In the world of conversions and web design, it is important to understand the impact of a call to action (CTA).

First, we need to understand an ordinary, run of the mill link vs. a call to action.

Yes, both are, in fact, links and means of driving traffic deeper into your site. Yes, both can be great for SEO, especially if they are linked in the right means and effectively steer traffic in a way that will convert. They are not the same, however, and should not be considered interchangeable.

A standard link is typically text based and can be in the navigation or embedded as a hyperlink within a block of text. A standard link can also look like a button made either graphically or through advanced CSS. It hold the hierarchy of being another way to enter the site but it may not necessary entice or engage.

A call to action, however, is typically a more stylized button (or in some cases a graphic) that does entice. It is a link that asks you to do something– it wants you to click it and go further, become more and read on.

What makes a good call to action is the purpose and intent. Not every link on a site can be a CTA. If it is, you lose the hierarchy in the message and things become muddy—your users don’t know what is important because everything is important. Depending on your media, you should feature a few CTAs. If there is a slideshow on the front page, switch it up. For example, if you have having a sale on sweaters prompt visitors to “Shop Now!” Then if you are featuring the latest collection of tennis shoes, ask them to “see what’s new.” It is about creating the effect of engagement beyond “click here,” or “go.”

Even in your forms you can elevate the interaction from a simple link response like “submit” to something more engaging like “get it now!”
CTAs can be extended beyond your website as well. Think about your social media. Have you ever posted a photo and then just put in “view our site” with the URL? Think about this… If you post a photo of the latest hockey stick available in your store, promoted by the biggest sniper in the league, which would possibly engage more:

  • View Site >>
  • Learn More >>
  • Snipe Like a Pro>>

Chances are any might bring you a few clicks but are they qualified? The CTA that is more likely to get you the most clicks is the last version. It triggers a deeper action and meaning by playing on both the product and emotion. Hockey players want to be snipers– they like to go bar-down over the glove, pop the water bottle or dangle with a between the legs toe drag to the back hand – and this will make them a sniper.

If you’re a band, you can ask anyone to view your calendar, tour dates or buy tickets, but what if you asked them to “reserve their experience” or “get with the program?”

And it can be carried to print media too. Instead of simply saying "go to…" ask them to "get involved" or otherwise participate in the experience that is your website or your store even.

Again, a good call to action goes beyond the mundane link. It needs to succinctly create a false sense of need or demand from your user. It is not simply “click here” or “go now” or “learn more.” It needs to engage, entice and stand out. When it does, your users will respond by converting on your call to action. They will stay on your site longer and potentially send in a contact form or make a purchase.