What Is Your Call to Action?

Posted in: Marketing, Work on February 3rd, 2012

As the old adage goes, “ask and you will be given”. Could you imagine going into a used car yard and never being asked if you would like to buy a car? It just wouldn’t happen! The same applies online and it is our job as marketers and business people to facilitate a conversion through smart placement of a call to action. Your call to action is asking website visitors to do “something”; usually in the web realm “something” means encouraging them to click a link or a button that will flow through towards a predetermined goal conversion. You have set goals for the website, setup analytics and are tracking conversions right?!

Call to Action Principles

Have a call to action on EVERY page

It doesn’t always have to be a huge red BUY NOW button (in many cases this is crude and inappropriate), but you should at least encourage your visitors to click through to another page on your site, contact you about the information on a page or download an important document.

Make your call to action stand out

Most people are lazy web browsers with short concentration spans so you have a very small window to catch the fish before it flips out of the net. Therefore, you must make your call to action obvious! This can be done by using contrasting colours, space around the call to action link, ensuring the button or link falls in the sight-line of the viewer and don’t clutter the page with lots of graphics and additional calls to action.

Use meaningful text to create urgency

Each call to action button or link should have some text that encourages the user to click and creates urgency. For example, at the end of an online purchase, your completion button text is better as “Complete purchase” rather than just “Submit”. When using in-text links you should use proper anchor text to describe where that link goes, eg, see our selection of red dresses, rather than just we have red dresses click here. Secret squirrel tip: keyword rich anchor text also helps your SEO!

Reassure the customer that clicking is ok

This might be through some related copy that gives product info, an association membership logo, an interactive button, telling the customer what to expect when they click and using related imagery to make the customer feel at ease.

5 Great Call to Action Examples


The first example is the homepage of my favourite email marketing software MailChimp, a company with one core product which enables them to focus all the customer’s attention on one CTA. Once you have finished admiring the smiling monkey, your attention will likely drift to the bright coral coloured call to action button saying “Sign Up Free”. The beauty of this homepage is that every page element focuses attention on the call to action; the monkey’s sight line, the large headline text, the space around the button and the colour contrast of the coral on light blue. Also take note of how the font color of the blurb “MailChimp helps you design email newsletters,…” fades nicely into the background so that the call to action stands out. Direct link

MailChimp Landing Homepage

The second homepage example is from McDonald’s. The challenge for the Maccas marketing crew is that people have many different reasons for visiting their website so one call to action (a la MailChimp) is not possible. What they have done instead is created a call to action hierarchy, clearly based around their website goals and what they believe their customers want to find.

As you can see the primary call to action is inviting visitors to “See our new range”, but they have also created a range of other clickable options below for customers who are looking for other information. Direct link
McDonald's Homepage Landing Page

Landing Page

Insurance companies have got big bucks to spend on testing marketing campaigns, and as a result we get landing pages like this esurance sales page which is nothing short of magnificent. They certainly have checked all the boxes for a great landing page; related imagery, concise copy which doesn’t get in the way, reassurance that the company is credible and it is safe to click and a big call to action button in a high contrast colour. The other key thing you notice is that there is no unrelated clutter such as navigation menus, social media buttons, long text blocks or image galleries. This is to focus the customer’s attention and prevent them from getting distracted and clicking to another page. Direct link

esurance Landing Page

Ok, so I lied when I said 5 great call to action examples because the next one is no bueno! The harsh reality is that this is simply not a good landing page and a major waste of pay per click advertising dollars.

So what’s wrong with it? There is a text overload, four different coloured graphics at different parts of the page pulling your eyeballs around like a tennis match, an incognito call to action at the top right (“begin now”), social media buttons stealing focus and the copy is disjointed and verbose. Take note, if your landing pages look like the one below, you need to redesign! Direct link
RSA Landing Page Bad

Content Page

This example is from ICAE and shows how a call to action can be easily included at the bottom of a general informational content page. The CTA is subtle enough that it doesn’t interfere with the content, but prominent enough to attract attention once the visitor has consumed all the information they need. The copy is also directly related to the page content and uses a friendly tone to encourage clicking. Should your heart desire you could also add a similar subtle call to action mid-way through the content. Direct link

ICAE Content Call to Action

So there you have it. 4 good examples and 1 not so good. I hope this will encourage you to ask your website visitors to take action through a carefully crafted call to action, all leading towards more conversions and a better web experience for your customers.

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