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Many small businesses do an amazing job with their websites. Hopefully noting some of the suggestions we’ve provided in previous posts, they’ve crafted beautiful copy, selected engaging images, maybe integrated video and all within a professional quality, aesthetically pleasing website. Despite doing all these things right, sometimes these websites don’t generate the leads or sales the way they should. Why not? Because the site owner forgot to ask the user to do anything.
In marketing jargon this is often referred to as the “call-to-action” (CTA) element. It’s more than just adding a “buy now” button, it includes asking a visitor to do any number of different actions like subscribing to an email newsletter, calling an 800 number, downloading a document or requesting in information kit. There’s an almost infinite number of call-to-action tactics, but there are a few best practices to share that can help you be more successful.

Be relevant

Whatever you are encouraging your visitor to do should be relevant to their interests. If you own a fishing specialty site you could offer a download of a detailed fishing map or pdf guide to seasonal fishing gear. Even something as common as an email opt-in can be framed to make it feel more interesting to the target audience. The fishing shop might promote how their email offers fishing tips, tricks, secret fishing spots and of course a few special offers here and there.  

Don’t go for the throat

Of course it’s acceptable to ask a visitor to go straight to purchase, if you’re an ecommerce business it’s imperative that you do. Often what’s more valuable than the immediate transaction is a visitor’s email or phone information. A CTA that asks less of a visitor may be more likely to drive a response. The value of an email address, with the proper opt-in permissions, that you can respectfully reach out to over weeks or months may end up providing more value to your business than simply driving a one-time purchase.

Be comprehensive

Some sort of CTA element should be on almost every page of your website. Consider what action would be the most appropriate given the content of the page and try to customize where you can. Even if the “thing” you are offering is the same, the way the request is made can be customized for the context of the page.     

Use graphics and text

A well executed CTA graphic can be extremely effective. A simple, well-crafted text link can be just as effective if done correctly. Experiment with different approaches, try both where it makes sense. In some situations there won’t be any options for graphics and in others you will require something bolder that will jump off the screen a bit more. Mix it up and get creative.
As any good salesperson will tell you, you never make a sale you don’t ask for.  Be tasteful and not overly aggressive, but don’t be afraid to ask for some level of engagement.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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