If you’re running an online store, you’ve probably already got a call to action (CTA) on your home or landing page. Important for driving conversions, the call to action is usually a couple lines of persuasive sales copy combined with a form or button encouraging visitors to perform a specific action on your website—hence the name “call to action.”
These actions can be a number of things, including:
A call to action is essential for converting the visitor into a customer or subscriber. It serves to remind them why they visited your website in the first place, and it helps ensure that you meet your goals and objectives.
But there’s a right way and a wrong way to create CTAs. You need to come up with a perfect balance between your customers’ benefits and your sales goals.
So, how does a balanced CTA look? Here are three call to actions taken from popular ecommerce brands which did an excellent job of making the customer want to take action.
The Amazon homepage typically provides several CTAs for different services. Let’s take a look at one of these call-to-action buttons.
If you click the “Free shipping on millions of items” CTA, you’ll be taken to a page where you’re offered free shipping on select valued at $25 and more. What’s more, this CTA does a great job at catching the visitor’s attention by…
Also, once the CTA is clicked, the visitor is also given various product recommendations based on their individual preferences and purchasing history. And if they don’t have purchasing history because they don’t have an Amazon account (or have a new account), they’ll receive recommendations from Amazon’s most popular items.
ShopStyle also uses several calls to action on their website, with the “Spring Dress” CTA being their most prominent. What’s great about this CTA setup is how it assures visitors they will want all the products offered, which is great for creating interest.
While this call to action doesn’t directly use scarcity elements like “order now” or “only three dresses left,” it does tap into the same emotion by insinuating that the merchandise will only be available during Spring.
When you open Lenovo page, you’ll be met with these two CTAs. The first shows a new laptop computer while displaying the main feature of the laptop: its ability to turn into a tablet. When you click the CTA, you’re taken to a page that allows you to configure your own laptop. Additionally, the second CTA spurs further interest by promising a limited-time discount.
The way you design a CTA helps determine how well it converts.
If you’re using a button in your CTA, it should be designed that guides visitors and clearly indicates the desired action. If you have several calls to action on one page, then the most visible one should also be the most important.
There are three elements to consider when designing a CTA:
Let’s look at each in a bit more detail.
Most importantly, your color should make the CTA easy to spot on your page. If your call to action isn’t blatantly visible, your visitors may not notice it. And this means you’re not getting the maximum amount of conversions.
You should also consider the aesthetics of your call to action. If you use a color that’s unpleasant or contrasts poorly with your base color, you could annoy your visitors and push them to leave your page.
Your CTA needs to be large enough that it can be seen without too much effort, but not so large that it’s in your face and overwhelming. Also, having a small CTA increases the likelihood that your customers won’t find it, rendering all your efforts useless.
Use a font similar to the rest of the page. If you want your CTA to be more visible, you can differentiate them by using different sizes or colors to make it stand out. Generally speaking, I recommend keeping the same font for all your CTAs, as you don’t want to confuse visitors because you switched typefaces.
Also, avoid using all caps for your CTA copy. According to netiquette, all caps are associated with yelling, which can be off-putting.
B&H Photo has several calls to action on their product page. But their the most visible one is the “Add to Cart” button. Its bright blue color contrasts well with the rest of the site, clearly separating the CTA from surrounding information. As a result, the visitor’s attention is immediately drawn to the button. It’s even more attention-grabbing than the other two CTAs: “Add to Compare” and “Add to Wish List.”
The two secondary CTAs exist to create micro-conversions. They make the process more engaging for the visitor, while the “Add to Cart” button is the macro conversion and the most important and most preferred course of action.
Nordstrom also uses call to action that contrasts well with their homepage’s colors. The black and white letters work we with the white background, ensuring the CTA clearly indicates the seller’s preferred course of action while drawing the visitor’s attention to it.
Also, the CTA’s strategic placement at the bottom of the page, below the product information, aims to encourage visitors to read the information before getting to the call to action.
Another thing to keep in mind when optimizing your CTA is placement.
If you place a CTA for example too high on your page at a point before customers are ready to buy, it may get ignored. But if you place it too low, the prospects may never reach it and lose interest before taking action. Therefore, you need to find the best place to put CTA in. Let’s look at how you can do that.
Most visitors read web content in the F-pattern. Instead of reading top to bottom like a book, they scan the page for content they want to learn about. For this reason, CTAs are usually placed in the right-hand corner of the screen directly in the middle of the page.
As soon as you decide where to place your CTA so that it’s visible to every visitor, check your scroll maps and look at how the majority of visitors shop or consume your website content. Be sure to look at how new visitors behave and compare that to your existing supporters.
