How to use CTAs to increase conversions

Posted by Liam Webley on 25 Jul, 2022
View comments Marketing
How to create effective calls-to-action to boost your conversion and engagement rates.

Calls to action for conversions.

First off, let’s first get one thing out of the way: It's a common misconception that a website conversion equals a successfully completed purchase.

Conversions, in fact, are solely based on your unique website goals, so they can mean different things to different businesses at different stages.

For example, if your company sells digital products, a conversion for you may be a request for a product demo or a free trial signup.

If you’re running an ecommerce site, a conversion for you could be an actual purchase.

Bottom line: A conversion is a successfully completed goal that you assigned to your website users.

How do you communicate this goal (or goals)?

Enter CTAs!

What are CTAs?

There are two ways in which we can define calls to action (CTAs).

Traditionally, CTAs are actionable short-form copies that tend to read more like taglines.

For example, United Airlines use the “Fly the Friendly Skies” tagline, which invites their users to take a particular step - namely, to fly with them.

In the context of United Airlines, this kind of CTA works because their brand name doesn’t require much clarification as to what kind of services they offer.

In the context of digital, CTAs usually refer to buttons that contain an actionable copy within them.

This is the definition we’ll use in this article. Website CTAs not only suggest the next step to your user, but they also facilitate it, linking them to the relevant page or resource.

Types of website CTAs

Depending on your audience’s goals and your business objectives, you’ll want to include several different CTAs on your website.  

Here are the 4 most effective types of website CTAs:

1. Lead generation CTAs

Lead generation CTAs are the CTAs that incentivize the user to provide you with their contact details and, in doing so, enter your sales pipeline.

These can be simple “request a demo” or “speak with our experts” CTAs. Or, or they can be a little less obvious - we’re talking about gated content CTAs here.

Gated content CTAs give a free resource in exchange for your user’s email address.  This could be access to a trial of a service, or a particular resource. Let’s say your landing page contains templates for CVs. In that case, your lead generation CTA could read “Download templates”.

Hootesuite's CTA reads: "Start Your Free 30 Day Trial". Click on the button to enter your details, and you have access to the tool.

Hootesuite.

2. “Read more” CTAs

Your website’s homepage is generally designed to show only excerpts of your most valuable content. Ultimately you want your users to go deeper and engage further with your other content.

To engage your users with the content beyond what is included on your homepage, you can include CTA buttons at the end of your first few paragraphs inviting them to go deeper to a fuller version, or to download a resource.

Pro tip: Though we’re calling this a “Read more” CTA, this isn’t a wording we’d recommend as it’s vague and impersonal. Instead, it’s better to make your copy more specific to tell your user exactly where the button is taking them. For example, “Discover homes” in Booking.com’s CTA below.

Booking.com

3. Product/service discovery CTAs

CTAs can be a great way of enabling your users to learn more about your company and offering.

It's a great way to draw attention to your recent updates.

If you’re selling a software product that has recently released a set of new features, your CTA could invite the user to discover more about these features.

Here’s the new MacBook Air:

Apple.

CTAs are an effective tool for keeping your users up to speed and educated on your most recent offerings and updates.

4. Social media CTAs

A multichannel presence helps businesses to grow their customer base as well as retain their customers.

For that reason, you'll see that many websites include social media CTAs such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn in the lower or footer area of their website landing pages. The brand’s aim is to encourage users to connect with them via more channels and to increase their social media following.

Mailchimp.

Besides inviting users to connect with you on social, consider implementing social sharing buttons on your blog articles, showing how often users have shared your content on their socials.

How do website CTAs affect conversions?

There are three main ways in which CTAs can affect your conversion rates in the long run. Let’s take a look at each of them.

1. CTAs propose the user journey

The primary function of the CTAs is to suggest to your users the next step or the next action on their journey through your website.

To increase the click-through to your main conversion points, you need to make your conversion CTAs clearly visible.

Why?

Prominent CTAs make it easy for the user to hop over to the conversion point whenever they feel ready to do so.

2. CTAs move the user along

By proposing the next stop on your website, CTAs  map out your user journey.

High-performance websites use CTAs strategically to move their users through the conversion funnel.

In other words, effective CTAs lead your users through the key touchpoints on your website, so they can gather all the information they need to convert.

