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We Want You To Want More: 7 Effective Call to Action Strategies

Why not let your users become discoverers? Move them to engage with your website content and tools with effective call to action strategies that are goal-driven for your business and your clients. Smashing Magazine contributor Jacob Gube defines call to action as “a term used for elements in a webpage that solicit an action from the user.” It isn’t too much to ask that your users explore your site the way you envisioned they would. We’ve compiled a list of seven effective strategies that will guide your user in all the right directions:

1. Carve Your Goals In Stone

Before plotting out the visual and verbal dynamics of your calls to action, pinpoint what you aim to have the user do. Let’s say you want them to try an instant quote online for your service. That will need a call to action. The ultimate goal is that they click on your instant quoting page, are convinced of your pricing and service, and contact you for business. Summarize these goals into two sentences, and say it out loud. Bounce it off your colleagues. Once you have a direct goal for your user, the action can begin.

Indeed it is!


2. Consider The Clickable Button

Calls to action in web format need clickable buttons. Effective buttons should have include these four qualities: mindful positioning (place buttons in a distinguished place on the homepage, like at the top or in the centre), proportionate size, white space surrounding it to help it stand out, and high contrast colours. These elements all encircle Gube’s belief that “in web pages, the size of an element relative to its surrounding elements indicates its importance; the larger the element is, the more important it is.” Your clickable buttons should be obvious on the page to ensure easy user access.

Yeah, we’re curious too.


3. Harness The Power of Language

Words can tease; construct calls to action with language that will keep users wanting more. Active, visual sentences that aren’t stuffed with words (see below), will encourage further engagement, and could seal the conversion deal. I give you language in action:

You Dug The Foundation. You Watched It Grow Tall. Take Your Business To The Sky. Get A Quote Today.

Motivating, active, and with visual potential, this call to action doesn’t take the user on a long, winding journey to completing the task. It necessitates the user’s imagination, and encourages a filling-in of narrative gaps. Strong language use will direct action.

Are your calls to action ready for the neon treatment?


4. Drive ‘Em With Dissonance

Another Smashing Magazine whiz, Tad Fry, has me convinced of the power of dissonance. He says, “in your attempt to persuade [users], design with dissonance as a way to challenge their beliefs, and then introduce your service as a way to help achieve their goals.” By dissonance, he means the feeling that occurs when something disrupts your consonance; that assurance in your beliefs.  Trying to move your user to your instant quote request form? What about this tag line and clickable button:

You Can’t Afford Professional Wedding Photography
Let’s See About That

The tag “Let’s See About That” directs the user to the instant quoting page. The slogan is uncomfortable, challenging, and begs correction from the user. Playing around with dissonance is a fascinating twist on standard call to action practices.

Swan-style dissonance


5. Lose The Wordiness

Crowding out a homepage with long-winded paragraphs describing your wondrous, magnanimous, exceptional service (you get the idea), drowns out calls to action and creates work for the user. Users don’t want to work (more on that later). Firm, concise language suggests confidence and direction, and a sense of urgency. Provide the tools for action, and keep it pithy.

Feeling claustrophobic yet?


6. Maintain User Ease

Basically, “don’t make your users work or think, or they’ll leave” (Smith). This works twofold: Actually make the experience fluid, free from excessive sign up forms or information commitment, and then assure the user that the experience will be easy. “Hassle-Free” might not cut it. Try “Want A Quote? Click Here. No Sign Ups. No Problem”. Specify what you won’t be requiring from the user, to put them at ease as they browse your site.

Looks like a hassle-free user experience!


7. Be Social

Provide your users with the direct pathways to your social media tie-ins, like Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Featuring clickable symbols for these platforms on your homepage signals the user to other areas of participation with your company. Simple, recognizable, and quite possibly one of the easiest ways to diversify your landing page calls to action. Remember to only display platform links that are relevant to your service. If you don’t have a company Facebook page, best not to provide a link for Facebook on your website.

Maintain strict social adherence at all times. Seriously.


Your site looks fantastic, and you have the tools in place to help your users make the most of your service. It’s time to guide them there with effective calls to action!

And how’s that for a call to action?


Fry, Tad. “Design with Dissonance.” 13 October 2011. Smashing Magazine.

Gube, Jacob. “Call to Action Buttons: Examples and Best Practices.” 13 October 2009. Smashing Magazine.

McGuane, Elizabeth and Randall Snare. “Making Up Stories: Perception, Language, and the Web.” 23 August 2011. A List Apart

Mortenson, Elizabeth. “Does Your Presentation Have a Clear Call to Action? It Better.” 27 June 2011. Forbes Magazine

Smith, Grace. “Top 5 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make.” 10 April 2011. Mashable

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