You would think everybody doing any kind of marketing, online or offline, would know about “Calls to Action,” but it’s pretty clear that a lot of marketers don’t understand them as well as they should.

A Call to Action is text, or it could be an image, that prompts the reader to take action. Often called a “CTA,” it’s generally hyperlinked to a landing page.

The reader clicks the CTA, and is sent to a page where she’s offered an opportunity to buy, or sign up, or watch a webinar, or follow you on social media, or download something of value in exchange for her email address, or do something else.

Where do you put CTA’s? Certainly on your home page– maybe several times, each one a little different, to appeal to different types of visitors.

You shouldn’t put them on your landing page, because you don’t want to distract people from what it is you want them to do there, but they do belong on all your other pages. People need to be gently guided along so they know what you want them to do next.

You want to align your CTA with the content of the page. For example, you wouldn’t put an offer of a product demonstration on your “About Us” page—you’d put it on a “Product” page.

You also want to place CTA’s in your ebooks and videos and webinars, too, and on your blog—in the sidebar, and in every post.

You can put one in your AdWords ads and even in your email signatures, not to mention in your Twitter background and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

You want to make it clear what the offer is, and the benefits to the reader, and you want to make it stand out with a different color or typeface.

You want to make it action-oriented, with verbs like “Download” and “Register” and “Start.” Yes, “Click Here” and “Contact Us” are action-oriented, but they’re both stale, and don’t convey or even imply any value.

Testing is important. Huge increases in clickthrough can be obtained by changing a word or a color or a button size or the placement on the page.

The most common error in the use of CTA’s is directing your visitors to the wrong page. You want to send them to a page that will convert them to a lead or a sale.

Bottom Line? A Call to Action should convey value and prompt the reader to take an action.

There’s a lot more to Calls to Action, and has a useful and more extensive treatment of the subject.

Let us know if we can help with this, or any other online marketing topic.