If you are a web designer, developer, social media channel manager, or simply someone that shops online, you are probably familiar with the Call To Action or CTA. You know what I am referring to. Any time you open Facebook or you go to a website, you see things like “CLICK HERE AND SAVE,” or “0% interest for 6 months!!! LEARN MORE!!”. CTAs are not just used to get you to buy things though. A button that says “Pay Your Bill Online” is also a CTA. A call to action is just that: it is a section of a webpage that is strategically placed and is designed to get the user, or the visitor of the page, to take some kind of action.
As a web developer, I use CTAs all the time. The CTA is a great way to not only get the user to the part of the page that they were looking for but also possibly get the user to experience parts of the website that they were unaware of.
Let me explain. A user lands on the home page of my website. We will say, for fun, the web site is for a bank. The user is wanting to check their account balance. On the home page, I might place a CTA that reads “You are now able to check your account online with our secure member portal. CLICK HERE.”
With this call to action, I have made it easy for the user to find the section of the site they were looking for. However, I might also add another CTA right next to the check your balance one that reads “Applying for a home loan has never been easier!!” with a button that says “Apply now.” If the user is in the market for a house, this CTA can point the user to a part of the website that they did not even know they were looking for.
CTAs are a fantastic way to get a user to interact with your website, whether it is clicking a button or filling out a contact form. However, CTAs are not always used with the user’s best interest in mind. Let’s discuss this. Because calls to action are so powerful, developers have started using them to get users to take actions that they would not normally take.
Example, I am a candidate running for office. My name is John Doe, and I want to get people to go to my campaign fundraising page, what do I do? Well, maybe I create a Facebook ad that looks like this: “John Doe would make a great president!!” Then, I add 2 buttons. One that says “I agree,” and one that says “I disagree.” Then, I link both buttons to my fundraising page. Now, no matter what you click, you are going to my fundraising page.
In doing this, John has succeeded in getting the people that think he would make a great president to his fundraising page and also many people that disagree. Those ones are now ticked because this is not where they were expecting to end up. As for the ones that don’t think he will make a great president, he has just confirmed what these people already believed about him (and other politicians, let’s be real).
Why Put CTAs on Your Site?
Why do people do this? Well, I will not go into the details of Google ranking and website traffic tracking for this discussion; however, I will say that they do it to boost their ranking with search engines. That being said, there are much better ways to boost your rankings than irritating your users.
Considering what we just discussed, here are some questions to ask yourself when creating a CTA:
- Why do I want the user to click?
CTAs should not be used just to make your site pretty. Every CTA should have a unique purpose.
- Is my user getting as much benefit from this click as I am?
This ties into the first one. A user clicks a CTA because they are expecting to get something out of it, whether it is information or a special deal. Make sure that the user is not making pointless clicks on your site. If the user is promised a good deal if they click, then there should be a good deal waiting for them.
- After the user clicks, will the user be surprised?
There are lots of situations in life where surprises are good. This is not one of them. Your user should end up exactly where they expected to land when they clicked. If they were clicking for a special deal, then they should end up on that deal’s page.
If you ask yourself these questions and you take the time to look at your CTA through the eyes of your user, you will find that your CTAs will be much more effective.
If you are interested in more details and the science of the CTA, check out these links: