CTA Lesson 1

Join us in the Wistia Academy for a lesson on Calls to Action. We'll tell you all about what a CTA is, how to build a path for one, and how to think about the customer journey.

What is a Call to Action? 📣

Video Lesson

Send the Message

Hi there, friend. If you’re reading this you may be wondering “What on earth is a CTA?” Great question! To put it simply, a Call to Action (usually called a CTA) is a clickable message, image, button, or link that guides your viewers towards an action that you would like them to perform. CTAs come in different shapes and sizes but all serve the same purpose of guiding user behavior.

A CTA helps your visitors to continue along the journey you’d like for them to take.

Here are some of the most common CTAs:

  • “Add to Cart” buttons — we see these all of the time with e-commerce
  • “Read More” CTAs that prompt the user to get more information if they’re interested
  • “Try It Now” options to opt in
  • Social media share buttons
  • Help options that connect you directly to support
  • Sign up forms
  • “Click here” buttons

Example CTAs

Still not sure about CTAs? Here are some top examples from around the web.

Here’s a simple pop-up CTA from our friends over at HubSpot. It appears when you arrive on one of their pages about CTAs (they’re pretty jazzed about CTAs too!). On the CTA page, clicking “Download Now” will automatically download the ebook available, keeping the engaged customer excited and learning more.

InVision does an excellent job being direct with potential customers by offering a deal right on their CTA. Who doesn’t love things that are free forever? By clicking on the “Get Started - Free Forever” CTA, the user will be prompted to sign up for a free account.

Squarespace makes great use of the header on their marketing website by using it to update customers about new templates. Choosing the “Learn More” option will lead to a page all about their new summer templates.

Creating a CTA Path

What you want people to do when they visit your website is going to be different depending on your particular business, so this isn’t one-size-fits-all advice. Instead, we’ll look at some broad ideas of how to create the path you’d like your visitors to travel, using Calls to Action.

The most common use case for CTAs is in the marketing world, to move your prospects through different stages of engagement with your website. This will hopefully lead to the point where they’re ready to purchase. As you probably know, most visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy at the first moment they arrive.

Before asking them to purchase, you should share further information about your products or services, so that they can do their research before making a decision (a “Buy Now!” CTA has its place a little farther down that path). Think about what the path to purchasing looks like for your customers. This will help you to decide what Calls to Action you would like to offer to them at each step of the way.

The same is true for other use cases; the path you create for your customer will depend on your goal for those customers. If you’re looking to have people sign up for a newsletter, you may want to show them some examples of the great content they’ll be reading by directing them to a few different blog posts or resources, and then give them the chance to sign up.

In a help center, your Calls to Action might give readers the option to either learn more about related topics, or to get in touch with your support team. You might even use CTAs if you’re running an educational tool, to direct your students to the next lesson or to some study materials that would be particularly helpful at this stage of their learning.

CTAs for Non-Marketers

But wait, there’s more! CTAs aren’t just for marketers.

  • Social media prompting with CTAs is a great way to build your community.
  • You can even use CTAs to offer support! CTAs allow your audience a direct link to your customer service team if they have any questions or concerns. This direct CTA cuts down on the frustrating experience of searching for a contact form, and offers visitors the easiest path to support.
  • CTAs can help out with event registration. Use a CTA to show attendees where to be when the event begins.
  • Encourage your audience with a CTA to sign up for a newsletter to keep them in the loop. Your audience will stay engaged with your content — whether that’s videos, blog posts, recipes, or artwork.

Today’s Homework

Beginner: Take a look at your business, and see where you could fit a CTA. What kind of path do you want your visitors to take?

Advanced: Audit your existing CTAs and figure out where you could improve paths. What is performing well? What could you be doing better? What do your visitors respond to?