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Even on a webpage, it’s easy to get lost. You’ve got text, images, and videos all vying for attention. A call to action is a short, clickable phrase that tells the reader exactly what action to take. For e-commerce stores, this often means leading someone to browse a collection, add to their cart, or start the checkout process. However, CTAs are everywhere - they can help you guide your reader to sharing a post, subscribing to an email list, or learning more about your company, among many other things.
Take a look at this example. This beauty product site has...a lot going on. Without the “Shop Now” and “Start Now” calls to action, it would be a bit too busy and I wouldn’t really know what I was supposed to look for.
Key elements of a good CTA
A crucial part of a CTA is where you put it. Most commonly, CTAs are at the top of a page, the end of a section, and the end of an article/bottom of a page. However, CTAs can be just about anywhere - in popup boxes, in scrolling sidebars, in locked headings that travel with you. You can use CTAs to gently guide your reader around your website, like a tour guide going “now we’re going to cross the street.”
One of the most effective places for e-commerce stores to put a CTA is “above the fold”. The fold ends when a reader has to start scrolling - putting a prominent CTA in their first line of vision can help someone who is quick glancing at a page to stay engaged.
Many CTAs are placed in clickable buttons, while others are links embedded into text. If your CTA is in a button, have the colour of the button stand out from the rest of the page, and have it in clear contrast with its immediate surroundings so it’s clear it’s clickable.
Here’s an example of two CTAs side by side that are prominently placed and clearly guide the reader to browsing a collection that’s most relevant to them.
Your calls to action can include a sense of urgency or similar timing. Adding words like “now” “today” “ready” or “instant” can nudge the reader into actually clicking the link as they’re reading it, as opposed to dropping it and going back to it later. For e-commerce companies, this is an especially important tactic as urgency and time limitations can help boost conversion because shoppers may not want to miss out on a short-term opportunity. If you’re running a week-long or one-day sale, adding time-sensitive content into your CTAs is a good move.
Pipcorn, for example, creates a slight sense of urgency by using the phrase “Best selling must-haves”. One of their products is sold out. Glancing at this page, you get the impression that this is the kind of product that isn’t always going to be waiting for me on the shelf. In this short segment there are already three CTAs - a “Get 15% off” button taking you to their subscription sign up, a clickable link taking you to their full collection, and a chat button inviting you to talk with a representative.
It can sometimes be a thin line between giving people a reason to buy now and seeming too salesy to the point of turning someone away. Keep your calls to action light, approachable, and friendly. It’s completely fine to put in a couple of “buy now” buttons when it makes sense to; but remember, CTAs are used for more than just sales. They can be targeted at generating leads, collecting email addresses, directing readers to see important information, or helping your readers navigate your website.
This CTA leads to a recipe for biscuits. Biscuits are among the friendliest things out there. Shouldn’t their CTA be, too?
You should consider what your actual objective is with your CTA. While many e-commerce CTAs will be guiding someone to buy, there are plenty of directions you can take it.
Browsing collections, finding a personalised style, adding to a cart, and checking out are all purchase-related CTAs. Getting email sign-ups, taking a quiz, or sharing something on social media are lead-generating CTAs. But what about getting someone to read your blog or watch a video, or directing someone to an FAQ? Those are CTAs that can help someone interact more closely with your brand and get to know you better.
This CTA, for example, directs the reader to the company’s Instagram as they do some maintenance on their site. They’re not trying to sell anything (now) but they are trying to give the reader something to keep them interested.
Here’s another from Pop Chart Lab, which asks me to invite friends to get $25 off. Its clear messaging and bright pink CTA are used to generate leads through referrals.
While a CTA button might only be one or two words like “Shop Now”, the text immediately before it can give you room to explain the benefits of following that call to action. While it’s important to have clean design that isn’t cluttered, including some juicy copy alongside a CTA will give the reader a bit more to go off of than just a “shop now” button.
BioLite, for example, has the simple phrase “We can help the planet, one fire at a time” before a CTA. It tells the reader what category we’re talking about, without going into too much detail too soon.
Here’s another great example from Brilliant Bikes. After giving them a few details about what kind of purpose I need a bike for, and how short I am, it’s telling me a few short summary details and gives me a CTA to continue on.
Your handy-dandy CTA wordbank
CTAs got you stumped? Here’s a wordbank to get you started
- Checkout now
- Send us an email
- Contact us
- Tell us what you think
- Share to Facebook
- Send to a friend
- Start a free trial
- Listen now
- Learn more
- Read more
- Try it out
- I’m ready
- Let’s go
Got any more good CTAs? Let us know.
See what I did there? Incorporating calls to action throughout your text is an important part of keeping a reader interested and directing them toward actually doing something for your company, rather than just browsing and saying “well that was nice”. Want more tips on how to put together an awesome Shopify store? Subscribe to our mailing list using the little box in the top right-hand corner.