The top 5 effective techniques for an improved CTA

Calls to actions, aka CTAs, are an essential element of a person’s experience of a website. A CTA gets a visitor to take action – just like the name suggests. Without one, a visitor isn’t guided to do anything and is likely just to bounce. That’s not good.

In this post, I’m going over 5 effective techniques for improving the current state of your CTAs in order to improve your clickthrough rates and, ultimately, conversion rates too.

The wording matters

What the CTA says matters the most, experts say. You can do a couple of different things with a CTA as far as wording goes. First, you can provide a value prop in its copy. If you’re not offering something of value to a visitor, they won’t convert. In fact, they won’t even stay long enough on your website to learn what you’re all about but that’s a whole other ball game.

Consider these two CTAs: “Start a conversation” versus “Get started.” One paints a vivid benefit, value and, well, action. It tells you what you’re about to do without any context while the second CTA doesn’t. “Get started” implies an initiation of a process but there is no value proposition, no benefit in that one.

The first CTA comes from Skype. The second CTA comes from BarkBox. Here are a few other examples to consider:

Screenshot of Instaa's homepage

Another thing to consider is first person language. “Download my freebie” or “I want to schedule a call now” have been studied and proven to be more effective than “Download your freebie,” “Download the freebie,” or “Schedule your call now.”

When a person feels personally connected to a product or service, they buy… Using first-person pronouns takes your sales pitch from the impersonal Internet back to the 1950s corner store, where the store owner greeted everyone by name. No one wants to feel that they are merely a number in a stats column to you. The simple use of “me,” “my” and “mine” helps to avoid that.


At the very least, avoid generic wording such as “Download,” “Subscribe,” “Submit,” or “Buy now.” Statistically speaking they do the worst as far as conversions go.

Remove any ambiguity and build trust

People are skeptical online. They especially don’t trust brands and companies they aren’t familiar with. That’s why it’s best to remove any ambiguity within purchasing or signing up.

If we’re talking about newsletters, display how often you plan on emailing them. For example: “Recieve one email every Sunday night” or “We don’t spam your email.” To us, this may seem obvious, but not to someone who has never heard of you because they don’t know you.

If we’re talking about a purchase, you can include disclaimers about the credit card being charge only after the trail ends, that there is a 12-day free trial, or that there is no credit card needed to get started.

To further build trust with a new prospect, you can include the number of people you’re already serving. Paul Jarvis does this in his newsletter CTA button: “Join 31,948 Folks” That’s a significant number which shows a visitor precisely the magnitude of trust other people have given to Paul’s newsletter. You don’t have to do this within the CTA button itself but right next to it is fine too. For instance, you can include the number of people have bought your product this week instead.

A couple of other examples:

  • No credit card required. – Squaresapce
  • Free US returns, Free US shipping, 12-month warranty, 100% secure checkout – Bellabeat
Screenshot of Bellabeat's homepage

Limit the amount of CTAs

There is no golden number as far as CTAs go, but I can tell you right now that the more of them you have, the fewer clicks you will get. That’s because too many CTAs mean too many options and people get flustered, confused, and distracted. All of that leads to indecision and a bounce. Limiting the amount of CTAs limits the choices which limit the effort for the visitor too.

Let’s take a look at the top of Flex’s home page. They have four buttons above the fold. Three of them saying different things. One of them seems to me utterly useless (the “No thanks” button). I’d be curious to see if this section was a bit more unified and decluttered as far as CTAs go.

Screenshot of Mailchimp's website

On the other hand, you have a home page like MailChimp. The page is filled with links. But, the CTA stays the same in the navigation, in the top section of the page and bottom section of the page too. There is only “Sign Up Free” which makes for a more focused experience on this homepage.

A to provide an action on every page

A CTA needs to be present on every page; otherwise, the page is a dead end. People will do what you tell them to on your website. No page is off limit. The about page needs to have a CTA; your blog should have a CTA as well. Every page.

