Your CTAs are directional signs that tell your visitors where to go and what to do. Calls to action communicate your goals to people who visit your website.
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All of these messages help move people toward achieving a goal. To do that, they need to be clear, obvious, and easy to find.
Placing your messages where your visitors are looking is probably the most important action you can take with your CTAs.
So, how do you know you’ve put them in the right place?
I’ll give some examples of best practices for placing your CTA, and seven steps to test your CTAs to make sure they’re where they need to be.
But first, let’s talk about just how important your CTAs are so you can get a sense of why you should invest time in perfecting them.
How important is your CTA?
CTAs drive conversions and generate leads. And they do it better than Adwords! According to WordStream, the average click-through rate for Adwords is 2 percent - while the average CTR for a CTA on a page is almost 3.5 percent.
Using calls to action isn’t just a best practice; in 2019, it’s an expected feature on your website. In fact, people are so conditioned to look for a CTA, that they may not know how to navigate your site if they don’t find one.
CTAs on landing pages move people further into your site by getting them to sign up, enter an email, type in their url, or take some other very specific action.
Take a look at Hulu’s homepage, which also serves as a landing page.
The CTA is very clear: Start Your Free Trial. You know what to do and how to take the next steps to do it.
CTAs move people from emails to your site, too. Here’s an email from Houzz, an online community for home improvement professionals.
Right there in green is their first CTA: See Winning Designs. There are other smaller linked CTAs, but this is the one they really want you to click. It’s right at the top in a big, green box.
CTAs also appear in or around content.
Here’s an example from Neil Patel’s blog.
In this piece, there are two CTAs in the right rail and above the nav bar. Both of them are sticky, following you as you scroll down, and they ask you a very specific question: Do you want more traffic?
What makes a high-converting CTA?
What makes a good CTA great at converting customers? These are elements that all high-converting CTAs have:
1. It’s obvious
Your CTA should look like one. CTAs look like buttons. They’re offset by a contrasting color and they’re large enough to be found easily on a page, but not so big that they’re intrusive on the user experience.
Patagonia has a number of CTAs on their homepage that either take you further into the buyer’s journey or further into their content (which brings you into the buyer’s journey, too).
This one beckons you to watch one of their videos.
Patagonia’s stark, black buttons stand out against their hero images and contrast the header copy.
2. It’s compelling
The text for your CTA should be specific and irresistible.
Here’s one from content marketing analysis tool MarketMuse.
MarketMuse turns the CTA on its head, here. Instead of calling upon you to analyze your content, MarketMuse flips the conversation. When I click on their CTA, I am commanding them to analyze my content.
3. It’s personalized
There’s a reason why marketers are encouraged to build customer personas as the first step to building effective content.
When you have a specific targeted audience in mind, it’s much easier to craft personalized CTAs. And the more relevant your CTAs are to your site visitors, the more likely they are to convert.
As an example, let’s say you have two different audiences for your vacuum cleaner business:
- Commercial cleaning services
- People buying a vacuum for their home
Both audiences might click on a landing page CTA that reads something like Learn more about our products.
But, potential customers for the commercial space may be more likely to click on a CTA that reads Learn more about our industrial grade vacuums, while private consumers may be more likely to click on Learn more about our home cleaning systems for individual buyers.
The simplest example of a personalized CTA are those created for new versus returning users:
- A new user will be asked to create an account
- Whereas a returning user will be asked to sign in
4. It’s not lost in a sea of text
An effective CTA is one that stands out on the page. It isn’t buried in whole blocks of text.
On landing pages, you don’t want to wax prosaic about your company. Save that for the Product and About pages.
This, for example, is Apple’s current homepage.
While I’m sure they’ve tested this, I find this to be a lot of text for a landing page. And the CTAs are hard to see in blue against a black background.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is also having a sale. But they’ve laid out their landing page a little differently.
There is a playful tie-in to the Super Bowl with minimal text. A black CTA stands out against the pink background and complements the black t-shirts on the football players.
The point of a landing page is to state who you are and how you can solve your visitor’s problem. After that, hit them with your CTA.
5. It’s in a good place
I saved the best for last, here. If you want people to click on your CTAs, they should be able to find them. In all of the examples above (except Apple), the CTA was easy to spot.
