What is a CTA?

July 06, 2022   /   by  Roger West

Content is an important element of every marketing campaign, whether it’s the copy that conveys key elements of your brand identity and offerings or the design that catches the audience’s attention and holds their interest. But creating that content is only one component of a successful campaign. Without a compelling call to action, even the best content will struggle to deliver meaningful marketing and sales results. 

What is a Call to Action (CTA)? 

A call-to-action, also known as a CTA, is used to encourage website visitors to take action on a specific item. CTAs can be in the form of a button, link, graphic, or any other visual element that can create movement and guide visitors to take your desired action. 

A website or email often includes multiple CTAs, with each one serving a specific purpose. For example, a company might have a “Request a Quote” CTA to encourage visitors to get in touch for more information and a “Sign Up” CTA to get potential customers to subscribe to their mailing list. 

4 Reasons to Use a Call to Action 

There are several key objectives behind using CTAs on a website, social post, or email. The CTA represents an escalation in a potential customer’s journey that brings them closer to a transaction of some kind. Ideally, a CTA represents a relatively low risk investment on the user’s time and energy. They are interested enough to keep the engagement going, which provides you with an opportunity to share more details about the benefits you can offer them. 

1. Create Leads 

Most companies use CTAs as a lead generation tool. Converting on a CTA included with a paid search ad or website page prompts the person to provide their email in exchange for something of value (usually a piece of content or a product demo). The email is then added to a list of potential leads, allowing you to reach out to them directly in the future with more targeted marketing campaigns. With email still providing the best ROI of any marketing tool (about $36 for every $1 spent), building a robust list of potential leads is one of the best ways to keep your sales pipeline stocked with qualified prospects. 

2. Make a Sale 

The direct nature of CTAs makes them ideal for prompting customers to make a purchase right then and there. A simple click on a link can put potential customers in direct contact with a sales rep or help them make a purchase instantly. This approach is especially effective when promoting special deals or limited time offers. Creating an ad that tells someone all about the amazing discount you’re offering is a great start, but without a CTA that connects them to that deal, they’re liable to move on and forget to follow up later.  

3. Streamline the Buyer’s Journey 

On a similar note, CTAs are an effective means of simplifying the overall buyer’s journey. They can connect someone to your website with a single click, which allows them to jump straight from the awareness phase of their journey to consideration. This can be especially helpful when it comes to your website content. If you have an informative pillar page detailing all the benefits of a particular product or service, but then don’t provide a CTA that connects someone from the information you’ve provided to a page where they can make a purchase, the chances of them getting distracted on another page or not being able to determine where to go next are much higher. 

4. Build Brand Awareness 

Organizations spend millions to develop compelling brand messaging that encourages customers to see the company in a particular light and associate it with specific values. Unfortunately, a lot of that money will be going to waste if nobody ever sees that messaging. If you’ve redesigned your website or generated content that aligns with a new or updated brand identity, CTAs are an effective tool for drawing attention to your shiny new branding 

Creating a Call to Action 

The CTA button should be the last element your visitors see before completing an action or taking you up on your offer, so it's crucial to ensure that this is clear and stands out. You'll also need to test different variants to see what works best for your site. Color scheme and button placement can also make a big difference in terms of how effective your CTAs are. 

A good rule of thumb when creating CTAs is to keep them concise, actionable, and easy to understand. This will help to increase the likelihood of visitors completing the desired action.  In other words, if you want people to give their email address in exchange for something of value, such as a free eBook, make sure the CTA is clear about what will happen next. A lack of clarity risks a high bounce rate, hurting SEO efforts over time. 

When it comes to CTAs, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one website might not be as effective for another. After all, you wouldn't expect to see the same types of CTAs used on a B2B website as you would on a consumer retail site. The best way to determine what will work for your business is by testing different CTAs and seeing how visitors respond. The more data you have about what works best, the easier it will be to hone in on the right combination that delivers results for you. 

5 Tips for Creating a Strong Call to Action 

There are a few best practices to keep in mind when you’re writing and designing your CTAs. Although they make up only one small component of your marketing efforts, they are the links that hold the entire strategy together. An otherwise remarkable campaign can easily fall short of expectations if you’re CTAs aren’t up to the same standard. 

1. Keep It Short 

By the time someone reads the CTA, they know about your product or service (or they want to know more). The CTA is not the place to hit them with more information. An effective CTA makes its point succinctly and directly. Anything more than a few words is usually too long and may not even be recognized as a call to action. 

2. Use Action Verbs 

It’s a “call to action,” not a “button that can be pressed if you want to.” The term itself contains an explicit prompt (a “call”) to do something (an “action”), so you should start your CTAs with action verbs whenever possible. Starting the CTA with action verbs like “call,” “join,” or “shop” encourages the reader to take a direct action.  

3. Be Clear (and Honest) 

While using an action verb is important, don’t neglect the rest of the CTA text. A good CTA makes it very clear what action the reader is supposed to take. This is especially important when more than one CTA is being used. You also don’t want to mislead anyone by giving them the wrong impression about where the link will take them. If someone converts on a CTA looking for more information and ends up on a seemingly unrelated sales-heavy page, they may come away with a bad impression of your brand. 

4. Provide Value 

The most effective CTAs provide high value with low risk. That’s because people are more likely click on a CTA when they know they’re going to get something in return for nothing more than a few moments of their time (and maybe some contact information). The content associated with the CTA should make this value clear, but make sure that same message is carried through in the CTA itself. A webpage or email promoting an eBook, for instance, should end with a CTA along the lines of “Read the Insights,” “Get the eBook,” or “Download Report,” all of which tell readers what they will get when they click the link.  

5. Make It Pop 

The best writing in the world isn’t going to do much for a CTA if nobody notices it. Great design is essential for helping set a CTA apart from the rest of the content so it catches the audience’s eye. Bright colors and creative use of white space are frequently used to make CTAs stand out and provide clear indications of where readers should focus their attention and take their next action. 

Do Your CTAs Need a Refresh? 

Successful CTAs don’t just happen by accident. They’re the result of careful consideration and are often developed as part of a much larger content strategy that thinks about how different elements of the campaign will fit together. As a full-service marketing agency, the team at Roger West Creative & Code has plenty of experience developing powerful CTAs that help to generate outcomes that drive business growth. 

See Our Work 

A bit too on the nose? Maybe so, but you’ll notice that we followed a lot of the rules outlined above with this little impromptu CTA. There’s an action verb, it gets right to the point, and it’s clear what you’re going to get when you click on it (which you totally should). 

If you’re ready to talk about your marketing needs and find out how we can help you achieve your business goals, drop us a line and let’s get started! 

Roger West Creative + Code

Roger West Creative & Code is a full-service digital marketing agency that helps companies build brands, generate leads, and keep customers inspired and engaged. The agency provides a dynamic environment for marketing pros to innovate and team up with clients to drive traffic to vibrant places and send messages that pack a punch.