We integrated an "Action Pages" feature into our SA Web marketing system to make it very easy for you to build your own call to action pages.
Every website should have a call to action, a response you want users to complete. But how do you encourage users to act? How do you create an effective call to action?
Focus on the value your call to action provides
Before a user is willing to complete a call to action they have to recognise the need. Infomercials do this well. Before they ask people to respond, they first identify a problem. They then present a product that solves that problem.
You also need to communicate the benefits of responding. What will the user get out of completing the call to action?
But beware! Sometimes in our rush to create compelling calls to action we lose clarity. At the top of Skype’s homepage it is not immediately obvious what Skype does. It’s copy is emotional, but not obvious. You need both.
Address the user’s questions about the call to action
Completing a call to action is often a step of trust on behalf of the user. They may have to make a payment or give you personal details. This means they often have questions and concerns. Concerns they will want addressing before they take action.
Customers shouldn’t have to go hunting for delivery charges or a return policy. You will need to reassure those signing up for a newsletter about how often you will email them. They will also want to know it is easy to unsubscribe.
Have a small number of distinct calls to action
It is also important to focus your actions. Too many and the user becomes overwhelmed. Studies in supermarkets have shown that if the shopper sees too many options they are less likely to buy.
By limiting the number of choices a user has to make we reduce the amount of mental effort. You guide the user through the site step by step. This applies to everything from navigational options to calls to action.
The number of appropriate calls to action will vary from site to site. But, it is not so much the number of calls to action as the distinctiveness of each.
Take for example this recent preorder I tried to make on Amazon. I was only presented with two calls to action. The problem was there was no clear distinction between the two. Which option was I meant to click to buy?
Think about how you position your call to action
Another important factor is the position of your call to action on the page. You should place it high on the page and in the central column, as shown in the example below.
But be careful. This does not guarantee success especially when there are images of faces on the page. Faces draw our attention away from a call to action, as you can see in this eye tracking heat map.
Fortunately we can use this to our advantage too. If the face and call to action are associated, it will help focus users on the call to action. Alternatively if the person is looking towards the call to action, this will draw the users eye.
Consider position in the journey too
Don’t only consider the call to action’s position on the page. Also think about the right time to ask the user to respond.
Use negative space around your call to action
It is not only the position of your call to action that matters. It is also the space around it. The more space you place around a call to action the more attention you draw to it. Clutter up your call to action with surrounding content and you will lose it in the noise of the page.
Consider using an alternative colour on your call to action
Colour is an effective way of drawing attention to elements. This is especially true if the rest of the site has a limited palette.
This example does it well. While the rest of the site uses muted blues and grey, the call to action is a vibrant green. This extreme contrast leaves the user in no doubt what they should do next.
When it comes to a call to action, size matters
As web designers, we often get annoyed with clients who ask us to make things bigger. It is true that size isn’t everything. We have already established that position, colour and white space are also important.
But we cannot deny that size does play a large part. The bigger your call to action, the more chance users will notice it. Also, a large call to action enables us to add more compelling copy.
Use scarcity to encourage action
An understanding of psychology will make a big difference to how effective your calls to action are.
For example, creating a sense of urgency by limiting supply will encourage people to act. People hate to miss out! To create a sense of urgency and a need to act now, consider:
Offering limited time discounts.
Highlighting how quickly you are selling out.
Booking.com uses the idea of scarcity well. They show you how few rooms are still available. Then they tell you how many other people are viewing that hotel. This spurs you into action. You fear that if you do not book the room it will be gone. This is the power of scarcity.
Follow through on your call to action
Consider what happens when a user does respond to your call to action. The rest of the process needs to be as thought through as the call to action itself.
After all the journey rarely ends when the user clicks the call to action. There might be a sign-up process, email communications, or any number of different steps. You need to streamline these to avoid distractions. Distractions which might stop the user finishing the process.
Have a call to action on every page
Make sure your call to action is not only found on your homepage. Every page of your site should have some form of a call to action that leads the user on. If the user reaches a dead-end they will leave without responding to your call.
My main call to action is to encourage you to signup to my newsletter. To make sure you don’t miss it, I have placed it at the bottom of every single page.
When it comes to calls to action, proceed with caution. Don’t only focus on conversion. Also, focus on perception. How does your call to action reflect on your brand? If you do, then they will help improve your bottom line over the long term.