The 10 Call To Action (CTA) types and where to use them

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12 minutes reading


In the past weeks, we’ve been sharing with you more in-depth knowledge about how to monetize your website and actually use it as an asset. While at first hand, it may look as if we are prioritizing e-commerce websites, the advice we are giving is perfectly applicable to all sorts of websites. The main point is to provide you with some first-hand knowledge on creating a viable digital marketing strategy, which will help you skip the long and frustrating steps of trial and error most other companies have to go through.

In the same spirit, today we will discuss your website’s single most crucial piece of design – the CTA (Call to action). You can do without almost any other part of your content, but without a CTA, your website is entirely pointless. This piece of content is the culmination of your presentation, the punchline of your story, and the point of your conversation. Without it, every other aspect of your landing page, website, or brochure is just some words on a screen and nothing more.

What is a CTA?

CTA is an abbreviation for Call to Action, which has one purpose only. To convince a reader to click on a button that would fulfill a predetermined action. To say it simply, this is the emanation of what you’ve been convincing your audience to do throughout your entire landing page and website. Whether it is to subscribe, to buy, or to sign up for something, you need to articulate your invitation clearly and straightforwardly.

Screenshot of Call To Action (CTA)

The simplest example everyone has seen is the unimaginative “Buy now” button. It’s not the best CTA you can find, but it’s regularly used and represents entirely what the CTA stands for. Usually, the CTA can be found in several strategically selected places, but one is almost always at the bottom of the page. Why at the bottom? Because the CTA, as already explained, is the natural conclusion of your customer’s journey. If you’ve done a good enough job to construct your landing page as a story or, better yet, as a journey, the CTA is the final step.

It’s truly shocking why almost 70% of all B2B small businesses lack any Call to Action. This means you can instantly jump ahead of these businesses if you simply add a short but convincing CTA to your website.

Naturally, not just any CTA will do the job. You will have to make it adequate to your storytelling and messaging to make it good.

What is a good CTA?

A good CTA is typically one that does the job. Of course, there are some tips and tricks on creating one, but generally, any CTA that generates at least 4% of conversions may be considered a good one. On average, CTAs receive a click from 4.23% of your audience. Naturally, you should strive to raise this number to at least double digits, as many CTAs generate far above the average. Some claim that their CTAs go as far as a 70% Clickthrough rate, but of course, that all depends on the type of CTA they are using.

What types of CTA are there?

CTAs correspond closely to the landing page they are concluding. So naturally, if your narrative were pointing to a subscription, placing a content related CTA would be weird. So whenever you choose which type of CTA to use, it must follow your website or landing page’s flow. There are ten main types of CTAs that we separate based on their primary goal. We will divide them into three major groups, depending on where in the marketing funnel they work best. If you struggle to understand what a marketing funnel is, don’t worry. We will explain that on the way.

Top of the funnel

The top of the funnel is where your audience learns about your product or service. It’s a place where you need to nurture their interest and move them down. The audience is not highly interested in your product (i.e. cold audience), yet they have a problem that your product or service may resolve. The top of the funnel is (of course) the largest, as many people would come in to see if you offer what they need. In this part of the funnel, your CTA’s should work as separators. They need to separate the interested audience from the one that’s come by mistake or doesn’t fit your product’s target audience. In general, these types of CTA’s should be easily noticeable, and your audience should stumble upon them in the first 3 seconds since they land on your page. The best types of CTA for the top of the funnel are:

Screenshot of Lead Generation Call To Action (CTA)

Lead Generation

A Lead Gen CTA’s goal is not to sell you directly but to point you to where you can purchase something. It’s typically used for colder audiences, which you want to convert to customers. Those are usually placed on your home page or anywhere you expect many visitors. This is generally used for organic traffic, as PPC campaigns target warmer audiences. For Lead Gen CTA, the section must tell precisely what users should expect when clicking. Otherwise, your bounce rate on the landing page will be soul-crushing. They must be eye-catching and, in general, must be where your audience’s eyes are. They should be spread on several places across the home page (in the sidebar, on top, and as a floating banner). You may put such CTA at the end of your blogs as well. It should be a mix of text and images, so people can’t miss it.

