Artcle by: Hubspot
Calls-to-action (CTAs) are one of the most critical inbound marketing tools. Whether they take the form of anchor text links, images, or buttons, CTAs are what motivate and direct your visitors to take a desired action, usually on a landing page. This could mean anything from registering for an event, downloading content and converting into leads, or encouraging prospects to move further down your marketing funnel toward sales-readiness.
But not all calls-to-action are effective at converting your visitors. And because we’ve worked with so many marketers over the years, we’ve seen our fair share of lackluster and underperforming CTAs in our day. So to help you get a handle on some of the most critical CTA best practices, this post — and the accompanying SlideShare — will uncover the good, the bad, and the ugly of calls-to-action, so you can learn what works (and what doesn’t) with CTAs.
1) DON’T use “submit” on your form buttons.
DO use valuable and actionable copy, such as “Download Now,” “Get Your Free Trial,” “Speak to an Expert,” or “Buy Now.”
Why? Think about it: No one likes to “submit” to anything. By stating the value of what the visitors will receive by clicking the button, you will reduce anxiety and friction and, thus increase clickthroughs.
2) DON’T hide your CTAs where no one can see them.
DO place your CTAs above and below the fold and within the visitor’s “eye path.”
Why? Calls-to-action are worthless if no one can see them! Don’t make the mistake of neglecting to position important calls-to-action front and center so visitors miss them altogether.
3) DON’T use the same or similar colors in your CTAs as the page’s background color.
DO use bold, contrasting colors in your CTAs so they don’t blend in with the page.
Why? If your CTA uses colors similar to those of the background — whether on a page, in an email, or within any other channel, it will blend into the page, making it difficult for visitors to notice. Simple as that!
4) DON’T use teeny, tiny CTAs that no one will notice.
DO make them big and bold.
Why? So they stand out! It’s important to make CTAs one of the bigger, more prominent objects on a page to increase the likelihood of clickthroughs.
5) DON’T make the design of your CTAs look flat.
DO make them look “clickable” and button-like by adding bevels, shadows, and hover effects.
Why? Online visitors are conditioned to recognize clickable elements like buttons and links. Use copy or design to indicate that visitors should “click here.”
6) DON’T use CTAs in the wrong place at the wrong time.
DO use CTAs that relate to the content on the existing page, or align with the buyer’s interests and needs.
Why? Many marketers make the mistake of pushing a CTA too soon or with the wrong audience. Matching the CTA with the lifecycle stage or interests of the visitor will make for a more effective call-to-action and increase clickthroughs.
7) DON’T be too wordy.
DO make sure CTAs are clear, simple, and uncluttered.
Why? Attention spans are short. Get to the point quickly.
8) DON’T use vague, cliché, or passive language.
DO use compelling and actionable copy that conveys the value being offered.
Why? The most effective calls-to-action tell visitors what to do (e.g. click here, download now, get your XYZ). Use words that convey action so there’s no question about it.
9) DON’T oversell and under-deliver.
DO set the right expectations about what visitors will receive.
Why? Many calls-to-action make fake promises. Just think of decades’ worth of Mad Men type advertising. Visitors have high expectations that your CTA will deliver what’s promised.
10) DON’T link your CTAs to your homepage.
DO direct each CTA to its own dedicated landing page that restates the offer and copy from the CTA.
Why? A homepage is a dumping ground for all miscellaneous traffic. CTAs give you the opportunity to increase conversions by driving visitors from a particular channel or source to a specific landing page that is closely tied to the CTA. This reduces friction because visitors will know they landed in the right place. Bringing them directly to the homepage will make them feel lost and reduce the likelihood they’ll convert.