What is a CTA and Why is it Important?

Posted by Alicia Carter on January 30, 2018

As digital marketers, one of the areas we focus on, especially when it comes to the design and success of a website, is how to encourage visitors to “take an action.” But what does that mean, exactly? Aren’t they already taking an action by simply visiting your site? Not exactly. While an important goal for your website should be to increase traffic — aka people finding and visiting your site — the next step is to encourage those visitors to interact with your website (and therefore your business) in order to generate more leads. And the first step of the lead generation process is typically triggered by a CTA (call-to-action) which encourages website visitors to take a specific action, such as filling out a form, subscribing to an email list, or buying a product. A successful CTA can then lead to conversions, which ultimately increase your ROI (sales!) — and that’s what we’re all working toward, right? In an effort to expound the importance of the almighty action verb for your website, we’ve dedicated this post to breaking down the CTA.

What is a CTA?

As best defined by HubSpot, a CTA is an image or line of text that prompts visitors to your website to take action. It is, quite literally, a "call" to take an "action." Think of all those buttons or text links or images that have enticed you to do something in order to receive something in return: download, buy, learn, request, click, sign up, subscribe, join, get started, contact, claim. These are all CTAs.


What is the purpose of a CTA?

CTAs call your attention so you’ll take an action on a website in order to receive an item of value, such as an e-book, infographic, white paper, subscription, or other content offer, opening the door for that website/business to contact you in the future. Most CTAs will send you to a landing page with a form that the visitor must fill out in order to receive the offer. Depending on the value of the offer, the form can be as simple as asking for an email address, or it can require more information such as a phone number or company info. Businesses can then use this information to follow up with them in the future, such as by subscribing them to an email list.

CTAs are an important tool for guiding your website visitors through the buying journey. Just think: Maybe some of your website traffic is composed of people who want to do business with you, but simply don’t know how because there are no clear next-step markers on your site. CTAs provide a clear sign to take that next step. By clicking on the CTA and filling out the provided form, the user has now transitioned from a prospective customer to a lead. Without CTAs, visitors are more likely to leave your website without engaging with any of the content you’ve worked so hard to create — and they’ll take their valuable contact info with them.

What are CTA best practices?

  1. They should be action-oriented: Be descriptive about the action you want the user to take. Let them know immediately what they’ll receive by clicking the CTA. For example, instead of using the CTA “Download Now,” use a more descriptive CTA such as “Download My E-Book.” This lets visitors know that by clicking the CTA they will be downloading an e-book. In fact, we would suggest being even more specific. For example, “Download My E-Book about CTA Best Practices.”
  2. They should stand out: Visually, CTAs need to draw your attention. They shouldn’t be wallflowers who blend into the background and are easily overlooked, but should stand out from the other content on your website and demand visitors’ attention. It’s important to consider the size and color of your CTA.
  3. Location, location, location: The placement of your CTA is incredibly important. Take into account the buyer persona you’re trying to reach. Consider placing CTAs at the end of relevant blog posts or any pages with content consistent with your offer. And don’t be afraid to try multiple locations until you find the one that works best.

CTAs are an important tool used to guide potential customers through the buyer’s journey, taking them from “prospect” to “lead” to “customer.” They are imperative to helping push visitors deeper into your website, encouraging them to engage with all of the valuable content you’ve produced that will help them make those crucial buying decisions. So don’t sleep on CTAs, they are the critical first step to generating leads for your business.

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