Design 101: How to Create an Effective CTA

Design 101

When you’re designing for digital marketing, one very common thing you’ll design is CTA images or buttons. Hubspot describes a CTA as, “A call-to-action (usually abbreviated as a CTA) is an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action.”

CTAs are vital to your clients in digital marketing. “DO use CTAs in everything you do —email, blogging, social media, and thank-you pages” according to the Landing Page Course. While CTAs are sometimes text and there are ways to create buttons quite easily with software broadly available, here’s how to design more complex CTAs for your clients.

 

The Content

The content inside the CTA is going to be the most effective piece of the CTA. If you don’t have content provided for you, I’ve researched some tips for gearing your content correctly. From thelandingpagecourse, something to consider would be, “DO use data or testimonials to validate your proposition.” Another suggestion from Entrepreneur would be to make it time sensitive or provide a “bonus” —

“Even if we like a product, and think we might order, the tendency is to think “I’ll do it later.” And then later never comes. You can help overcome that reluctance to pull the trigger by making your offer time sensitive.” Further in the same article, “a powerful offer is boosted by the addition of a bonus item.” And that “A bonus tied to a time limit can be especially effective. Make it clear that the bonus will be available for a limited time, or while supplies last.” Finally, in the same article they suggest to make sure you “…appropriate to the aim and audience of your sales piece.”

Here’s an example below of a CTA I created for a Red Branch Media whitepaper that displays great content. It displays the product, explains what it can do for the user, and provides an action to download it.

CTA

 

The Build

This is where you get to use your design skills. Here are “4 Design Strategies That Make a Compelling Call to Action.” In my personal opinion, I like to make sure not to cram the CTA with a lot of things. Instead, I like to keep it simple. One of my favorite CTAs that I’ve created is for ClearCompany is below. The CTA mimics the landing page it takes the user to, it has complimentary colors (blue and orange) while still having an eye-catching action button in orange and showcasing the product simply and providing a statistic as well to convince users to take action.

CTA

 

The Button

The text inside the button of a CTA is very important. According to John Boitnott on Entrepreneur, you should use verbs in button text — “Verbs correspond to action, so wording such as “add to cart,” “add to wish list,” and “sign in” stimulate visitors to do something.” In this slideshow by thelandingpagecourse.com, they say, “DON’T use the word “Submit” on your form buttons.” and “DO use valuable and actionable copy.” such as “Download Whitepaper.” Not only is the text important, the color of the button is the number one element. The color of the button must contrast highly to entirety of the complete CTA to draw the user’s eyes to the button to click and take action. If your CTA is lighter, use a dark button color and if your CTA is darker — make the button light, or even white. See some examples here.

After you’ve created your CTA, you’ll need to make sure to do a few more things. Follow along in thelandingpagecourse slideshow, as they suggest to:

  • Do A/B tests to figure out which “design, copy and placement works best”
  • Add SEO and ALT tags
  • Make them mobile-optimized and give them space
  • Do not keep the same CTA for extended periods of time but switch them up or use new CTAs and “DON’T use Flash or complicated animations.”


Knowing how CTAs work, how to make them, and how to use them after creation will help your client’s marketing efforts. There are many tips, resources and best practices for CTAs online as well. Master the CTA, and you will help your client achieve success.

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