What is Your Call-to-Action?

Each webpage on your site should have a purpose. Some pages are meant to inform. Some to elicit contact or conversation. And others to have the user perform an action such as requesting more information, applying to Michigan Tech, or placing a donation.

Find Your Purpose

Whether you are creating a new webpage, updating existing content, or auditing your website, you should identify your key pages—the ones that will let or motivate a user to take action. Once these key pages are identified, you should assess whether or not you have clear calls-to-action (CTAs) in place.

What is a Call-to-Action?

HubSpot does a nice job of defining what a call-to-action or CTA is and providing examples. At Michigan Tech, a CTA can take on many different forms. Here are a few common ones:

  • Apply to Michigan Tech
  • Contact an advisor
  • Follow us on Facebook
  • Give to Michigan Tech
  • Request more information

Make Your CTA Stand Out

It is important to make your webpage’s purpose—the call-to-action—stand out. We have a few different methods for doing so:

Contact Information

Web users are used to finding contact information in the footer of a webpage. This is often just general contact information, though. If the goal of your page is to get the user to contact you, it is also good to highlight key contact information at the top of a sidebar. Include a photo if you can. It makes the contact more personal—people like to put a face with a name.

A great example of this is the Giving Opportunities webpage on the Biological Sciences website. Of course, a user can donate online. However, they are more likely to want to talk to someone before making a donation. Here, Bio has provided a contact person with a photo.

Apply Now, Request Information, Sign Up, Etc

We have a number of webpages focused on persuading the user to apply now. Similarly, we have pages that let the user request more information, sign up for an event, update personal information, and a host of other actions.

A great page will give the user multiple ways to complete their action. The “How to Apply” webpage on the Admissions website gives the user three chances to apply. The first option comes in the form of a yellow button in the main navigation. Option number two is a link in the body copy—for users who are dutifully reading through the content. The final opportunity is a yellow rollover button at the bottom of the right sidebar. Using three different linking methods—the navigation, a body copy link, and a sidebar button—gives the user a number of ways to complete their action without overwhelming them. If your webpage is particularly lengthy, it is a good idea to put a CTA towards the top and bottom of your page.

The goal of the Emergency Contact Information website is to let users update their contact information. In this example, we did not repeat the call-to-action in multiple places. Instead, we decided to keep the content fairly simple and to the point and made sure that the important links stood out—by using yellow rollover buttons. This ensures that the user’s eyes catch those links.

The 2016 TechTalks webpage has a lot of information along with various potential actions. In this case, the nomination form is most important—it is a yellow tab in the main navigation and a yellow button in the sidebar. Next most important is the content itself. We did include two other CTAs on the page, both in the form of blue links in the sidebar. They are separated from the main content so they would not get lost, but are not given the same weight as the main CTA on the page.

Other Tips

Keep these additional tips in mind when planning your call-to-action items:

  • Use action words. This will help your user understand what you want them to do.
  • Be strategic and don’t over do it—remember Hick’s Law. If you have seven CTAs on a webpage, the user is going to ignore all of them.
    • It is possible to have a primary and secondary CTA. One may stand out more, such as a rollover button, while the other might be in the form of contact information in a sidebar.
  • Not every CTA needs to be a rollover button. You could also use a link on its own line, such as the “Learn More” and “Register” links in the body on the CH0100 Sign Up webpage. Or, image callouts, such as in this Tuition and Scholarships webpage.

Summary

Each of your site’s webpages should have a goal. Sometimes it is as simple as providing information. But, if there is a bigger purpose please help your user out. Let them complete the intended action—apply, donate, contact, attend, request, etc—more easily by providing a clear CTA.

Joel Vertin
Digital Services Manager