Although Call to Action (CTA) buttons are not given much thought, they are probably one of the most important elements on your site; it’s where most of your conversions happen. Therefore, it goes without saying that these buttons need to be designed carefully.
All effective CTA buttons have a lot of thought put behind them. However, don’t worry; they are not half as complex as you’re thinking. In fact, if you know how to do them right, they are probably one of the easiest important aspects of your site to make.
To learn the easiest ways to design CTA buttons, you will first have to understand the element that they are made up of. So let’s look at the 6 most important aspects of effective CTA buttons.
1. They Look Like Buttons
CTAs are buttons; that much is plain, simple, and clear. But the most effective CTA buttons are the ones that look like, well, that actually look like buttons. It might sound obvious but it needs to be stated. Since CTA buttons take you to a different page, they are often looked at and treated as hyperlinks — which they are not. This can cause this much-too-important button to get lost in a sea of other hyperlinks or text. It is important that CTAs look like buttons so that your viewers know that they’re supposed to click it.
In addition, sometimes, especially if it’s your first time, you might get carried away and try to be too creative. While there is nothing wrong with creativity, CTA buttons are not really the place to show it. Yes, you can incorporate a few design elements, but on the whole, CTA buttons should be kept minimal.
2. They Have Contrasting Colors
CTAs are most effective when they are easily noticeable. A simple way to make CTA buttons stand out among the other elements on the page is to choose a colour for the button that contrasts both, the background and the other elements. To keep with the aesthetic of the page, you can choose a colour that complements the other colours on the page while still contrasting them.
For example, if you have a white background with red elements, you can use a green button. A yellow button stands out well on a white background. To make things simple, you can refer the colour wheel and choose complementary colours, i.e. colours that are directly opposite to each other (blue and orange are complementary colours, so are red and green or yellow and purple).
3. They’re Accompanied By a Compelling Copy
Once you’ve taken care of the design aspects, you need to focus on the words you put on and around the button. Here, you need to understand your viewers; their needs, why they’re on your website, what drives them, and what emotions will they most likely positively react to. Then, you need to find words that resonate with your audience. There are some words that commonly resonate with almost all people; words that entice urgency (Today only, Last chance, Offer ends on “date”, Hurry, Immediately) or ones that compel action (Start, Stop, Build, Join, Learn, Discover) fall in this category. Another category consists of words that are proven to effectively drive action like You, Easy, Guarantee, Save, New, Proven, Results, and Free.
The words you use should be structured in a way that the viewer knows exactly what is expected of them or what to expect once they click the button. So, simply putting a “Hurry” button on your landing page won’t do you any good despite being a highly effective word. On the other hand, a button that says “Start Free Trial” or “Click to Download” shows the viewer what they’re getting into after pressing the button.
It is important to keep the text on the button to a minimum to avoid it looking messy. This makes it hard to relay all the information to the viewer the way you want to. An easy way around this hurdle is to give the button context through the text surrounding it. For example, if you have a limited offer for a book, construct a text copy that says “10% off on e-book/vector kit/etc.; Offer ends on dd/mm; Grab your copy now!” and simply put a “do it” button below it. So, even if the button only says “do it” the viewer clearly knows what it means thanks to the text above it.
The next important aspect that heavily affects the success of a CTA is the text that accompanies it. Let’s assume that you’ve gotten a well-designed CTA button and stuck it at the end of a blog; you’ve designed it in a way that it looks like a button, the colour contrasts the background so it stands out, even the words used on the button are persuasive, but you are still not getting conversions. Once you analyze the situation, you realize that people are not going further than the first two paragraphs of the blog, so they are not getting to the CTA at all. To avoid situations like this, make sure that the other elements are enticing enough for your viewers to want to find and click on the CTA button.
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4. They’re Placed Logically
Once you’ve designed and properly worded the copy of a CTA, you now have to decide where to place it. You can’t simply slap it anywhere on the page and call it a day; the placement of the button needs to be logical if you want the maximum conversions. Now, this doesn’t have a formula; there isn’t a fixed place from where your CTA button will definitely get you more conversions. Here, you have to rely on tricks and human nature.
Our eyes are naturally built to follow paths so the easiest way to get your viewer to notice your CTA button is to place them directly in the path that their eyes will follow. For instance, when you land on a website, it is common for a lightbox pop-up to show up within the first few seconds. This is because, when your first land on the page, your eyes are first drawn to either the top or the middle of the page. The pop up takes advantage of this so when it shows, your eyes naturally land on the CTA. The same goes for pop-ups shown on the top or bottom of the page.
This obviously, depends on the structuring of the page and the text as well. Together, the page content and the CTA button(s) should encourage a natural flow for the reader’s eyes to follow.
5. They Have Close Proximity to the Previous Action
While on the topic of placement, you also need to make sure that the buttons are placed in close proximity to the previous action of the eyes and the pointer. For example, if you put the button at the very bottom of the page, the viewer will scroll through while reading the content on the page, and their eyes will naturally land on the CTA. This is why most newsletter subscriptions are at the bottom of homepages; it gives you enough time to convince the viewer to subscribe, the button falls in the direct path of their eyes, and it is in close proximity of the previous action (scrolling).
6. They’re Not Forced to Compete
It is necessary that you make sure the CTA button is not lost among other, less-important elements of the page. This is an important but often overlooked element of CTA buttons — they are not forced to compete for your viewer’s attention, even with other CTA buttons. For example, if you have a landing page for a product purchase, there is no point in placing a “Purchase” button next to a similar-looking “Free Trial” button. If the customer is on that page, it means that they have already almost made the decision to buy the product; the trial button will only serve as a distraction.
However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have two CTA buttons on the same page. In the above example, you can place the trial button first, and then add some content (that will further convince the viewer) and place the purchase button later. This structuring not only follows the natural flow of the eyes but it also doesn’t force the reader to choose between the two CTAs, allowing both buttons to work effectively. Another good example where the CTA isn’t forced to compete with other elements is the lightbox pop. This type of pop up eliminates all other elements by fading them out, allowing the CTA to be your only focus.
Designing an effective CTA button is not hard or taxing once you know what goes into making one. When it comes to CTAs, most of the times, the option that looks the most natural and logical is the right one.
The main objective of CTA buttons are to drive conversions and traffic to the page they’re linking back to, and the only way your visitors will want to click on the button is if it is easy for them to do so. This means that everything on the page should be a gradual lead up to the visitor clicking on the button. If you design your CTA buttons — and your page — using this mindset, you will end up with CTAs that are optimally effective for your brand.
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