9 techniques for an effective call to action

If you have not created an effective call to action on your web platform, you are missing an integral part to attaining your goals through your online media.  A “call to action” is a response you want users to complete. But how do you create an effective call to action and how do you encourage users to act? The call to action is an essential part to any website and not just limited to ecommerce platforms. Any website should have an objective it wants users to complete, whether it is signing up for a newsletter or filling out a contact form.

A Call to Action provides the following:

Direction to users

Direction to users

Effective call to action-Measure

Measure your website's success

Effective call to action-Focus to website

Focus to your website

1. Lay the foundation

The user needs to recognise the need before they are willing to complete a call to action. In other words, (in most adverts) before they ask people to respond, they first identify a problem and present a product that solves the problem.
You also need to communicate the benefits of responding. What the user will get out of completing the call to action.

Effective Call to action-lay the foundation

See how they identify the problem on the left with the call to action on the right

2. Offer something extra

Incentives could include discounts, a free gift or an entry into a competition. Sometimes you may have to sweeten the deal to encourage users to complete a call to action.

Effective call to action-offer something extra

See how they offer a free toy when you buy car insurance

3. Don’t overwhelm the user

Be focussed in your calls to action. Having too many will overwhelm the user. If you present too many varieties, the user is less likely to make a purchase or interact with you on your website. You reduce the amount of mental effort by limiting the number of choices a user has to make.

Effective call to action-don't overwhelm the user

See how this call to action is too overwhelming and has too many buttons to click on

4. Using active, urgent voice

A call to action is all about getting the user to interact and should clearly tell users what you want them to do. Active words like “call”, “buy”, “donate”, “subscribe”, “register”, encourages users to take action. Words and phrases like “for a short time only”, “order now and receive a free gift”, “offer expires march 31st” create a sense of urgency and a need to act now.

Effective call to action-Using active urgent voice

See how they urge users to buy as there is a limited time offering

5. Location! Location! Location!

One very important factor is the location or position of your call to action on the page. Ideally it should be placed above the fold or as high on the page as possible, and in the central column.

Effective call to action-location location location

See how this call to action is above the fold, placed high and centered

6. Use white space

It is not just the positioning of the call to action that is important, but also the space around it. The more space around your call to action, the more attention you will draw to it. Do not clutter up your call to action with a lot of surrounding content, as it will get lost in the overall noise of the page.
(We also touched base on this subject of “Increased Minimalism” in our previous article: Upcoming website design trends for 2016)

Effective call to action-use white space

See how this call to action has a lot of white space, making it stand out

7. Don’t be scared of colors

Colors can be an effective way of drawing attention to certain elements on your website. If your website has a fairly limited color palette, for example blue and grey, use a complement color like orange to highlight your call to actions. This extreme contrast will make your call to actions stand out firmly. Also remember to not rely solely on color because many users are color blind and will not see the contrast.

Effective call to action-don't be scared of colors

See how this call to action uses contrast colors to make it stand out

8. Go big or go home

As web designers we often get frustrated with clients who ask us to make things bigger. It’s certainly true that size isn’t everything, as we have already established that position, white space and color are equally important. Let’s not deny that size, however, does play a large role. The bigger your call to action, the more chance it will be noticed.

Effective call to action-go big or go home

See how this call to action uses not only complementing colors but its BOLD and BIG

9. A call to action is not your last action

Now that you have your call to action, finally, consider what happens when a user does respond to your call to action. Resist the temptation to collect unnecessary information if you require users to provide personal data about themselves. Some marketing people in particular like to build up demographic information. Although I can appreciate the value of this, it brings a danger users will drop out of the process.

Effective call to action-A call to action is not your last action

See how this call to action only collects necessary information