Creating Calls-to-Action that Actually Drive Action

Posted on Jun 28, 2018 - By OnPoint Global

We were inspired by a recent speech by Chris Goward, optimization expert and founder of WiderFunnel. He posed, “What’s the best color for CTA buttons?” This made us question whether there is a quantitative, empirical formula for the perfect call-to-action. As optimization specialists, we are always looking for that “silver bullet” that will help customers move through the marketing funnel more easily.

The average click-through rate for calls-to-action across most industries is 3.29 percent, according to a study by Leighton Interactive, which included participants in sectors ranging from automotive and consulting, to health and real estate. Interestingly, color, format and other cosmetic elements had no direct correlation with customer action.

So, Mr. Goward … We know that was a trick question.

Instead of trying to find a set of CTA design standards, we recommend focusing on learning what works for your customers and their unique needs. To get you started, here are a few guidelines that will help shift your mindset from seeking formulaic CTAs, to creating guest-centric experiences that inspire action.

Set Clear and Direct Expectations

Use precise language that lets your customers know what to expect when they click your call-to-action. As an example, a “learn more” button should not send customers into the booking funnel, and a “buy now” button should not include unnecessary steps or pages. Vague or misleading CTAs can drive funnel abandonment if viewers feel they were forced to take an unwanted action or were required to jump through hoops to compete a task.

Create Urgency and Emotion

Use verbiage that appeals to your customers’ values to create a sense of scarcity and urgency. You can accomplish this by highlighting luxury products, using promotional language or calling out small-batch or limited-edition items. However, be careful not to overuse promotions, or your customers may always expect your products to be on sale, and thus, they will never purchase at full-price. We also recommend considering whether certain product lines should never go on sale in order to increase your customers’ perceived value of those items.

Keep Important Information Above the Fold

Don’t hide your most important information at the bottom of your pages. Features and pricing are the two most valuable pieces of information a customer needs in order to make a decision. While we agree that you should clearly explain the benefits of your products before pushing for a sale, “hiding” pricing information can lead to customer frustration and skew your analytics as consumers click through your funnel trying to find information, rather than complete their purchases.

Use First-Person Text

Always speak to your audience in the first-person narrative style. This tip may seem simple, but it can seriously influence the purchasing psychology of your customers. As an example, opt for “Start My Trial” rather than “Start Your Trial.” Customers are more inclined to purchase a product when they see it fitting into their lifestyles, satisfying their needs or helping them achieve a certain goal. Framing CTAs and content in the first-person helps customers project themselves into your brand experience, so they feel they are making a choice, rather than being told what to do. This shift primes your audience to complete their purchases.

Make Your CTA Pop

While there aren’t guidelines on specific colors, fonts and layouts, your CTAs should stand out from your pages. Consider using contrasting colors from your background or primary color palette; look for clear, legible fonts that are crisp and easy to see, and keep text as short as possible. The simpler and more eye-catching your call-to-actions appear, the likelier a visitor will click. And remember: CTAs aren’t just buttons. A good call-to-action can include text links, images, buttons and other page elements.

You Won’t Know Until You Test It

Last, but certainly not least, you won’t know what works until you test it. Setting clear customer expectations, making your CTAs pop and creating a sense of urgency aren’t formulaic goals. Leverage any customer feedback and insights you have into a hypothesis on how to achieve those goals, and then test until you find what works. Even if you don’t have A/B testing tools, you can gain directional feedback from focus groups, surveys and prototype websites. Simply choose which KPIs you want to target, and define what success looks like to ensure you are tracking, testing and measuring your way into success and away from opinion-based decision making.

Creating compelling calls-to-action starts with knowing your customer, understanding what the customer is seeking and harnessing that into a clear, engaging digital experience. The rest are just details.