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The all-important call to action

4 minute read

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Your website exists for one reason: to move people. I don’t mean that people should be in tears after visiting your site, rather, they should be moved to feel, to think, to act. This is known as a conversion and this article will show you how to:

  • Define your objectives.
  • Define your conversions.
  • Create your call to action.
  • Plan your copy.

Using these steps your website visitors will soon be interacting with you on a deeper and more satisfying level.

Define your objectives

Take a fictional charity, let’s call it Help a Humble Hippo, a charity for the betterment of humble hippos. This charity has a website, and, like your own site, the charity website is there for a reason. In the case of Help a Humble Hippo, the charity wants to:

  • Highlight the difficulties faced by humble hippos.
  • Campaign for changes in treatment of humble hippos.
  • Raise money to fix the issues that humble hippos face.

There could be many more objectives for the charity but, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick with these three.

Define your conversions

Now, we need to work out what we want people to do after visiting the HHH website, or, what conversions we’re looking for.

A conversion happens when you get a reader to take an action. This can be to sign up to your monthly newsletter, get in touch with you, buy a product, make a donation, share a post, or many other actions. The great part about this is, you define what the conversion is. Your definition of a conversion might be:

  • Get people interested in humble hippo welfare.
  • Get government to take notice of the issues faced by humble hippos.
  • Get people to give money.

Defined conversions not only give your site a sense of purpose and direction, but also serve as a way of seeing just how affective your site is.

So, you have worked out the objectives of your site, you’ve defined what conversions you are looking for, now you have to create content that moves visitors to convert …

Create your call to action

A call to action, or CTA, is a specific action that website visitors must take to convert. For example, in the case of HHH:

  • The visitor signs up to the Humble Hippo newsletter, a monthly email that is jam packed with exciting news about hippos.
  • A visitor signs a petition which HHH can present to the government for change in policy and legislation regarding hippos.
  • A visitor makes a financial donation which can then be used to Help a Humble Hippo somewhere in the world.

Plan your copy

Now it’s time to sit down and write that mind-blowing copy that will have hippos across the world jumping for joy. We have three calls to action: 

  • Sign-up to the Humble Hippo newsletter
  • Sign the petition to tell the government that we care about humble hippos.
  • Make a donation and change a humble hippo’s life.

One destination

How do we present our three CTAs to our visitors? Scattered throughout a page? All at the end? All at the start? 

The answer is, none of these. A good rule of thumb is to have just one call to action on one page. The CTA can, and should appear several times throughout the content, but you want only one. Why? 

Your content needs to move your reader, step by step, to a single destination. You are spending all this time convincing them that pressing that button is the best possible course of action. If readers are presented with multiple CTAs it’s confusing. If we’re telling potential HHH supporters what the money will do for Humble Hippos all over the world and then there is an option to fill in a petition, readers will become confused and the point of your message will be lost.

Tip: Use only one CTA per webpage.

Plan your route

Would you set off on a journey without knowing where you’re going? Probably not. Like any journey, it is important to work out where you are headed and then plot the best route. In this case, where do you want your website visitor to be after reading your content? 

Tip: Work backwards from your CTA.

Make your buttons obvious

The button or link that you want visitors to click or tap needs to be:

  • Vivid: It needs to stand out. You can do this by playing with size, shape, colour, and location.
  • Be clear about what that button or link does: Labels like “Click me”, or “Go here” don’t say what that all-important button does. Instead be specific, “Sign the petition now…” or “Donate now and Help a Humble Hippo!”

Tip: Be bright, be bold, be obvious and be explanatory when it comes to your CTA button.

Engagement with calls to action work

This article has shown you the importance of having a clear purpose to your content. It has shown you how to examine your objectives, define what conversion will achieve those objectives and create solid calls to action for your website visitors.

Defining the purpose of your content before writing it, whether it is a blog, a newsletter or an advert, allows you to guide your readers to a specific frame of mind.

Even if you are merely an informational site, using calls to action engages your readers and helps build trust.

People make a personal investment when they visit your site and the more of a payoff through engagement, the more likely they are to return.

Remember to move people.

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Oliver Kennett is an author and freelance copywriter living in Bristol. A graduate in both law and engineering, he enjoys exploring science, technology and social impact through his writing. As well as clients in the technology, tourism, legal and lifestyle sectors, he has written extensively for charity. In his spare time he writes short stories and novels for children and adults in the horror, sci-fi, fantasy and humour genres.

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