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What are Calls-To-Action? And Does My Website Need Them?

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Updated By: Clare Richards on Fri, Aug 17, 2018

A call-to-action, known in our inbound marketing world as a “CTA,” is not a new idea. In fact, the concept of a CTA has been around for quite a while. Back in the day when the newspaper industry was booming, it was common to print an extra newspaper later in the day to announce important, current news. Young boys would bring stacks of papers out to the streets yellling, “EXTRA, EXTRA! Read all about it!” – An image, thanks to the movies, we can all picture quite well. This is an example of a literal call-to-action. So, like I said – not a new concept. At all.


But how does it relate to modern marketing? That’s where things get interesting. According to BusinessDictionary.com, a call-to-action consists of: “Words that urge the reader, listener, or viewer of a sales promotion message to take an immediate action, such as "Write Now," "Call Now," or (on Internet) "Click Here."

I want to highlight one specific thing: to take an immediate action. Whatever that CTA looks like, it needs to compel viewers to do something. Whether they are going to click through to “Learn More,” or they are signing up for an eNewsletter, that person is taking immediate action.


What counts as a call-to-action? Are banner ads on the side of your Facebook feed considered CTAs? What about links that say, “Read More” in bold? In a loose sense of the term, the answer is yes. A lot of the ads you see are considered CTAs because they include actionable text instructing you - the viewer - to click through.

Rather than speaking in broad terms, I’d like to narrow it down to what we use on websites. A CTA on a website should be a button or banner that stands out on the page and offers an action to be taken. Here are a few examples from Master Communications Group and Bernick's:

  CTA examples

Here are a few more from our faithful marketing friends from HubSpot:

HubSpot CTA examples


As you can see, CTAs can vary in size and shape, as well as design and placement. Honestly, it all depends on the website and what the visitors are looking for while on the site, as well as what makes sense to nurture visitors along in the buyer’s journey. To find out what works best, we test, and retest our CTAs. CTAs are an integral part of inbound marketing and as such, they require your love and attention.

So should you have CTAs on your website? The inbound marketer in me says, “of course!” It is important to note that CTAs can be used on any website, regardless of whether you are currently using inbound marketing methodologies. CTAs can point to a landing page, or they can point to other important pages on the website. For your convenience, here's a handy-dandy flowchart that will help you discover whether or not you need calls-to-action on your website. 


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Clare Richards

About The Author

Clare Richards

A deep love of art and design drives me as I navigate the ever-changing waters of marketing. I am constantly looking for new and better ways to give the inbound marketing methodology the beautiful face it deserves. As the Art Director, I ensure that all of the design work we produce is top notch and designed with a purpose. When I’m not trying to solve creative problems, my life revolves around my family and friends, my passion for music, and my addiction to stories.

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