Once you’ve assessed the behavior of your visitors, you can go as far as personalizing your call to actions to match the navigational habits of your visitor groups.
Notice how the call to action is placed to the left side, directly below the information on the social proof (product and reviews). What’s more, the background of the call to action is currently a translucent gray, a clear indicator that more action is required from the prospect prior to purchase. To complete this purchase, the visitor still needs to select a color and size. But one thing is for certain: the location of the CTA makes it hard to miss.
Once the visitor selects the color and the size of the product, the CTA button becomes clickable and changes to a dynamic orange color—a stark contrast to the surrounding white background.
The placement of the call to action button at that position is in compliance with F-reading pattern. According to this theory, people will read online content by directing most of their attention to the top half of the screen and only cursory attention to the bottom left.
While a copy in a call to action may seem insignificant, it actually plays an important role in getting the visitor to decide whether or not to click the button.
Those few words in the copy, often referred to as “microcopy,” represent your first gateway to conversion. Efficient call-to-action copy has to fulfill several important functions in order to work. Let’s look at those different elements.
Compelling CTA copy intrigues your visitor and drives them to click on the call-to-action button out of curiosity. To invoke this curiosity, you must address the needs of your visitors and align them with the current stage of the purchasing journey they’re located at.
For example, you could invite visitors at the top of your sales funnel to read more content and learn more about your services by signing up for a newsletter or visiting your blog. Prospects already at the decision point can be often compelled with a simple “Buy Now.”
An effective CTA should be action-oriented so your prospect knows that a click on CTA leads them directly to the action you want them to take. You can use trigger words to enhance this purpose. According to Jared Spool, these words help your prospects connect with the action they desire to take.
In his article The Right Trigger Words, Spool says:
“In fact, when users did eventually go to search, they almost always typed one or more of the description words as their search terms. It makes sense to us that users would use their description as their search term. This was when we realized the failed searches in a site’s search log are important clues to understanding the users’ trigger words.”
An important source of trigger words can be your internal site search reports. By using trigger words, you make it easy for your prospects to find the action they need by a quick scan of the page, which is what most prospects in fact do.
An effective call to action addresses the visitors directly.
According to Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce, first-person CTAs have 90% higher conversion rate than those addressed in the third person. So, don’t be afraid to use “I” or “we” in your CTA copy.
To increase the effectiveness of your calls to action, you should leverage the power of urgency and scarcity. Prospects will tend to attach greater value to items and products that are likely to go away, either due to limited quantities or limited time.
Use your call-to-action copy to provide additional information to your visitors. You can tickle their imagination or provide incentives in the form of benefits and deals, like free shipping, expedited shipping, and similar perks.
Your call to action should always be highly visible. You can increase its visibility by using clever color contrasts, delineations, or other methods to make your CTA stand out. If it comes across as invisible, no matter how good your copy is, your CTA will be useless.
A good CTA is one visitors notice.
Effective CTAs aren’t confusing. They’re clear and to the point, and they achieve that by not offering several different actions.
Too much choice makes it hard for prospects to decide which action to take. This is known as the “paradox of choice” or “analysis paralysis.”
You want your visitors to quickly make a decision after reading your CTA, otherwise, they may wander out of the conversion funnel in search of more information. And once they leave, they may become so distracted that they never come back.
Therefore, make the action you intend them to take obvious and accessible. Shorten the purchasing journey by making the products they want to find immediately available. You can use personalization to achieve this, as well as learn more about your frequent visitors. Simply adjust what they visitor sees when they open your website, providing them with only relevant content and products. That way, prospective customers can immediately select the item they want without distracting themselves with too many options.
The call to action is an important and often underappreciated aspect of your ecommerce website. It may seem as if a simple “Buy” or “Add to Cart” button can suffice, but there’s much more that goes into optimizing your CTA, as you’ve just learned.
Take into account the overall design of your website, as well as the behavior of your prospects, to help you decide the best design, copy, and placement of your call to action.
According to Peep Laja, founder of ConversionXL, one of the best-known conversion optimization agencies around, testing call-to-action buttons by modifying their color, copy, and designs, is an effective way to improve conversions. Laja goes on to say in his blog post:
“Place the call to action with a price within the content area. Nature Air added a contextual call to action within content and witnessed a whopping 591% increase in conversions (from 3% to 19%). Easy-to-find and clear calls to action do work.”
As you can see, it’s important to pay attention to the design of your CTA, even if it seems to be an unimportant part of your ecommerce site.