Call to Action: Best Practices for Businesses

Simply put, CTA – short for a Call to Action – is a marketing term that refers to some sort of a graphic, text, sound or something else that prompts a user or a visitor to take an action on your business website, or interact with your website in a way you intended them to.

CTA is typically an internet marketing term, however it is just as applicable to brick-and-mortar businesses (think of different ways a brick-and-mortar business would use to attract a customer to it, such as through a fancy store-front).

An effective call to action would invoke people into taking an action, or elicit the intended response from them. It would encourage them to say, click on the ‘click here,’ ‘buy now,’ ‘subscribe,’ or the ‘sign up’ button on your website.

Moreover, an effective CTA provides a focal point to your website, and direction to your visitors. For instance without a signup or a download button, wouldn’t the Dropbox website just look (and be) pointless?

Calls to action also provide businesses an effective way to measure their success. A high conversion-rate means that you are turning visitors into actual sales, which means you’ve successfully created an effective CTA.

However as most businesses find out, creating an effective CTA is easier said than done. Here are ways through which you can improve your CTA:


1. Do you even have an explicitly-defined call to action? Business websites – regardless of the type of business – need to call their visitors into taking an action, and hence have a clearly-defined CTA.

Unfortunately, this is where they falter, because many small business websites either lack a well-defined call to action, or don’t have one at all.

Don’t make this mistake, put up a clearly-defined CTA on your website. Your CTA could be anything depending on the nature of your business – from a ‘Buy Now’ button to a ‘Subscribe to Us’ button.

The fact is that all websites want people to take some kind of an action, even if it something as simple as asking them to subscribe to their newsletter.

dropbox call to action – an example of not one but two clearly-defined CTAs

2. Location, location, location! Placement and position matters. Ideally, your CTA should always be above-the-fold so that visitors never have to scroll down to find it.

From a business perspective, the top part of your website is by far, the most valuable real-estate that you have. Visitors will see this part as soon as the page loads-up. So from a marketing perspective, it makes sense to place your CTA here.

seomoz call to action

SEO Moz’s CTA is inside the top-third of their page, well above the fold

quick sprout call to action

The HelloBar – a popular Wordpress plugin – provides a great way to put your CTA on top of your website.

3. Aesthetics also matter. Things like size and color of your ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Download’ button are important.

Depending on your website and its theme, some colors might stand out more and hence will be more effective in terms of evoking an action or grabbing the attention of a visitor. For instance a red-colored ‘Click Here’ button will make your CTA stand out.

Test a few different colors (as well as A/B testing) to see what works best for you in terms of conversions. Usually, a color that is completely different from your website’s theme, or contrasts with it is usually immediately-noticeable.

Size matters as well. Ideally, your CTA should be the single-largest thing on your landing page.


kiss metrics call to action

The Sign Up button on KISSMetrics follows all aesthetics best-practices, which is why it grabs a visitor’s attention immediately.

mailchimp call to action

Notice how MailChimp’s CTA has a completely different color from the rest of the page.

firefox call to action

Firefox’s CTA is not only effective, it is also aesthetically-pleasing

4. Fact: The effectiveness of your CTA is directly proportional to how good your offer is!

When I subscribe to a business blog or a website, I do so because I see genuinely good content on it. When I click on the Buy Now button on Amazon, I know I’m getting the best deal there.

Your offer needs to be attractive in order to compel visitors into clicking on your CTA. A good way to communicate the benefits of your offer is to add a few lines about its features and add them on your landing page, or make a video that does the same job.

Ultimately, beautiful buttons won’t count for anything if your offer simply isn’t good enough.

akismet call to action

Akismet lists a few features of their product, and actually does a great job of keeping them above-the-fold

nike fuelband call to action

Alternatively, Nike FuelBand mentions the benefit of using it in a single line, right with its CTA.

5. The effectiveness of your CTA will also be determined by your ability to attract targeted traffic. If your weight-loss business website attracts untargeted traffic – visitors who are not interested in your offer, your products and hence your CTA, it will understandably reduce its effectiveness and you will end up with shoddy conversion stats.

6. Offer something extra in order to boost conversions. It’s simple: make your offer more attractive in order to boost your conversions and the effectiveness of your call to action. How you go about doing it depends entirely on you, and the nature of your business.

Look at how you can make your offer better – perhaps by giving something with it, or adding something extra to it, or even offering a discount.

godaddy call to action

GoDaddy offering up to 80% discounts on domains!

warrior offer with bonuses to boost cta

A Warrior Forums offer bundled with many extra bonuses

7. Get creative with your CTA. Neil Patel from QuickSprout offers some excellent tips here. Stuff such as placing a CTA within a video (you can easily do this on YouTube), telling people not to click on your CTA (e.g. ‘Do Not Click Here … unless you want to be awesome!), or putting a sign that says ‘sold out’ or ‘not available’ and putting a subscription box that says ‘enter your email here, we will get in touch with you when it is available again’.

Such tactics often work better than traditional calls to action, and can actually be more effective!

8. Get someone to endorse you and/or your offer. Ideally, this should be someone who’s well-known in your target market. It could be a local famous personality, a celebrity or someone else.

Remember that the people you’re targeting need to be able to associate themselves with whoever you choose to endorse it.

Doing so automatically increases the credibility of your offer (and hence boost conversions), and will also make your CTA more attractive and prominent.

godaddy celebrity endorsement danica patrick call to action

Danica Patrick is a ‘GoDaddy Girl’ – an example of celebrity endorsement.