Writing and Designing a Call-to-Action that Generates Results


An effective call-to-action might be the answer to this nagging question: Why are prospective customers visiting my website, but not making a purchase? It could be because they don’t understand how to get where they want to go, or because you’re not providing the information they need to move forward.

What does a call-to-action (CTA) consist of? The answer varies depending on what you sell and the design and layout of your business site. But in general, a CTA prompts visitors to take that crucial next step–make a purchase, download a free white paper, share a blog post they like with their friends on social media, etc.

Without this clearly worded suggestion, an interested visitor may not understand exactly how to buy your products or services, and leave frustrated by their experience.

That’s why every small business website needs a strong CTA. Here are tips for writing and designing a CTA for your website that generates actual results:

Know what you want to achieve.

If you’re uncertain at all about how prospective customers should get to the purchasing stage, that will be reflected in your website’s layout and wording. Clarity is the most important element for any CTA, which means you must clearly describe the step or steps you wish the visitor to take. These steps can include:

  • Subscribe to our company newsletter.
  • Contact us immediately for a no-charge consultation.
  • Find out how you can save money with your next purchase.
  • Add to your cart.
  • Take action right away!

A call-to-action “works best when they’re not complicated,” notes The Balance Small Business. The key is to avoid offering too many choices or making it hard for prospective customers “to follow through on what you want them to do.”

Use active words.

There’s no place for the passive voice in a call-to-action. Because the message is brief, every single word counts. Action words, such as “Call us!” or “Download here,” offer easy-to-understand actions the prospective customer should take.

When crafting your CTA, think of words that appeal to a person’s emotions and needs. People want things right now, so words like “today” and “now” and “quickly” will likely resonate with them. People also want to have moreof something, so words that connote an “improved” version of themselves (more beautiful, wealthier, happier, etc.) can have a strong appeal.

And of course, we all want to save money. That’s why the judicious use of words like “free” and “no cost” often catch a visitor’s eye.

Above all, keep the message brief! Under six words is ideal.

Leverage the power of design to boost attention to your CTA.

Generally speaking, it’s strongly advised to include a CTA on every marketing-related message you promote. This includes:

  • Every page of your website
  • All printed materials
  • In your business email signature

Keep wording consistent in your various CTAs, unless you have different offers with which you hope to entice visitors to act.

Other tips:

  • Color can play a key role in attracting visitors to take action. Choose bright colors to highlight the CTA wherever it is on the page. (An eye-pleasing contrast to the page’s background color is an effective strategy.)
  • Don’t be afraid to increase the size of the font in your CTA. It’s meant to stand out, and having larger-sized words will usually get a visitor’s attention.
  • Strategic placement is also important. Wherever possible, feature your CTA “above the fold”–that is, where a visitor to your site is guaranteed to spot it on their screen immediately. If he or she has to scroll down, you may lose a great opportunity to get them to take action.
  • It’s also good to place a CTA at the end of the bottom of each page, or at the end of an article or blog post.

At the same time, don’t overload individual web pages with multiple CTAs. This can have the undesired effect of “cheapening” the look of your site. Just be sure that they stand out, are easy to read, and deliver on what they promise. If a prospective customer clicks on “Download for free!” and they’re taken to a separate registration page, chances are you’ll lose them.

Whether you’re redesigning your website, embarking on a new and exciting email campaign, or simply hoping to boost awareness of your offers, a strong CTA will get the job done!


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