Notice how most well-designed websites use diversified CTAs on their landing pages.

Let’s take Slack’s homepage for example:

Slack

Notice how Slack gives you:

  • 2 Free Trial CTAs as their main conversion points, as well as Sign up with Google
  • Talk to Sales CTA as their supporting conversion point
  • Watch video CTA for top-of-funnel users to explore the solution

They also give you various other top-of-funnel CTAs further down the page, such as “Learn more about channels” to educate users on their offering.

Slack education.

The more information users gather about Slack’s offering, the more comfortable they will feel about starting a trial and ultimately transitioning to a paid plan. CTAs lead them to this information and, in doing so, move them closer to conversion.

Consider placing your conversion CTAs in your navigation area and strategically scattered throughout key landing pages. Use contrasting colors to make them pop and be sure your CTA copy is clear, concise and actionable.

3. CTAs drive engagement

The two most popular engagement-driving CTAs are social media and email subscriptions.

North Face has them side by side.

North Face.

Both of these have a sole shared purpose: to open a channel for continuous communication with the user.

Social media followers are continuously exposed to your social media content.

Email subscribers receive your newsletters and email campaigns in their inboxes.

Why does this matter?

If your average buyer’s journey tends to span weeks or months, you are likely to shed prospects along the way. They can either forget about your offering or they can lose interest.

Getting users to follow you on social or subscribe to your email alerts is great for lead nurturing. By opening these continuous communication channels, you are more likely to keep your prospects engaged over time, staying on top of mind and increasing conversions in the long run. 

You’re increasing your brand awareness with them, meaning they’ll think of you when they need to make a relevant purchase.

How to create click-worthy CTAs

Now that we’ve established what CTAs are and how they can be used to boost your conversion rates, let’s take a look at our top 4 tips on how to create click-worthy CTAs:

1. Place your CTAs strategically

You should always position your CTAs in contextually relevant environments.

This simply means that the CTA should feel like a natural extension of the user’s current experience. If they are reading about your product’s features on your homepage, give them a CTA to the Features landing page. If they are viewing snippets of case studies, give them a CTA to lead them to the full case study. As simple as that!

This will also help you keep your CTAs diversified across the page. Going back to our Slack example, offering diverse CTAs helps you provide options to your users. If they are new to your brand, top of the funnel CTAs will lead them to more relevant information about your offering. If they are a hot lead, bottom funnel CTAs will lead them to your success stories, sales team or the conversion point.

One more tip: Many websites tend to underutilize their footer.

Footers are a great space for email subscription and social media following CTAs. Give it a try!

2. Write actionable copy

The top lead generation companies recommend keeping your CTA copy short and to the point.

Aim for CTAs that are no longer than four words and which use imperative verbs such as:

  • Call
  • Visit
  • Find out
  • Download
  • Order
  • Buy
  • Subscribe
  • Pre-order now

When writing a CTA copy, try to avoid using vague phrases such as “read more”.

Instead, communicate clearly the exact benefits that the user gets by clicking on your CTA button, such as “Download full survey”, or "Subscribe", as here in the example from Brickken. 

Brickken.

Note how the exact offer and benefit is clearly laid out in the acommpanying text.

Which brings us to our next point…

3. Set the right expectations

One of the fastest ways to lose a lead is to have them click on a CTA button which leads to a page that doesn’t match your copy.

If your CTA says “Explore our services”, you want to ensure that your landing page contains a list of services you provide. If it says “Shop for shapewear”, you want your users to be led to a page that includes all of your shapewear products.

A user that knows what’s behind the CTA button is more likely to click, so you want to be as specific as possible and set the most accurate expectations you can for your users.

4. Don’t forget to test

Before you move ahead with your CTAs it’s essential to test to see what works best for your brand and audience. You can test any element including:

  • wording
  • position
  • colour
  • shape of button

Run some A/B tests on individual elements to get concrete data showing you the best options to go with.

Now write your own CTAs!

Writing an effective CTA can make or break your marketing campaign. It’s a key way in which you guide and encourage the user to complete a task, and progress through your conversion funnel. Depending on your goal, that could be to explore your content further, engage more with your brand, make a purchase, or more.

A CTA can make all the difference in your clickthrough and conversion rates, so it’s critical to get them right.

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