Screenshot of Newsletter Subscription Call To Action (CTA)

Newsletter subscriptions

That’s another great CTA that helps you separate the cold from the warm audience and move them down the funnel. If someone is willing to get additional information about what’s been going on in your company, your new products and, of course, your deals in a weekly (or monthly) newsletter, they are one step closer to buying. This CTA opens the door for email marketing, which we will discuss some other time. The CTA is an invitation to your audience to receive special offers, get special discounts, learn more about the industry and get more personalized and in-depth solutions directly in their mail. Usually, the newsletter subscription CTA is introduced via a pop-up window, which appears after an initial action is done. For example, if the user scrolls to a particular point of your page, the CTA will pop open.

Screenshot of Read More Call To Action (CTA)

Read More

This CTA is typically used as a separator, so you can make better retargeting afterwards. It’s typically a place where you separate the audience that is generally not interested in what you have to offer from the ones that are actually interested. This type of CTA is most commonly seen in blog sections, as there, you can present just a fragment of information and invite the reader to learn more about a specific problem and its solution. Then, naturally, if they click, you know they most likely have the particular problem, and if you have the solution, you can retarget them properly.

Screenshot of Social Buttons Call To Action (CTA)

Social network buttons

There are two types of this button. The first one invites you to join a specific social media fan page, where more information can be related via an additional channel. Its benefits are magnificent, allowing you to communicate more directly with your potential customers. Moreover, it shows some huge interest in your brand. The CTA should showcase the benefit of having direct conversations with the brand and a place where special deals can be received immediately.

The second social network button aims to help the audience to share your content. It’s a form of free advertisement across platforms, and while the success rate of such CTAs is debatable, they are somewhat expected from the audience. As they are pretty easy to add to your website and landing pages, it’s a small bonus to your overall marketing strategy.

Middle of the Funnel

The middle of the funnel is where your audience is already well established to have interest in your product or service. Your goal is to allure them down the funnel and push them towards the final goal – purchasing your product or service. The audience is still not convinced yours is the solution they’ve been looking for, and they have some barriers to continuing down to the bottom of the funnel.

The CTA’s here should be more targeted with specific goals and should redirect the user to a landing page, which may convince them to purchase. Here are the most used CTA types for this part of the funnel.

Screenshot of Lead Magnet Call To Action (CTA)

Lead magnet

This type of CTA is much like Lead Generation, although it is most commonly used for retargeting, as it aims to place the recipient in a sales funnel. It aims to collect user information in exchange for insides into the industry, statistics, research and other valuable assets a person interested in the field might find useful. There are various types of magnets, including eBooks, webinars, guides, reports, case studies and many others. This type of CTA is typically found on B2B landing pages and websites but can just as easily be used on B2C websites.

In general, the CTA should showcase the value of the magnet. For example, how it will benefit the user and why sharing their information with you is an equal exchange. You should ask for more than the person’s name and email, as the lead magnet is generally one outstanding way to segregate different types of leads based on their age, sex, education and more. Just don’t go overboard. Keep in mind that people are not too fond of sharing, so you need to be precise with your questions, so they can be as few as possible.

Screenshot of Event Registration Call To Action (CTA)

Event Registration

This is another form of Lead Magnet CTA, but a bit more advanced. It’s aiming not only to get your information but potentially do it while getting some money. An event registration is a perfect way to collect data from the participants for future use. If they were interested in an event organized by you, they would most probably be highly interested in some of your products or services. So gathering their data is a must if you want to retarget this warm audience.

The CTA here is particularly dependent on the event you are promoting, so there is no single solution on how to go about it. But as long as it targets a warm audience and is highly visible, you should be OK.

Screenshot of Special Offers Call To Action (CTA)

Special Offers

This is a very common retargeting CTA, usually utilized for users that bailed out at a later stage of the customer journey. This CTA aims to give them a special offer, which should be represented as exclusive to them. The CTA commonly highlights a percentage discount on a specific product that the user has already viewed. For example, if someone has viewed a cleaning service you provide, you can contact them via retargeting (with gathered cookies) and offer them a 20% discount on the price. Needless to say, the special offer might be a gift or anything else that might entice the user to finish the purchase.

