The other day I was standing in front of a pay terminal with no idea where to start. It took me a few minutes just to figure out how to give the garage my money. The problem? No easy-to-identify place to start. In web parlance, no clear call to action.

Clear, compelling calls to action are the lifeblood of your business on the Web. They are the sign posts and cues that give your users the guidance they need to continue down the right path towards conversion.

Calls to action are often just thought of in terms of a button, if they’re thought of at all. Too often, calls to action are omitted or stuck into the design as an after thought. Which is a tragedy because weak calls to action (CTAs) result in confused visitors and lost opportunities as potential customers wander out of the conversion funnel and away from your site. In this post we give you six ways to create compelling CTAs that really drive results for your website.

Hello Bar Call To Action

Six Ways to Get More Action

Before we get started, it’s important to note that a call to action isn’t just about sticking a button on a page. A call to action is the entire sum of the design and content helping visitors move down the funnel toward conversion. When you think call to action, think holistically, not just in terms of a button.

There are many different types of CTAs, from buttons to buy, links to download and visual design cues guiding your visitor down your conversion funnel. Without CTAs your users can get lost and confused which, in the worst case, will lead to them leaving your site. To keep your customers headed in the right direction here are our best practice tips for your CTAs.

Creating Compelling Call To Actions

Use these in your design and watch your conversion rate soar.

Make them stand out. From a design perspective your CTAs should be easily distinguishable from other content in your design. Use a color that is easy to see on the slide and stands in contrast with the background.

Keep CTA design consistent. Your CTAs throughout your site should be consistent and easy to recognize. Changing from buttons to links, and drastic changes in colors and shapes can can create confusion. Help your visitors identify CTAs by keeping them consistent.

Use active and descriptive phrases. Phrases like “Get Started”, “Download Now”, “Learn More”, and “Get an Invite” create a sense of positive action that gets visitors moving forward down the right path. Avoid CTAs such as “Click here” at all costs.

Crazy Egg CTA

Use design elements that indicate forward progress. Include design elements such as arrows in your CTAs to indicate momentum and progress. This helps your visitors feel like they are moving in the right direction to solve their problem or meet their need.

Lean Startup CTA

Put them on each page. After a visitor skims a page on your website, they’ll try to figure out what to do next. Ensure they head in the direction you want them to go by putting prominent CTAs on each slide and page. Plus, never assume a visitor is entering your site from the first step of your funnel, help them orient themselves quickly with clear guidance.

Digital Telepathy Calls to Action

Keep them visible. If you have long content pages, make sure you have multiple CTAs so that users don’t have to hunt them down once they’re ready to act.

Unbounce CTA

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action Please

Without strong calls to action your visitors will get confused, frustrated and lost, leading to fewer conversions for you. Lead them to the promised land with clear, action-oriented CTAs that guide them down the funnel.

By being consistent in your design and placement, using active and descriptive copy, and indicating forward progress in your design, you’ll be on your way to improving the conversion rate of your site.

Have a favorite call to action? Let us know in the comments!

  • Ah,

    One rather big correction to your assumption. Click here is one of the top 3 call to action wordings we find from tests. We do over 7M tests a month so we have winners like Klik Heir, Cliquez ici, Click here etc. in some of our 19 worldwide languages. Why?

    Because if it is a two part message, with strapline, surround, introduction, preamble – then it performs amongst the best. I first spotted this with Nectar showing the results of their tests.

    It confounded me – here was solid MVT and A/B test data showing that ‘Click here’ was their best CTA. Darn – all that learning in usability gone to waste eh? Not so – because I recognised that their messages were in two parts, with click here working very well when partnered with something. I’ve now run through close to 30M tests with different CTA designs, wordings, colours etc. and click here is in the top 3, as is ‘Get started’ and ‘Fix my Glass’ (we repair glass on cars).

    We have tried a huge number of wording variants and click here is near the top in every language? Yup. But only when it’s partnered with a companion –

    For example “Want free microsite analytics for 30 days? [Click here]”. Where you should never use ‘Click here’ is for hyperlinks, text that will be scanned or a mixed format message that needs some kind of scanning. What happens during eye tracking is that the hyperlink highlighting attracts the eye but then the words convey no meaning. All the brain sees is ‘Click here’ and you think – wtf? Click for what?.

    So, this is a usability issue but I’m happy to prove it’s not true of all situations. The answer is to test yourself and find out. A/B and Multivariate tests remove ego and opinion from the process, because they let you find answers to ‘what if?’ questions.


  • Sorry – one last thing. Other CTA wordings that work very well are ‘goal oriented’ words or key phrases. So things like

    Get started
    Yes, give me my prize!
    Get free trial
    Download free ebook
    Get qualified today
    Yes, I want the free course
    Fix my glass
    Deliver it now
    Wear it tomorrow

    Things like these work well in tests because they involve the goal, not the painful bit in the middle (filling out the error prone form, typing, giving details). If you allow people to ‘play a video’ in their head of the outcome they desire, the conversion friction just became easier.

  • Morgan Brown

    Hi Craig,

    Thanks for your great comments. I actually totally agree with you, although rereading my post I admit I didn’t do the best job of articulating the nuance that you pointed out. The “click here” I was referring to was the “naked” click here, rather than the two-part. The main point, which I think you address much more elegantly, is to provide a clear understanding of what the call to action will result in or do. Thanks for the excellent, additional options as well.

  • Thanks for a great article and comment above guys. Food for thought that I’ll be paying attention to. I don’t get what you mean by ‘two part’ in relation to ‘click here’, would you mind expanding a bit more please?

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  • Very intersting read Morgan and some very good points/comments by Craig. I totaly agree with “click here” being a winner as a two parter. Split testing has shown that in general most people react better to direct instructions, “click here” “buy now”. In adding a second part to it you are giving indication of what the consequence, outcome or reward will be “click here to get your free 25% discount code”. Furthermore, when a CTA is long tail it is more likely to get attention and has larger surface area to be highlighted with a mouseover.

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