May 13, 2014 at 9:03 am

Calls-to-Action: You Are Doing It Wrong

Calls-to-Action: You Are Doing It Wrong

CALL TO ACTIONIf you have spent any time on the internet at all I’m sure you have seen some pretty terrible calls-to-action. You know, the little buttons that catch your eye calling you to act on an offer or promotion? That’s a call-to-action (CTA). As defined by Alistair Norman, ”a call-to-action element on a website or any other web marketing medium is one that entices a reader or viewer to take note or make a decision based upon it.” The good ones are non-intrusive, natural, but just eye-catching enough to engage the website visitor.

Creating and using CTAs the right way will make all the difference in converting web visitors into leads, yet so many companies are doing it wrong. Just check out these stats from a 2013 study by the Content Marketing Institute:

  • 72% didn’t have any CTAs on their interior pages.
  • 70% didn’t reference any notable CTAs on their home pages.
  • 70% of websites with a phone number didn’t display it in a prominent place.

These stats are alarmingly high. Unless your website is purely educational and you desire to have zero interaction with the visitors to your site, CTA’s are a vital piece to the marketing puzzle. Lack of CTA’s on your website is a HUGE missed opportunity.

Let’s see what we can learn from these calls-to-action blunders that have me yelling at my computer screen, “You are doing it wrong!”

The Chameleon CTA
The CTA should always standout. I see what the designer was trying to do here; the calls-to-action button matches the site and branding. However, they missed the mark by masking it. Your CTA, whether presented as a button, advert, anchor text or image, needs to stand out from the rest of the page in terms of color, design and position. In this case a simple contrasting color would have done the trick. Utilizing a CTA that compliments the page, but stands out from all the noise. Don’t create a wallflower. A good web design tip: Cut out all the noise, but that’s a whole different topic.

The Lost CTA
call-to-actionsObviously, Citi Bank doesn’t fully understand the value of a well-designed CTA. When the design of a call-to-action puts no emphasis on attracting the attention of the website visitor, they will not give it any attention. The call-to-action should, after all, call the visitor to action, right? That is the purpose. Not only does this nondescript CTA get lost on this landing page; it is rather vague, which brings me to the next CTA blunder.

The Vague CTA
call-to-actionsThe button here just says “Go.” Where are we going? On a trip? Where do I go by clicking this button? What should I expect from submitting my information? The more descriptive your CTA, the better. Obviously, you want to keep it simple, but make sure the language is clear and concise. Unclear messages deter interaction. Calls-to-action’s are meant to me clicked. Call visitors to action clearly by providing more direction. If you want your customer to “Download Survey Results,” then make that clear and avoid “Do you want to be totally amazed by our survey?” on your CTA button.

The Tiny CTA
This US Cellular call-to-action is pretty great: it has a clear message, an emphasis on the word free, graphic representation and then a teeny tiny “Buy Now” button. It’s a big sale. Not only does the designer want to announce the sale (with giant title might I add), but sure wants to inspire the visitor to actually click through to the next page to buy something, right? I think that’s a safe assumption. But why make the ‘buy’ button so dang small? At least it’s a contrasting color.

The Sidelined CTA
call-to-actionsThe CTA on this Internet Explorer page takes a backseat to the branding. All the emphasis is on the logo and the coordinating background. The fancy branding distracts from the goals here. While you should be proud of your brand, don’t allow that to sideline your main event: the call-to-action for the user. Emphasis should be centered on the user and always balanced between the purpose of the site, to convert and close leads, and the branding. It’s not about you.

Every business website should have at least one call-to-action on every single page of their website.  When a visitor advances through your website, you should be able to follow the course your website visitors have taken along the path of investigation toward the conversion goal.  A good website is designed in such a way that when a visitor makes a slight detour, strategically placed calls-to-action are there to get them back on the path of conversion. Do it right: catch their eye, make it clear, keep it focused and your calls-to-actions will work for you.

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