None of the CTAs were:
- Below the fold
- Off to the side or in a corner
- Stuck in the middle of text
Good placement is all about anticipating where your audience is going to look for it.
Let’s look at some best practices, and then we’ll talk about steps you can take to make sure your CTAs are in the right place.
Best Practices in CTA Placement
The bad news: There’s no magical sweet spot on any web page that guarantees CTA clicks.
The good news: You can put your CTAs in very logical places that will make them easy for visitors to find.
It all depends on how your page is set up, but the running theme is to align your CTAs to the parts of the page that are getting the most attention.
Whether you have underperforming CTAs that need fixing or successful CTAs that could be nudged to do even better, here are some examples for inspiration:
Homepage/landing page CTAs
For homepages and landing pages with a large hero image, a visitor’s eyes are naturally drawn to the center of the page. That’s where you find the page’s headline in a large, bold font.
Since people will likely start reading down the page, your CTA should appear right below your headline text, in the center of the page.
Here’s an example from GoPro cameras.
There are two CTAs nestled right under the promise of insanely smooth video and the price (consumers love transparency!).
The blue CTA that’s easier to see lets you add the Hero 7 Black right to your shopping cart.
The less obvious, clear one invites you to learn more about the camera before you make your purchase (clever).
Text page CTAs
If you’re placing CTAs in text, keep in mind how people read content pages. Visitors begin at the top left of your page and then scan down. They stop at subheads, but don’t necessarily read the text underneath.
To get your CTA seen, then, it would make sense to place it fairly high on the page and as close to the text as possible.
One of Forbes’s goals is to get their stories shared across the internet. That makes sense, since they sell ad space in their right rail.
As you can see above, they place a CTA to tweet out a tantalizing quote from the story before the reader even gets to the first paragraph.
According to Toast’s VP of Marketing, a strong, singular CTA in an email can increase click-through rates by 371 percent and sales by 1617 percent.
So, choose your CTA carefully and place it where your audience will see it.
Just like your webpages, readers aren’t going to scroll all the way down your email. So placing your CTA at the very beginning of your email is going to get you more clicks.
In this email, Shutterfly placed an attention-getting CTA at the top of the email. You don’t have to scroll at all.
7 steps to optimize your CTAs
We’ve talked about the importance of a good, well-placed CTA. But once you’ve placed your CTAs, how do you make sure they’re in the best place possible to get the optimal CTRs? And how do you track whether your changes have made a positive impact on your bottom line?
I’m going to walk you through the steps you should take to make improvements in your conversion rates.
Check out our Email Marketing Benchmarks report if you want to learn what the average landing page conversion rate is in your industry
1. Take note of where your CTAs are placed on your site
Before you make any changes or run any experiments on your CTAs, you should map out where they are located on your site, and whether they’re contributing to a primary or secondary revenue goal.
As an example, if you’re an ecommerce brand your primary revenue goal is probably a purchase.
Whereas your secondary revenue goal may be an email signup (since ecommerce brands heavily promote their products via email, the odds are good that people will convert via a a promotional campaign).
2. Look at A Heatmap
Once you’ve created the framework for your investigation, you should run a heatmap report on the pages where your most important CTAs are placed.
Heatmaps show you where the majority of your visitors are engaging -- or stop paying attention -- so they’re perfect for helping you figure out if your CTAs are in the right spot.
To get a sense of how a heatmap can help you, here’s one that’s been run on Crazy Egg’s website:
Take a look at their homepage and note where the CTAs are. Now, look at the heatmap above. Are the areas that are white hot (indicating a heavy number of clicks) aligned with their goals as a company?
If your visitor engagement hotspots aren’t where your CTAs are placed, you’ve got a big missed opportunity on your hands.
3. Consult a scroll map
Next, you should run a scroll map on your page to make sure your CTAs aren’t below the fold, or stuck in a dead zone where no one’s looking.
In this video, Crazy Egg’s GM Suneet Bhatt walks you through how the company thinks about their homepage design and how to make it more effective using heatmaps and scrollmaps together.
