All websites should feature a clear “call to action” on every page. This can be as simple as a single button to click or as complex as a multi-field form to fill out.
Calls to action are important because they:
They also provide a means for you to measure how well your site is succeeding in getting its message across and drumming up business.
But why do some sites experience a lot more user take up than others?
1. Explain the benefits of signing up
Make it clear and explicit how completing the call the action will benefit the user.
You’ll find a great example of this on Skype’s VoIP home page where they offer free phone calls to other Skype users and cheaper calls to other mobile and phone users all over the world, followed by a one-click download button.
Users are very clear what they will get if they decide to click on the button – and the offer for free and cheap phone calls is very appealing and generates a lot of traffic.
Try to follow Skype’s lead and be as explicit as possible about why it is to your users’ benefit to click on your site’s call to action.
2. What can you offer to tempt users to click?
There is nothing wrong with offering some sort of freebie, discount, gift or any little extra just to persuade the user to click on your call to action. This is what US President, Barack Obama did on his web site when he was running for office. He tempted users to donate by offering a free t-shirt for donations of $30+.
In fact, this was a call to action with double the benefits – not only did he raise a ton of money for his campaign, but at the same time his backers walked around advertising his bid for Presidency.
Why not try a similar technique with your campaign?
3. Don’t overwhelm the user with too many buttons to click
Research shows that when faced with too many choices we mentally shut down. It can be hard to decide exactly what we want – and so in the end we do nothing!
The simple rules are:
4. Use strong, active verbs to create a sense of urgency
Always use vocabulary that makes it clear what you want your user to do. This means including strong, dynamic verbs within your call to action buttons, such as:
5. Make your call to action prominent on every page
Your call to action should always stand out on the screen, no matter the device that is being used to browse. This is an important layout and design issue to bear in mind.
Place your call to action close to the centre and high on the page so that it appears as soon as the page is loaded without the need for scrolling.
6. Make the most of white space
Keep the space around your call to action button uncluttered and free of surrounding text and images. Again – you want your call to action to stand out clearly and be instantly visible to your user. If you bury your call to action inside a dense paragraph of text it will be easy to overlook. Make sure your eyes users’ eyes are instantly drawn to the call to action button as soon as the page loads.
7. Make use of contrasting colour
Again – you want to make your call to action buttons to jump off the page and be instantly visible. Fill them with bright and contrasting colours defined by a highlighting border so that they do not get lost in the overall layout. Be sure to use a more restricted or muted colour palette on the rest of the page to add further definition.
Orange and red are the traditional colours to use for drawing attention effectively, but other colours work just as well so long as they are a total contrast to the background colour.
8. Big is better
Yes – size does matter! Actually it is essential to make your call to action buttons big enough (as well as bold and beautiful enough) so that they are easy to see and find.
Remember you want your call to action button to be instantly visible.
9. Every page needs its own call to action
Every page needs its own call to action. You aim is to make it easy and straightforward for the user to instantly be able to take their search one step further. If there is no button readily available to click on every page you risk losing the user completely to a rival, more easily accessible site.Your calls to action can be as simple as a “contact us online” button, or a brightly coloured band across the page where users can click for “more information about …”.
You can have different calls to action on each page, or just change the appearance of a general call to action so that it looks different on every page and therefore jumps out afresh on every page change. Remember – you don’t want your user to be left stumbling around looking where to go – your aim is to guide them every step of the way.
10. Keep it simple
If your call to action button is a sign up form, don’t ask your users to provide too much information. Tempting though it might be to ask for demographic info that may serve to build a future campaign, at this point you want to simplify the call to action to the essential basics. The reality is that no-one likes filling in online forms and these days there are so very many requests for personal details.
Keep your call to action forms brief and to the point – you can always ask for supplementary information once you have got your user to bite the first hook.
Finally, think through what happens when a user clicks on your call to action. Triple check that the buttons work effectively on every page and that loading time is limited to the shortest possible wait. There is no greater turn-off than clicking on a call to action button to find the link takes forever to load, other than finding out it is broken and goes nowhere! Be sure your calls to action work effectively every time a prospective client wants to come knocking.