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Clicking Me Softly: A Five-Day Crash Course in Conversion (Day 2)

by Oli Gardner  |  
February 22, 2011

In this article, you'll learn...

  • How to effectively place and use a call to action to stimulate conversion
  • What types of CTAs to use for various page types

Conversion is the mechanism and process of pouring targeted consumers into, through, and out the other side of the marketing funnel. In day one of this five-part crash course, we explored the economics of conversion. In part two, you'll learn how to effectively use the ever-so-crucial call to action.

Day 2: The Call to Action

How do people convert?

In simple terms, they interact at a designated conversion point. They do this—and are triggered to do this—by a call to action.

What is a call to action?

A call to action (CTA) is an interactive instructional device intended to solicit an action from your visitors. A CTA has four main components:

  1. The Call. This is the instructional language used to request that the user interact in your desired way.
  2. The Action. On the Web, the most common action one can take is to click a button.
  3. The Outcome. The outcome is what happens when the action is taken, and it should correlate strongly with the call. In other words, it's the delivery on your promise. (e.g., "Download free whitepaper" indicates that clicking the button will begin a file download without a request for payment).
  4. The Design. How your CTA is presented visually plays a big part in how people respond to it (e.g., size, color, shape, contrast to rest of page).

A CTA for Every Page

As Mick Jagger sang so eloquently: "You can't always get what you want." But if you don't ask for what you want, you won't get anything. Accordingly, any page you create is a wasted opportunity if it doesn't specifically make a request of your visitor.

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Oli Gardner is a co-founder of—The DIY Landing Page Platform. He writes about conversion-centered design, landing pages, and marketing theory. Reach him via email at and Twitter @unbounce.

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  • by Jodi Tue Feb 22, 2011 via web

    Spot on. We found the same holds true when getting prospects to trial our SaaS app: a good CTA makes all the difference. What you ask for (or more importantly, what you don't) can have a dramatic, and immediate impact on conversions. We've found we have about 60 seconds to deliver the "aha moment" and solve their pain, or they'll be off looking for other solutions. We're constantly testing different approaches here at Smartsheet, but here are a few of our best practices for making the best first impression:

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