The call-to-action is one of the most important elements needed on your website. However, this is one of the most forgotten or poorly executed pieces of content I see on business websites today.
Let me just come right out and say it: your website needs a strong, motivating, primary call-to-action. This is the ONE THING you want your potential clients to do when visiting your website. It’s the NEXT STEP you want them to take, and in many cases brings a prospect much closer to becoming a customer.
Your primary call-to-action
I believe that each page on your website needs a primary call-to-action. This means there is a single, clear action you are asking a visitor on the page to take.
You’re not giving them 6 options. You’re giving them one, clear, convincing option – and it’s the next step they need to take in order to begin a buying relationship with your business.
With our website design clients, I typically recommend having a primary call-to-action in the top, right-hand size of each web page. This way, the user’s eyes hit the call-to-action right before taking the first turn in the Z-pattern. This is just the beginning. You’ll then repeat this call-to-action throughout the page. Over and over.
You will get sick of how many times you’re throwing the call-to-action on the page, but it’s purpose is two-fold:
First, and I would argue most importantly, you are beginning to train your prospects to memorize the call-to-action. There will be no mistaking what that next step is. Because it is clear. Because it is consistent. Because it is repeated.
Second, you are giving the user multiple chances to click the (most likely) button. They don’t need to scroll to find the button to take the next step. It is right there, at every turn.
At least lead the horse to water…
It has been said, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” I like to say, “a horse will never drink, if you don’t lead it to water.”
The point is this. People will go where you ask them to go, but only if you ask them. If you do not call them to action, then don’t expect them to take action.
Said another way, if you do not reveal to your potential customer what they are supposed to do to start a business relationship with you, then they won’t start the relationship. You must call them to action.
Begin with a strong commanding verb.
The problem with many call-to-actions I see is that they are not commanding. They are passive and weak. They delay and soften the ask and they end up confusing the customer.
Tell your potential customer exactly what to do. Begin with a strong commanding verb, like:
The next thing your call-to-action must do, is motivate someone to click on it. For example, try asking these questions:
- What’s in it for them?
- How will it make their lives better?
- What will they miss out on if they don’t take action?
Elicit emotion. Create enthusiasm. Motivate your potential customers to take action.
Here’s a few examples:
- Get a Free Consultation
- Start Free Trial
- Get a Free Estimate
- Plan Your Dream Vacation
In all of these examples, the prospect will get something out of it, even if they never buy. A free consultation, a free trial, a free estimate. These all have value in and by themselves and are more motivating to take action with than something like “contact us” or “learn more.” And, who wouldn’t want to plan their dream vacation?!
Clear trumps clever
Don’t try to get too creative or clever with your call-to-action. Don’t use words or phrases that are difficult to comprehend quickly. You will lose your audience. Here’s some examples of bad call-to-actions that miss the point:
- Grill With Us
- Say Goodbye To Plaque
- Watch The Big Screen
Instead, use clear, concise language that is quick to read/scan and communicates exactly what the next step is. Here’s some better examples to replace the bad call-to-actions listed above:
- Make A Reservation
- Schedule An Appointment
- Get Tickets
In a battle between clarity and cleverness, clarity always wins. If you can do both, that’s fantastic, but don’t ever let clever win.
Your call-to-action should stand out. It should offer the most contrast on the page.
I always recommend putting the call-to-action in a button shape on your website. This is a very familiar interface in online (and even offline) experiences. Your prospects will expect it and know what to do.
I also recommend reserving your highest contrast color for the primary call-to-action and if you have secondary call-to-action buttons, using more subdued secondary colors for those.
Looking for some examples of high-performing call-to-actions? Here’s a list below:
- Schedule an appointment
- Get a free estimate
- Buy it now
- Sign up
- Find a dealer
- Order now
- Get tickets
- Register now