A call to action is one of the most powerful website marketing tool yet it is often overlooked.

Every website or marketing communication should have a call to action (CTA). You know what you want people to do when they come to your website or read your brochure. The challenge is to get them to take the desired action. What does it take to get people to take the desired action?

What makes a call to action effective?

A great call to action is a key part of an effective website. (Note: Even though I will be referring to websites in this article, the same is true for the call to action on any marketing communication.)

A call to action is an instruction for a response. An important part of a CTA is that it has to be simple.

There are many different CTAs, here are a few examples:

  • Phone call
  • Trial – Free or Limited time
  • Download
  • Form completion
  • Chat
  • Subscribe to email list
  • Register for demo
  • Buy
  • Send
  • Sign up
  • Create

A call to action is important because:

  • It focuses your site visitors on the desired action.
  • Gives you a way to measure the effectiveness of your website marketing.
  • Enables you to design your content and layout accordingly.

Here are the techniques to help you come up with the best possible call to action for your website:

Location, location, location.

The location of your CTA makes a big difference. For the most part, your CTA should be positioned high on the web page. I always encourage people to test different locations. Move your CTA around a bit and measure its performance. Just because something works on one website it doesn’t mean that it will work on yours.

Test your call to action in the following areas:
  • Above the fold. The key here is that when website visitors look at a web page they will see your CTA immediately. They won’t have to scroll to see it.
  • Side. You could include a “Download now” button on the left or right side of your content.
  • Navigation. A “Call us now” or “Subscribe now” button in the navigation bar is a great place to test.
  • End. The end of the content is a good place to bring attention to your CTA.

Every page should have one.

You shouldn’t just have CTAs on landing pages. There should be a CTA on every web page. Identify the best call to action for each page, again, testing helps.

Communicate the benefits of taking action.

What’s in it for me? Your visitors will ask. Your job is to tell people how they benefit. For example, if your call to action is to call your office. What is the benefit? What do they get out of calling your office?

Identify a problem or problems your target market is facing. For example, if you are a web designer. You could create content about website optimization. Explain that when you call a web design professional can answer any questions about optimizing their website.

Keep your CTA relevant.

Your call to action should be surrounded by relevant content. If you have a report about website conversions that you want people to download, create a web page that gives a summary of website conversions. Once they read your article, your visitors will be ready for the next step.

Use active words.

The best call to action will clearly tell website visitors what to do.

Your call to action should include words like:
  • Start
  • Stop
  • Discover
  • Grow
  • Join
  • Learn
  • Save
  • Now
  • Download
  • Hurry

It also helps to create a sense of urgency with phrases such as:

  • Offer expires today.
  • Today only.
  • Only x more left.
  • Order now and receive a free (gift, book, etc.)

The following phrases will imply exclusivity:

  • By invitation only (Request an invitation)
  • Limited spots
  • Only available to (members, subscribers, etc.)
  • Registration closed (Request to be included on a waiting list.)
  • Members only (Here is how to become a member.)
  • Pre-register/Pre-order
  • Exclusive offer/access

Make it personal.

What does your CTA do for your visitors? How is the call to action going to benefit your website visitors?

Use the second person (you) to personalize your CTA. “Get your free report now!” When your visitor feels like you want to help you are on the right track.

If your CTA is building a connection you personally, use me or my. For example, “Download my free book now!”

Use the right color.

Words are important, and so are the colors you use for your CTA. Whatever is the color scheme of your website make sure that your CTA color stands out.

You should always test to find the optimal color, but you can start out testing the following colors:

  • Orange
  • Red
  • Green

Don’t go overboard.

Your website needs a call to action, but don’t overwhelm your visitors with too many.

You might have 20 great ideas for calls to actions, but don’t act on them. Test two or three, then tweak the one that performs better. Having many different calls to actions might seem appealing, but in reality, too many choices will hurt your conversions.

Each website is different is different, so the ideal number of calls to actions will vary. A good rule is to have two, but no more than three CTAs.

Give more.

It helps if you can go the extra mile or give a little extra to encourage visitors to call. You could offer a free report or a book for people who call now.

Surround your CTA with space.

White space that is. White space draws attention to your CTA. The location of your CTA is important and so is the space around it. Don’t be tempted to overwhelm your visitors with too much content. The content on the page should support your CTA. Avoid fluff.

Size matters.

A tiny little CTA will get lost on the page. In addition to color and white space, the size of the CTA is also important. If you want more people to notice the call to action, make it bigger.


A great call to action is a key part of an effective website. The above advice should help you come up with the best possible CTAs. Remember to always test your ideas. Play with words, offers, colors, and CTA sizes to get the highest conversions.