Different calls to action (CTAs) ask for different levels of commitment from your website users.
Examples of CTA levels
Here are some examples:
“Read the next blog post” asks for more of their time.
“Follow me on social” asks for more of their time and attention on an ongoing basis in the future but in a non-committal way.
“Sign up for the email newsletter” asks for their time and attention but also asks for a bit more of a commitment.
Being on your email list means you can get in touch with them and they will be personally identifiable in your audience when they give you that information.
“Buy now” asks for their money or commitment of their resources. They generally give you time, attention, and personal information as part of that commitment as well.
Different actions people take on your website or to engage with your business change the status of their relationship with you.
A “buy now” button seems simple enough, but if someone buys from you, they become a customer or client rather than a part of your audience.
How to increase trust
So different calls to action are associated with different relationships with your business. I call these different levels of calls to action.
Here’s something critical: using different levels of calls to action throughout your website can increase your visitor’s trust.
If you only ask them to buy but don’t offer actions that require less commitment, they may not stick around long enough to build that trust. Offering CTAs that don’t require commitment or money can help people engage with you long enough to trust you for those deeper commitments. Like buying.
Ok, let’s look at some common of calls to action for the different levels of CTAs:
Customers or Clients
“Buy Now” generally asks your website visitor to become a customer or client.This is a direct sale call to action.
If the visitor hasn’t purchased before, they are committing resources to your offer or product - their time, money, attention, and trust.
If they have purchased before, you’re asking them to increase the investment they’ve made in your business. It’s not something to take lightly, because breaking that trust will destroy that relationship you were trying to build.
When you place a “Buy Now” button on your site, consider the structure of support you have in place for your visitor to become a customer. The rest of your content around this kind of call to action can increase your visitor’s trust.
When you give people reasons to trust your business and your offer or product to solve their problem it will help your visitors to feel comfortable purchasing from you. The CTA works together with the rest of your website to benefit your visitor and your business.
Common CTAs for Product-based businesses
For product-based businesses, here are some common CTAs for getting the sale:
- Buy Now
- Shop Now
- Shop [your product name]
- Get your [product name]
- [Product] available now
You may want to customize them to your business and your products, but be careful to keep your CTAs clear (first priority), and then as brief as possible.
Common CTAs for Local retail businesses
For local retail businesses who don’t sell items from your site, your CTAs may look like asking people to take physical action:
- Call to order
- Come to the store
- Come see our new items
- Visit the store and use [coupon code]
- Come sign up for our rewards program
- We have new [items] in the store
Common CTAs for Service-based businesses
For service-based businesses, instead of allowing purchases on your website, you may have CTAs like:
- book a call with you (possibly a paid call)
- call you directly to schedule
- fill out a form to start the process of working with you
- or request an estimate.
Some of these may require the visitor to pay or commit money, while others may lean more to generating leads, which is what we are talking about next.
Another CTA that can be in-between sales and leads is “Download the app.” If you have a business with an app, having a website visitor download it can be a great way to stay in front of them as well as to have them purchase. You’ll likely use the app to stay in touch in a variety of ways.
A Lead is an identifiable part of audience. You are asking them to give you permission to get in touch with them in the future. It’s a commitment of their time and attention and personal information.
However, the most valuable leads are the ones that engage with you by giving you their time and attention, not just an email address. They are the ones who are most likely to move up to committing more resources - like money- for you to help them solve their problems. They might turn into customers or clients.
Common calls to action moving a visitor to a lead for your business are:
- Sign up for email or text messaging
- DM me (on social media)
- email me
- Fill out a contact form
Signing up for email or text messaging is one of the most common calls to action on websites. Having visitors give you access to their time and attention over time is valuable.
Some people prefer to allow visitors to sign up if they wish but offer no incentive to do so. They feel more authentic with this method, and they feel like their audience is more engaged.
Other businesses offer visitors something in exchange for their email address, typically known as a lead magnet.
Common lead magnets
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to offer in exchange for people signing up for your email or text message marketing. Here are some ideas:
For online service providers, you could offer a lead magnet such as a quiz, template or pdf download, or ebook.
For online stores, a coupon, freebie, free shipping, or rewards program can be a good incentive to provide you with their email address.
Whatever you choose, make sure it feels appropriate and authentic to your brand and serves your audience as well.
The next type of call to action allows people to become part of your audience but not in an identifiable way. They give you their attention and a way to stay in touch but only as a general part of your audience.
There is less commitment in this type of call to action. So it can be used in a way to move someone a small step forward in their journey with you when they feel like giving you their email address or phone number is too much.
Examples of these types of calls to action are: follow me on social media, listen or subscribe to my podcast, or subscribe to my YouTube channel.
You can ask someone to keep giving you their time and attention in the current moment by using calls to action to keep them engaged on your website or social posts. Links to other posts or pages on your site can keep them engaged longer on your site and deepen your relationship without asking for a deeper commitment, even one as small as following you on social. You are still building trust with someone if they are continuing to engage with your content.
Examples of these calls to action are:
- Read the blog
- Start here
- Go to the next post
You can also have specific calls to action for customers to ask questions or contact you for assistance. I consider these to be calls to action as well because they are still part of your customer or client’s experience with you and part of your sales or business support process. So I evaluate them in the same way - are they appropriate for the way the user needs to contact the business? Do they increase the trust and communication between the user and the business?
You might allow leads or prospective clients to ask questions by phone or email or contact form prior to purchasing. In the case of a contact form, you can qualify people before they get in touch with you.
In contrast, you might encourage your rental tenant to call an emergency number for a water leak. You want to hear from them as quickly as possible!
In each case, consider the purpose of the contact and be intentional about the ways you want people to contact you so your site can be useful and help you build better relationships.