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The concept behind a call to action is simple: you ask somebody to do something, whether it’s to buy a product or sign up to an email list, or even just to read a blog post.
Essentially you are giving somebody a nudge in the right direction, like a 21st century version of the guy in the shop saying, ‘Are you ready to pay for that, sir?’
What makes a good call to action?
This is a difficult question to answer in absolute terms, because there is no strict right or wrong way to do it.
If you test it out and it works then it’s a good call to action. And you should always test it.
That said: there are a number of call to action best practice elements that have been shown to increase the chances of success.
- Contrast with the rest of the page
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some good examples of calls to action.
Disclaimer: I don’t actually have stats for all of these so this is far from a scientific assessment. I’m choosing these examples based on the points mentioned above.
Sports Direct has opted for a large green button that contrasts nicely with the page around it. It’s pretty much impossible to miss it.
This call to action on the Firebox product pages is placed nice and high above the main text and just below the price and product name.
Firebox has opted for a slightly less garish colour that fits with the rest of its brand, but the button still contrasts well with the area around it.
The button is also right next to the image so it’s really easy for people to see and click on it if they like the look of the product.
Dropbox has gone for a blue button, which fits with its brand colours but also happens to stand out really well against the simplistic white background.
The button is placed below some very clear bullet points describing what the site does, with a simple illustration next to it so people are absolutely clear what they are clicking for.
I really like this call to action. Firstly it ticks the boxes for contrasting colours, size and page position.
But I also like the way it uses friendly language on the button copy itself and clearly states what you get in return for your click.
There’s also a social proof element in the form of the ‘6 million active users and counting’ line below.
While I find the concept of this business somewhat ridiculous, Manpacks certainly knows how to create an effective call to action.
Even though there’s quite a lot going on in the background, the ‘Get Started’ button clearly stands out.
Again, social proof has been put to good use here with a message asking visitors to ‘join 1000’s of men already signed up,’ along with a list of well-known company logos below.
Great use of colour again here. A bright orange is always going to stand out but without the negative connotations of red.
GoTo Meeting has opted for a slightly stronger shade than on its logo, so the button stands out more but still looks like it fits with the rest of the branding.
The positioning is also spot on, with the button right in the middle of the page so your eyes are naturally drawn to it.
We’ve talked about Charity: water's marketing efforts on this site a few times, particularly its content and social media. But the call to action on its home page is also worth a mention.
Again there is lots going on in the background, but the button is really visible and contrasts with the changing photos behind, and the text above clearly tells you what to expect and why you should click.
The text on the button also leaves no doubt as to what you’re clicking for, which is a nice touch.
There are lots of positives to note here: the colour of the button, the fact that it clearly stands out against the background, and the straightforward text on the button that tells you exactly what you’re getting when you click.
But it’s also worth mentioning the text next to the call to action, which really simply states all the key points about the free trial. People are more likely to click if the features and benefits are immediately clear.
Firefox has opted for an extremely simple design here, stating in only four words why you should go with its browser right above a very clear button.
The fact that it says ‘free download’ on the button rather than something like ‘download now’ is also a nice touch. It’s giving people another reason to download it without cluttering up the rest of the page with more text.
I’ve included this call to action because I like the way it is placed below a number of customer reviews.
Social proof can be really effective in swaying people’s buying decisions, so it is a clever move to have a clear call to action button just below this section.
Bonus tip: not the be all and end all
No matter how ingenious it might be, no call to action is going to save you from a rubbish deal, product, piece of content or whatever it might be.
Yes, it’s important to get the call to action right. But it’s not going to make your business successful on its own.