Using a Call-to-Action to Engage Visitors

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language in which they think.”

David Ogilvy

The first time I heard of a Call-to-Action (CTA), it was in the form of a persuasive paper and speech in 7th grade.  In a persuasive paper, you lay out your appeal to take a specific action with a call-to-action made most often at the end of the paper.

CTA’s in speeches and papers give you the ability to “make your case.” You get to explain the reasoning behind your ultimate conclusion or call to action.  We hear these CTA’s almost daily, without even realizing it.  Some CTA’s are more subtle than others.

  • A child is pleading their case for a snack just before dinner, arguing they’ll still eat dinner afterward.
  • A teenager is making their case to stay out past curfew, pointing out that ‘everyone else’s parents are letting them stay out past curfew.’
  • We hear calls-to-action in shows and movies we watch.  The “Dream” speech, in one of my favorite movies, The Pursuit of Happiness, ends in a call-to-action.

eCommerce CTA’s are a bit different, though.  Your ability to “make your case” is generally more limited in time than the examples above, and dependent on the actions of your visitors.  Depending on your average session duration, you more often than not, don’t have a lot of time to make your case and persuade the website visitor to take action.  According to Databox, 2-3 minutes on site is a good average session duration time.  During that time, you will want to welcome the visitor with creative content, highlight your products, and offer enticing CTA’s to keep them engaged, ultimately making a purchase or subscribing to your newsletter.  That’s a lot to do in a short 3 minutes.

Your CTA’s should be simple, to the point, and creative.  Hubspot offers these 31 Call-to-Action examples that can help guide you in creating CTA’s that fit your business.   One of the key take-aways for me in this blog post is that the language of the CTA’s will vary based on your audience.  Always have your target audience in mind when creating all things on your site, including CTA’s.

How do you display your calls-to-action?

  • Landing Pages oftentimes are used as a call-to-action.  A landing page will give you a little more real estate to “make your case” and persuade your visitor to take action.  Your landing page should, however, include at least one button or widget that incorporates your CTA, such as “sign up.”
  • CTA buttons or widgets don’t take up as much space as a landing page and are generally placed within a product page, content page, or any other page on your site.  These widgets and buttons ask visitors to take action, such as subscribe now, request a demo, sign up for a free trial, or take advantage of a discount code or free shipping.

There are many articles and products out there that you can try, some with a free trial, to see how CTA’s can improve the duration on your site as well as sales/subscribers.

Debbie wears multiple hats at SiteVibes, including writing and researching awesome topics to share with customers, partners and just general site visitors. When she isn't doing day-to-day SiteVibes work, Debbie enjoys volunteering with nonprofit organizations, digging into a new book, and going for walks.