What’s the most important spot on your website, landing page or email? In many cases it is the ‘call to action’. That little button that asks the viewer to ‘Buy Now’, or ‘Request Demo’.


Well in most cases you should have a reasonably clear idea what you want someone browsing a site or reading an email to do. Otherwise, why did you pay money to get them onto the site in the first place, or send them an email?

And that button, which those of us in the business describe as a ‘call to action’ (not the most impenetrable jargon in the world to be fair) can be thought of as the little doorway through which all your visitors must squeeze before doing that thing.

To put all that in a more sophisticated way, the conversion rate of site visitors to leads or customers is a vitally important number in almost any online business. And nothing influences that number as much as that call to action (CTA) button.

CTAs might be the most important single piece of real estate on your website

Hopefully that makes it clear why it is important to get it right. And while we are here, let’s remind ourselves that small changes can make a huge difference.

If you have 20,000 visitors to a home page in a month, and the design of your CTA moves conversion from 1% to 1.2% (a realistic ambition), that’s an additional 40 leads in a month. And in a world where software companies think nothing of spending $200 or more on a lead, you can see that we’re saving a cool $8,000 every single month simply by optimising our CTAs.

These, by the way, are the kind of sums any decent online business should be doing before they spend another cent on acquisition spend. But that’s for another article entirely.

So yes, it matters. But isn’t it easy to get right? The good news is that yes, yes it is! All you have to do is follow my 5 tips below and you’ll be well on your way to making the sort of savings (or increased revenues) I talk about above.

Getting your CTAs right

Now you’ve bought into the idea, let’s talk about how to make it happen. Pay close attention and watch the leads and sales start to flow!

1. Make your button text persuasive

The text you use on the CTA itself matters a great deal. Whilst generic possibilities like “More” are unlikely to do much for your click-through rate, clearer text that explains exactly what will happen when the user clicks, like “View Demo Now”, are more likely to work. Similarly, use urgency (as in the same example) to trigger user action where possible (and honest).

In addition, make sure the content around your CTA has done enough hard work to make users want to click. Unless you have already created interest and desire, it might be too much to expect action. Try and ensure the key reasons why a user might take this action have already been articulated.

2. Put it in the right place(s)

Obvious but worth remembering. The position of your CTA can have a major impact on how effectively it performs when it comes to conversion. First the obvious: at least one CTA near the top of the screen for those people who don’t like to scroll. We wish they didn’t exist, but until that day comes we have to keep designing around them…

The less obvious: remember that on mobile the way in which users interact with the screen is physical. Try holding your phone in one hand and hitting the top left of the screen. It’s hard, which is why you don’t see hamburger menus there. But try hitting the bottom right. Trickier than you might think. Place CTAs in a way that falls naturally under the thumb.

On all devices, think about how the eye falls on the page (or measure it!) and design accordingly. And don’t restrict yourself to one location. Put a CTA at the bottom of your home page - don’t expect those interested to scroll all the way back to the top.

3. Limit options

If you want people to do one thing, don’t ask them to choose between two. This is an iron rule of parenting toddlers and it should apply to web designers too.

And if you don’t want people to do one thing, I would recommend thinking about that quite a lot before you have realised that you do.

That said, offering a single call to action isn’t a cast iron rule that can never be broken (we’ve broken it a few times ourselves). But you would do well to remember that adding choices is the default, easy option - and limiting them is the hard one that requires a real focus and will.

By removing choice it further highlights the CTA that really matters and reduces mental load on the user, which is usually a good thing. Lots of buttons all suggesting competing actions is liable to just end in confusion and precisely what you don’t want - nothing being clicked on at all. Where possible avoid that happening.

4. Limit steps

If you want someone to do something, make it easy to get it done quickly. I am not going to go into the details of landing page design (again, we’ve written about that in the past), but rather point out that great CTAs can and should get the job done there and then.

One example is the newsletter signup that include a box for email and a ‘Subscribe Now’ button alongside it. No second screen, all done in one simple process.

Alternatively, take a look at the “Schedule A Demo” Process we created for Mobility Mojo, Users who click this button don’t just fill in a form and wait. As we integrated with Calendly, they can make that arrangement right there and then before getting distracted by something else - or forgetting why the task was important in the first place.

Instant scheduling on the Mobility Mojo site

5. Make it noticeable

Last and possibly most obvious, make sure your CTAs are clearly visible! This is not the place for subtle colours and elegant indecipherable fonts. If you have a highlight colour in your palette, use it here. Make sure that the contrast between the CTA and background is clear. Include hover-over states if this helps.

Do not forget to ensure enough contrast between the colour of your CTA and that of the font within it. Here, clarity and legibility are everything. Make sure the eye is drawn to the most important action on the page.

Don’t forget to test!

One last note. Expert opinion like this is all well and good, but works best of all alongside an intelligent testing program.

By ‘intelligent’ I mean one that doesn’t solely consist of running random possible approaches against each other and making decisions based on limited numbers. Instead, look for where you have a clear choice to make and isolate variables carefully. Run a controlled test, and look to see both how your CTAs perform but also what impact this had on the rest of your metrics.

Good luck!

Note: This article was first published in November 2019.

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