A call to action is the ‘thing’ that the website owner wants you to do when you visit the website. Particularly for ecommerce (Shopify, WordPress WooCommerce etc.) or lead-generating websites, it is absolutely critical that there is no confusion or distractions for the viewer of your web page; it should be totally intuitive as to what the viewer needs to do such as click the ‘Buy now’ button.
A clear call to action is also necessary if you are sending email marketing such as with Mailchimp. For example, if you are a charity you may want a clear ‘Donate’ button in your newsletter or if you are an accountant you may wish to have a client book their next appointment with you.
What makes a good call-to-action on a website or EDM
Your website is not a book. Your goal is not only to inform, but to spur your visitors to action. Indiana University
Ultimately it’s important to have has few call to actions as possible and only one if at all possible. The call to action should be absolutely clear and distinguished from the text and other words on the webpage or email. Using colour, text height and whitespace are all good practice for making a call to action button or phrase stand out. Be careful of images however as these can detract from the call to action and, in addition, sliders really interfere with getting your audience to take action regarding your call to action.
Examples of good and bad call-to-action buttons
This morning I performed a Google search for ‘cheap wildcard SSL certificates’. There are very many SSL certificate sellers (websites delivered over HTTPs became an SEO factor quite awhile back) and many of the certificates are much the same in terms of functionality. All I really wanted to know from the pages that I viewed from the search results was the basic features of the certificate being sold and the price. Here are two examples of the landing pages that I encountered from my Google search (note that I clicked on a paid search result in Google for each and not an organic search result i.e. both vendors below specified what landing page I’d see if I clicked their advert in Google).
Godaddy gets the call-to-action all wrong
Godaddy is known to upsell like crazy and they are typically very successful at it. I was therefore surprised to see this landing page. It is truly totally confusing and doesn’t answer my search query which is clear that I’m looking for an SSL certificate and I want to know the price (my search query was ‘cheap wildcard SSL certificates’).
There is way too much colour on this landing page which drowns out any call-to-action. There are also buttons and logos all over the place and nothing relates to my query about SSL certificates. The image too is meaningless; what’s it got to do with SSL certificates?
This call-to-action really works
My second Google search results click was for this Comodo reseller. This, for me, is an outstanding landing-page. It answers all my questions and provides the price and very clear call-to-action buttons. The image too is of a padlock which is relevant and the page in general leaves me in no doubt as to what is being sold.
What does a call-to-action have to do with me?
If you are selling or communicating something, which you are doing if you send Mailchimp campaigns or have a website, then remember; simple is better, be very clear about what you want your reader to do and don’t confuse your reader.