Is your Call to Action really inspiring action? Or is it pretty much just decorating your landing page?
You may have CTAs on all your content—newsletters, community announcements, social media posts… even in your online shop! But if they’re not moving people to interact with your brand, then they suck. Because CTAs are supposed to turn clicks into customers.
A weak CTA doesn’t inspire action. It’s not a call; it’s a suggestion. And in particularly competitive industries, a suggestion gets overlooked. Remember that your audience is online. They’re overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and offers of the digital world. And you know the digital world is massive.
If you want your market to hear you, your CTA needs to speak up. And if it has any of the 5 following characteristics, you need to fix it ASAP.
1. No Button Text/Vague Button Text
We’ve been using remote controls for decades. We know that the bright red button at the very top is the power button.
But we still look for that very helpful “power” or “pwr” label before we click it.
Why is that? Because clear labels save us the trouble of guessing.
Buyers don’t want to blindly agree to something. No matter how tempting the offer is or how sold they are on your product, they’re not going to click a button if they don’t know what it does.
I mean; would you click a button without knowing what it was for?
Check out the following examples:
In both examples, visitors are encouraged to “click here” to volunteer. But the picture on the right is more likely to get clicks than the picture on the left.
Because the example on the right has a button that is clearly labeled. Visitors know immediately what they need to click (the button) and what happens when they do (they’ll volunteer).
With the one on the left, there’s going to be a moment’s hesitation. Yes, the “clicking here” is bolded, and it’s assumed that clicking on it will sign the visitor up to volunteer. But it doesn’t catch attention the way the right example does. The lack of a clearly labeled button does not incite immediate action.
Remember; bright, red “power” button on the remote control. Consumers need labels.
How to Fix It:
- ClickMinded lets you customize elements like the font, style, size, and color of the CTA, so you don’t have to worry about ruining your page’s aesthetic. You can download the button image or copy the button’s HTML/CSS code.
- ButtonOptimizer is much the same–it provides a range of customization options to help you generate a good-looking button with text. You can then get the CTA as a PNG file or generate the button’s CSS code.
For Shopify users, you can even build a clickable Call to Action for your store.
Having a generator that prompts you to write your text as you design the CTA effectively minimizes the chances of you uploading a blank button.
And potentially missing a conversion.
2. CTA is Lost/Buried Beneath Image Clutter
If you have too many visual elements happening on your website, your CTA can get lost or overshadowed by something else–subsequently killing its effectiveness.
Check out this sample page:
This isn’t a bad landing page, per se, but it is confusing.
When a visitor first enters the page, there’s a high chance they won’t see the Call to Action immediately. What they’re probably going to see first is the title “Cleaning Services,” or the large cartoon cleaning lady on the side.
Then their eyes are going to drift all over the page, taking in the text, layout, pictures, etc. By the time they actually see the CTA–which, in this case, is the bright blue button that says, “Book A Call!”–they’re overwhelmed by the visual information.
Trust us on this: if visitors need to make a concerted effort to find the CTA, they probably won’t bother–especially if they don’t know you or your brand yet.
What’s worse is that the CTA button (in this example) is similar to the elements under the “Our Services” list. Because of this, the services listed look like they’re buttons too! This can further confuse the visitor. They might think they can click on the different services—like “bedroom cleaning” or “dining room cleaning"—to see more when, in reality, those are non-interactive elements.
So even though the “Book A Call!” text is bold and in all-caps, it doesn’t stand out because there are other elements like it on the page. The worst-case scenario in this situation is if the visitor then assumes the CTA is a non-interactive element as well.
How to Fix It:
Minimalism is your friend. For a sales page or landing page with a CTA, you want to keep all other competing elements to a minimum.
Look at the following example:
Your eyes will most likely focus on the dude with binoculars first. He is the most prominent element on the page, after all.
But the difference here is that there are no other elements like him. He isn’t competing with pictures or cutouts of similar size. Against a background of simple, solid colors, he stands out.
Then your eyes would go to the left–where you see a big, blue button that simply and clearly says, “Apply Here!”
It is the only obvious button on the page. It stands out against the lighter-colored background. It matches the color scheme of the page (blue) without blending in. It isn’t surrounded by a dozen distracting images and text boxes.
Same with this example:
Notice how your eye is immediately drawn to the bright pink button that says “Shop Now” in the center, despite the makeup clutter at the edges?
That’s because that button is the only one of its kind on that page. There are no other pink boxes or buttons. There is no other white text.
The CTA stands out because it’s unique.
So review the examples and copy those concepts for your own Call to Action. Make sure your CTA:
- Contrasts against the background. Refer to the second page example again; dark background, light CTA. Light background, dark CTA.
- Has their own space. Don’t place the button over a complex image or pattern; separate it from other elements as much as possible.
- Isn’t competing with other similarly-colored or designed elements. If your CTA is solid blue but so is your header, footer, and webpage border, your CTA won’t stand out at all. The first example works because the CTA is the only blue element.
- Is properly and strategically placed. The pink button in the “Premium Cosmetics” sample easily draws the attention of visitors because it’s placed right in the middle of the page. It only takes half a second to see it because it’s placed in a space our eyes naturally land
3. You Have Too Many CTAs
Ever heard of the jam jar display study?
There were two groups of shoppers.
