• Christian Michaels

The Psychology of CTAs and How to Capitalise On it



Effective web design means delivering a powerful and motivating message to your chosen target audience. The key to successful website design being the strategic use of each and every element for the same collective purpose. Every word, every image, every link – everything needs to nurture visitors to take action.

From the smallest websites to the portals of major service providers and ecommerce retailers, it’s up to you to show your customers the way.

Power and Influence

Ever wondered what it is that makes the humble call-to-action (CTA) such a powerful tool? Put simply – it’s all down to human psychology. The reason being that each and every one of us has, to one extent or another, been raised to listen to orders and carry them out.

To do as we’re told.

Of course, as adults we’re able to draw a line between the kinds of requests and commands that hold our best interests at heart, and those with the potential to put us in harm’s way. Nevertheless, we are still fundamentally pre-programmed to see or hear commands and feel at least some degree of subconscious urge to do what’s asked of us.

Hence why the simple yet effective “Click Here” or “Buy Now” button continues to represent one of the most powerful tools in ecommerce web design.

A Sense of Urgency

But given the sheer prevalence and familiarity of CTAs in general, it’s often a case of taking things a step or two further to create a sense of urgency. CTAs can be particularly effective when they play upon human beings’ in-built fear of missing out. For obvious reasons, nobody would willingly deny themselves a good deal or a fantastic time. But this desire to capitalise on every opportunity is so strong that even when whatever’s on offer would normally be of no interest to us, terms like “limited quantities” or “limited time offer” can make us want it nonetheless.

Or at least, make us think we want it.

Which is precisely why marketers often combine these terms of urgency with CTAs, in order to generate interest and desire, tell the customer exactly what to do and give them the easiest possible facility to go ahead – i.e. a CTA button to click.

The psychology of CTAs also extends to something else we’ve been programmed to cherish and indeed chase from our earliest years – incentives. From stickers and certificates in school to treats and pocket-money from parents right through to company bonuses, we naturally see rewards and incentives as deal-sweeteners we need. In the world of marketing and CTAs therefore, something as simple as free shipping, 10% off your order or anything else of a similar nature can genuinely make you believe you need and want something you have exactly zero use or desire for.

Test, Test and Test Again

Now, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that none of the above means that the consumer public in general is powerless against the psychological influence of CTAs and marketing materials. If anything, more everyday consumers are wiser to these kinds of tricks than they have ever been. But at the same time, learn how to work with CTAs strategically and proactively and they really can be worth their weight in gold. More often than not, it’s simply a case of split-testing until you get it right. Roughly translated, testing two or more CTAs with different versions of the text, different colours, positions, shapes, sizes and so on – gradually refining things and determining what gets the job done.

If you run a local business in Manchester and would like to boost your online presence with targeted marketing strategy or website development, we’d love to hear from you. For more information on results-focused web design that delivers measurable results, get in touch with the Christian Michaels team today.

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