The Call To Action

A call-to-action is the whole point of the thing you're doing.

If you're writing an email to someone, you want there to be a call-to-action (CTA) for the recipient to take, such as asking a question that elicits a response, a task you want them to perform, etc.

If you have a website, you want there to be a call-to-action, such as visitors going to the "Contact" page or providing their email addresses in exchange for a free eBook.

If someone can't take an action, pat yourself on the back - you've just wasted everyone's time.

Look at the example below - can you guess where the business wants visitors to its site to click (its call-to-action)? If you guessed either of the two huge orange buttons, then you can sleep easily tonight.

One of my favorite examples is from Infusionsoft (infusionsoft.com).

One of my favorite examples is from Infusionsoft (infusionsoft.com).

Here are some of the tips for creating an effective call-to-action on your website:

  • Make it a button that people want to click. Don't make a plain boring text link. If the button does a little thing when the user hovers his/her mouse over it (e.g. slightly change color), it could be extra enticing.
  • Have exciting language - instead of "Click here," you can say "See the solution" or "get started."
  • Have a sense of urgency (without seeming spammy)!
  • Have it stand out on its own. Make this obvious. Don't hide it amongst text and tons of other things.
  • Usually, having only one call-to-action on a page is ideal. If the end user doesn't know what to press, he/she won't press anything and will move on in utter paranoia! Okay, maybe not in utter paranoia, but perhaps in a slight state of confusion. If you have two CTA options next to each other that are complementary, that works too.
One of my favorite websites ever - Treehouse (teamtreehouse.com). The text is extremely easy, the banner image is motivating, and the two call-to-action buttons are very clear are fulfill very different roles. "Free trial" is an enticing offer. The buttons have a bit of a shadow around them, giving them a 3D look - a bit more enticing to click.

One of my favorite websites ever - Treehouse (teamtreehouse.com). The text is extremely easy, the banner image is motivating, and the two call-to-action buttons are very clear are fulfill very different roles. "Free trial" is an enticing offer. The buttons have a bit of a shadow around them, giving them a 3D look - a bit more enticing to click.

  • Provide a logical progression leading up to the call-to-action. For example, don't put the CTA above everything else without explaining it briefly. At least include a clear couple of sentences to describe your business/product/service, and then have a call-to-action that helps users capitalize on any potential interest you've earned from that information.
  • Try to have it "above the fold" - in the case of a website, this means having it near the top of the page before the user scrolls down. On the home page of this website, the CTA is above the fold.

If your users are acting, then you are doing your job. If they are sitting ducks, then you have a problem.