One group was shown a jam display with 6 flavors. The other group was shown a jam display with 24 flavors. At the end of the study, the jam display with 6 flavors converted 30% of the shoppers into successful sales.
The display with 24 flavors, on the other hand, only managed to convert 3%.
Now take a look at this sample landing page:
If your page looks like this, you need to fix it–ASAP.
“Decision fatigue” is real, folks, and it’s going to cost you customers.
Give someone too many choices and they’d rather abstain. The jam jar display study is proof. When given 24 flavors to choose from, only 3% of people managed to make a choice. That percentage jumped to 30% when there were significantly less options.
In the sample landing page, you’ve given the visitor four CTAs–four options, as it were. They can choose to book a call with you, check out your blog, subscribe to your content, or follow you on social media.
You might think this is a brilliant move but, news flash: IT'S NOT.
For someone who doesn’t know your brand, too many choices can feel overwhelming. It may lead to them overthinking each option. Should they subscribe to your content first? What if they don’t like it? Should they follow you on social media? But what if you spam them?!
If you’re familiar with the concept of “analysis paralysis,” that’s exactly what too many CTAs lead to. Your visitor is unable to make one choice because they end up overthinking all choices.
And with online content, visitors will typically spend just a few seconds deciding what they want to do. If they can’t narrow their choices down immediately, they’re going to do what 97% of the shoppers did when they were faced with 24 flavors of jam.
They’re going to walk away.
By giving them only one CTA, you’ve narrowed the choices down for them.
How to Fix It:
Here’s a good rule of thumb with CTAs: less is more.
Bombarding users with multiple CTAs makes it hard for them to decide what action to take–so they decide to just not take one! Again, refer to the jam jar display study.
People can barely decide what jam flavor they want; you’re going to make them choose between your CTAs, too?
If you want readers to “subscribe to the newsletter,” “sign up for a free trial,” “visit the store,” and “follow us on Facebook,” then you’re going to need to make separate, optimized pages for each one.
Pick one main goal to be your CTA, then craft all the elements on your page to support it.
4. Your CTA Isn’t Strong Enough
CTA stands for “Call to Action” because you want your readers to take action.
They can’t do that if your CTA is barely a call and more of a quiet, whispered suggestion.
Remember that your CTA text needs to be simple and self-explanatory. It needs to tell people what to do, not suggest their next steps.
Do your CTAs look like this?
- The New Spring Collection–Available for Pre-Order
- Our New Blog; Different Style, Same Great Content
- Our Expert Insights Delivered Straight To Your Inbox
Then I’m sorry, but they’re weak.
They’re not converting because they do not inspire action.
None of the examples shown tell the reader (1) what to do, and (2) what happens when they do it.
Take the first CTA, for instance. All it does is tell the reader that the spring collection can be pre-ordered.
That’s not a Call to Action. That’s just an announcement.
How to Fix It:
Here’s a good tip for writing CTAs: Start with a strong verb.
Verbs are action words, and CTAs are meant to inspire action. Placing them at the start of the CTA eliminates any doubt or hesitancy by immediately telling the reader what to do on the landing page.
Take the CTA from earlier, as an example:
Try shortening it and adding a verb at the beginning:
This is simpler, sweeter, and makes more sense. The button text incites action.
If you’re having trouble thinking of a strong verb or opening, you can use CTA generators to help you craft strong, high-converting CTA. Like Copy.AI–a free CTA writer that generates three call-to-action phrases based on the description of a product, company, or service. You can then choose the strongest from the three or test all 3 to see which one converts best.
You can also try wishpond–a CTA generator with add-on features like A/B Multivariate Testing and Advanced Tracking to help narrow down the best possible call to action for your page.
5. CTA Needs Too Much Information
Are you asking your customers for things like their name, number, email, social media accounts, and contact time preference?
No wonder they’re not clicking. You’re asking too much!
Remember the “less is more” rule with CTAs. The less people have to work to get what you’re offering them, the better. No one has the time, energy, or willingness to give their personal information out willy-nilly.
They’re always going to think “what’s in it for me?”
If your CTA needs too much information before it can be clicked on or if it leads to something that asks for too much information (like a long form), your readers are going to abandon the action halfway.How to Fix It:
Start with the bare minimum information needed. You can try asking for more once they’ve become an established follower, reader, subscriber, etc. Start hitting them with the long forms only after you know they like your content, offers, etc.
The following examples are good CTAs because they only ask for one thing; your visitor’s email.
But a CTA that asks for 10 different things? That’ll turn people away. That’s too many steps involved and too much information being asked for without an explanation.
Here’s an example:
Asking for so much information so early on in the relationship can discourage new visitors.
Aside from the fact that it’s just too much effort, they also don’t know what you’re planning to do with their details. If they don’t know you yet, how can they be sure that the free resource you’re offering is worth giving you their private information?
So, to recap…
If your CTA:
- Doesn’t have a label
- Is competing with other visually loud or visually similar elements
- Isn’t the only CTA on the page
- Doesn’t use a verb or give clear, action-oriented instructions
- Needs too much information before it can be interacted with
It sucks. And you need to change it.
Never underestimate the power of a strong CTA–and never overestimate your market’s interest in your offers. Always remember that you’re competing with hundreds of thousands of businesses that are just like you. They’re selling products just like yours at similar prices.
Unless you do something to stand out, they’re hardly going to notice you–much less choose you.
If you want more conversions, make stronger CTAs.