website calls to action

Odds are, you haven’t put a ton of time and energy into your website just to have it sit around gathering digital dust.  Instead, you want your website to do something – whether it’s to sell products, generate leads or just promote your way of thinking.

But given the amount of noise most internet users are faced with these days, you need to make it explicitly clear what you want your visitors to do.  This can be done using “calls to action,” which can be implemented with the following steps:


Step #1 – Define your target action

Before you can create a call to action, you first need to determine what type of action you want people to take after reading each page of your website.  As a general rule, it’s best to have no more than one major call to action on each page of your site.

Consider the following example target action and call to action combinations:

  • Prompting a blog post reader to share the article on a social profile – “If you liked this post, take a second to share it with your friends on Facebook.”

  • Encouraging visitors to sign up for a web design email newsletter – “Enroll now for free tips on creating cutting-edge website designs.”

  • Provoking customers into purchasing weight loss products – “Start your new life today by clicking the ‘Buy Now’ button below.”

Because your call to action must be tailored to the individual target action it supports, you’ll need to have these desired outcomes identified before moving on to the next step.


Step #2 – Utilize copywriting techniques to write your calls to action

Once you have your target actions defined, you can begin writing your calls to action.  But keep in mind that plain language isn’t going to cut it here!  Your calls to action should take advantage of popular copywriting techniques in order to prompt as many users into action as possible.

A few of the rules you’ll want to keep in mind include:

  • Make your “ask” obvious.  Be direct about the actions you want users to take – hedging and beating around the bush results confuses readers and prevents them from doing what you hope they’ll do.

  • Use powerful words.  In the second example shared above, the words “free” and “cutting-edge” are designed to provoke emotions.  Using these types of power words inspires feelings and emotions in your readers – both of which can lead to eventual action.

  • Keep it short.  Calls to action should be clear and concise, so avoid using any more words than are truly necessary to get your point across.

Don’t stress yourself out too much in this step.  There are hundreds of different copywriting techniques out there – mastering them all is pretty much impossible without years of study.  Do the best you can for now and we’ll discuss an easy way to improve the effectiveness of your calls to action in Step #4.


Step #3 – Place your calls to action appropriately on your site

Writing your calls to action well is important – but so is where you place these key phrases on your site!

For example, if you create a call to action that encourages website visitors to sign up for your email newsletter, but then place the statement below the fold on your home page, you run the risk of having most people miss your prompt altogether.  And really, your call to action can’t be effective if nobody sees it.

So once you’ve written your calls to action, take care to place them in the most appropriate places on your site.  Prompts to share your blog posts on social networks may make the most sense at the end of each blog post page on your site, but most calls to action need to be featured prominently in order to be acted upon.


Step #4 – Split test your calls to action for best results

finding the right place

Don’t leave the wording or placement of your calls to action to chance.  Although you can write words that sound persuasive to your ears or place your prompts in a way that you believe will generate the most follow-through, you can’t really be sure that you’re using this motivational tool correctly without data to back up your assumptions.

The best way to determine whether your calls to action are as engaging as possible is to use the A/B split test protocol to pit different calls to action against each other.  Test the exact wording you use, test the specific placement used on your site – test anything you think of that could make your phrases even more enticing to website visitors.  Sure, it’s extra work, but the difference in website conversion rates brought about by even the smallest call to action tweaks can be extraordinary!