He points out that the logo in the top left is getting a lot of clicks on the heatmap, even though the logo goes nowhere. Those are clicks that could be going to the CTA; the key is just to figure out how to remove the distraction the logo is creating.
By consulting a scrollmap, he found that the CTAs were, in fact, falling in the right place.
4. See the percentage of clicks your links are getting with a list report
While a heatmap shows you where people are clicking, a list report will show you the most clicked-on elements by percentage.
So, if you have two white-hot CTAs on your page, you can look at the list report to see which one is getting more clicks over the other.
5. Fill in the gaps with recordings
What you can’t learn from heatmaps, scrollmaps or a list report, you can learn from user session recordings.
Recordings let you watch individual website visitors navigating from page to page on your site. You will see where their cursor lands, where they click and where they pause.
If you’re looking for reasons why your CTAs aren’t converting, Recordings can help you uncover a whole host of reasons - perhaps your mobile design is cutting off the CTA, or a pop up is getting in the way, or your form is confusing.
A lot of people say they wouldn’t know about a CTA roadblock if it weren’t for session recordings.
6. Run an AB test!
For this next step, let’s say you’ve got a CTA on your homepage, in the upper right corner, that says “Shop Now.” You’ve looked at your list report and it’s not getting the majority of clicks. You decide to put it more front and center, within a hero image.
Now it’s time to test your new page against the old design to see which one gets you more purchases. This is your A/B test.
Once you’ve let enough visitor data collect, it’s time to check the results.
Does your new variant outperform the control? If so, you have a successful CTA you can continue to tweak!
If not, it’s time to try a different variant.
When Crazy Egg tried two new homepage designs to improve engagement, the first iteration saw no improvement in reducing clicks on the logo, and there was almost no engagement with the CTA.
They had thought that compressing the space the copy used and redesigning the graphics might help increase conversions and alleviate the confusion that could have been leading people to click on the logo.
It turns out that wasn’t the case.
They also discovered that visitors’ attention fell on a dead space.
So they increased the white space around the copy, put more emphasis on the CTA with the blue box and moved it all up on the page. They even created a graphic that literally points to their call to action.
Here’s how it was doing just a few days after it was released.
Notice there are considerably fewer clicks on the logo and a lot more engagement with the CTA.
And it’s in the right place, too.
Once you’ve found a CTA placement that meets your goals (like Crazy Egg did), don’t rest on your laurels. Keep a close eye on your reports, and keep testing to improve your CTAs over time.
7. Bonus step: How to do it in GetResponse
Now that you know the theory required to optimize your CTAs, it’s time you applied this knowledge to your landing pages.
If you want to run an A/B test or use heatmaps and scroll maps, go to GetResponse landing pages creator and follow these steps.
Run an A/B test
If you already have a hunch that your CTA might work better in a different place on your landing page, all you have to do is create a second variant to carry out your A/B test.
In the landing pages creator, click on the “+” sign in the top menu bar and in a couple of seconds, your second variant will be created.
Then, all you have to do is to edit both variants of your landing page and publish them.
What happens next is that the system will randomly direct your landing page visitors to one of the variants and provide you with information on the subscription ratio they generated.
If you only have two variants, the system will split your traffic 50/50.
Naturally, if you have more variants (you can have up to 10 of them), the traffic ratio will be divide accordingly.
Use heatmaps and scroll maps
You can also use heatmaps and scroll maps to optimize your CTAs (and other elements) on your GetResponse landing pages.
To use them, you’ll have to set up an account with an external platform, such as CrazyEgg.
Once you’ve done it, all you have to do is add your tracking code to a Google Tag Manager container and enter your Google Tag Manager ID in the landing page settings.
Follow this link to learn how to create a GTM container and how to add your tracking codes into it.
There’s no doubt your CTAs are an integral part of your conversion and lead generation goals. Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to take that next step by putting your CTAs right under their noses.
And when you think you’ve got it right, keep testing and tweaking. You may just see more success.
If you'd like to know more about designing great landing pages, check out these resources:
Laurie Mega is a freelance writer, specializing in content strategy. She spent 12 years in educational publishing before making the leap to digital marketing and publishing. For the past six years she has worked with major brands to boost their marketing initiatives.