I talked a bit about CTAs for landing pages in the previous blog, but I’m going to go into much more detail today.
Let’s start at the beginning.
‘CTA’ stands for ‘Call to Action’. In any piece of sales copy, whether a landing page, email, sales letter, web page or advertisement, the CTA is an essential ingredient.
This is the moment when you tell your prospects to reply to your email, sign up to your newsletter, call you, buy your product, start their free trial or Like your post.
Why do we need it?
Surely your prospects should know what you want them to do. It’s an AdWords ad, so the aim is to click on it; it’s a sales letter, so the whole point is to sell something.
But people are not quite so simple. They require direction. They want you to make it as easy as possible for them. Remember, your copy is more than likely a distraction in their day, and they are not going to use up braincells working out what you want them to do.
And that means telling them exactly what to do in the CTA.
So we always have the CTA. And getting it right can mean the difference between mediocre conversions and through-the-roof conversions.
From Top to Bottom: Where Does the CTA Go?
Common sense would say that the CTA should go at the end of your copy, after you’ve made your case … but this is not always the way.
Like a lot of things in sales copy, the answer is: ‘it depends’.
There is no right or wrong, only what works best for you and your audience. However, there are guidelines that you can follow.
Let’s look at landing pages.
Where the product or service you’re promoting is complex and expensive, and the reader has no prior knowledge of your organisation or solution, it’s usually best to place a CTA at the end, or at least not at the beginning.
If you ask for the CTA too soon, you might well spook your prospects and send them packing.
For these types of landing pages, it can be best to work up to the CTA, slipping it in at the first opportunity when you feel you’ve got their attention enough to convince your prospects to give it a go.
On the contrary, for a simple offer like a free ebook in return for an email address, the CTA is often right up there in the above-the-fold space. These landing pages are often short, consisting of a headline, a few bullet points, some testimonials and not much else.
But don’t let anyone tell you that one position is better than the other. The end could be the most effective place to use it; so could the beginning; so could halfway down the page.
So could all three.
You simply won’t know until you test them.
In an email to your subscribers, you may find that some readers want to click your CTA straight away. They already know they want the offer, so they skim the copy and click the link.
Others may want more time. They want to read all the email right down to the end where they are then ready to click.
Others may not read much of the copy, but they notice the P.S. at the end and click on the CTA they find.
So experiment. Try different positions and find out what works best.
The Problem with ‘Submit’
Go to any number of landing pages or websites and you will usually come across a big CTA button with ‘Submit’ written across it (or a similar variation like ‘Click Here’ or ‘Start Here’).
These seem like the most obvious things to write; after all, this is a call to action, and you want your prospects to submit, click and start.
The problem with these is that they are vague … and prospects don’t like vagueness. They want to know exactly what is going to happen when they click on that button.
Perhaps it will lead them into a long process of form filling … or receiving countless emails … or something equally arduous that they don’t have time for.
They don’t want to get involved in something like that. Better to just turn away. But if you clarify exactly what will happen when they click on the button, you can change this.
Instead of ‘Download’, write: ‘Send me my free ebook’.
This is exactly what is going to happen when they click the button, and it also uses action words.
Instead of ‘Start Now’, write: ‘Start my free trial’.
CrazyEgg’s CTA tells the prospect exactly what they are getting:
Notice also that it uses the first person (‘Show Me My Heatmap’ rather than ‘See Your Heatmap’.) That often works better, and it’s worth testing with your own CTA.
If you can, try to provide extra information in the CTA copy itself. Some people will skim over the copy in your landing page, but if you make the CTA button detailed and specific, your prospects can almost click on it without having to read the rest of the copy.
Something like ‘See how I can increase your sales’, which includes a benefit, could give your conversions a lift.
All Around the CTA: Little Details that Make a Difference
The moment someone clicks on the CTA button is the crucial moment, the point of no return. And this is when they may have their doubts.
If you state in your CTA button ‘Start your free trial’, you are being clear about what is going to happen. That’s a great start. But how long is this free trial?
It’s not clear.
Try placing some extra information next to it. Add in ’30-day free trial’ in small print just above or below. That way they won’t have to go searching the copy again to find out how long the trial is.
Again, if the CTA is ‘Buy The Book Here’, place extra details underneath. Add what format the book is in, whether it’s a PDF download or an EPUB ebook.
Always try and clarify these extra details if you can to reduce the risk that they decide against clicking.
Another one is to address a doubt. What are the things that could be preventing them from clicking? Perhaps they are worried about spending money on something they regret.
This is the place where you can put a reminder about your guarantee.
If you are collecting sign-ups for a webinar, people may decide against clicking because they don’t know whether they can attend. So clarify that you will send the recording by email later even if they can’t make it, getting them over this doubt.
Or add in that you provide free shipping with their order. No one wants to get to the point of making their purchase and find it has gone up, so reassure prospects that their shipping is free early on. Amazon does this well:
Or state how long it will take. If you can ship it within two days, make that clear. Answer the question that they may be having.
Security symbols placed near to the CTA can also make a difference and give people more confidence to click.
The CTA can also be an effective place to display social proof.
Make It Easy
The ‘Action’ of the CTA typically takes place when prospects click a button. But before that, you usually want them to fill out a form of some sort.
Make this as easy as possible for them.
This starts by only asking for as little information as you need. If that’s just an email address, then just ask for an email address. Perhaps you want their first and last names as well. Fine, ask for that if you need it.
A longer form is almost certain to put people off. It takes more effort to fill in, which uses up more time.
There are always exceptions, however.
If you have a complex or expensive product and you want to filter your sign-ups, more form fields could work to your advantage by getting higher-quality conversions instead of more conversions.
A longer form could in this case make your company look more serious and show that you know exactly who you want to work with.
Another good option is to use progressive profiling. This is where you pre-fill your form for returning visitors. If people have already filled out forms on your site, use the same information and fill this new form out for them.
Everything Matters with the CTA
The copy of your CTA, and your whole landing page or web page, should work together to reassure your prospects that they are making the right decision.
Each of the points included here seems relatively minor on its own, but they can all make a big difference when it comes to converting more visitors.
So do everything you can to put your prospects at ease when they get to the CTA, and encourage more of them to make the click.