The Science of a Well-Placed Call-to-Action

The Science of a Well-Placed Call-to-Action


A well-executed call-to-action - part of any solid inbound marketing strategy - offers a unique value to your website: although built to be unobtrusive, a good CTA slyly grabs your attention precisely when you start looking for it. Unfortunately, this vital tool has also been debated, re-created, and overused ad nauseam, and failure to keep up with best practices for CTAs may actually end up doing your business more harm than good.

If for some reason converting leads isn’t what your business is after, close your browser and take a breather - you won't be getting much out of this article. If, however, your business is looking to engage with the billions of potential customers out there on the internet and advance the story around your brand, then there are a few things about proper CTA usage you really ought to know.

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The Keys To A Successful Call-To-Action

Creating an effective, reliable call to action that just begs to be clicked isn’t necessarily a hard process, and often the reason things go sour is because designers aren’t stepping back to think logically about what works best for the average user.

  • The Placement: Where on the page your call-to-action is located matters as much - if not more - than what the call-to-action actually says. If you bury your CTA below the fold (what you see before you scroll down) or, worse, at the bottom of the page, you may just be missing out on a goldmine of potential leads. Move your CTAs around, place them above the fold, A/B test pages with CTAs in different locations, and find out what generates the most leads specific to each page.

  • The Action: At the core, a Call-To-Action is just that: an imperative that drives users to follow through to something on the other side. In all reality, users prefer to be told exactly what they need to do on your site rather than having to try and figure it out for themselves. Examples of effective CTS copy also tend to include a time-sensitive imperative, like “Sign Up Now,” “Act Fast,” “Get Started,” and more. Here’s 101 others from the gurus over at Hubspot.

  • The Cue: Words can easily get lost on a page, but images can stand out. If your CTA is purely textual, you’re likely ignoring one of your most valuable assets: the power of the visual.

Check out these examples of great CTAs:

Lynda CTA study

Lynda is a web-based learning platform for professionals, focusing on everything from web design and development to business, photography, and software development. Their CTA use on their homepage is impeccable, with bright yellow colors, attractive copy that has a clear directive (“Start”) and incentive (“Free”) and - perhaps most effectively - multiple locations on the page.

In this view alone, there are three CTAs for new users - two prominent “Start My Free Trials” buttons above the fold and a “Sign Up” in the top right corner, - as well as two more buttons further down the page. If a customer can make it all the way down the page without clicking, it must be because they don’t have a mouse to click with.

Positionly CTA study

Positionly develops Inbound Marketing software for individuals, universities, and professionals, and for professionals they also offer in-depth site analysis and SEO. Their home page offers an assault of eye-pleasing color, with a clear white “Sign Up” button placed front and center directly under the short description. This is repeated again at the very end of the page, and interspersed with uncolored “Discover More” buttons beneath each section of their offerings.

The contrast between colors works especially well for Positionly here, and they use this same principle to drive consumers to their professional offerings with a text link that’s noticeably bolder than the rest of the labels in the top right corner. This subtle touch can easily remain unobtrusive to those who don’t need it, but pops out immediately for those who may.

Square CTA study

Square, the credit card processing tool, has become nearly ubiquitous in shops all over the country, and Square knows you know that already, even before you reach their site. That’s why there’s not much space wasted with explanation or lead-up - a simple blue CTA offers exactly the “Sign Up With Square” that most of their likely visitors are looking for, and they don’t have to search to find it.

This CTA repeats at the bottom of the page, and can automatically switch to a blue “Contact Sales” and a clear “Sign Up Today” button for those users who identify as a large business. That’s effective targeting and smart placement meant to reach exactly the visitor segment that Square is hoping to convert.

So How Should I Go About Making An Effective CTA?

When it comes to creating CTAs that work for your business, it’s never a bad idea to copy the best of the best. There’s a reason these well-planned CTAs work for these businesses, and it may take only a few slight adjustments to drastically increase the effectiveness of your calls-to-action.

There’s plenty of debate out there about everything from the best colors to use to optimal placement based on how today’s users read and scan a web page. Some of this information is valuable - like, for instance, that people tend to see blue CTAs as more trustworthy, or that the “Big Orange Button”, or BOB, will dominate all CTAs in the near future.

The reality is that much of these results are anecdotal and can’t safely predict any kind of overarching pattern. The fact is, a good CTA is effectively placed on the page, clearly directs users to a desirable end goal, and fits with your brand’s overall look and feel. The goal of a CTA shouldn’t be to trick as many people to click as possible, but to make sure that those customers who absolutely should be clicking have no trouble doing so.

We Know A Thing Or Two About Effective CTAs

Altos has designed and developed highly effective websites for a variety of clients, and we know our stuff when it comes to creating a call-to-action that actually generates results. Plus, we know how to analyze those results to show you exactly where you’re succeeding and where there’s room for a little improvement. And since we’re experts in mobile design, we can make sure your CTAs are working regardless of which device your users may be on.

If you’re in the process of creating a new site for your business and you need help fine-tuning your design, get in touch with our expert Design and Development team. We’ll help make your site into a simple, straightforward path, so visitors can become customers that much easier.