How to Make Your Calls to Action Awesome, Not Frustrating

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You have an awesome product. You want to sell it. Let’s, for the sake of analogy, imagine that you’ve created the world’s best sandwich and you wish to sell it. You’re stood behind your food stall (this analogy takes place in the centre of a small English town on market day) and everyone is walking past you, unaware that they’re passing up the chance to try the world’s greatest sandwich. How do you sell it to them if they don’t know what it is? CTAs or Calls To Action can make or break your sale depending on how you present your product and, more importantly, yourself. A bad CTA can be extremely frustrating for your prospective audience, potentially even stopping them from considering your product (sandwich) altogether which, in turn, will be mightily frustrating for you.

If you’re really serious about growing your audience and making some sales, here’s a few ideas about how to make your call to action marketing totally awesome.

It’s all about the Delivery

When trying to sell your product, you don’t want to come across as either pushy, arrogant or indifferent. You put a lot of effort in to create it, sure, but you don’t want to be throwing the sandwich (product) into your customers’ collective faces expecting it to land squarely in their mouths ready for them to take a (figurative) bite.

I’ll stop with the sandwich analogy now too.

It’s Better in Context

Have you ever wondered what exactly was going to happen after you filled out that form and pressed the “Submit” button? So have many other people. You can prevent such a hesitation by laying it out for your customers; just let them know what it is they are doing. Language such as “Download my free song” immediately puts to rest any concerns a user may have had over what their personal info is being used for. They know what to expect after they complete the form. Less friction = less hesitation = more conversions.

Take SoundCloud for example; one of the latest companies to launch a paid music streaming service. As soon as you hit their homepage, you’re greeted by this:

soundcloud go.png

Do you already know enough about the service to give it a try, or do you need to find out some more before taking the plunge? With clarity like this, you are giving your customers full control.

Where Was it Again?

If you want your customers to click a button and purchase your product, you’d think that it was an unwritten rule that your button should be clearly visible. You’d be right. However you can take nothing for granted on the internet, with so many different people building their own destinations for customer visits. While this is an extreme example, I’m going to refer you to Lings Cars:


On my first visit, it took me a good 10 minutes to work out what it was they do at Lings Cars. As I’m sure you can tell, there is far too much happening on this page and it’s massively confusing to the end user. There is a button in the direct centre of the page (though this page does continue on much further), but everything is so bright that it all blends into a wash of colour that is nigh-indistinguishable. This is a great example of a frustrating call to action marketing; how on Earth do you rent a car from Ling?

This is not a question you want your customers to be asking. Instead, you want a clear button that is large and easy to see against your site’s background. This also means that ideally you want your CTAs to stand out from the colour scheme of your site; add another colour to the scheme that complements the colours you’re already using, but makes it clear that this is a point of interest. Take Basecamp for example:

Page-Shot-2017-2-1 Basecamp 3_ Manage projects, groups, and client work .png

The colour scheme of the site is mainly green and beige, and then suddenly you have a big blue button enticing you to “Start your free trial”. Given that the blue stands out so much against the rest of the brand, your eyes will gravitate towards that area of the site. The same will happen for your prospects too.

Side note: Another best practice for CTAs nowadays is to word them as if you’re enabling your prospect access something that is already theirs; “Start your free trial” instead of “Start a free trial”. It’s already yours, so why not take it?

Short and Sweet

In the age of the internet, with social media popularity ever rising, our attention spans are reducing whether we like it or not. Our Facebook feeds are dominated by short-form content such as “15 reasons why you’re washing your dishes wrong”, and many of us still can’t even manage to read essentially 15 sentences broken up with memes. If you are selling to a specific category of customer who will understand what it is you’re selling upon hitting your landing page, it may be better to let your offering speak for itself. In general, the faster you can enable a prospect’s understanding of your offering, the easier it will be to make a conversion. Long paragraphs of text describing the ins and outs of your offering are not initial sales pitch material; give them the high level explanation first.

It can take as little as a single sentence to catch your target’s attention. Take a look at this example from CrazyEgg’s website:

Page-Shot-2017-1-31 Crazy Egg - Visualize where your visitors click.png

One question is all it takes to help you understand what CrazyEgg could do for you. This product is not for everyone, but if you’ve visited in error you’ll know pretty quickly. However there is one small problem with this display, which leads me on to my next point.

Triangles Don’t Fit in Square Holes

If you look at that input box real close, there’s some faint placeholder text inside it. That is the only indication as to what data is required to access the trial of the product. If the user begins typing something, there is absolutely no prompt on screen to remind you what it is you need to put in that box. The button doesn’t exactly help either, as “heatmap” in this instance is likely a product-specific term that isn’t explained otherwise. Sure, the user could just delete the text and read the placeholder again, but there is still a demographic of people that don’t know this is canon on the internet. You must always appeal to as many of your prospective users as possible (unless they’re still using Internet Explorer 6) in order to gain the largest possible conversion potential. Replacing the placeholder text with a label above the text box could help a lot.

The Fold is a Lie

You may have heard that most internet users won’t scroll to see the entire content of a page. This is, however, entirely untrue. Not all of your audience will scroll to the bottom of a webpage, but most will if they’re interested in the content. According to a research project conducted by digital agency Huge, 91% of users scrolled further down a page regardless of what content was laid out at the top, and at least 73% of users in each test reached the bottom of a page. So, if you ignore the fold, how good is your sales technique?

Some of your visitors will know why they’re on your site and won’t require any explanation of your offering, but some won’t. For those that don’t, starting your page content with a call to action doesn’t make sense. Would you start a sales pitch with “buy it, and find out why it’s good”? In this blog from Kissmetrics, it explains that the placement of your CTA doesn’t particularly matter as long as the accompanying content is still strong. Tell your users why they want your product. If they already know why, they’ll skip it; if they don’t, you could still be about to make a sale.

So there you have it. These are my suggestions for how to make your calls to action more awesome than they already are. It won’t happen overnight, but these tips may well improve your conversion rate and boost your site’s sales potential. If they managed to help you out, then tell us!

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