Call to Action Definition & Meaning

A call to action, commonly known as a CTA in sales and marketing terminology, is a request that customers take an action that will advance them along the sales funnel. A CTA can be:

  • A button with a brief phrase designed to convince a prospective customer to click that button and input information that will then make them a lead
  • boxes that pop up on a website asking you to give your email address or offering a seven-day trial
  • banner ads in an article you’re reading
  • a hyperlink on the page

CTA best practices

There are many characteristics of an effective digital call to action; here are a few.

  • Good placement: a CTA that fits directly into relevant content markets to a potential customer exactly where they are.
  • Usefulness and practicality: customers may only be able to use a service for limited periods of time. For example, LinkedIn and Spotify both offer premium versions for customers who need more features, but they don’t force those customers into a contract. Allowing people to cancel at any time shows that a company understands that their customers’ needs may shift and makes it easy for them to sign up again when that need arises.
  • Effective design: high-quality pages and compelling graphics make a CTA infinitely more interesting, especially when paired with text that makes sense. Potential leads will be more impressed and more likely to take action if they’re interested in what they see. Also, you want the CTA to be clearly visible and highlighted so that they’re more likely to click it.
  • Simplicity: you don’t want to overwhelm customers with too much information. Making the initial CTA simple and short will provide better customer experience than a lengthy process that takes many annoying steps. For example, just collecting an email may be the best first step so that customers feel the signup process is easy and quick.
  • Fun and interactive experience: this depends on the brand or product, of course, but making a CTA sound enjoyable and engaging can go a long way in drawing potential leads to jump on it. Some light humor or personalization could be appropriate for gaining new customers.
  • Emphasized time frame: there’s a fine line between being pushy and stressing a deadline to make customers more likely to respond to a CTA. If your offer is only available for a limited time, letting customers know up front may push some to click.

CTA cautions and habits to avoid

CTAs can also be overly heavy-handed or, on the other hand, not present enough. A few suggestions for following best practices in your CTAs are:

  • Be wary of wording that plays on emotions or is too dramatic. At best, having a CTA that exaggerates information with two different options (yes, I love helping children or no, I don’t care about them, for example) could cause annoyance and an eye roll. At worst, it’s a form of social engineering (manipulative scamming). That’s not the reputation you want for your business.
  • Don’t implement bad design. If you have editorial errors in your CTA or it looks messy and overcrowded, your credibility will decrease in customers’ eyes.
  • Make sure you place a CTA everywhere that’s relevant (which is typically most web pages, depending on your business). If you don’t, you’re missing good marketing opportunities.

 

Related Links

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a contributor for websites such as Webopedia.com and Enterprise Storage Forum. She writes about information technology security, networking, and data storage. Jenna lives in Nashville, TN.

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