Not Another Acronym…What are CTA's?

 As you browse the web every day, you likely stumble across hundreds of buttons asking you to perform an action. These buttons beg you to subscribe to a newsletter, to sign up for a gym membership TODAY, or to buy that new T-shirt you’ve been looking at the past few days. Call-to-Action buttons (CTAs) are all around us. So, what makes a good CTA that compels visitors to click and pursue? 

Real-Life Examples Help

You need examples. I'm the same way and I got your back. I’m going to take you through three companies’ current website ads as we move into October 2017:

  • Starbucks
  • The New Yorker
  • Target

I know these brands are totes #basic, but bear with me. I’m going to weave in best practices from a copy and design perspective to give you a better understanding of what can increase the likelihood of conversions.

Starbucks Website Ads

 Yes, we’re starting with pumpkin spice lattes. [Cue eye-roll]. The call-to-action in this ad is “GET COZY.”



The problem with this CTA is you can’t really tell that’s a button to click on. It’s the same color as the background and it needs to have more 3D qualities. CTAs need to be BOLD and EYE-CATCHING. Get your customer to see that button. Use contrasting, yet complimentary colors. The image below shows you how to choose the right complementary color. Color Usability: 4 Keys to Clockwork Conversion goes into further detail about this magical color model that will aid your conversion like clockwork!


If Starbucks is using that orange/red color as its main background, the 'Get Cozy' button should actually be in the blue color range to make it more appealing to customers and increase click-through rates. Something like this: 


Now THAT would catch my eye! You’ve just been CTA Bold-ified Starbucks!


The words you choose for your call-to-action buttons are just as important as the design. Though, it will be more challenging because it’s easy to get lazy with CTAs. President & CEO of Three Deep, Dave Woodbeck, has developed a Persuasion Equation for Marketing Results that details how to interrupt, engage and educate your prospective customer. Dave said that the number one tenant in marketing is, "What's in it for ME?" This means that you have to give your customers something valuable in exchange for them clicking on your ad. If you want to create a compelling CTA, utilize these three elements: creative, informational, and concise.

I think Starbucks is using creativity and conciseness well, but what about informational? What does “Get Cozy” mean when we read that as a consumer? Personally, I don’t understand what’s going to happen if I click on that button, which makes me want to skim past that ad. On the other hand, you could argue that it might intrigue customers to click because it has a hint of mystery. Does Starbucks sell cozy sweaters now? Come to think of it, I am feeling particularly chilly on this fall day and would enjoy getting cozy...BAM, AD CLICKED! This hypothetical thought process might be a stretch. Overall, I'd say there’s no clear action in this supposed “call-to-action.”

Here’s what happens when I click on the “GET COZY” button:


So Starbucks is trying to introduce its seasonal fall drinks with the potential goal of product awareness. Would it make more sense for the CTA button to be “FALL FAVORITES” or “COZY FALL DRINKS”? Does “GET COZY” work? Things to think about...onto the next company!

The New Yorker Website Ads:

This ad has multiple-CTAs: “Subscribe for a $1 a week, and get a free tote bag.” But I believe the main CTA is Subscribe



To start, I think the New Yorker is using the red contrasting color in the wrong place (The best writing anywhere, everywhere). If the New Yorker wants subscribers, then all the focus should be on that subscribe button. Red is a great complimentary color with black and white color schemes, so I would stick with that color. It also needs to be more of a 3D box so users know what to click on. Something like this:


Red is so bold! It really pops out at you, doesn’t it? The New Yorker, you’ve been CTA Bold-ifed.


A few copy suggestions here. As consumers, how many times have we seen that annoying, dry SUBSCRIBE button? This CTA is lacking creativity and pizzazz. What could we do to spice it up a bit? I almost think it’d be more compelling to make the entire first sentence the CTA, even though we’re edging on lengthiness.


Yup, definitely too long and cluttered… But this is an instance where testing these two CTA options would be a good idea to see if one is better than the other. Get science behind the color and Find The Truth About A/B Testing. One last thing I would change in this CTA is having “free tote bag” capitalized to, “FREE tote bag.” This might get the point across more clearly that if you subscribe, you’re getting a free item. Everyone loves free things.

Target Website Ads

The CTA here is “top deals.”



Now this CTA button is fun. (Did I really just say that?). Target went with a circle button, breaking away from that timeworn square CTA button. Designing outside of the box (literally) and creating subtle differences can create higher click-through rates. Humans tend to glaze over things they’ve seen over and over, why not be bold? Command attention!! This CTA is also doing a great job by having red as its complementary color, which of course has to be red to stay on brand.

Target… you are already CTA Bold-ified!


I love how they have a quick, concise description of what I’m going to see if I click on this ad. I’m going to see the top deals of the week! User-friendly and customer-focused. Thumbs up. Or should I say bullseye, Target ;)

One More Quick Design Tip…

You’ve probably heard that certain colors evoke different emotions. This is something to think about when choosing CTA colors. For example, if you’re selling something healthy – go for a green palette to make customers think of kale. [Cue second eye roll]. If you’re selling a yoga/meditation app go for calm blues and purple to make customers think of down-dog. Okay, this has officially become the most #basic blog possible. Get to the conclusion, Grace.


If you want to get in on this CTA Bold-ified action, give us a ring. See how I didn’t just say boring ole “Contact us.” Even I learned something from this blog. Anyways, shameless plug: Three Deep Marketing has phenomenal Paid Media and Content Strategy teams to service your CTA needs. You can also learn how to capture your audience's attention further by reading tips in Three Deep's Headlines E-Book. BE BOLD, my friends!