call-to-action: eat here and get gas

Calls-to-action: Just ask!

As you know, WordPress gives you the power to control your site content. This is fantastic! But to quote Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In this case, your responsibility is to give your content a purpose. You need to direct site visitors toward the action you’d like them to take.

This is where calls-to-action come in. On a website, a call-to-action (CTA) is a concise, eye-catching element that asks site visitors to take a desired action. An online store might ask visitors to “Buy Now,” or “Buy Now and Save 30%!” A fitness coach might ask visitors to “Get a Free Initial Consultation”; and an online magazine might ask visitors to “Read the Latest Issue.”

This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many websites neglect to say what exactly they’d like their visitors to do. More commonly, the CTA does exist, but as a simple text link (“Click here for more information”) buried at the bottom of paragraphs and paragraphs of descriptive text. Unfortunately, most visitors will leave rather than read all that text—and they might have called, emailed, signed up for your newsletter, or even bought your product, if you’d just asked them!

Muddy or missing calls-to-action can really dampen the effectiveness of your website. Imagine an Amazon page that made it hard to buy the book. (“If they really want to buy, they’ll find the link at the bottom.”) The company’d probably go bankrupt. your site is the same way.

How to create CTAs

Think what you’re trying to get visitors to do, and then create calls-to-action with the following properties:

  • Eye-catching. your CTA should be the first thing the visitor’s eye hits—colorful, prominent, and “clickable.” It should be visible “above the fold,” meaning that your user shouldn’t have to scroll down the page to see it. (A page might have multiple calls-to-action, some visible after scroll.) In particular, the eye tends to gravitate to the top right of the screen on a standard webpage, because people read in an “F-pattern”: header, top right content, then down the page.
  • Exclusive. In general, a page should be trying to get visitors to perform one action. you could have a page that emphasizes “Call us!” or one that emphasizes “Buy our e-book!” But a page with mixed messaging (“Call us or buy our e-book!”) is likely to fail to convert visitors for either goal.
  • Concise and appealing. For the actual “clickable” part of the CTA, use action verbs: “Learn classical guitar” rather than “We can teach you classical guitar.” The text around it should be sure to focus on conveying the specific benefit the visitor will receive by clicking: “Contact us to get 50% more leads for your advertising budget.” Also make sure to include anything that could move someone toward acting. If you’re offering a subscription service and the first three months are free, don’t forget to mention that!

Calls-to-action and WordPress

WordPress site administrators face a few unique considerations in designing and placing their CTAs. Here are the top three:

Watch out for content overload.

Because WordPress lets you publish your own content, it’s easy to go overboard. As a result, many WordPress pages read like a very long crawl of information, completely unformatted, with a CTA at the very bottom. Resist this impulse: keep content concise and persuasive, make sure to have CTAs at the top and prominent, as well as sprinkled throughout a long page (here’s an example).

Sidebar widgets are a convenient place for CTAs.

The standard WordPress blog layout contains a sidebar that can be “widgetized” with different contents. you’ll find this in “Appearance > Widgets” in your dashboard. If you have an active blog page, for example, put a colorful CTA at the top of your sidebar; it’ll be visually prominent and can help your blog convert business.

Find help if you need it.

WordPress puts a lot of power in your hands, but some things are still best done by a professional. your site’s CTAs should be both visually appealing and technically sound. Don’t be afraid to hire a graphic designer, web developer, or online marketing specialist to make any changes you need, or to review your own work and suggest improvements. This type of help should be relatively easy and cheap to implement, and should have a very good return on investment—giving your visitors clear direction is one of the smartest things you can do to meet your online goals.

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One Response to Calls-to-action: Just ask!

  1. Pingback: Landing Pages: What They Are, Why You Need One, and How to Create Them

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