This is the most efficient way to push your warm audience down the funnel, but of course, it will take a chunk out of your revenue, so you need to calculate precisely how many special offers you can give.

Bottom of the Funnel

The bottom of the funnel is where the magic happens. Everything you’ve done so far is to take your audience on a journey to this point. Here your sales strategies come into play at full speed, as your aim is to convince the user to finalize the purchase of your product or service. The CTA is direct, imperative and should be time critical. For example, the time-critical part of the commonly seen “Buy now” is “now”. It implies that later it might be late. A better version would showcase the benefits of the purchase. Still, the CTA should clearly state what the customer is getting, what are the product or service benefits, what is the next step (for example, check out page), and why this is the best product the person should buy. The most commonly used CTAs in this part of the funnel are:

Screenshot of Free Trial Call To Action (CTA)

Free trial

More than 70% of all users prefer a free trial before purchasing a subscription. Furthermore, 52% of them will continue their subscription after the trial period, meaning you will receive a conversion. Naturally, most subscription-based services use this exact marketing tool to scale their conversion rate. Free trials are quite useful to the user, as it’s a risk-free tryout before they invest money. Your CTA goal is to showcase this advantage. It should highlight that the trial is free and risk-free, and the subscription cancellation is easy enough, so users won’t have to worry about any tricks. A bad example of this is Remarkable, who have one truly outstanding product, yet their free trial cancellation policy is complicated and ineffective. This does them more harm than good.

Naturally, whether this type of CTA will lead to conversions depends entirely on your service or product quality, so you should measure whether the CTA is good based on the free trial subscriptions rather than the conversions.

Screenshot of Contact Sales Call To Action (CTA)

Contact Sales

This CTA is most common for products and services with no fixed prices. Usually, the cost is calculated based on metrics given by the client. A good example is cleaning services. Their price depends on how large the place that needs to be cleaned is.

The CTA is more elaborate than a direct sales CTA because it introduces an extra step, which is one more place where the user might decide to bail. So the CTA must contain the main benefits, urgency, and the famous fear of missing out, which can also be seen as FOMO. The goal is to hype customers into retaining their energy until a sales representative contacts them. This CTA’s effectiveness is correlated with your sales team’s effectiveness. For example, if you hype the customer, but the sales representative contacts them 2 weeks later, naturally, the CTA has nothing to do with the lost conversion. On the other hand, if the sales rep reaches the user within 10 minutes, the hype will still be on, and the user will most likely finalize the purchase.

Screenshot of Direct Sales Call To Action (CTA)

Direct Sales

The direct sales CTA is the purest form of a CTA. It aims to finalize the purchase, and it translates directly into a conversion. It’s most commonly used for paid campaign landing pages, where the audience is hot and ready to buy. The conversion rate determines the effectiveness of the CTA.

The CTA on its own should be short, sweet and, most importantly, well-connected to the rest of the landing page. It should radiate urgency and FOMO, and it should showcase the benefits of the product. Finally, it should convince the customer that right now is the best time to purchase, and this product has no alternative.

Why an excellent hosting service is crucial for your CTA’s success

A great CTA is only as good as your hosting service. It may sound strange, but whenever a person clicks on a CTA, they expect to get to the check-out zone as quickly as possible. They don’t expect a 404 Error page, a website crash or a slow-loading check-out page where the customer is supposed to put their credentials. Any second delay would translate into lost customers and will irreparably damage the user’s trust in your services. In this sense, having secure, reliable and fast hosting is crucial for your CTA’s success.

HostArmada can offer just that – a speedy, secure and stable hosting for your website. We pride ourselves in the uptime of our servers, and we aim to eradicate downtime as a term altogether. Check out our offers, and if you need any help deciding which plan suits your plans best, contact one of our representatives, and we will be happy to assist.

By the way, if you were wondering, this last part was a mix between Read More and Contact Sales CTA. Such mixtures are possible in some places, but we will leave the insides for how to build an effective CTA for another post.