for new websites and lead-gathering.
The West Australian Good Food Guide, which showcases places to eat, uses an inviting and actionable “Meet the Top 50″ to get users to click on key content.
3. Keep It Short and Direct
While there might be plenty of visual and textual elements to support your CTA, keep your main messaging short and direct. Don’t try to drop hints; rather, be concise and tell people what you’re offering them in an easy-to-understand way.
One way to keep yourself in check is to create call to action files in an image editor on a sized canvas. This will help you see how much space there is to work with and plan how elements look when put together.
Shutterstock Editor comes with premade templates of various sizes and social media options, letting you build and upload to your feeds with just a few clicks.
4. Tell Users Exactly What to Do
Image via Zoom
Think about all the places a potential customer might see a call to action for your product or service: your website, social media feeds, or online ads. A good CTA must tell users exactly what to do because they might not always understand the context in which they see it. Often we click out of curiosity faster than we can think — so it’s about capturing that tendency and capitalizing on it.
In addition to using actionable verbs, as noted above, and making elements easy to click and understand, also consider placement and formatting of the CTA. The button or clickable element should be directly adjacent to where users enter information.
For a single-line submission — such as an email address — the ideal placement is to the right of the form, like web-conferencing software maker Zoom does with its “Sign up free” button. For forms that include more information, such as a contact box with multiple fields, the ideal placement for the “submit” CTA is directly below the form.
For a CTA that doesn’t include a form to complete before clicking, consider a standard placement. On social media the button is commonly located to the bottom-right of the post, whereas on many websites the cart, contact, or search CTAs are located in the top right corner.
5. Include a Stellar Image
A good call to action should have a strong image — alongside the headline and clickable element — to tie the messaging together.
When thinking about how to put together a strong CTA, you’ll likely need the help of a photo-editing tool, such as Shutterstock Editor. The app allows you to crop and size photos, and even add a filter or text to increase visual interest. If you’re a novice to photo editing, the easy-to-use template options can help you create just the right visual presentation for almost any digital format.
6. Create an Emotional Connection
Image via Adopt a Love Story
Make users have all the feels. Creating an emotional connection will encourage users to click quicker and be more likely to engage with your content.
Adopt a Love Story, a website that helps families finance adoptions, is packed with video images of families with young children. The call to action — “give to adoption” — is specific about what it’s asking of site visitors, helping them to feel like they can be part of this effort to bring families together.
Charitable organization United Way‘s landing page contains another excellent CTA example. It uses all of the elements discussed so far in this piece — headline, subhead, a direct and actionable CTA button (“You can help”), and a bright, well-composed image.
7. FOMO is Real
Image via Banana Republic Factory
Fear of missing out is a tangible emotion that drives users to click on calls to action. Surround your CTA with copy that tells users what they will miss if they don’t click.
This is a great technique for sales on e-commerce sites, or for time-sensitive items or products. Banana Republic Factory uses a few elements on its image to help convert visitors to shoppers: It’s specific (a winter clearance event), it says what shoppers could get (up to 75 percent off), and it has three action buttons to help shoppers get to the most relevant section ASAP.
FOMO can help create extra interest or enthusiasm for your content or product, so make sure to let users know that they must click now to get the best offer. Example calls to action include:
- “Sale ends today!”
- “Only 10 remaining”
- “Buy while supplies last”
- “Available to the first 200 customers”
8. Make It Easy to Click or Tap
Think about how the CTA element will appear on different screens and devices. It should be easy to click or tap on the biggest and smallest of screens.
Mobile users are more likely to want one-click results, and they won’t want to fill out long forms — so keep it simple. You should also consider using click-to-call buttons so that phone numbers automatically dial, if that’s a part of your CTA plan.
The goal of a call to action is to get the viewer to act in some manner, most often with a click or tap action. Writing CTAs with engaging copy and using complementary visuals is the best way to entice users.
Luckily, there are some great tools available to help you create image and text combinations for your website or social media pages. Shutterstock Editor is free and easy to use. Try it out on your next call to action!