You don’t have to have a CTA to purchase or signup on pages where such a message is irrelevant. There are other things you can do. You can place a CTA in your nav or footer to sign up for an upcoming webinar or for a free consultation. On the about page, you can focus on recruiting new employees with a CTA to view job openings. You can promote your podcast, your mailing list or a free sample or demo.

Screenshot of Marie Forleo's website

On Marie Forleo’s about page, she promotes a freebie audio file to download before you scroll to the footer that gives you three other options on where to go next. This about page still guides its visitors on what they can do next.

On the other hand, the about page of Dagne Dover, although significantly shorter than Marie’s, doesn’t have a single CTA or a single link. It’s just the nav, a couple of paragraphs and a footer which don’t really guide you anywhere either. There is nothing for a user to do here really.

The CTA’s visual design matters

My last tip on improving your CTAs is to considerate its visual design. The idea behind a CTA’s design is that it needs to stand out from the rest of the content surrounding it in order to be noticed while still staying in style. Of course, don’t overdo it; you can hinder the effectiveness of the overall design if you do.

Here are some ideas to consider to make your CTAs stand out more. Start by changing the color. Of course, the color still has to make sense to the rest of the design otherwise you’re ruining the experience of the website. For example, if your website has pastel colors, a neon CTA isn’t the way to go.

Screenshot of Gixo's homepage

Speaking of neon, here is an example where it does work. On Gixo’s website, the overall design works well with the neon CTAs because neon colors are part of Gixo’s design palette. The bright color was a good move compared to using a lighter blue for instance.

However, (and running with the example) adding a neon CTA won’t work for Thirdlove. They have a subtle and gentle color palette. I do think the button colors could use more contrast or differentiation. I’d be curious to see if the “Fit Finer” or the “Get started” CTAs get more attention if the colors stood out more.

Screenshot of Thirdlove's website

Another example of a CTA that could use a different colour is Amy Porterfield’s about page. At the very end of her home page, there is a small CTA to “Take the first step.” The button and section do have plenty of space around it – which is good – but the button is black just like the text surrounding it and the background of the footer below. Visually, it doesn’t stand out as much as if it had a different color.

Additionally, size matters so let’s talk about that too. By definition, a link isn’t a CTA. A CTA has to be a button. It’s a good idea to have larger buttons in your designs. Why? Because for a CTA to be noticed, it needs to stand out and command attention. A link cannot be a CTA because it doesn’t look too different from texts so it will never command the same amount of attention as a button.

Screenshot of 1Password's website

Let’s take a look at Paul Jarvis’ website again. On his resources page, he has four links in the body and one button. It’s clear that the button is the main CTA based on its design. The same can be said of the primary CTA on Evernote’s home page. The big green button is always the main CTA. It stands out always against the rest of the web page.

Screenshot of Evernote's homepage

Lastly, think about white space surrounding the CTA section. 1Password, Kajabi, and SamCart all have CTAs that are clearly visible. The buttons themselves and the section they are in are not cluttered. Clutter makes a CTA lost whereas white space draws attention to it.

Screenshot of Drip's homepage. This is one case where more thought would instantly lead to an improved CTA.

Look at Drip’s homepage CTA. We can talk about how the colour of the CTA; it’s the same as the surrounding hot pink and hot purple making it hard to distinguish. However, I’m just going to point out that this CTA is completely useless depending on the screen size because it’s hidden behind a popup. Talk about cluttered, ignored and just pain stupid.

Bonus technique

Always be testing. All I mentioned are just the best practices. The best way to optimize your CTA is to look at your user experience and visual design and test your CTAs to best fit what your customers are looking for. There is nothing more powerful than a great design back by numbers instead of speculation.

The takeaway

As you know, there is a lot going on when it comes to creating effective CTAs. I want you to take a look at your website and see how it stacks up to the points mentioned in this post. Do your CTAs use proper language? Do they stand out? Does every page have one? You can quickly make most of these adjustments your self in a day or have a developer run through your list of changes too. Don’t forget to incorporate a testing or analytics software into your website too; this way your next change or design is informed on what the analytics have to say.