Calls to action

A photo of a fire alarm box with lever – calls to action

If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

We received a few questions on the subject of calls to action (or calls-to-action), so we thought we’d cover them in a little more detail.

With thousands of businesses (and individuals) vying for your customers’ attention, it’s a tiny miracle whenever you connect with someone who is interested in your services. For a brief moment, you have risen above the noise and managed to occupy some real estate in their mind, so it’s vital that you seize the opportunity before they’re lost to the world again, perhaps forever.

Calls to action

Somehow, you need to encourage your new suspect to *willingly* go on a journey down your sales funnel. But, how do you get them from that initial (fleeting) moment of interest, to learn more about how you can help them, to becoming a strong lead, and eventually a paying customer? That’s where calls-to-action come to your rescue.

As its name suggests, these are quite literally a “call” to take an “action”. The call comes from you, and the action is something that the prospect does that takes them one step further down your sales funnel.

Every one of your customer touch points needs a clear call-to-action because your suspect may enter and exit your sales funnel multiple times in their journey. Any weak, or missing, calls-to-action will only hinder their ability to rejoin the funnel and move towards purchase.

An example customer journey

Jeremy runs a chain of garden centres that sell plants, trees, gardening equipment and outdoor furniture. His customer touch points include his bricks and mortar stores, an e-commerce website, online ads, an email newsletter, and print materials.

Jill is planning to landscape her garden in a few weeks and is actively looking for materials and tools for the job. Here is how Jill’s customer journey could unfold:

Step 1:Online ad

Searching for “garden decking” on Google presents Jill with Jeremy’s text advert on the right-hand side of the page, next to her search results.

Call: “Quality Garden Decking”
Action: Click
Form: Blue hyperlinked title

Step 2: Landing page

Clicking the Google ad takes Jill to a landing page on Jeremy’s website, specifically for garden decking. The page shows a range of decking, with images, descriptions and prices. She isn’t ready to make a purchase yet, so she doesn’t click on any of the “buy now” calls-to-action, but instead she downloads a PDF guide on garden decking, in exchange for entering her email address.

Call: “Everything you need to know about garden decking – download now”
Action: Enter email address and click
Form: A text field and button

Step 3: Email newsletter

At this point in her journey, Jill exits the sales funnel. She does nothing more to move closer to purchase until a couple of weeks later when she receives one of Jeremy’s email newsletters. It features some special offers, one of which is for a type of garden decking she is interested in. She clicks to find out more.

Call: “High grade Timber decking – up to a third off”
Action: Click
Form: Large red button

Step 4:Product page

Clicking the button in the email takes Jill to the product page on Jeremy’s e-commerce website. She reads more and decides that she’d like the decking for her garden, but would like to see and feel it before she commits to buy. The product page gives the address of her nearest garden centre if a postcode is entered, which she does.

Call: “Find your nearest store”
Action: Enter post code and click
Form: A text field and button

Step 5:In-store purchase

Upon visiting the store, Jill decides she likes the look and feel of the decking, so she queues to purchase. The sales assistant mentions that she can get a discount on weather-proof decking sealant when bought with the decking, and directs her to the appropriate aisle.

Call: “Get money off decking sealant”
Action: Visit the correct aisle
Form: Verbal


The steps above illustrate one of many possible customer journeys. Jeremy’s customers won’t necessarily arrive at the touch points in the same order, and may even skip some completely. This is why it is so important that all of your touch points have calls-to-action, and that they are clear, eye-catching, have wording that encourages customers to act, and communicates the value proposition (what they’ll get in return for clicking). Besides, if you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Furthermore, calls-to-action play a pivotal role in your ability to measure metrics – things like click rates, page visits, time on web page, return visits, sign ups, etc. These types of metrics will help you understand what your customers are interested in (so you know what to market to them), and they’ll tell you which of your marketing activities are working well for you.

Here at Tribus, we do a lot of metrics analysis because it helps us to market more effectively, and it allows us to calculate the return-on-investment of our clients’ marketing spend – a subject we’ve written about before

This week, make a list of your customer touch points and assess their calls-to-action. Are they clear and eye-catching? Do they encourage your customers to take an action? Are you communicating what they’ll get in return for the action? And do you have a system in place to measure any metrics?

If you have any questions or thoughts about calls-to-action, or measuring the return-on-investment of your marketing spend, we’d love to hear from you. Just pop your comments into the box below.

About the Author

Nick Irons

Twitter Google+

Nick Irons is Co-founder and Creative Director of Tribus Creative Ltd., a brand communications company for small businesses. He spent almost fifteen years in the entertainment industry as a writer, producer, and performer, before moving into branding and design consultancy. He is a fervent believer in the power of storytelling to unlock the value in brands both big and small.